Ok, I’m not going to lie the main reason why my family and I visited Dubrovnik was to take part in some intense Game of Thrones tourism. And it did not disappoint.
We visited before the shockingly awful season 8 finale when we all naively thought these amazingly complex storylines just might accumulate into something. But now we are left wondering why we all spent countless hours staring at Kit Harrington’s beautiful, brooding face…
Despite the ending, Game of Thrones did highlight the stunning beauty of the Old Town of Dubrovnik. The historic walled city, nestled in the coastline of Croatia, was used as one of the primary sets for many keys scenes throughout the fantasy series.
But what is there to do in Dubrovnik apart from Game of Thrones tourism? Uhhhhh…..
1) Scour the city for iconic filming locations
Ok, I know we’re all still sore about the finale. BUT I don’t think that should stop you from exploring the Old Town of Dubrovnik which was the filming location for King’s Landing.
The city is full of Game of Thrones souvenir shops and perfect instagram opportunities. (See to your left…)
Rather than paying with the lives of millions, I sat on the Throne for just a few Kuna. We took a stroll through the streets of flea bottom, to soon find ourselfs descending down the iconic steps of the Red Keep. Later, we visited the dock to recall the heart wrenching moment Jamie and Cerci sent Marcella off to Dorne. I can even grabed a “Shame” cocktail at the bottom of the Spanish steps, a famous location used in the route of Cerci’s infamous walk.
So join one of the many walking tours or find a map filled with the city’s filming locations!
2) Visit Trseno Arboretum
Now, I am a huge fan of Olenna Tyrell and currently aspiring to become her later in life. (Or Magie Smith’s character in Downton Abbey. Either way I’m gonna be a fabulously rich old lady). So for me, the highlight of the trip was our visit to the stunning gardens of Trseno Arboretum.
Just a short drive outside of Dubrovnik, these gardens were used as the set for the Red Keep’s Palace gardens in seasons 3 and 4. It was also the site in which the majority of Olenna’s scenes were filmed….
Trseno Arboretum is also a stunning example of the beautiful locations surrounding the Old Town of Dubrovnik. As we explored the ancient gardens, we found beautiful examples of architecture, gorgeous water features and stunning views onto the coast. It is the perfect place to escape the chaos of Dubrovnik and enjoy a more relaxed afternoon in the shade.
3) Walk along Dubrovnik's city walls
Walking the city walls is an absolute must while in Dubrovnik. It’s the best way to get stunning views of the city and to recreate those aerial shots over King’s Landing.
When I visited, we made the ruinous decision to walk it at around midday. My younger brother and sister made it their mission to force us around the wall in the shortest time possible. They also decided to complain loudly at regular intervals to ensure I was punished for leading them into the fiery depths of hell. I’m still haunted by their glowering looks back at me across the city walls and around every corner I turned.
Having said all of that, this is honestly the perfect way to see the city, just not in the height of summer in the middle of the day… Get up early and walk along the walls during the quieter parts of the day or head up there later in the afternoon or even catch the sunset.
You will get a wonderful view over the red roofs scattered across the city, and into the sea beyond. You’ll also get a great view of the imposing Fort Lovrijenac which was used for many scenes including those in the Red Keep.
4) Go swimming near Black Water Bay
Dubrovnik is located right on the coast, making it the perfect spot for sunset views and the ultimate Instagram snaps. While we were walking along the walls, at certain points we could gain a view of the site which was used as Black Water Bay.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t access that area for a dip in the ocean. However, after exploring for a whlie , we stumbled upon one of Dubrovnik’s hole in the wall bars where we could grab a drink and hop into the crystal blue sea!
This will save your life if you’ve just dragged grumpy teenagers along the walls… or you’re escaping from the Dothraki hoards. (To me, they’re the same thing).
5) Visit the Island of Lockrum
A trip to the island of Lokrum, just 600m from the coast, will satisfy those looking for an extra adventure.
The ferry ride to the island from the Old Town’s port is good enough reason to venture to the island. On the short boat ride, we had fantastic views of the city walls from the sea. Standing at the tip of the boat, I felt like Daenerys about to attack the Red Keep. Only the strong smell of suncream could tell me otherwise.
Once we reached the island, there is so much to explore. This included the Botanical Gardens and the monastery grounds which were both used as the location for Daenerys’ visit to the beautiful city of Qarth in season 2.
While Croatia lacks sandy beaches, we found plenty of opportunities on Lockrum to jump in the water. The Dead Sea lake was a popular site on the island to cool off. However there were plenty of chances to get in the sea. But first we had to face our fears, find a nice ledge and jump from the cliffs each time! (Or scramble awkwardly down the side).
While Dubrovnik was definitely a tourist trap for Game of Thrones fans, there was plenty to do and explore for those immune to the spell of fantasy dramas.
It is such a beautiful city, and definitely not one to miss if you’re looking for a trip in Europe. Or find yourself casually circling Croatia with your Dragons one day…