[Croatia] My "Game of Thrones" Travel Guide to Dubrovnik
Just got back from a week in Croatia! Our first stop was Dubrovnik a.k.a. King's Landing to "Game of Thrones" fans! Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, the city is one of the most popular tourist destination in Croatia and for good reason - its picturesque Old Town and medieval City Walls have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. Many of its sites have been used as a filming location for Game of Thrones and while you can take an organized tour, we chose to explore them by ourselves which is totally doable so keep reading for what to see and where to find those filming locations within this stunning walled city!
When To Go: A bit of advice on when NOT to visit Dubrovnik is July and August as it was way too hot and crowded with cruise ship tourists. It was >35°C everyday we were there and most restaurants have little to no AC so the heat was pretty unbearable during the day. Even the beaches were really crowded so we couldn't even swim in the Adriatic Sea to cool down. We were told that the best time to go is in the shoulder season from May-June and September-October when it is still warm enough to swim in the sea and hotel prices are much lower.
How To Get There: You can arrive by car, ferry or plane into Dubrovnik. We flew in from London via EasyJet but had an unpleasant experience with our transportation from the airport into Old Town. We took the Atlas airport shuttle bus into the city which was the cheapest and recommended mode of transportation as a taxi wouldn't get you any closer to the pedestrian-only Old Town (usually the drop-off point is at Pile Gate). Except our shuttle bus driver decided that he didn't want to wait in traffic into Old Town so he dumped us all at Port Gruz instead. We were then forced to pay for another taxi to get us into the city and from the reviews online this doesn't seem like a one-off incident, so I would recommend arranging a more reliable mode of transportation instead of the Atlas shuttle bus.
Where To Stay: Most major hotels are located outside of Old Town so accommodations within the walled city are usually boutique hotels and apartments. We ended up staying at the beautifully restored 16th century St. Joseph's Boutique Hotel which is located in the heart of Old Town. With only 6 rooms, each one had been individually designed to preserve the original historical features of the property and the service of the family-run hotel was extremely warm and friendly as well.
What To See: One of the must-do activities is to walk the Walls of Dubrovnik! The ancient stone walls run about 2km around the entire Old City and are one of the most well-preserved medieval walls in the world. We started early at 8am to beat the crowds and heat which is recommended as there was a line already when we went. There are actually three entrances but most people usually start at the one in Stradun near the Pile Gate. You can take as long as you want to walk the walls as there are a few cafes and restroom stops along the way but once you exit, you will have to pay again if you want to re-enter for any reason. Just remember to take a bottle of water and your camera with you as there are many beautiful views to capture along the walk!
Once you get to the top of the wall at the Stradun entrance, you will have a nice view of the longest and most important street in Old Town with lots of shops and restaurants.
The Franciscan Church and Monastery
One of the many fort lookouts from the walls
Continue walking towards Fort Lovrijenac and you can see the pier where Sansa and Shae were talking before Littlefinger showed up to inform Sansa of his escape plan for her in Season 1.
You will then have a great view of Fort Lovrijenac which served as the filming location of Red Keep including the tournament thrown in honor of King Joffrey’s name day in Season 2. The ticket for the walls also includes the entrance for Fort Lovrijenac and it's worth visiting for the best views of Old Town at sunset!
A bit of crowd already at the walls in the morning
The next part of the walls separates the city from the Adriatic Sea and you can see the famous Buza Bar situated on the cliffs just outside the city walls as well as the nearby island of Lokrum.
The walls continue along the Old Harbor before taking you to my favorite part of the walk which offers spectacular views of the orange rooftops and churches in the city.
Finally, you will reach Minceta Fortress where the base of the tower was used to film the scene where Daenerys entered the House of the Undying to rescue her dragons. After this, you will end up where you started in Stradun and exit the walls.
The Pile Gate is one of the main entrance point into Old Town and this is where they filmed Jaime Lannister returning back to King's Landing after his captivity in Season 3.
It's also where King Joffrey got pelted with cow poop by the crowd and triggered a riot after ordering his guards to kill everyone in Season 2.
The other main entrance into Old Town is Ploce Gate which served as the Red Keep Gate where Cersei Lannister enters Red Keep after her walk of shame in Season 5.
Speaking of Cersei's Walk of Shame, the iconic scene took place at the beautiful Jesuit Staircase which leads up to the St. Ignatius Church in Old Town.
The stairs lead you down to the Old Town Market where you can buy local produce and goods (aimed at tourists mostly though).
A few steps from the Old Town Market is where you can find the Rector's Palace - a beautiful building in the heart of Old Town which was used as the filming location of the Spice King's residence in Qarth (remember the staircase?). In reality it was built in the late 15th century for the rector who governed the city and now a Cultural History Museum about the history of Dubrovnik.
The St. Dominic Street near the Ploce Gate is used for many of the market scenes in King's Landing including where Tyrion Lannister and Bronn heard a protest speech against King Joffrey and where Cersei passed through during her Walk of Shame.
The nearby Dominican Monastery is worth a stop with its beautiful Gothic-style architecture and impressive art collection by Dubrovnik painters from the 15th and 16th century.
Lastly, another must-do activity in Dubrovnik is to ride the cable car up to the top of Mount Srdj for breathtaking views of Old Town and Elaphiti Islands! We came here for the sunset which produced beautiful colors across the sky but since the sun doesn't actually set behind Old Town, the colors of the city came out rather dull at twilight so I would recommend coming up here in the early morning instead if you want better pictures of the walled city.
Hope you enjoyed reading my "Game of Thrones" travel guide to Dubrovnik! Stay tuned for more of my travel posts on Croatia and remember - Winter is Coming (...in about 4 months or so).
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