Fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones and its accompanying books have followed the cast through Northern Ireland, Morocco and most recently Iceland. But seasons 2 through 5 showcased the beauty of Croatia, the former Yugoslavian country that endured a brutal civil war in the 1990s which today receives millions of visitors annually who come to admire the stunning coastline and rich history. Luckily for Game of Thrones fans, you can visit some of the filming locations while you learn about Dubrovnik’s Venetian occupation or indulge in the delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
Play with the Lannisters in King’s Landing
Dubrovnik, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” served as the series’ backdrop for season 2 as King’s Landing. The iconic City Walls, specifically the Minceta Tower, are used in the opening credits and many other scenes. The Walls of Dubrovnik were built in the 7th century as an important part of the city’s defense system and include many towers where cannons were designed to repel attackers. You can walk the hundreds of steps of the walls for the best views of Dubrovnik. Fort Lovrjenac, also in Dubrovnik, is portrayed as the Red Keep and is an important cliff top fortification that helped the Croats defeat the Venetians. The Rector’s Palace within the city was also used as a filming location.
Tyrion’s Stay: Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik
“My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind…and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That’s why I read so much Jon Snow.”[caption id="attachment_40723" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Observing the coast from the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik rooftop. Photo via trivago[/caption]
Sharpen your GoT knowledge and take to the Hilton’s roof for some literary indulgence with a copy of A Dance with Dragons.
Short of reading, or in the case of Tyrion with his maps of Westeros, drink in the sweeping view of King’s Landing (read: Dubrovnik) from this 5-star hotel. Pair it with a glass of Rakija, a local brandy, to complete this epic experience. Just don’t forget to settle the bill. We all know that Lannisters always end up paying for their debts.
Walk of Atonement
If you’re like us, you were probably struck by how the GoT production team was able to drive Cersei’s pain straight home during her Walk of Atonement in the last episode of Season 5.[caption id="attachment_40724" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Dubrovnik by night. Photo by Stéphane Goldstein CC BY[/caption]
Do your own penance promenade like Cersei through the streets of Dubrovnik. Though rest assured, you can stay clothed, keep your hairdo and hopefully be free of judging stares for this beautiful urban stroll. Though we’d personally opt for completing the Walk of Atonement with a local ringing a bell behind us shouting ‘Shame!’, you can just take in the Pinterest-perfect atmosphere at this Southern Croatian settlement.
Cersei’s Stay: Stari Grad Hotel
When not marching herself through the streets naked, Cersei in fact has another hobby: slowly sipping wine while muttering death threats left and right. The perfect setting for no-good: the Stari Grad.[caption id="attachment_40725" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] A slow wake-up at the Stari Grad. Photo via trivago[/caption]
Not only is the hotel at the heart of the old city but offers the chance to do some regional wine sampling. Like Cersei, pour yourself a nice glass of red while plotting the murder of your arch nemesis. Or you can simply appreciate the wondrous view from the hotel’s roof. It’s up to you!
Daenerys’ Diocletian Palace
Further north on Croatia’s stunning coast lies Split, a beautiful and ancient city divided by winding alleys through Diocletian’s Palace, which served as another filming location. The namesake Roman emperor built it in the fourth century as his retirement home and eventually was incorporated into what is now the modern city. Today the palace is home to shops, restaurants and hotels and is an amazing place to wander around and get lost.
Say Valar Morghulis to Sibenik
After witnessing her father’s execution, Arya Stark took to eating pigeons in King’s Landing and was forced to follow Sandor Clegane aka The Hound. Without a doubt, she was in desperate need for a vacation. Lucky for her, all she had to do is utter “Valar Morghulis” and off she went to the magnificent city of Braavos.[caption id="attachment_40726" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Sibenik by the sea. Photo by mynameisdan CC BY[/caption]
To follow in Arya’s footsteps to this city of sailors and adventurers, you’ll need to visit Sibenik, Croatia. With its own small port, fortresses and medieval alleyways, this seaside city is the perfect playground for anyone as badass as Arya.
Arya’s Stay: Heritage Hotel Life Palace
Pulling into Braavos, Arya chooses to take refuge in the House of Black and White. If you not too keen on staying over in the Hall of Faces or being tasked with washing corpses, the Heritage Hotel Life Palace may be your ticket.[caption id="attachment_40727" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] In the heart of Sibenik at the Heritage Hotel Life Palace. Photo via trivago[/caption]
Housed within the former Marenci Palace, dating back to the 15th century, this property pays homage to historic Sibenik. Start your morning on the right foot with a terrace-side coffee overlooking the streets of the old town and why not follow it up with a spa morning in the hotel’s jacuzzi and sauna.
You might spend your last waking moments before bed thinking back on a day of relaxation in this small taste of paradise. On the other hand, you can bet Arya’s pre-sleep ritual includes counting the number of people on her personal hit list.
See where Daenerys plots her takeover[caption id="attachment_10992" align="aligncenter" width="1089"] Photo by Thorsten Rinne CC BY[/caption]
The Walls of Ston are part of a seven kilometer wall that protects the city of Ston and is the second longest in Europe, after Hadrian’s Wall. It was featured in the show, as was the Fortress of Klis, located near Split, where Daenerys plans her takeover. The fortress was a royal palace for Croatian kings and defended the area against Ottoman forces. Today it houses a museum on the area’s military tradition.
The beautiful Krka National Park was also used, where you can admire the stunning rivers and waterfalls that made up the terrific Game of Thrones scenery. Whether you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or are just curious about the landscapes you’ve seen on screen, Croatia is well worth a visit.
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Have you been to Croatia? What did you think?