Guest Blog Series – We’ve asked travel experts to provide their advice and insights on the best European road trips. This guest blog post is written by Kach Medina Umandap and Johnathon Howe of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Learn more about their blog below.
With our wedding week approaching quickly, we decided that we needed to take a road trip, just the two of us. We decided on a week long, Game of Thrones road trip in Northern Ireland. So for all the GoT fans out there, I’m sure you are going to enjoy what we did. We’re excited to share the ‘what-not-to-miss’ when you are on this road trip. You see, a trip to Northern Ireland is like going to another dimension, it is so surreal. And yes, we are eyeing to go back for more. Anyway, we consider this as one of our best road trips because of Northern Ireland’s scenic views, breathtaking architecture and of course – GoT!
For this particular trip, we decided to rent a car in Northern Ireland instead of taking public transportation as it seems more practical. We appreciated that you don’t have to follow a specific schedule like group tours have. That means you can take unlimited photos if ever you want to. Or you can relax at some historical castles for as long as your heart desires. Also, you can feel more relaxed in your own car. In our case, Jonathan did the driving while I savored the view. ☺ Lastly, it is more cost-efficient to rent a car. In fact, the deals from Auto Europe are so competitive, I would recommend that you check their offers. We used one of their beautiful red cars and we had no regrets!
I don’t want to make this introduction any longer so let’s just talk about our Game of Thrones trip. Oh my! I still feel the bliss of seeing the sets of this worldwide phenomenon.
Click the Destinations on the Map Above for More Location Information
Castle Ward’s farmyard is the location of Winterfell. Most of the scenes from season one used this now famous location. Can you still remember the time when Brienne met the Stark men? Or when King Baratheon first set foot at Winterfell? Yes, these scenes were taken at Castle Ward and you might want to reenact your favorite scenes. Jonathan and I went a bit crazy with all the costumes.
Did you know that the magnificent trees you see in Game of Thrones are real? These can be found in Northern Ireland, of course! One of the most notable scenes here was the time when Arya Stark escaped and disguised as a boy. These trees were planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. Can you imagine that? After so long, the whole world is eyeing to go here. Now it makes me realize, let’s plant more trees and let the next generation enjoy it!
This might not be the most stunning of the rest of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland. However, if you are a die-hard fan, we don’t think you should miss this on your tour. If you can remember, Cushendun Caves is where Melisandre, or the Red Woman, gave birth to her shadow baby. History has it that the caves were formed over a period of 400 million years. Seriously, it is that long! Maybe you can try to act out the scene like Melisandre and take cool photos of the cave.
Ballintoy Harbor & Beach
This is also known as the ‘raised’ beach. Can you remember the scene where Theon Greyjoy goes back to the Iron Island? That was in Ballintoy Harbor & Beach. Apart from being one of Game of Thrones’ filming locations, there are a number of things to do in Ballintoy. There are plenty of tourist establishments like restaurants and souvenir shops where you can buy trinkets and souvenirs.
Here is the site where Lady Catelyn Stark heard the news about Ned’s death, the same spot where Robb was crowned King of the North. Inch Abbey used to be a massive monastic site dating back as far as the year 800 AD. Its Gothic architecture is still visible even in its current condition and it is a perfect place to take some pictures.
Tollymore Forest Park
Apart from being the first state forest park in Northern Ireland, Tollymore Forest became famous for being the Haunted Forest in GoT. If you can recognize it, it is where the Starks discovered the direwolves. Can you recall it now?
But of course, Northern Ireland isn’t just about Game of Thrones. Again, there is so much to see here. I suggest you take a Causeway Coastal Route and for sure, you will appreciate some of the sights I listed below.
Giant’s Causeway at Antrim was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The formation was a result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. To date, you can find rare plants and animals here. Hence, you have to be extra cautious when visiting the area.
This is known as the most striking monument in County Antrim. Carrickfergus Castle played a significant role in the military until the latter part of 1920s. You would be amazed on how preserved this medieval structure is. Inside the castle, you can see cannons and a number of historical displays.
Dunluce Castle is still stunning even in its current state and was built at the edge of the basalt outcropping in County Antrim. Quite frankly, the drops at the sides of the castle are quite intimidating. If you are about to go here, you might want to download the Dunluce Castle app from the App Store or Google Play to further appreciate the castle.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
This bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede. It was actually the brainchild of salmon fishermen 350 years ago. In 2004, a safer bridge was built for locals, tourists and fishermen. When you are there, you can see the amazing views of Rathlin Island and Scotland.
There is so much to see in Northern Ireland and we can only cover a few spots for now. Well, that only explains one thing. This country is massive and has so many things to showcase. For us, we got to feel and embrace the history by visiting ruins, and at the same time appreciate modern art by going to these Game of Thrones filming locations.
It’s time to pin for your next European Road Trip!
This guest post was written by the founders of Two Monkeys Travel Group – a travel blog and website by Kach Medina Umandap from the Philippines and Jonathan Howe from the UK, sharing their experience and knowledge of traveling the world since 2013. You can follow their travels on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.
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