After a few underwhelming days in Venice I flew to Dubrovnik to hopefully improve my holiday and to soak up some more Game of Thrones locations. Dubrovnik featured as the fictional capital King’s Landing from Season 2 onwards and although some key scenes had the help of some nifty CGI, the city is as beautiful as it is on the show.
My accommodation was a delightful Airbnb just outside the Old Town, run by Lucija and her husband. Every day they made sure I was looked after, had everything I needed, and one night invited me to join them for a family celebration dinner. The view from the guest house was quite something.
I’d flown into Croatia around 7am after three relatively sleepless nights and had some hours to kill before I could check into my accommodation. I travel very light so I had a little wander around by Pile Gate, loaded up on espressos, and visited a Dali exhibition in a 13th Century monastery.
There’s nothing like arriving in a new city, getting yourself sorted, then heading out to explore. The heatwave was still in full swing so I planned for lots of stops and iced coffees and taking it easy. Luckily Dubrovnik is very easy to explore, especially once you are in the Old Town, even if the steps aren’t exactly easy in those levels of heat.
Whilst Dubrovnik looks good at any time of the day, sunset is particularly gorgeous as the light streams through the old, narrow streets and golden hour shows off the historic architecture.
But what about Game of Thrones? It’s hard to avoid it in this city, with companies offering walking tours, boat trips, coach trips – some tours offer props and costumes for the full geek experience. Gift shops were filled with merchandise, fellow GoT-loving tourists wearing their various ‘House X’ t shirts gave each other the thumbs up in Old Town…and I lapped it up.
My tour began at Pile Gate, one of the two entrances to Old Town. It’s featured in Season 2 and 3 – it’s difficult to get a shot of this without any people in!
Walking down towards Pile Bay I recognised scenes from Blackwater Bay, from when Cersei waved goodbye to Myrcella as she left for Dorne, and where Sansa and Shae sit discussing the ships.
The Rector’s Palace (above) featured as Qarth in S2’s scene between Daenerys and the Spice King.
One of my favourite spots was the Jesuit Staircase in Old Town, which featured in several scenes in the show, but most famously in Cersei’s ‘Walk of Shame’ scene. Some tour groups even brought their own bell!
To round off the day I took a walking tour of the city walls. The number of people walking the walls at any time are restricted (and as from August 2017 the city were beginning to restrict the number of people inside the city walls) but I chose a quieter time of the day to do the tour, and I was rewarded with not only some familiar sights, but some stunning view of the Adriatic Sea and the red rooftops of the city.
On my last full day in Dubrovnik I took a ferry to Lokrum Island. Although it was packed with tourists, it was a great little trip out of the Old Town and was filled with rabbits and peacocks!
The gardens were beautiful but it was a little too hot for me to enjoy much walking around. The Benedictine Monastery dates back to the 11th Century and you can walk around the ruins; there’s even an Iron Throne now on the island which you can pose in.
I hardly ventured out of Old Town except for my walk back to the guest house and boat trip to Lokrum Island. I’m sure there’s much more to see but I do have a penchant for walled cities. I planned on taking the bus to Trsteno to see the gardens but the temperatures weren’t being too kind so I opted for sitting on the Jesuit Staircase and reading a very suitable book.
The walking tours can be done for free if you follow your own map and take it at your own pace – but I love to hear the stories of filming, how the crew made the locations look as if they were part of Westeros, and the tour guides were full of geeky facts and details about the show.
I spent very little money in Dubrovnik – except for the tours and entrance fees to the gallery and monastery I was happy just to walk around the city, nosing into corners, people watching and reading my book in King’s Landing.