Hi everyone! SO excited to have my first guest blog post finally go live! I decided I wanted to do something fun for it, and with perfect timing I present to you a travel guide of Iceland with the company of my crocheted Khaleesi! One of my great childhood friends, Ceci Brunning, was headed off to Iceland for a trip (a huge Game of Thrones fan herself) and she was kind enough to take pictures with Khaleesi and write up the awesome post for all of us; enough of me chatting, I hope you enjoy her summary, tips, and pictures of her trip! You can find the free pattern for Khaleesi HERE
Hello! My name is Ceci, a high school history teacher by day and a traveler by anytime there’s a school break. I’ve known Vincent for the last 18 years – that’s how long him and my brother, Sebastian, have been friends. Our families are very close – there’s a long history of carpools, beach trips, and holidays together over the years. Vincent is like another brother to me, and it’s been so cool watching his crochet empire grow over the last few years!
My biological brother and I recently went on a sibling trip to Iceland. Iceland has been red pinned on my travel map for a few years – I’ve heard of how unworldly it looks and the pictures were enough to sell me. It only helps that one of my favorite TV shows, Game of Thrones, notoriously films in Iceland! I’d been bothering Vincent for months to start watching Game of Thrones and crochet a Daenerys doll, and in the weeks leading up to the trip he did both!
I was SO excited to bring Daenerys to Iceland with me! Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name, is definitely my favorite Game of Thrones characters, if not one of my favorite characters of all time. I admire Daenerys for several reasons. Her ultimate goal in the world is to bring change, good change – to “break the wheel.” I relate to this – I am also driven in my career to promote social justice in the world. Daenerys is strong, independent, determined, and possesses incredible perseverance. She’s often criticized for being ruthless, but I see her as making strategic decisions to ultimately bring change, rooted in her immense compassion. She inspires me, and of course I always love seeing a strong female character on screen, which GOT has plenty of!
Throughout this post, I’ll provide tips, advice, and my thoughts on some of the GOT filming locations we visited with Daenerys. It’s in chronological order – we drove around the whole island and spent 9 days there. Disclaimer: We didn’t hit up every GOT filming location – some were minor, didn’t seem worth the trip, or were too out of the way. I hope this post helps you plan your GOT pit stops in Iceland!
This is the waterfall that Drogon snatches up a sheep for lunch in Season 4, Episode 6, “The Laws of Gods and Men.”
This waterfall is a short detour off of the Ring Road and on your way to view the Golden Circle. It’s definitely worth it. You’ll see a lot of waterfalls in Iceland, but this one was especially cool for more reasons than Game of Thrones filming there. There’s a cool edge you can stand on to get a better look at the waterfall. The surrounding area is gorgeous. And, at least when we went, there was basically no one there. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s not known about unless you’re on an Iceland Game of Thrones hunt like we were, or because we got an earlier start to our day and beat the tourists. Still, it’s worth seeing, especially if you’re a huge Daenerys and dragon fan like I am!
Þingvellir National Park
Walking through the “bloody gate” was one of my favorite memories of Iceland, and we almost didn’t find this spot! We knew it was filmed in Þingvellir, but the place the directions took us was a very specific, touristy spot (great views though – definitely visit it!) So after some google searches, we figured out that there’s a spot that looks like the bloody gate entrance not too far away. Follow the directions to the Öxarárfoss waterfall. When you park your car, you can go to the left towards the waterfall. To the right will take you to what looks like the bloody gate! I am actually not 100% sure this is EXACTLY where they filmed it, but it looked damn close and that was good enough for me! There were not a lot of people there (probably because it was snowy and there was a sign saying don’t walk through that we ignored) so walking through the quiet of the snow and marveling at the formations of the earth was an incredible experience, and it really made it feel like we were on our way to visit Aunt Lysa!
Visiting the black sand beaches was one of my favorite places we went to in Iceland, partially because of all the Game of Thrones scenes that include them, but also because of how surreal it is, with the color of the sand, the rock formations, and the roar and overpowering waves from the sound of the ocean. Reynisfjara was absolutely breathtaking and amazing to explore – it’s super accessible which also makes it super popular! My tip for the best photos and a more raw, less touristy experience is to go first thing, early in the morning at 7 am. We did this after visiting the night before where people were flocked everywhere. When we went at 7am there were literally just 2 other people there.
