There are over a dozen Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland! While the show is finished, you can still get a feel of what it might have been like north of the Wall, walking up to the Eyrie or even the countryside of Meereen. It’s actually amazing to see how diverse the landscape in Iceland can be, and how it was used in GoT.
On my trip to Iceland, I took the Gray Line Game of Thrones Tour. For eight hours, we went to the filming locations closest to Reykjavik. There are several more along the southern coast of Iceland, and a couple far to the north, but it takes more than a day to do a full circuit of Iceland – something I certainly plan to do on my next visit.
Laxnes Horse Farm
The first stop on our tour wasn’t actually a filming location for the show, but rather where the show got some of its stars. I’m referring to the Icelandic horses, and please don’t call them ponies just because they’re small. The Laxnes Horse Farm is where several of the Game of Thrones horses came from, including those ridden by Arya Stark and the Hound on their way to the Eyrie.
Since the 11th century, it has been illegal to import horses to Iceland. Thus, the Icelandic horse is a unique breed quite dissimilar to its European cousins. They’re smaller and have longer, thicker coats of hair to start with, making them perfect for the cold, rugged landscape of Iceland. The Laxnes Farm is family run and has been breeding horses since 1968.
The Gray Line GoT Tour took us to the farm for a little under half an hour. We were given a short talk by one of the owners and then allowed to wander around and take photos with the horses. I was hoping to find the horse that Arya rode, but it was out on a walk at the time. Instead, I got a selfie with the Hound’s former mount.
Please note that the Gray Line GoT tour doesn’t always go to this farm, depending on various conditions, which is why it’s not promised or even mentioned on the website. My tour was fortunate, and I hope yours is too!
If you’re visiting Iceland and don’t plan to take the GoT tour, you can still visit the farm and go horseback riding. They offer 2-hour rides for $96 per person. Better yet, for $196 they will pick you up in Reykjavik, bring you out to the farm for a morning ride, treat you to lunch on the farm, and then take you for another ride before returning you to Reykjavik. I want to do that someday!
This waterfall isn’t one of the better-known falls in Iceland, and it only appears in the show for a couple of seconds, but the scene is quite memorable. It’s when Drogon the Dragon flies out of a ravine to attack a young boy and his herd of sheep.
It’s an interesting story behind the filming of those sheep. In order to get the sheep to run away from a dragon that would get digitally added in later, the filmmakers blew a whistle to have 20 sheep scatter. On the third take, a male sheep by the name of Casanova decided he wanted to ignore the whistle, thus providing the dragon with a tasty snack. It’s not every day when animals improvise their lines!
I might have been a little too excited to see the waterfall. As soon as the bus arrived, I was one of the first passengers off. I bounded down the side of the ravine to the river below. From there, I had to very carefully make my way across the ice-covered rocks to get a close-up photo of the waterfall. Then I had to retrace my steps and scramble back to the top of the ravine just in time to catch the end of the speech being given by our guide. Oh, what I won’t do for that perfect shot.
Þingvellir National Park
First of all, the Þ character here and in the previous waterfall is pronounced “th”, so this national park is pronounced Thingvellir, which means “assembly field”. It has been one of the most important locations in Iceland for the past millennium. The longest-running parliament in the world, called the Althing, was held there from 930 AD to 1798!
Þingvellir is famous in its own right for being the meeting place between the European and American tectonic plates. Many of the tours from Reykjavik stop there, and a popular activity is to go diving between the plates and be able to straddle both continents underwater.
The Game of Thrones show used Þingvellir in Season 4 as the Bloody Gates – entrance to the Eyrie in the Vale. It was also the scene when Ygritte and Tormund met the Thenn cannibal for a meal. The tour dropped us off in the parking lot, and once again I didn’t stay behind to hear the information from the tour guide. I ran down the trail between the two small cliffs of rock, quickly recognizing the scenes from GoT.
It’s a good thing that I did, as the Bloody Gates aren’t the only attraction here. Not half a mile down the trail is Oxararfoss, a small but absolutely gorgeous waterfall. As this was November and things were covered in snow and ice, the landscape here had a truly surreal feeling. Again, it was rather difficult to get the shots I wanted with all the ice-covered rocks, but get them I did, and there were only a couple other guests of the tour who made it that far.
Þjóðveldisbærinn is Icelandic for Commonwealth and refers to the Commonwealth Era of Iceland from the 10th to 13th century. This farm is a reconstruction of an ancient settlement, thought to have been destroyed by the Helka eruption in 1104 AD. The buildings were restored between 1974 and 1977 based on the ruins and stories of that time period. Similar to the Open Air Museums of the Nordic and Baltic countries, it shows the architecture and basic lifestyle of Iceland’s ancestors.
It was also the perfect setting for a northern village in the Game of Thrones. This is where Ygritte and a band of Wildlings attack the village that Olly lives in. As with many movie scenes, you don’t see a lot of the actual village in the show beyond a brief glimpse of the grass-covered structures. Even though you don’t see the dwellings, it’s no wonder the show picked this beautiful location with a small waterfall in the background. The architecture looks just like what you would expect in a fantasy movie, which perhaps is to be expected in a country that believes in elves.
Our tour guide took the time to do a little Game of Thrones reenactment. She had brought a large sword along, and some of us volunteered for a photo opportunity…of getting run through by a Wildling. I would have loved to run over to the waterfall where Ygritte fired her arrow and killed Olly’s father, except that the waterfall is across a small valley. Those Wildlings sure can run fast!
Booking the Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Iceland Tour with Gray Line
I’ve enjoyed taking Gray Line tours all around the world. They have the distinction of picking you up directly from your accommodations in town, as they did for me in Iceland. Their Game of Thrones Tour in Iceland lasts about 8 hours, starting around 10 a.m. Around 1:45 p.m., there’s a stop for lunch at the Arnes Camping Ground Cafe. If you want to save a bit of money, I’d highly recommend buying a sandwich and some snacks from one of the supermarkets in Reykjavik and bring them with you.
There’s also a pitstop around 5 p.m. at a gas station where you can get a drink or use the toilet. This stop also has a tiny rock and mineral museum. A featured display contained several bits of obsidian, reminiscent of the dragon glass in Game of Thrones. It’s not exactly the most interesting part of the tour in my opinion.
The tour costs €85 ($93.50) per person, which is quite reasonable for tours in Iceland. The guide that we had made the tour particularly memorable, as she was a proper Game of Thrones geek, just like me. Umm, maybe even more so, considering she was dressed for the part, sword and all.
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Planning to visit Iceland? Here are some other activities you might like.
- Ever wanted to see the northern lights? Follow this link to learn the best tips for catching the elusive display.
- Did you know that Iceland has the largest ice and lava caves in the world? Read my story about Reykjavik Sightseeing’s Into Ice and Lava Tour.
- Need to visit Iceland on a budget? Read about what it’s like to stay at the Loft Hostel.
- Is Iceland’s top attraction – the Blue Lagoon – really worth it? Find out here.
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?
- Click here to claim your $25 credit with AirB&B