Slated to return this April 2019, Season 8 (and final!) of the epic fantasy TV series Game of Thrones has been much written about already. HBO has been implementing a particularly effective promotion, revealing new teasers and promising episodes of 80 minutes, when fans of the series first got scared by the fact that the season will consist of only six episodes.
A good reason for us to review the place and role of Iceland as a filming location in the TV series, and give you some tips of how to build your own Game of Thrones Itinerary on your next visit.
[SPOILER ALERT] Although we spare you the most exciting scenes, the following content might include spoilers so make sure you’ve already seen the episodes mentioned, we don’t want you to get mad! :) We will update this article as the episodes are aired.
One of the reasons behind the success of HBO’s series Game of Thrones, is the choice of epic filming locations including Northern Ireland, Croatia, Malta, Spain, or Morocco. Iceland has been one of the show’s favourite filming locations too. Ever since Game of Thrones first featured Iceland in Season 2, the views of the country’s wintry landscapes have lured fans from around the world to Iceland. The frenzy is such that the GoT effect has been cited as a determining factor of the growth in annual visitors from 565,600 in 2011, the year it premiered, to more than 2 million in 2017. You can check out the Game of Thrones Tour across the main filming locations, the expert narration allows you to relive your favourite scenes in the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland.
🖈 ÞINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK (North of Westeros)
The Almannagjá Gorge in Þingvellir National Park invites you into the rift between the European and North American Plates, and represents in the series the Bloody Gate, or the narrow path to the impregnable Eyrie. It is visited by Sansa Stark and Littlefinger (Season 4 – Episode 5), and Arya Stark and the Hound (Season 4 – Episode 8) on their separate journey.
The nearby Hengill mountain is the site where Brienne of Tarth and the Hound engage in a bloody duel in Season 4 – Episode 10.
In the same episode, Lake Þingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake, was used as a base for the bay from which Arya leaves Westeros in direction of Braavos.
🖈 ÞÓRUFOSS WATERFALL (Meereen landscape)
Þórufoss is an 18-meter high waterfall located East of the aforementioned Lake Þingvallavatn, and the place where Drogon, one of Daenerys’ dragons, attacks and eat a goat in Season 4 – Episode 6.
🖈 KIRKJUFELL MOUNTAIN (Arrowhead Mountain)
The 463-meter tall Kirkjufell mountain lies on the North coast of Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Being one of Iceland’s most iconic mountains, Kirkjufell first appears in Season 6 – Episode 5, when the Children of the Forest create the first White Walker, the Night King, to protect them. It comes back in Season 7 – Episodes 1&6, as the Arrowhead Mountain, when Jon Snow and the Suicide Squad head North of the Wall to fight the White Walkers.
🖈 DIMMUBORGIR LAVA FIELD (Wildling Army Camp)
The snow-covered lava field of Dimmuborgir was used as the place where Mance Rayder, King beyond the Wall, sets the main Wildling Army camp in Season 3. Filming in Lake Mývatn area took place in temperatures as low as -11°C!
🖈 HVERFJALL CRATER
Hverfjall Crater stands in as the place where the White Walkers stomped beyond the Wall in Season 2 – Episode 10. A 30-minute hike will take you up to the rim of the crater, offering a panoramic view over Lake Mývatn area.
🖈 GRJÓTAGJA HOT SPRING (Jon & Ygritte’s moment)
Grjótagjá cave, 10 minutes North of Dimmuborgir, once was a popular bathing place until the volcanic eruptions from 1975 to 1984 in the area caused the temperature of the water to rise to more than 50°C. This is the place where, in Season 3 – Episode 5, Jon Snow and Ygritte sneak in and "get to know each other" ;)
🖈 HVERARÖND SULPHUR SPRINGS
Hverir is one of Iceland’s largest geothermal fields, located at the foot of Námafjall Mountain in Lake Mývatn area, North Iceland. While the fumaroles and bubbling mud pools are not clearly seen in the series, the place was used to create the illusion of the impenetrable blizzard Samwell Tarly is wandering through at the beginning of Season 3. Somewhat ironic for an area characterized by a warm and wet steam (and sulphur smell!), and steam vents hissing like everything is about to explode.
🖈 STAKKHOLTSGJÁ CANYON (Wight Ambush)
In Season 7 – Episode 6, Jon Snow and his Suicide Squad of fighters attempt to capture a Wight to prove the existence of the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead, all in the scenery of the 100-meter deep Stakkholtsgjá Canyon, located near the entrance to Þórsmörk.
🖈 GÍGJÖKULL GLACIER (North of the Wall)
In the same episode (Season 7 – Episode 6), while on their search, the team is seen walking and talking through barren landscapes, which were filmed at Gigjökull Glacier, a glacier outlet from the famous Eyjafjallajökull ice-capped volcano.
🖈 DYRHÓLAEY BLACK SAND BEACH (Eastwatch-by-the-Sea)
Dyrhólaey acts as the beach at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea where Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch arrive by boat in Season 7 – Episode 5 and where they are guarding the Wall. In other scenes, you will notice that the cliff blocking off the land was made 10 times higher to represent the Wall.
🖈 MÝRDALSJÖKULL GLACIER (Fist of the First Men)
In the series, the Fist of the First Men on Westeros is only accessible by a steep climb, offering a strategic view over the surroundings. It is located many days North of the Wall, at the edge of the Haunted Forest and represented in Season 2 by Myrdalsjökull Glacier, well-known for sitting atop the threatening volcano Katla.
🖈 HÖFÐABREKKUHEIÐI (Frostfangs)
The frozen landscapes of the far North of Westeros and the Frostfang Mountains can be found near the foot of Katla volcano and Vík, in the Höfðabrekkuheiði hiking area.
🖈 VATNAJÖKULL AND SVÍNAFELLSJÖKULL GLACIERS (North of the Wall)
While artificial snow did the job in Season 1, producers naturally picked Iceland to film scenes beyond the Wall thereafter, with the Svínafellsjökull Glacier playing an important role in Seasons 2 and 3 with the wildlings.
🖈 ÞJÓRSARDALUR VALLEY (South of the Wall)
Þjórsárdalur Valley, and in particular Þjóðveldisbærinn turf houses were the location of one of the series biggest massacres in Season 4 – Episode 3, during which a farming village South of the Wall is attacked by wildlings and the cannibalistic Thenns.
Game of Thrones has also been filming in Iceland for Season 8, the final season, expected for next April so watch for more locations! Who knows, you might come across some Dragonglass, a precious material in the series used for weapons, and known in real life as obsidian, a deep black volcanic glass, incredibly beautiful yet brittle, the result of a rapid cooling process of the lava.