If you're six seasons deep into HBO's Game of Thrones and breathing dragon fire at George R. R. Martin to go ahead and finish the sixth and seventh installments of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, someones wants to sell you a night in the House of Stark of Winterfell.
While it requires a little bit of imagination to plan a vacation in Westeros, property owners around the globe are doing their best to make it possible. Game of Thrones has filmed in Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Canada and, briefly, here in the U.S. However, Game of Thrones tourism took off after the first season, when a more than $14 million investment by arts group Northern Ireland Screen turned into nearly $101 million in tourism-related business. Sites including Castle Ward (Winterfell) and Magheramornequarry (Castle Black) helped increase tourism- and arts-related jobs in Northern Ireland by more than 12%.
Meanwhile, tourism to the walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, and in Iceland both jumped in 2012 after scenes were filmed there. In 2013, visits to Ouarzazate, Morocco, doubled in 2013 after Daenerys Targaryen spent a whole lot of time there in Season 3. No, there are no executions or Red Weddings in any of these locations, but it speaks volumes about how just a little bit of screen time can get viewers interested in the all-too-real setting of an entirely fake world of art. After all, Middle Earth didn't exist until J.R.R. Tolkien made it up, but that doesn't stop New Zealand from cashing in on Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit years after each of their film trilogies left theaters.
With help from the folks at vacation rental site HomeAway, we came up with ten locations that either resemble sites from Game Of Thrones or are close enough to actual filming locations to give fans an up-close look:
From $472 per night
Let's think back to a better time when Daenerys Targaryen was queen of Meereen, a land of pyramids nestled between sandstone hills and Slaver's Bay, and had the fighting pits and dragons at her disposal. The houses of the elite in Meereen are amazing brick pyramids that look an awful lot like these traditional trulli in Puglia. With five bedrooms spread across two pyramids, there's room enough for up to ten people, which can drop rates to around $23 per person per night during the low season. Surrounded by four acres of olive and fruit trees and equipped with an open log fireplace, full kitchen, private swimming pool, outdoor grill, outdoor pizza oven and stone gazebo, it's certainly better accommodations than Daenerys is getting in Vaes Dothrak these days.
Location:Challain la-Potherie, France
Cost:From $47 per night during the offseason, $6,571 a night as an event rental space from April through October
O.K., so Natalie Dormer occasionally has her hands full with Margaery Tyrell. Maybe a husband gets poisoned, maybe you marry his brother for the power, maybe you get tricked into perjury, maybe the conniving rival with skeletons in her closet gets taken down with you. There's no need not to do all of this in a style befitting your position. The Château de Challain is where the Tyrells would put down if they ever made it to our side of the screen. It spends much of the year as a wedding venue, which should suit Maragaery's needs just fine, but it's a bed and breakfast during the winter months. It sleeps up to 55 people in 23 bedrooms, with suites including robes, slippers and more for just $47 per person per night during the low months.
Location:County Tipperary, Ireland
Cost:Averages $1,141 per night
Castle Ward in Northern Ireland's County Down is actually Winterfell, with Cairncastle in Northern Ireland's County Antrim serving as the site of Ned Stark's execution. However, we can see where HomeAway was going with offering up Lisheen Castle in Ireland, even if it's just a baby by castle standards. Built in the early 19th Century and restored into a guest house by 2000, Lisheen castle has room for up to 16 guests and has formal drawing and dining rooms with hand-painted murals on original vaulted Norman ceilings. Plus, if you pick the right time of year, rates can get down to as little as $77 per person per night.
Location:Knysna, South Africa
Cost:From $826 per night
Hot-tempered, hot-blooded and living in one of the hottest spots in south Westeros, the Martells are... maybe folks you don't want to get too attached to. However, if you like blazing temperatures, orange-sand deserts and misguided vengeance, you'll want to live like a Martell. While Lindsay Castle gets all the sun the Martells can handle, there are a few quirks that you and up to 11 of your friends should be aware of before bunking down here. First off, you're running on solar-powered electricity, gas and rainwater. While the electricity shouldn't be an issue, the rain water should be used sparingly. At this spot, the Noetzie River, seabirds, baboons and the occasional leopard meander by and can be seen from most castle windows thanks to its vantage point on the rocks. Bedrooms are accessed via steep wooden steps or stone steps along the castle walls, all laundry is done off-site and the road down to the castle itself can't be accessed by anything but a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Honestly, we aren't sure that the Martells don't own this place.
