Travel through Westeros and Essos...
You don't have to be a fan of epic fantasy drama Game of Thrones to appreciate its production values.
From the costumes to the set design, there's a reason it's won 26 Emmys over the last five years. Certainly, for travel fans, it's worth watching for the locations alone.
Roaming across seven very different kingdoms, Game of Thrones has already made stars of some of its scenic locations, from the frosty scenes in Iceland for the world beyond The Wall, to the lusty heat of Dorne, inspired by and filmed in Seville, these stunning locations are pivotal in bringing the world of Westeros and Essos to life.
Season Six hits our screens tomorrow (25th April), and if it's piquing your interest for a Thrones-related pilgrimage, the Flexicover team lists five of its most important filming locations. Just beware of low-flying dragons...
Ah Belfast, the spiritual home of the show. It might not be the obvious choice for the biggest TV production in the world, but its large city studio spaces are ideal for creating the unique feel of internal shots, while the dramatic, green scenery lends itself to some sweeping backgrounds. Understandably, there are a myriad of tours on offer to whisk fans to the main Game of Thrones hotspots, such as the HQ at Titanic Studios, The Dark Hedges where Arya makes her escape from King's Landing, and the Cushendun Caves where Melisandre gave birth to a very strange offspring. So far, Game of Thrones has contributed an estimated £550million to the economy - so there's a celebratory aspect to the otherwise bleak show.
It's no surprise that Iceland provided the background for the harsh environs beyond The Wall. Preferring real life nature to CGI, a whole crew - including heartthrob Kit Harington - essentially took up temporary residence there for a number of seasons, filming mainly in north Iceland. Ygritte and Jon Snow's traverse across snowy lands was filmed in Hvalfjordur, with Grjótagjá cave, where they first had relations, already a popular tourist spot thanks to its thermal pool. In its less frosty guise, the isolated Thingvellir National Park was where many of the scenes between Arya and The Hound were shot, including the tense battle between Brienne and The Hound.
Malta and Gozo
If winter is coming, you could do worse than make a beeline for Malta. It might just be an excuse to bask in its glorious sunshine, but the Mediterranean archipelago featured heavily as a filming location in Season One, primarily as King’s Landing and Pentos. Production mostly centred around Malta's well-preserved former capital, Mdina, however, most memorably, the Azure Window on the island of Gozo was the dramatic setting for Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo's wedding. Production did not return there after the first Season, instead shifting to Croatia as its main location for scenes set in warmer climes.
The rustic beauty of Croatia lends itself perfectly to the ancient feel needed for the show, which explains why so many of its external scenes are filmed here. Qarth, where Daenerys Targaryen gets a frosty welcome from the Spice King? That's Lokrum Island, situated 600m off Croatia's mainland. The exterior of King's Landing? That's Bokar Fortress. The infamous scene where Cersei pays her penance by walking amongst the townsfolk? St Dominika Street, in Dubrovnik's old city. Added to the wealth of cultural and historical attractions Croatia offers (and of course the weather), no wonder it's become a Mecca for Throners.
Last season saw the introduction of a major new location for Game of Thrones with the flamboyant Andalusian capital Seville and its historic Alcázar de Sevilla, a tropical garden with a palatial backdrop, the perfect setting for Dorne Palace and gardens, home to the seat of House Martell. An hour away in the rustic town of Osuna, the city of Meereen was created, where more than 550 extras, plus the show's cast and crew took over the local bullring, Plaza de Toros and staged the epic battle in the Daznak fighting pit. Naturally, a number of Game of Thrones tours are run to show off the area to fans. Just keep a watch out for Sand Snakes...
Wherever you are heading this year it's good to know that Flexicover policies cover the sport as standard while also offering a special add on called Golf Plus which for a small additional premium covers green fees, equipment and even hole in ones!