Boasting a unique and varied landscape with everything from glaciers to volcanoes, it’s no coincidence that Iceland keeps being picked as a film location. Iceland’s unique, open, and gorgeous landscapes mean it’s almost impossible to take a bad shot.
When the producers of Game of Thrones started searching for the ideal location to depict the harsh conditions of life Beyond the Wall, Iceland was the obvious choice. The country’s wintery landscape is the perfect setting for Wildlings, White-Walkers and Crows to roam.
Iceland’s relationship with Game of Thrones goes all the way back to Season 2, when Jon Snow (AKA Aegon Targaryen) was captured by the Wildings, as well as 3, 4 and 7. The cast and crew are expected to return to Iceland this year to shoot scenes for the much-anticipated Season 8.
David Benioff, producer, director and writer, said that they chose to shoot in Iceland because they knew investing in great filming locations would be more beneficial than spending money on special effects. Very little acting was required by the cast to portray the polar conditions found North of the Wall, as all the snow, icy breaths and shivering bodies seen on screen were real.
WHERE WAS GAME OF THRONES FILMED IN ICELAND?
The Icelandic landscape is often used to represent locations Beyond the Wall, but it’s also been a filming location for many scenes depicting life in the south. Iceland’s varied landscape means that directors have a wealth of options when it comes to finding the perfect scenic location.
If you know what to look out for, you can spot lots of Iceland’s natural landmarks featured in the background, e.g. glaciers, lava fields and steam from geothermal activity.
Fans of the show regularly travel to visit these wild locations for themselves. If you’re interested in checking them out, why not learn about some of the Game of Thrones Icelandic filming and book our Game of Thrones private tour for your next visit?
GAME OF THRONES IN ICELAND: THE LIST OF FILMING LOCATIONS
The list of places in Iceland where Game of Thrones was filmed:
Svínafellsjökull Glacier was first used in Season 2 to represent the snowy landscapes of Beyond the Wall. Located in Skaftafell National Park, this glacier is nicknamed ‘Hollywood Glacier’ because it has appeared in so many blockbuster movies and series, including Batman Begins.
Svinafellsjokull glacier in Iceland captured by Norris Niman
Arctic Adventures offers regular tours to Vatnajökull Glacier, meaning you can recreate your favorite Game of Thrones scenes, in addition to walking in the footsteps of The Dark Crusader.
In Season 2, Myrdalsjokull Glacier has the honor of playing The Fist of the First Men – a natural defensive position used by the First Men, which is found many days north of the Wall.
The Hofdabrekka hiking area close to the glacier, on Iceland’s southern coast near Vik, was used to represent the vast and frozen landscapes of Northern Westeros.
Icelandic mountains, photo captured by Sanna Nordahl
Lake Myvatn will be familiar to lots of Game of Thrones fans, but not as they know it. The location has been used as a GOT filming location under numerous guises.
During Season 3, Mance Rayder and the Free Folk set up camp on the Dimmuborgir lava field, close to Lake Myvatn, while the area was also used to film a sequence where Samwell Tarly and Lord Commander Mormont were attacked by White Walkers.
Located in the North East of Iceland, the region is not to be missed and should definitely feature on your travel itinerary when you visit Iceland.
Lake Myvatn captured by Héctor Montero Sommerfeld
The romantic hideaway and love nest of Jon Snow and Ygritte, Grjotagja Cave is where the couple cemented their love in Season 3. While filming took place in a studio, the cave was the inspiration for the famous scene.
Grótagjá Cave is located in the North East of Iceland and is a popular tourist attraction among Game of Thrones fans. The cave is open to visitors but is warned, that the water is far too hot to swim in!
Grjotagja cave captured by Norris Niman
Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is featured throughout GoT Season 4 but was most noticeable when watching Arya’s and The Hound’s journey to the impregnable Eeyrie. The site was also used to film the epic sword fight between The Hound and Brienne of Tarth, which remains to this day one of the greatest battle sequences ever committed to television!
The national park is only 45 minutes away from Reykjavík and is well worth a visit even if you’re not a diehard Game of Thrones fan.
Thingvellir National Park captured by Norris Niman
Hverir, Hverarond Sulphur Springs
Hverir is a geothermal area close to Lake Myvatn and is famous for its sulfur springs and boiling mud pits. The location is often used as a filming location because of its atmospheric ambiance and natural steam, making it look like whatever the filmmakers need, whether it be a primordial Earth or an alien planet!
At the start of GoT Season 3, we see Samwell Tarley wandering through an impenetrable blizzard. This blizzard is actually an illusion created by the bubbling mudflats and mist of Hverir. The mist emerges from the ground, creating a snowstorm-like environment. However, ‘the snow’ is wet, warm and stinks of sulfur.
Hverarond Sulphur Springs captured by Norris Niman
We saw glimpses of this landmark way back in Season 6, but Kirkjufell Mountain was at its most majestic in Season 7.
The mountain was in the background when Jon Snow and his band of men ventured north to fight the army of the dead. The Hound also had a vision, which showed the dead marching past a mountain shaped like an arrowhead – Kirkjufell Mountain to be exact.
Already a popular tourist destination before the arrival of Game of Thrones, the mountain is a must-see attraction when visiting Iceland.
The cliffs of Dyrhólaey were famously used to represent Eastwatch-by-the-Sea in Season 7. In Episode 5, we can see Jon Snow, Jorah Mormon and Gendry land on the black beach and prepare themselves to visit the Brotherhood Without Banners.
Stakkholtsgjá Canyon inside Þórsmörk was the filming location used for the famous Wight ambush scene of Season 7, Episode 6. In this episode, Jon Snow and the crew attempt to capture a Wight to prove to everyone that the walking dead are real. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan, as the Wight’s cries cause more of the dead to arrive and surround Jon Snow.
