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Game of Thrones, the epic fantasy television series based on George R.R. Martin's novels, captivated audiences worldwide with its intricate plotlines, complex characters, and stunning visuals. While the show was set in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, much of it was brought to life in the breathtaking landscapes of Northern Ireland.
My best mate Lauren loved watching Games of Thrones and so a crazy little idea started to develop....
I found a map online that outlined some of the locations that I thought would be interesting to visit along the way.
The plan was to visit as many as possible while still having a relaxed day, I knew we wouldn't get round them all but it's always nice to have as many options as possible.
I also wanted to make sure we had enough time to visit Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge along the way.
I made an itinerary at work outlining our destinations and plans for the tripm, but I decided to keep it a surprise from Lauren until we reached the airport gate.
I included all the main timings such as what time we were flying and when we would be back along with what tasty food I had packed in my 'fit to fly' picnic.
For the picnic I had to be careful regarding liquids. You can't take bottles/tubs over 100ml in your hand luggage so I had to improvise and use some small tubs to get them through security
It would have been a lot easier just to go to the Lidl near the airport but I wanted the challenge of making a 'fit to fly' picnic.
The Lidl is only 10 minutes from the aiport and you go passed it on your way north so I would very much recommend anyone wanting to do this day trip to do that instead. Make sure you have a list and know what you want so you can be in and out, you don't want to waste too much time in a supermarket as time is of the essence on this trip.
Our first stop was the enchanting Dark Hedges, where we strolled along the mystical avenue of beech trees that had been transformed into the Kingsroad in the show. It was a surreal experience, as Lauren imagined herself walking in the footsteps of her favorite Games of Thrones characters... I've never actually seen Games of Thrones but you certainly don't have to be a fan to appreciate the beauty of this place.
We drove down to Port Stewart Strand which is a National Trust area so if you're a member you will get free parking on the beach. We didn't stay here for long, only 10 minutes to have a look and take some pictures, the National Trust warden was lovely and let us park for free just to enjoy it for a few moments, we then deaded to Dunluce Castle.
You can pay the £6 to enter the castle or you can enjoy the outside surrounding areas for free which is what we did.
Parking here was free but there wasn't loads of spaces.
The Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which again is managed by The National Trust site, so if you're a member you get free entry into the visitor center and free parking. If you're not a member parking will set you back a hefty £10
We really wanted to visit so we forked out the £10 and set off on the 20 minute walk to get to the causeway.
This breathtaking location had been transformed into Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of House Targaryen. The crashing waves and rugged cliffs added an air of power and mystique to the already mesmerizing landscape.
Ballintoy Harbour is a hidden gem that exudes charm and tranquility. This picturesque harbor, with its quaint village and stunning natural surroundings, offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and was my favourite place on this trip.
We found the most perfect spot to enjoy our picnic overlooking the harbour, the weather was a little windy but where we sat was shielded by a small out-house.
There was also a small cafe that sold the most incredible looking cakes but sadly it was cash only so PLEASE don't forget a bit of cash as the cakes looked incredible.
This harbour was the setting for the Iron Islands in Games Of Thrones.
Parking here is free!
Yes another National Trust site, if you're a member you will certainly save some money on this day trip but pre-booking even if you're a member is essential.
Perched high above the crashing waves of the North Atlantic Ocean, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a thrilling and awe-inspiring attraction. Suspended between the mainland and the tiny Carrick Island, this iconic bridge offers a unique and exhilarating experience for those brave.
Parking here is £10 and to cross the bridge is £13.50 off peak and £15 on peak which in my personal opinion is a quite a hefty price so we decided not to cross.
Total £61.50 per person
I packed a picnic for this adventure but there were so many little bakeries and places to eat that if I was to do this again (which I probably will) I would leave the picnic at home and eat out and about.
Depending on how long you're visiting Northern Ireland it might well be a money saver to purchase National Trust membership as you will end up saving a fair bit!
Always better to enjoy your surroundings and have a leisurely day rather than trying to cram in too much, we didn't get to see half of the stuff we had outlined but it means there is always another reason to come back.
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