It has been two month since we moved to Dublin from Minnesota, we have spent that time apartment hunting and settling in (aka getting acquainted with the pubs). We thought with the long weekend over Easter, this would be the perfect time to have our first adventure. Where else would we start than a road trip with car camping to Northern Ireland to go hunt down all of the Game of Thrones filming locations. Bubba came along for the ride as well. Here is the line up:
Day 1: Dublin to Larne
Day 2: Larne to Bushmills
Day 3: Bushmills to Creeslough
Day 4: Creeslough to Dublin via Sligo
Total drive time: 4h
Route: Dublin - Larne
Accommodations: Curran Caravan Park
Narrow Water Keep -
Inch Abbey - Game of Thrones - Inch Abbey is a large, ruined monastic site founded by by John de Courcy. The buildings are mainly of the late 12th century and the 13th century. In season 1, amongst the ruins of Inch Abbey, Robb Stark's army sets up camp near Riverrun. The Houses of the North and the Riverlands swear his allegiance to Robb, "The King of the North", marking the beginning of the War of the Five Kings.
Winterfell - Game of Thrones - Castle Ward is an 18th-century National Trust property located near the village of Strangford. The historic farmyard at Castle Ward, referred to as Old Castle Ward, was used for the filming of the Winterfell scenes in Season 1. The cost to enter the grounds is £9.50 per person. If you are expecting to actually see Winterfell, you will be disappointed as most of it is CGI. We enjoyed our time more at Inch Abbey, but we had to go, it's Winterfell!
The Gobbins - we were really excited to do this walk, but when we arrived we found out it was closed for renovations :(. It is reopening April 28th - so we will have to go back!
We continued to Larne and found Curran Caravan Park. It was £10 to stay the night with our tent. We walked to the the restaurant Carriages in town for dinner.
Total drive time: 2h 30m
Route: Larne - Bushmills
Accommodations: Causeway Coast Wigwam
Cushendun Caves - Game of Thrones - These caves were super fun to explore. In season 2, Stannis Baratheon orders Davos Seaworth to smuggle the red priestess Melisandre into a cave below Renly Baratheon's camp. To Davos' horror, Melisandre gives birth to a dark shadow, which creeps into the camp and kills Renly.
Kinbane Castle - Kinbane Castle sits on a long, narrow limestone headland projecting into the sea. The castle was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell. We found this castle randomly on our drive and I am so glad we didn't miss it. It is a pretty steep walk down to it, but we had lots of fun exploring it.
Carrick-a-rede Bride - is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. We decided to skip actually walking on the bridge, it costs money and is packed with tourists. We opted to view it from a lookout point above.
Ballintoy Harbour - Game of Thrones - Ballintoy Harbour is at the end of the road leading down to the sea from the fishing village with the same name. The Harbour is used for many scenes throughout the show, but mostly for the Iron Islands (seasons 2, 4, and 6).
The Dark Hedges - Game of Thrones - Just a road lined with beech trees planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family that is now known as The Dark Hedges. In season 2, it is used as the Kingsroad.
Portrush - We were looking for a good place to eat and decided on Kiwi's Brew Bar in Portrush. The food was absolutely fantastic. Best wings we have had since we moved here.
Dunluce Castle - We chose to see this castle from a view point above. There was a lot of traffic in the area. We would have loved to have visited it. It was built in the 13th century.
Giant's Causeway - This is not a Game of Thrones filming location, but it should be. The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.
We found camp at Causeway Coast Wigwam. I'm not sure that they normally take tents, but the woman working was very nice and welcoming - £10 for us to stay with the tent.
Total drive time: 3h 30m
Route: Bushmills - Creeslough
Accommodations: Wild Atlantic Camp
Mussendun Temple and Downhill Beach - Game of Thrones - In season 1, the beach is used as a scene below Dragonstone castle where Stannis Baratheon swears allegiance to the Lord of Light and burns the effigies of the Seven Gods.
Binevenagh - Binevenagh is a mountain in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. We drove one of the scenic routes through the mountain.
Murder Hole Beach - Murder Hole Beach is one of County Donegal's hidden secrets. The spooky name is rumoured to originate from the 1800s, when a young woman fell from one of the cliffs surrounding the beach however other reports say that the name is derived from how dangerous the currents are; and how perilous it is to swim there. This beach is definitely not on the map, you have to know what you are looking for, but once you make the trek thru the private farm land, you are greeted with the most spectacular view. Pictured below is super secret muder hole beach. Not pictured: the bull, the rain, and the 40 mph winds. We are happy to point you in the right direction, just ask!
Horn Head - An awesome walk that gives you great views of the cliffs. The only problem for us was the wind! It was insane. We quickly ran from the car park to the first tower to take shelter. We thought we were going to get blown away - otherwise we would have pictures to share. Still highly recommend it!
After two days of camping in the cold and wind. We decided to upgrade to a wooden pod at the Wild Atlantic Camp. It was warm and comfortable and the facilities were great. We lucked out, they had a last minute cancellation. It was a bit more than we wanted to pay, €50, but it was worth it. We went into town and ate at Rose's. The food and service were great.
Total drive time: 6h 40m
Route: Creeslough - Dublin
We set off for Slieve League, but took the long way thru Glenveagh National Park. The views were amazing. I love the long drives on the tiny roads through the mountains. Go get lost on the backroads!
Slieve League - So there are two different view points here - Pilgrim Pass and Bunglass Point. I am laying this out here because on trip advisor and other sources I was confused. We originally drove to Pilgrim Pass. Again, the weather was not great. We saw a car continue beyond the car park on the tiny road so we decided to follow. Mistake. We turned around promptly when we realised this. This road is not for driving on. Leave your car at the car park. This would have been an awesome hike had the weather been better. We decided to skip Pilgrim Pass and head for Bunglass Point. There is a car park at the cattle gate, but open that bad boy up and keep driving. There is another car park at the top. The views were amazing even with the fog. We hiked up for a good 20 minutes before turning back down. We will be back here to hike Pilgrim's Pass!!
Mullaghmore Head - This was a nice little drive. Plenty to see. You can also view Cassiebawn Castle from afar. You should be able to see Benbulbin from here as well. But as you can see from the pictures - it was quite foggy.
Benbulbin - a large rock formation in County Sligo. It was entirely too foggy to see any of it. We even drove to the base and around. Will have to come back to see this neat neature feature. We attempted to see Benbulbin, but it was just too foggy out. Headed home.
The plan was to spend the night around Sligo, but we decided just to head back to Dublin to get into our warm bed. We still had the next day off and the rental car, so we took a day trip from Dublin to Glendalough - you can read about it here.
Overall, a great Game of Thrones and County Donegal trip. Still so much more to see for both. Will head back up North soon!