The HBO hit series "Game of Thrones" may take place in the fantasy world of Westeros, but the landscapes in the show's background are not only real, they're accessible.
These real-life locations are becoming popular places to visit among dedicated fans. For the icy scenes, "Game of Thrones" directors headed to Iceland, which represents the northern-most tip of Westeros beyond the Wall. On Hurtigruten cruises, voyagers can immerse themselves in the original land of ice and fire.
While there is no shortage of special effects-enhanced battles in the show - the gory opening episode of season four reeled in over 8 million viewers on HBO in the U.S. - the program makers said they prefer actual landscapes rather than anything computer-generated. Perhaps that's because the frozen tundra and rising volcanoes in Iceland already look like they've been touched up by Photoshop.
A focal point of the frosty photo shoot is Hverfjall Volcano in the Lake Myvatin region of northern Iceland. You might recognize the snow-draped area around this massive tuff-ring volcano as where white walkers trudged beyond the Wall. In real life, Hverfjall erupted more than 2,000 years ago in the southern part of Krafla fissure swarm, causing a landslide that accounts for the disrupted shape of the mountain. Walk up the crater - it's 3,280 feet wide.
The trail to the rim is rather tricky, but dedicated trekkers will be able to handle it. It has an almost vertical hike through loose, rocky terrain that consists mainly of tephra. From the top, climbers can often see steam plumes from the Namafjall geothermal area in the distance.
Indeed, this place looks other-worldly. Travelers can choose to extend their vacation after their Hurtigruten voyage and take advantage of Iceland tourism options. Visit the areas where Night's Watch men, including Lord Commander Mormont and Samwell Tarly, were attacked by white walkers. You can also learn about how the Free Folk, not unlike the ancient Vikings, survived in this grueling environment. For the romanticists in the group, you can visit the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte had their first intimate encounter. The "Games of Thrones" adventures go on!
Discover Iceland, where you'll be put in the heart of George R.R. Martin's bestselling novels.