Best Places to Travel for Fantasy Nerds

We know traveling isn’t really an option right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning our next vacation! This week, we thought we would cover the best places to travel for Fantasy Nerds. We looked for locations that, on their own, would make exciting places to travel, but also featured a unique attraction for Fantasy Nerds to enjoy!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios – Florida, USA

The Wizarding World at Universal Studios is the only place on this list that we have actually visited. Trust us, it is as wonderful as you imagine it to be! We felt like kids again, off to start our first day at Hogwarts. The parks bring the books to life in a magical way. You can dress up in house robes and visit Ollivander’s for a wand that interacts with the park itself! The rides and shops are breathtaking and immersive. You will spot your favorite characters and visit locations that look just like the movies. Be sure to dine at the Three Broomsticks, one of our “Best Restaurants for Fantasy Nerds”, while you are there. 

In addition to the original Hogsmeade location, you can now visit Diagon Alley by riding the Hogwarts Express to the second park (totally worth getting the 2-park pass for this experience). The Hogwarts Express is a great ride in itself. Then, you must find the secret entrance to Diagon Alley (I may have passed by it the first time). I love how you wind through the entrance and step into another world that isn’t visible to the rest of the park. As soon as you do, you are hit with live music from a wizarding band and all the sights of a bustling wizard town. You can drink Butterbeer or a magic elixir from Eternelle’s that transforms before your eyes. There is an assortment of shops, but be sure to visit the  Magical Menagerie to take home your very own fantastic beast!

Also at Universal Studios during September through October is Halloween Horror Nights! If you’re a horror fan this is a must visit! Every year is a different theme, some houses are based on popular horror movies, shows, and even books! If you like horror and fantasy this is the best time to go, because parts of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including Diagon Alley, are also open during Halloween Horror Nights. 

Lord of the Rings Set – New Zealand

Photo by othree / CC BY 2.0

If you’re a fan of Tolkien then you’ve more than likely wanted to visit the set of Lord of the Rings. For me it’s the number one place I want to visit! Not only is New Zealand absolutely gorgeous but it’s also the home of the Lord of the Rings films. Hobbiton, The Shire is the one large set still intact from the films that you can visit. They host National Hobbit Day on September 22 (Bilbo Baggins birthday), a Hobbit Beer Fest, Hobbiton tours and even an Evening Banquet tour! All of these tours include a guide around Hobbiton!

Another exciting thing you can see is Weta workshop; who produced sets, costumes, armor, weapons, creatures and miniatures for all the films! While most sets from the trilogy are no longer there; you can visit the geographical locations and easily recognize Mount Doom, Rivendell, Edoras, Isengard, Lothlórien and many more! 

Studio Ghibli Museum – Tokyo, Japan

Photo by George N / CC BY 2.0

If you enjoy anime then you’re certainly aware of Studio Ghibli! Something that interests me quite a bit is in most of the inside there is supposedly no photography allowed, so there is a hint of mystery behind this Museum. You will definitely experience the wonderful worlds of Ghibli with varying rooms like interactive life-size sets, art, and the intricacies of animation. You can recognize many favorites such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky and many more! If you’re a Ghibli fan this is a must visit. 

It seems fairly difficult to get tickets to the Museum, so plan your trip ahead of time and have patience!

Game of Thrones Set Tours – Belfast, Ireland

Photo by William Marnoch / CC BY 2.0

I first heard about the Game of Thrones set tours from the HBO documentary about the show, and since then I have been dying to go! The location is in beautiful Ireland, a country I have always wanted to visit. There are actually multiple tours that look like fun experiences. The first one, from the documentary, is Game of Thrones Tours. You can tour iconic locations including Winterfell, the Twins, Riverlands, and Iron Islands. What makes this  tour unique is that your guide is an extra from the TV show, and they provide you with replica costumes and metal swords to immerse yourself in the experience.

Winterfell Tours is another tour that looks fantastic. There are many add-on experiences with this tour that can give you a one-of-a-kind adventure! You can meet the actual dogs that played the Direwolves Grey Wind and Summer. You can take archery lessons from the “Master-of-Arms, go on a Narrow Sea boat voyage, have a Medieval Banquet, and more! These add-ons seem totally worth the extra money.

Coming soon there will also be an official Game of Thrones Studio Tour in partnership with HBO. You will be able to tour the sets from the hit show, complete with costumes and props. This tour is planned to have a park with rides, a restaurant, and a gift shop. We can’t wait for this to be built, so we can compare all the great Game of Thrones tours in Ireland!

Doune Castle – Stirlingshire, Scotland

Photo by Alasdair / CC BY 2.0

This list wouldn’t be complete without a medieval castle, and we thought Doune Castle would be a great site for Fantasy Nerds to visit. Why? This castle was filmed as both Castle Leoch from Outlander and Winterfell in Game of Thrones! It was even featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You can take an audio tour of the castle that is narrated in part by Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Outlander’s Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser).

Doune Castle is one of the most complete medieval castles in Scotland. The castle was a retreat for many monarchs, and King James VI, Margaret Tudor and Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed at Doune Castle. Not to mention that it was the site of historic battles, including in the Scottish Wars of Independence. 

What Do You Think?

Which of these locations would you like to travel to? Have you visited any before? If you found this post helpful, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

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Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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