A Game of Thrones Travel Guide to Dubrovnik, Croatia (aka King’s Landing)

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Game of Throne’s King’s Landing fashioned after Dubrovnik, Croatia

Despite its dragons, direwolves, and white walkers, the Game of Thrones world isn’t quite as make-believe as it may seem. In fact, its capital, King’s Landing, is almost entirely filmed in the very real—and very beautiful—city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik is known as the pearl of the Adriatic, thanks to its strategic location on the Dalmatian coast and its stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture. And show-watchers have taken notice: Since the HBO show debuted, the city saw such an exponential rise in tourism that it has dubbed it the Game of Thrones effect.

So if you are “set-jetting” to Croatia, skip the overpriced and crowded guided tours and follow our King’s Landing guide instead.

Dubrovnik’s City Walls

City WallsDubrovnik’s walls are featured in many Game of Thrones scenes, from Cersei’s power walks to Tyrion’s brooding moments by the Narrow Sea. In fact, these ancient barriers are the main reason Game of Thrones went to Dubrovnik in the first place: “To find the full-on, immaculately preserved, medieval walled city that looks uncannily like King’s Landing, where the bulk of our show is set, that was, in and of itself, just such an amazing find,” says cocreator D.B. Weiss.

For a small fee, visitors can climb up these stone walls and walk the whole circumference of the city. It’s touristy, but for a good reason: Every section of the walls offers a specular view of either Dubrovnik’s terra-cotta rooftops or the glimmering Adriatic Sea. Go early in the morning to beat the crowd, and in the summer months, to beat the heat. As any Gold Cloak could tell you, perimeters around the realm in sun get unpleasant fast.

Tresteno Arboretum in Dubrovnik

Tresteno ArboretumThis park, located about nine miles from Dubrovnik, doubles as the Red Keep’s gardens. It’s as beautiful as it is secretive—its tall hedges are just the place to plot like Tyrion, Varaeys, and Cersei, and its vista overlooking the sea is perfect for Lady Olenna, Margarey Tyrell, and other manipulative ladies who lunch. (Although it should be said they maybe weren’t as fond of the arboretum as others. “If I have to take one more leisurely stroll through this garden I’m going to throw myself off a cliff,” the Queen of Thorns told her granddaughter in season three.)

Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik

Fort LovrijenacIt’s double duty for Fort Lovrijenac; its interiors are used as the halls of the Red Keep and the exteriors are seen in shots of Blackwater Bay, like the scene were Myrcella Baratheon is shipped off to Dorne.

Tourists are welcome inside this ancient fortress, which served as the setting for some of Cersei Lannister’s best showdowns. But for those who want to skip the trek, pristine views of Lovrijenac can be seen from the city walls or at Nautika, one of the finest restaurants in Dubrovnik.

The Jesuit Stairs in Dubrovnik

The Jesuit StairsThe Jesuit Stairs off of St. Dominka Street is one of the sites from Cersei Lannister’s infamous walk of atonement (although this iconic Game of Thrones scene apparently almost didn’t happen—at first, the Dubrovnik church didn’t want such a blatant display of nudity near its holy halls).

Most people go here for the social media likes. Some inventive couples even bring “shame” bells with them (don’t worry, if you don’t own an obnoxiously loud chime, they are sold at plenty of the nearby souvenir shops). But its value goes beyond the ’gram: The unassuming neighborhood is dotted with outdoor cafés and street vendors and is less touristy than Dubrovnik’s main drag.

The official Iron Throne on Lokrum Island in Dubrovnik

Island of LokrumThe holy grail of Game of Thrones artifacts, the official Iron Throne, is located in a small museum on the island of Lokrum, a mere 15-minute ferry ride from the Old City’s main port. Except here, you won’t need an army and a royal birthright to sit on it, just a small amount of patience and a friend with an iPhone to capture it all.

If you want to continue the Game of Thrones momentum, Lokrum is also home to many of the shooting locations for Qarth, the unsettling city Daenerys visited in season two, as well as an impressive amount of colorful peacocks. Otherwise, head to the island’s famous cliffside swimming spot and take a plunge into the pristine Adriatic waters.

Then, finally, there’s the city itself. With every season but one of Game of Thrones filmed in Dubrovnik, almost every sweeping street, hidden alley, or grand building has popped up in an exterior shot somewhere or somehow. So ditch the guide and meander around—if some site looks familiar, there’s a good chance Ned Stark, Tyrion Lannister, or Littlefinger once basked in its presence.

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