Do you still have a big Game of Thrones shaped hole in your heart, and are you also heartbroken by the news that we’ll have to wait even longer than usual for the next season? Well what better way to console yourself than going on holiday to Westeros itself?! Okay, as close to getting to visit Westeros as you’re ever going to get on account of it being a fictional place…
As any super fan knows Dubrovnik has been used as the setting for the capital King’s Landing, and for various spots around Essos, since season 2 and I could not think of anywhere better to serve as a beautiful, medieval backdrop for one of the greatest TV shows ever made. What’s more is, unlike Westeros, a holiday to Dubrovnik is unlikely to lead to your head on a spike by the city gates!
Walk the city walls:
Most of the time when you see a character in GoT walking the walls of King’s Landing they’re only in a section above Pile Gate which isn’t open to the public, but you can still feel like the King/Queen of Westeros walking around your kingdom high above the peasants below by walking the Dubrovnik city walls. One of the fortresses (Tower Minčeta) on the walls, that you can go into if you don’t mind a lot of stairs, was one of the filming locations for the house of the undying and it offers stunning panoramic views of the city.
A ticket for the wall walk is 120 kuna (~£14/€16/$18) but *top tip*, if you visit Fort Lovrijenac first, where a ticket costs just 30 kuna, then that ticket will get you onto the walls without having to pay any extra. There are two entrances to the walls, one near Pile Gate and one near Ploče gate, not far from the old port entrance.
2. Go sea kayaking and leave from the Blackwater Bay:
Just outside of the city walls lies Pile bay, the little part of the sea which stands in for the famous Blackwater Bay and, in real life, is where numerous sea kayaking tours leave and return to every day. What better way to sea King’s Landing that to row out of it past some of the shows filming locations, such as the jetty where Sansa and Shae had their conversation about the ships out on the water, the beach where Cersei waited for Myrcella and Jaime to return, and the section of the walls that the butchers who killed Robert’s dead babies walked across to find the hidden ones. Just don’t do a Gendry and keep rowing forever!
Adventure Dalmatia / Adventure Dubrovnik (a company used by the GoT cast and crew in 2013) organise tours from Pile Bay that come with English and Croatian speaking guides and all the equipment you need, you just need to email them no later than a day before you want to go so they know how many places they’ve filled.
If you’re not that organised there are many companies around Dubrovnik who offer these tours, and who will be touting just outside of Pile Gate, all of which will be offering pretty similar packages. The tours cost around 230-250 Kuna (~£28/€33/$37.50) and last around 3 hours. You get to see the sights from a different perspective and explore hidden caves that can only be reached from the sea, and you can even do a sunset tour.
3. Visit Fort Lovrijenac:
Aka The Red Keep, the sight of Joffrey’s name day celebrations, the place where Bronn taught Jaime to fight left handed, the place where Tyrion and Varys took numerous strolls together and the place which overlooks the sight of Joffrey and Margaerys’ wedding (Park Gradac) and the Viper Vs the Mountain fight (Belvedere atrium). So basically, if there’s only one place you go to as a GoT fan in Dubrovnik, this is the place.
Stand high on the walls ready to address your subjects like Joffrey at his name day, strut down the halls like Cersei on her way to tell Baelish that ‘power is power’, or just take in the views and wish you had such an amazing job which involves working with backdrops like this every day!
The fort costs 30 kuna (~£3.50/€4/$4.50) but if you’ve already got a ticket for walking the walls just show that and you get in for free. The ticket is valid any day, regardless of when you actually walked the walls.
4. Take a Game of Thrones walking tour:
Yes, you can do a self-guided walking tour of the city, but on a guided tour you get insights from your tour guide that you wouldn’t hear otherwise (most of them are extras and will happily tell you stories from behind the scenes), and you get to be 100% certain that the place you’re visiting is a filming location and not just somewhere that you think looks familiar.