Cost:From $300 per night
Things generally don't go well for the Greyjoys and their Ironborn compatriots when they drift beyond their castle on the Iron Islands. Delicate parts of your anatomy are taken, hounds are set upon you and your whole crew is wiped out. Nope, better to stick to your castle on an island, which is where this particular property comes in handy. Castello Aragonese was originally built in 474 B.C., but came into its own during the 14th Century under the Aragonese dynasty. In fact, it's still accessible by an ancient bridge built in 1438 by Alfonso of Aragon. Inside the castle walls are churches, courtyards, archways, terraces, gardens and arcades with views of the sea, the peninsula and the Harbor of Ischia -- all nestled between Naples and Sorrento. It's also home to a small hotel that houses three two-bedroom apartments that each sleep four and are connected to the castle entrance by elevator. Apartment guests can take advantage of the hotel's porter and concierge service, as well as its terrace dining.
Location:County Clare, Ireland
Cost:From $817 per night
O.K., so the Lannisters aren't the nicest of folks. But if your house was a fortress carved out of a hill with a gold mine at its base, you probably wouldn't grow up to be the most pleasant person either. Ballyhannon Castle is a decent approximation of that particular castle. Built in 1490, the five-story castle can sleep up to ten, while a coach house on the grounds sleeps another 15. The stonework, wood beams and archways have made it an impressive wedding venue, but we can't really advise going to any weddings that the Lannisters are even associated with.
Cost:From $328 per night
The stark Icelandic landscape of Season 2 just happens to be located right along Iceland's golden circle path littered with glaciers, geysers, geothermal power plants, the site of the world's first Parliament in Thingvellir and the impressive Gullfoss waterfall. Honestly, it really isn't all that bleak and is particularly lovely during the warm, green months. Meanwhile, this four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with room for eight has a hot tub and a roof balcony with sweeping views for when your day's trek is over.
Cost:From $60 per night
Yunkai and The King's Landing were filmed near here, but the views of the Atlas Mountains from this spot near Tizagzaouine Berber are a draw in their own right. From the fountains in the plaza to the cozy little alcoves and their cafe tables, this desert palace is a great starting point for horseback rides in the Draa Valley or across the desert of M'hamid. It's punishing terrain, but these are as peaceful accommodations as you'll find in this quiet little corner of Westeros.
Cost:From $470 per night
Seville gets a whole lot of screen time in Season 5, with the Alcazar of Seville serving as the Water Gardens of Dorne, seat of the House of Martell. Nearby Osuna, meanwhile, is also home to the site that served as Danzak's Pit. There's a two-hour walking tour available, but this 17th Century palace is worth a great deal of your time as well. An Andalusian style central courtyard with a fountain, Roman pillars and balconies leads to sitting rooms, a full dining room, a communal terrace and four bedrooms that sleep up to ten people. You're within walking distance from the Cathedral and market, but you're also in one of the few places on this list with tours dedicated to Game of Thrones.
Cost:From $853 per night
No episode of Game of Thrones has ever been filmed here or anywhere close. None of the houses of Westeros really come close to looking like this. That said, it captures the aesthetic better than some of the properties closer to the filming locations. With room for 18 and a location just a few hours from Paris, this 13th Century castle sits on nine acres acres of parkland and gardens and has nine bedrooms, four bathrooms, a library, a dining room, a kitchen hundreds of years old and scores of other rooms to get lost in. Surrounded by a moat and situated just beyond the UNESCO Heritage Site of Provins -- a Medieval town just a short drive away -- the Château captures the period detail that Game of Thrones showrunners strove for without attracting hordes of tourists looking for dragons and wondering if that's the spot where Jon Snow... oh, nevermind.