They filmed the scene of Jon Snow and crew arriving at Eastwatch on another beach nearby, although I’m not sure how to access the exact beach they walked on. The arch in this picture was used as a shot in a Season 7 trailer but it’s not in any episodes itself. To access the viewpoint for it, follow the directions for Dyrhólaey, and walk towards the edge of the peninsula, towards the light house.
So, going here, we knew they had filmed a lot of beyond the wall scenes here. We didn’t realize we were in the exact spot where Jon Snow and Ygritte first meet, though!! This place is easy to access… if you have a 4WD. There is a very janky road to drive to the parking lot that you need a 4WD for. Then you can explore the area from the top. There were people walking on the ice below, from where we came it was hard to access. I think there’s a path from the Svartifoss waterfall site, but we didn’t have time to explore this option. It’s a very cool view, I just wish we had realized we were at the spot Jon and Ygritte met! I would have gotten way better pictures…
So, the internet will tell you that this THE cave, the cave Ygritte tells Jon they “never should have left.” Well, the internet is wrong. This is not the cave. They did film wildling camp scenes in Mytavn, but nothing at this cave. In fact, the cave was filmed on set. That’s right, it’s not even a real cave that they’re in. BUT. If you find yourself in this area in Iceland, I think this cave is still worth visiting. It’s very cool, easy to find and access (just off the main road), and there are cool views at the top of the cave. So, I still recommend going.
Kirkjufell was one of the sites I was most excited to see while in Iceland! We also saw it on our last full day in Iceland, so the anticipation was certainly building up. Kirkjufell was right off the main road. We saw it on our way to Olafsvik coming from Akureyri, but it’s also not a far drive from Reykjavik. When we were getting close, we saw it from another angle, and it does not look the same from every angle! It didn’t even look like a “mountain, shaped like an arrowhead.” Sebastian asked me if that was it and I was like, “HA! No! That doesn’t look like it!” Well, I was wrong. It was it. There’s a parking lot across from it and you walk just a small trail over a little bridge (there’s waterfalls! Little ones) When you get to that angle, it definitely looks like the mountain that the Hound saw in the flames! Actually seeing it was so cool, I stared at it for a few minutes just to drink it all in (this is probably true for almost everything I saw in Iceland actually). They didn’t actually film the beyond the wall scenes here – it makes sense why, there’s a lot of tourists and it’s right by the main road! They filmed shots of it and the CGIed the mountain into the scenes. Also, if you’re visiting when there’s snow, wear your crampons here!
Just driving around Iceland in general, there are so many views that look like Westeros, the North, and North of the Wall. I can’t tell you how many times we said “that looks like the Wall!” and “this totally looks like Game of Thrones” and “it feels like we’re beyond the Wall!” Below are some backgrounds that made me really feel like I was The North!
Some basic, non-GOT centered, Iceland info and tips:
We heavily based our itinerary off this one. It’s 10 days, but we adapted it for our 9 day trip. It’s super thorough and provides maps for each day, as well as suggestions for where to stay for the night. Definitely check it out if you’re planning a road trip around Iceland.
While it’s easy to snag a super affordable plane ticket to Iceland, the prices in Iceland can be intimidating. But, it is completely doable! To cut corners on prices, stay in Airbnbs, and DON’T eat out. We didn’t eat out once, and instead went to the Bonus grocery stores, making sandwiches in the car and cooking dinner each night (since we stayed in Airbnbs, we always had access to a kitchen).
If you’re renting a car and buying gas, DO NOT select the “fill up” option! It will overcharge you until the payment goes through. This is totally fine if you have enough $$$ to cover it (It was about $180) but if you’re using a debit card or don’t have that space on your credit card, avoid that option. We used a credit card to buy gas cards (like gift cards) and that worked well.
Get a portable wifi! We got one through our rental car, and it was a little under $10 a day. It was totally worth it – we used it all the time, for directions, to look up random places we wanted to visit, play Spotify, and of course to share our adventures on social media. It also took the stress away of “what do we do if we get lost?!” because we always had google maps available.
Buy crampons! Totally worth the ~$18, it made walking in the snow SO much easier.
I hope these tips were helpful or, at the very least, the photos were entertaining. Please feel free to DM me on instagram if you have any further questions (@csquaredequals). Or, you can send your question to Vincent and he’ll pass it along to me. Thanks for reading!