The tours will take you around Fort Lovrijenac, stopping at each location so your guide can tell you about it and about the other locations which can be seen from the fort, such as Lokrum island and the fortresses on the walls. They will go around Pile Bay (the Blackwater Bay), to Pile gate which Jaime returned through in season 3 and where most of the gruesome scenes are filmed, to Jesuit steps (shame steps) and down the walk of shame route, to Rectors palace to see the bust the show left in, to the sparrow steps where the sparrows were preaching to the people of king’s Landing when they first arrived.
Not only that, but your tour guide will show you A4 screenshots from the show at each location so you’re not relying on memory, and they will also dedicate about 20% of the tour to telling you the history of Dubrovnik. Nerdy and educational.
The tours cost around 150 Kuna (~£17/€20/$22.50), 180 kuna with entrance fee to Fort Lovrijenac (but remember, if you have tickets for the walking the walls you’ll get into the fort for free). What’s more is, there’s an official merchandise store in Dubrovnik which has an iron throne that you’re only allowed to sit on if you buy something from them, but if you’ve been on a GoT walking tour they let you sit on the throne for free. You get a new profile picture at no extra cost. Win.
This is the park in which Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding ceremony was held in season 4. As the wedding was supposed to be top secret (so secret that anyone working on set would be fined $1000000 if they leaked any detail about the scene) a big wooden dome was built around the section of the park they were using. Also, you know the red stones that littered the floor during the wedding? There were so many of them scattered over the ground that you can still find some today. So why not go and hunt some down for yourself and take home an actual piece of the set as a souvenir?
Oh, and don’t worry, I have it on good authority that no doves (which were some of the many, many pigeons that roam Dubrovnik) were harmed when the cake was cut!
6. Visit Lokrum Island:
You can see this island from the Old Town and it only takes 10 minutes by boat. A return ticket costs 100 kuna (~£11.30/€13.30/$15) and you buy them from the old town harbour in front of where the boat docks. You’re not allowed to stay overnight on the island because of an old curse placed on it by the Benedictine Monks (so don’t miss the last boat that leaves at 7PM because that sounds quite creepy!)
It’s also home to many peacocks that just roam about freely and, apparently, the Game of Thrones showrunners decided to make statues of peacocks to put around Qarth because they were so enamoured with the peacocks. So cute.
On the island you’ll find a Game of Thrones exhibition which has a little bit of history about the island and about the filming locations. It also has videos of the cast and crew talking about their time filming in Dubrovnik and it has an iron throne, which is slightly less crowded than the one on the mainland. Outside of the exhibition you’ll find the gardens in which Dany’s welcome party in Qarth was filmed. At the very top of an extremely steep hill you’ll find Fort Royal, a circular tower perched upon a very steep hill that was, according to a guy who worked with the GoT crew, used as a filming location for the house of the undying scenes. Now, I don’t know how true this is because every other source I’ve found has only mentioned Tower Minčeta but Fort Royal certainly looks the part!
This is the brothel where Tyrion met Oberyn for the first time. Obviously as an ethnographic museum it’s a little less scandalous in real life, but the old, winding stone corridors are all the same, so you can still swagger down them like Oberyn once did! To visit the museum you have to buy a Dubrovnik card for around 100 Kuna (~£11.30/€13.30/$15) or 25 Kuna for schoolchildren and students, but this Dubrovnik card is also valid for entry into the other museums and galleries, so if you wanted to visit them all it’s worth it. The museum is home to many traditional Croatia/Balkan art, lace, jewellery, pottery etc exhibitions which shows how the area/culture has changed through the ages, so you can swagger through the halls whilst seeing some pretty awesome exhibitions. The museum is open 9am-4pm every day except Tuesdays and public holidays.
So there you have it, my top tips for seeing Dubrovnik as a Game of Thrones fan. I didn’t mention Trsteno Arboretum, which stands in for the gardens of King’s Landing that the Tyrells frequent quite a bit, because I haven’t been and it’s technically not in Dubrovnik, but it’s obviously well worth a visit.
Have you ever been to Dubrovnik? What did you think? Also, do you think there’s anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!
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