Your Holiday Guide to Westeros (Game of Thrones Month)
Welcome to the Land of Ice and Fire, the perfect place for a holiday! Many travellers would be put off by the current political upheaval and state of economic disruption, but for the daring this land has endless wonders to offer! With so many different climates sharing borders and the eclectic mix of cultures there is an incredible range of things to see and do! When you’re looking for a place to stay use this simple to guide to find your way from north to south.
Location: Snuggled in the depths of the Haunted Forest, this is the perfect location for to bed down for the night during an adventurous ghost hunt!
What to Expect: Craster and his family have been known to give shelter to weary travellers in the past. While the blizzard rages outside everyone will feel cozy together in the main hall where the many serving girls will prepare the local specialty of mutton.
Main Attraction: The authentic north-of-the-wall experience.
Pros: Being off the beaten path you are unlikely to find the place booked out, so just drop on in. There are plenty of staff on hand as Craster seems to have a very lenient hiring policy.
Cons: Known White Walker territory, so keep your obsidian handy! Craster is strangely protective of the female workers, so it’s advised that young travellers watch their step.
Location: Dividing the snowy wastelands of the north with the more comfortable cities of Westeros, The Wall is a unique man-made structure that has to be seen to be believed.
What to Expect: The brisk, cold winds means that visitors to the north need to wrap up snuggly before checking out the remarkable view from the top. The Night Watch will supply basic meals and entertainment through their dramatic approach to politics. The long journey to the top of the wall can be followed with a long, gentle walk at the top of the world.
Main Attraction: You may just catch a glimpse of the giants rumoured to dwell in the haunted forest!
Pros: Simple entertainment and a unique sight are enough to lure in any traveler.
Cons: Just watch that first step…
Location: Centrally located in the northern area of Westeros with easy access to the northern capital and transport hub the White Harbor. The Dreadfort is located some distance to the east, but they are only recommended for those seeking an extreme vacation experience.
What to Expect: Enjoy roaring fireplaces behind the thick stone walls while feasting on hearty winter dishes. This family run locale offers archery, sword training, horse riding and hunting the the Wolfswood. The enormous direwolves make for a unique sight but rest assured that they’re friendly. Executions may be available depending on availability.
Main Attraction: The Godswood is a relaxing garden for visitors to enjoy the quiet of the north and see a genuine Weirtree.
Pros: Pets welcome, although they might prove to be of interest to the direwolves. A nice family atmosphere welcomes visitors.
Cons: Occasionally comes under siege from barbarians, demented branches of the family tree and inclement weather.
Location: Almost every traveller exploring Westeros will find themselves at The Twins. Centrally located at the Neck the twin castles guard the mighty river that divides the north from the south.
What to Expect: Very much the family affair, visiters to The Twins will be amazed by the long standing traditions of this eccentric slice of the countryside. This set of castles has long been a waypoint of people on the road and while it’s not the most lavish accommodation you can expect to meet some unforgettable characters. You may even meet your future husband or wife!
Main Attraction: Although you may just be here for the river crossing make sure you partake in a family meeting – you’ll be flabbergasted!
Pros: The most convient place to cross the river, and plenty of color in the locals.
Cons: You may be forced in an arrangement marriage – and they’re not all comely.
Location: Taking sail west from the Neck will find you the Iron Islands, a cluster of stony outcrops with castles clinging to the cliffs while the massive fleet comes and goes.
What to Expect: A proud and isolated people who have made a living through raids and piracy, so expect a rather rough crowd. Whilst visiting the isles you’ll have the chance to witness the ritual drownings and resuscitations of the followers of the Drowned God, which stands out as a more extreme displays of faith in Westeros. The towers of Castle Pyke are connected by bridge after many of them fell into the sea and while it’s a great day out you’ll need to watch your footing.
Main Attraction: The Iron Fleet is the largest in the world so try and co-incide your visit with when it’s in the area.
Pros: Those with their sea legs will have a blast island hopping and trading with the locals, and the fresh salt spray will make you feel alive.
Cons: When the Ironborn living of the spoils of their raids there’s a lack of fresh produce on offer. Female travellers should be wary of being made a salt wive to a local.
Location: High in the mountains east of the Neck and overlooking the Vale of Arryn. It’s not an easy trek to reach it, but the view makes it worthwhile.
What to Expect: It’s a simple lifestyle in the Eyrie. Reading, playing in the snow and admiring the view. With a small population it is one of the quietest corners of the world to stop and relax. Plus the satisfaction of making the climb is a solid achievement!
Main Attraction: Did we mention the view? You can practically see from coast to coast!
Pros: Relaxation is the order of the day, with long days spent enjoying the library and a sense of isolation only the Eyrie can offer.
Cons: Like many places in Westeros the Eyrie is a family run affair, and the family may chose to accommodate you in a sky cell if they don’t like you.
Art from Fantasy Flight Games
Location: When you follow the river out to the west you’ll easily find the castle of Riverrun. In fact, if you’re not careful you might just steer your boat right in to it!
