Stay of Thrones: The Locations Behind This Summer’s Most Anticipated Prequel
Calling all epic fantasy TV superfans! For almost a decade, fanatics across the world were glued to their screens devouring eight seasons of an award-winning fantasy drama that showed noble families waging war against each other in order to sit on the infamous throne, which came to an end in 2019. Now they get to feast their eyes on the highly anticipated prequel, coming to TV screens this summer. Based hundreds of years before the original show, it tells the story of a civil war fought between rival factions and celebrates fire-breathing mythical creatures and heroic battles.
With well over a third (37%) of global travelers wanting to venture to a destination featured in a TV show or movie, we have uncovered some of the dramatic destinations where the new series was filmed. From all the natural splendor the English coastline has to offer to the ancient cities and ruinous castles of Europe, travelers can witness first-hand the incredible locations that have helped bring this long-awaited prequel series to life.
If travelers are looking for dramatic coastal views, they can’t do much better than Cornwall. Situated in the southwest corner of England, the ancient market town of Marazion is a haven of soft sandy beaches, Grecian blue sea and the stone walls of fishermen’s cottages. Guarding the bay lies the jewel in Cornwall’s crown; the amazing island castle of St. Michael’s Mount where extensive filming of the new series has taken place, and where travelers can discover legend, myth and over a thousand years of incredible history. The fortress, reached by the cobbled causeway at low tide and by ferry boatman at high tide, is floodlit at night creating the mysterious illusion it’s floating in the air. Marazion is a great base to explore the rest of the Cornish coast where the dragon series was filmed: a short drive away is the scenic Holywell beach, a surfing hotspot which was used for several battle scenes, while Kynance Cove features distinctive serpentine rock formations and ethereal white sand. Cornwall has an abundance of activities to offer, with opportunities to go kitesurfing, paddleboarding, dolphin spotting and swimming with seals. Visitors can learn to capture the views for themselves at the most southerly point of the UK with a Photography Skills Audio Tour at Lizard Point, shooting landscapes and seascapes along the magnificent South West Coast Path.
Where to stay: The stylish Marazion Hotel is a stone’s throw away from the beach and boasts rooms with sea views overlooking the fortress of St Michael’s Mount. Set in a former 17th century coaching inn, the hotel also offers a two-bed self-catering apartment with a fully equipped kitchen. A full English breakfast is cooked to order every morning, while guests can eat fresh seafood straight from the sea at the hotel’s restaurant – and a Cornish tea room is moments away in town. Carved nearby into the granite cliffs, and set in sub-tropical gardens, is Porthcurno’s world-famous open-air Minack Theatre. An iconic Cornish attraction that resembles something out of ancient Greece, the venue hosts incredible live plays and performances for a very special evening out.
Fantasy lovers across the world will love the towering cliffs of the 16th-century Hartland Quay, which can be accessed by the popular South West Coast Path. The Hartland Peninsula, located in north Devon, and its surrounding area is recognized as Heritage Coastline and an area of outstanding natural beauty. With magnificent cliff walks, extensive coastal views, a large variety of wildflowers and wildlife including Peregrine falcons and wild deer, it’s the perfect place for hikers and photographers. Both cameras and crew have been spotted shooting dramatic scenes for the upcoming series amidst the rocky formations and rolling green hills. Travelers can explore these same shady lanes and ancient woodlands the actors have walked, discover beaches and waterfalls along the Peninsula or even hop on a helicopter for aerial views of this unique coastline and learn about the legend of shipwrecks past. In August, the traditional English village of Hartland hosts a vibrant carnival that includes a grand parade, kaleidoscopically-dressed performers, concerts and an energetic dance on the final night.
Where to stay: The quaint and cozy Downes Cottages are inviting vacation homes located on the Hartland Peninsula. The cottages come with seven acres of glorious garden views, a communal reading room, a play area for young children, as well as complimentary access to the spa and gym. Set in rolling farmland and wild meadow that slopes gently to the coast, the cottages are only a short stroll from one of Devon’s sheltered beaches where guests can enjoy an array of watersports including snorkeling, windsurfing and paddle boarding. Even in peak season, this area feels like a deserted sanctuary and is recognized for having no light pollution – perfect for stargazing on a clear night.
Travelers will feel like they have stepped back into the Middle Ages in the mysterious city of Cáceres, located in the west of Spain. Protected by defensive walls, its narrow cobbled stone streets and ancient stone walls are lined with palaces, manions, arches and churches, while the skyline is decorated with turrets, spires and gargoyles. Considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, it has survived almost intact from its 16th-century period of splendor, so it comes as no surprise Cáceres was a recurring filming location in the original series and its value to the ancient world represented in the prequel. The well-preserved Old Town has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO due to its mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, while the Parque Del Principe – famous for its fountains, gardens and sculptures – offers travelers a charming old-world leafy oasis to relax in. For those who have dreamt of galloping through the picture-perfect landscapes of the Spanish countryside, enjoy an Ambroz Valley Horseback Tour and soak up the beauty of the surrounding terrain in true big-screen style.
Where to stay: The characterful Apartamentos Plaza Mayor 35, situated in the historic square, have been immaculately renovated respecting their original stately home features including the vaulted ceilings and original tiled flooring. Complete with all home comforts including a kitchenette, these light and airy apartments are sound insulated and each features a pretty patio or balcony overlooking the square. What’s more, the property has a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge for its impactful sustainability efforts including eliminating single-use plastic and using 100% renewable electricity. Steeped in history, this enviable location features San Juan Church and the Cáceres Museum on its doorstep, as well as fabulous tapas restaurants and bars where guests can while away a lazy afternoon.
Engraved into the slope and spread along the hillside, gigantic granite boulders form the walls of houses in the most quintessentially Portuguese village of Monsanto. Situated in the district of Castelo Branco in the east of Portugal, this unique mountain village and its fabulous medieval castle look right at home in this fantasy series. Resting atop a hill, the fortress of Monsanto Castle – now in ruins – features walled courtyards and intricate arched gates. Visitors can clamber up the hillside to enter its doors where filming has taken place for the prequel, and admire the wonderful surrounding scenery from up high. Monsanto also houses various 18th-century manor houses and Romanesque chapels in its rocky landscape: close to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit is the house of Fernando Namora, an acclaimed Portuguese doctor and writer – both well worth a visit. Nearby, Castelo Branco is known for its quaint Old Town and beautiful Baroque garden with elegant fountains and tilework.
Where to stay: At the Old Hotel situated in the west of Monsanto, guests can delight in the breathtaking lake and mountainous views from their balconies, which can also be explored along the popular hiking routes nearby. This ancient granite 15th-century guest house is charming, historic and homey and offers double as well as family rooms, a continental breakfast and a warm welcome from the owners. Ideally located just a short walk from Monsanto Castle, its views of the orange sunsets that span the valley are outstanding.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,055 respondents across 31 countries and territories were polled (including 501 from Argentina, 1003 from Australia, 500 from Belgium, 1001 from Brazil, 500 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1007 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 508 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1000 from Germany, 1005 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 502 from Israel, 1003 from Italy, 1002 from Japan, 500 from Mexico, 501 from The Netherlands, 501 from New Zealand, 500 from Peru, 1000 from Russia, 1005 from Singapore, 1002 from South Korea, 1002 from Spain, 501 from Sweden, 501 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 500 from Thailand, 1000 from the UK, 1002 from the US and 501 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2021.