If you haven’t taken a tour of Northern Ireland’s incredible Game of Thrones filming locations, can you even call yourself a fan? Many of the hit HBO series’ iconic settings are right here on our doorstep, and McComb’s coach tours offers a first class guided tour that is essential for every GoT addict.
Throne Watch traveled to Westeros last week and embarked on a nine hour trip aboard one of McComb’s luxury coaches.
Our travel companions were a vast mixture of Game of Thrones fans (and people that should be). Guided by our charismatic and incredibly knowledgeable driver, Derek, the coach set out from Belfast city centre and made its way up the scenic Antrim coastal road. The great thing about these tours is that you don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to appreciate the beauty and history of the locations, because there is so much to take in.
Some people can be reluctant to take a tour that involves traveling all day, but Derek kept us constantly entertained with fascinating trivia, storytelling and plenty of Northern Irish banter.
The first stop on the tour was Carrickfergus Castle, followed by a run down of our itinerary for the day. The coastline that meanders through the Glens of Antrim is a sight in itself, meaning there is a constant feast for the eyes as soon as you are twenty minutes outside of Belfast.
But what I really wanted to see were those awesome Game of Thrones locations. So our next stop at Carnlough, where Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) filmed the Season 6 scene of her crawling up the steps after being stabbed, was certainly a memorable one. The steps are instantly recognisable and it was fascinating to see a small part of such a huge story.
A short drive past Carnlough were the Cushendun Caves where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow assassin in Season 2. There is a small beach beside this where her and Ser Davos entered the caves and fans can follow their steps right to the spot where the shadow was born.
Another great filming location is Ballintoy, where parts of the Iron Islands and Pyke Harbour are clearly recognisable. It was here that Theon was baptised back into House Greyjoy and Arya set out on her ship to Braavos.
While some took the opportunity at this point to visit Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge nearby, I was more excited to enjoy a Game of Thrones themed lunch at The Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy.
This GoT-themed Guesthouse Inn has its very own Throne Room and is also home to the sixth “Door of Thrones”, an intricately carved door that references the Season 6 episode featuring the Targaryen dragons and the Dothrakis.
This cosy, atmospheric inn offered delicious home-cooked meals with a Game of Thrones twist, including Castle Pyke Irish Stew and The Hound Irish Beef Burger. And being at the heart of so many nearby locations, it is a definite must-see for all those looking for a base from which to explore the surroundings.
Larrybane Quarry was a five minute drive from The Fullerton Arms and is well worth a visit. Fans will reconise this as Renley Baratheon’s camp where we first met Brienne of Tarth as she fought against Loras Tyrell in a duel and became a member of Renley’s King’s Guard. We even got to throw on some Jon Snow-esque cloaks and grab a photo with Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister…Okay, they may have been cardboard but realistic nonetheless!
Derek’s humour kept things lively throughout the day, right up to the Giant’s Causeway. You can’t really visit Northern Ireland without seeing this incredible natural wonder.
Our last Game of Thrones location was the stunning Dark Hedges, also noticeably the King’s Road in the series. Sadly, these beautiful trees are beginning to fall away and at some stage in the future will be gone altogether. Knowing this made the trip all the more special.
McComb’s GoT tours have recently been rated 5 stars by Tourism NI and it’s easy to see why. Our tour guide’s passion for his job and endless amounts of knowledge, not just about Game of Thrones but of Northern Ireland’s rich history, really made the tour one to remember.
The fact that we are able to immerse ourselves in the fantasy world of Westeros in this way is a huge asset to the country, while knowing that you are experiencing a great piece of Game of Thrones history is simply priceless.