What to Expect: The Tully’s may be an old family but you shouldn’t expect an old lifestyle! Fishing, boating and other assorted water activities rule the day while the surrounding lands offer plenty of opportunity for riders, hunters and more! Sitting between the freezing north and the scorching south Riverrun is the perfect stay for those looking for outdoor attractions, with fashion and gardens thrown in for good measure.
Main Attraction: It’s right there in the title…the river!
Pros: Sun, surf and more! Plus walls thick enough to withstand a siege by the Lannisters!
Cons: Currently under siege by the Lannisters.
Location: Between the Neck and King’s Landing stands what was once the most imposing castle in all the land. Build on the north edge God’s Eye lake it’s an easy location to fit in to your schedule.
What to Expect: Much of the castle is now in ruins, but you still get a clear sense of what once stood on this ground. If anything you can marvel at the devastation caused by the dragons of Targaryen. It what remains intact you will see epic dining halls with dozens of man sized fireplaces, towers that reach to the clouds and the still equipped torture chambers.
Main Attraction: The dining hall is still open and functioning, and you will never see anything on this scale again.
Pros: Few places over such a clear picture of Westeros history.
Cons: The torture chamber is, unfortunately, still operational.
Location: On the east coast of the southern half of Westeros this beacon of rule is easily accessible from any road. The Blackwater Bay opens to the seas and all major transport routes start or finish here. The towering Red Keep is visible from many leagues away making it easy for the traveler to find.
What to Expect: The complete cosmopolitan adventure! From rubbing shoulders with the workers in Flea Bottom to requesting audience with the Iron Throne in the Red Keep you will marvel at the full spectrum of what city life in Westeros is all about! Of course it’s not all slums and politics. Faith and science are within walking distance, represented by the Great Sept and the Guild of Alchemists. History is also on public display with a visit to the old Dragon Pits. With the best armorers, tailors, weapon makers, inns and brothels in Westeros there is no doubt that visitors will find what they’re looking for. Even if you tire of the city Blackwater allows for fishing and exploring wrecks while the Kingswood offers hunting.
Main Attraction: Regardless of your interests King’s Landing will deliver! For a short visit the Red Keep is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit.
Pros: Everything and anything is available!
Cons: And we do mean everything! Keep your wits about you for muggers, murderers and con artists.
Art by Jordi Gonzalez
Location: The former home to the Targaryen dynasty is located at the mouth of Blackwater Bay, making it an ideal day-trip from King’s Landing. Note that due to the current political climate King’s Landing does not offer return trips.
What to Expect: Dragons. Lots and lots of dragons. Targaryen was very big on their dragons and used it as the primary motif in all their decorating. The place is better preserved that most abandoned castles and keeps in the region and in spite of its dark look it’s a remarkable place to explore.
Main Attraction: Once you’ve had your fill of dragon-esque architecture visitors must check out the giant table carved into the detailed map of the land.
Pros: A unique look at the height of Targaryen reign, and some of the most impressive architecture in the world.
Cons: Dragonstone has recently become the principle local for a new religious movement. Whilst this may not be seen as a negative to most people the newcomers do have a tendency to immolate non-believers.
Artist Unknown – Please Advise if Known
Location: Further down the west coast from Riverrun you’ll spy the majesty of Casterly Rock towering over the seas.
What to Expect: The very pinnacle of luxury! There’s a reason why the name Casterly Rock is synonymous with wealth. The Lannisters who have made their name here have invested their vast fortune in build this palace of decadence and visitors will marvel at the grand halls, sweeping staircases and fabulous treasures. For those who want to sample the best that Westeros has to offer this is their stop.
Main Attraction: Fine dining, leading fashions and priceless artworks…take your pick.
Pros: Being far removed from the ongoing conflicts Casterly Rock is something of a haven, so relax and enjoy what this castle has to offer!
Cons: The Lannisters have nothing but contempt for the common people so make sure you wear your best.
Location: Keep heading south and you’ll reach the vast, sandy land of Dorne. Buried deep within the shifting sand dune is the might city of Sunspear.
What to Expect: Although they share a landmass with King’s Landing and the cities of the north Sunspear will feel like arriving on another planet. The hot winds have seen fashions take a different turn and visitors may be caught off guard by the amount of skin on show. Be careful not to take this as a sign of a primitive culture as in some ways the people of Dorne are more advanced than their neighbours, so don’t be surprised if you see women as heavily armed as the men or in positions of power. Relax by the pools and enjoy the uniques fruits on offer to experience Sunspear at it’s best.
Main Attraction: Simply walking through the streets and markets will give you a taste of what makes Sunspear a city worth visiting.
Pros: Paying a visit to the Dornish will show you a side of Westeros that you may not know even existed.
Cons: If the oppressive heat doesn’t get you down the sand certainly will. And be wary of the Dornish habit of poisoning people they don’t like.