This breathtaking natural attraction is found in Southern Iceland and is about 2.5 hours from Reykjavík.
Gigjokull was the site of possibly one of the most heart-warming and tender scenes in all of the Game of Thrones. In Season 7, Episode 6, Jon and his suicide squad of fighters walk through the barren landscape of the North in search of a Wight to capture.
The scene is most memorable for its moments of male bonding and friendship, as the men share stories with one another as they cross the wintery landscape, uncertain of what fate awaits them.
Hengilssvæðið (Hengill mountain) is a large volcanic mountain located south of Thingvellir. It's a popular hiking destination all year round, although snow can make it more challenging to reach in winter.
Green valley in the Hengill area of Iceland
Game of Thrones episode 10 of Season 4 featured the Hengill area. This a where the famous fight between the woman warrior Brienne of Tarr and the Hound took place. The scene was filmed at several locations in the area, but the site's overall feel should seem familiar!
Þórufoss (Thorufoss) is a waterfall located just a short drive from Iceland's famous Golden circle. This is where the scene from season 4 of Dragon eating a goat was filmed. Of course, it's unlikely that you'll see any dragons within the area, but the landscape itself is unmissable!
Even though it is within a short distance, only a gravel road with few signs leading to it, it's best to take road 48 from the Golden Circle route and drive for around 5 minutes until reaching a small parking lot.
Thorufoss waterfall, Iceland
Þjórsárdalur (or Thjorsardalur) Valley is home to many highlights, including one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland, Haifoss. Here's where you'll also find Great Þjórsá Lava, the most significant lava flow in Iceland, Þjórsárdals hot springs, and even catch a view of Hekla volcano.
If you're looking specifically for Game of Thrones shooting locations, what you're looking for is the Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng. It's a Viking Age farmhouse reproduction, which served as Olly's house in Season 4, Episode 3. In this episode, a group of wildlings, along with our favorite characters, Ygritte and Tormund, attack the village and kill everyone except Olly.
The village's recreation is open daily from the beginning of June through the end of August. There's also a small entry fee. It can be easily reached from route 32 by the paved road.
GJAIN (THJORSARDALUR VALLEY)
Gjáin is a small valley located within the bigger Þjórsárdalur Valley. It's a natural gem with a lush valley surrounded by a dessert. Here are waterfalls tumbling down the rocks, lava-covered wilderness, and many gorgeous paths to explore.
But what makes this place even more significant is that it was a Game of Thrones filming location! The scene from season 4, episode 5, where Arya and the Hound took a break and did a little sword fighting practice, was actually filmed here.
The best way to reach Gjáin is through an F-road, only accessible during the summer months.
Gjáin Þjórsárdalur Valley in Iceland
Skogafoss, located on the South Coast of Iceland, is one of the most visited waterfalls along the Ring Road. It has also appeared in the first episode of season 8 of Game of Thrones.
In this episode, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen ride dragons and land next to a set of stunning two-stage cascades of waterfalls. Part of it was actually Skogafoss, and the other waterfalls and rock formations were added digitally.
Scene from Game of Thrones on the left of Skogafoss and actual Skogafoss in winter on the right, Iceland
REYNISFJARA BLACK SAND BEACH
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the most notable attractions in the South Coast region of Iceland. This is also where some parts of season 7 of Game of Thrones were filmed. Reynisfjara was chosen as a filming location for Eastwatch-by-the-sea.
Reynisfjara is located near the town of Vik, just a short drive away from the Ring Road. There's also a large parking lot there, located just a short walk away from the beach.
Fjaðrárgljúfur was chosen as a shooting location for the first episode of season 8, in a scene where Jon and Daenerys fly their dragons for the first time together. As you already know, their flying route finally ends at Skogafoss, which is actually not so far from the canyon!
Fjadrargljufur Canyon in South East of Iceland
Remember that Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is often closed for visitors to protect its fragile wildlife. Please stay within the marked paths if it is open for your visit.
Dimmuborgir is a landscape of incredible lava formations, like rings and caves. The name Dimmuborgir literally means "Dark Fortress," which seems very fitting for Game of Thrones!
Dimmuborgir was featured in the famous show not once but three times! First in season 3 when Mance Rayder, the leader of free folk, made a camp here. Another time Dimmuborgir served as a shooting place for the scene where a White Walker attacked Sam Tarly and Lord Commander Mormont. Lastly, the location was picked for a set in season 3, episode 5 where Ygritte steals Jon Snow's sword.
Dimmuborgir lava fields near Myvatn in Iceland
Dimmuborgir is free to visit and is usually open to the public. You'll find many hiking trails going through roc formations around the area, of various lengths and difficulties. There's also a cafe and WC facilities near the entrance.
Höfði is a rocky area that lives on the edge of Lake Myvatn. It's an ideal place to walk through the fascinating lava formations.
Höfði was chosen as a filming location for a scene where Jon Snow has to confront Orell to prove his abilities for joining the Night's Watch. Most of the close-up shots were filmed at Dimmuborgir, while wide shots were taken in Höfði. Two beautiful sceneries combined made a picturesque shot!
Bizarre lava formations and landscape in Hofdi, Iceland
Höfði is quite easy to reach - there's a parking lot just off the road, and most of the trails leading there are marked. It will take around 5-10 minutes to reach the location from the parking lot.
MAP OF GAME OF THRONES FILMING LOCATIONS
So it would be easier for you to find these locations, we've created a map:
Iceland is a magical location, regardless if you're a GoT fan or not. These particular locations were chosen for a reason! How many of these have you already visited or maybe planning to visit? Let us know in the comments!