Stylist’s Anna Hart travels beyond the wall with the Game of Thrones crew to discover remote North Iceland
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones stars Northern Ireland as Westeros and Essos, Dubrovnik as King’s Landing, and North Iceland for the wintry terrain beyond the wall. And starstruck fans of travel and TV are visiting these destinations in record numbers, hoping to make HBO’s imaginary world a bit more real to them, or, indeed, hoping to flavour the real world with the fantastical and imaginary. Stylist travelled to North Iceland with Chris Newman, Producer on Game of Thrones, to follow in the footsteps of the Night’s Watch - and have a nosy in the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte finally get it on…
Winter Magic in North Iceland
We fly via Reykjavik to Akureyri, Iceland’s second city. For a city of just 17,000 inhabitants, it punches above its weight for quirky cafes, cool restaurants and live music venues - but then, Iceland is famous for its nightlife. In the winter months daylight hours dwindle to five or six, so that’s a LOT of nightlife to fill - and the Northern Lights don’t come out to play every night. We tuck into a meat-heavy tasting menu at current hotspot Strikið, hidden away on the fifth floor of an unassuming office block, overlooking the fjord. The friendly waitress introduces us to the beers of local microbrewery Kaldi, so we can’t resist a visit to cosy beerhouse Brugghúsbarinn for a few more bottles.
Get the shot...
Godafoss, or Waterfalls of the Gods
Our first stop, a little over an hour from Akureyri, is Godafoss, or Waterfalls of the Gods. In the summer months, tourists in campervans park up and picnic on the grassland. In winter, it’s a different beast; a majestic, icy torrent that reminds you that nature is still the boss of you. The stark, semi-lunar landscape and thick blanket of snow is eerily familiar; we’re now north of the wall.
From here it’s a short drive to Lake Myvatn, a volcanic lake formed by an eruption 2300 years ago. Again, in summer the waters are turquoise, the trees are teeming with bird life, and a famous marathon takes place around the shore. In winter, it’s wild and desolate, a lake punctuated with eerie, snow-capped lava stacks. Chris points out the archway of the cave where Jon Snow loses his cherry to feisty Ygritte. I cannot imagine a worse place to take your clothes off.
We wander amongst the lava fields of Dimmuborgir, which is famous for hiking in the summer months, and inhale the sulphurous steam vents of Hverir, where, Chris tells us, the geothermal jets of steam were used in shot to replicate blizzards in some Night’s Watch scenes. Slightly less cold; a lot smellier.
Hang out with the cast
Delicious trout at Vogafjos
… at the Mývatn Nature Baths, a less touristy version of the Blue Lagoon where you shower naked with strangers and drink beer whilst lounging in mineral-rich geothermal waters, icicles forming in your hair.
… at Vogafjos, a cowshed and cafe (yes, really) that’s a firm favourite amongst cast and crew.
… at the simple but friendly Sel Hotel Mývatn where the cast and crew recently held the wrap party for Season 4.
Stylist travelled with Iceland Travel. The Game of Thrones Iceland: Beyond the Wall tour costs from £699 per person, including flights from the UK, two nights in Akureyri and two nights in Reykjavik, and all activities, transfers and excursions.
Game of Thrones Season 3 is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 17 February from HBO Home Entertainment