Why Travel to Croatia: A Guide for Game of Thrones Fans

By Marley Braun | Destinations

Visiting King's Landing 

Years ago when I started watching Game of Thrones on HBO (cue the theme music in my head right now), I remember thinking are these locations real and if so, I have to go there!  

I was delighted to learn the locations ARE real and that Croatia would be the next country added to my bucket list.

Actually, getting to Croatia took me almost as long as it took George RR Martin to write A Dance with Dragons, but I finally made it there last year.  Did it disappoint?  Absolutely not. Do I totally want to go back?  Hell yes. 

Besides being THE King’s Landing, home of the Seven Kingdoms, Dubrovnik itself is stunning.  It sits on the beautiful turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by a massive stone wall that has stayed intact since the 16th century.  Thanks to Game of Thrones (cue the theme music again), Dubrovnik has become quite the tourist attraction and it has become so overcrowded with GOT fans like me that the last few seasons HBO has had to move shooting locations to somewhere quieter.  

However, Dubrovnik is more than ready to be a “must see” destination in itself.

Dubrovnik

On the day I was there, there was a mass of people trying to get into the city through Pile Gate.  I instantly felt like Arya trying to maneuver through the streets of Kings Landing in season one trying not to get trampled to death or spotted by Joffrey.  

I highly recommend the Game of Thrones tour through Viator.  It was absolutely fantastic!

My 5 Favorite Moments of the Tour

Tyrion Lannister’s secret passageway in/out of King’s Landing

The water here is stunning and the day I was there people were in the water and clearly not afraid of wildfire.   

The Red Keep

As you climb above the steep steps to Fort Lovrijenrc opposite the walled city of Dubrovnik and above Tyrion’s secret passage, you enter the Red Keep. Above the entrance is a very fitting saying carved in the stone, “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro” (“Freedom cannot be sold for all the gold of the world”).  

From here you get a breathtaking view of Dubrovnik and Minceta Tower, which served as the House of the Undying where Daenerys went to look for her stolen dragons.  You can’t help looking out into the distance searching for Stannis Baratheon’s ill-fated fleet.  

Pile Gate

The entrance to King’s Landing is the gate to the city.  Instead of peasants and commoners you will encounter artists and performers.  

The Steps of Great Sep of Baelor

I couldn’t help myself from walking up and down the stairs saying shame, shame!


The Iron Throne

Even though this was just a replica, we couldn’t help taking turns sitting in it.  How cool is that?  It is located in a small shop, up a lot of steps but it was totally worth the picture.  

HBO Stories

Not only did we go to some cool sites in King’s Landing, but we learned some really cool insider information about the HBO production.  Whether they are true or not, I really don’t care. They were highly amusing to hear.  

Click & Expand for HBO insider secrets we heard on the tour!

"Tyler Lannister Slept Here"

Too Many Tourists

Paid Vacation for Better Filming?!

Many More Places To Explore...

If you are a true Game of Thrones fan, you can not leave Croatia without going to Trsteno Arboretum (or Highgarden as GOT fans would recognize it).  The arboretum dates back to the 15th century.  It is a worthy place for the Tyrell family to call home.  R.I.P. Margaery and Lady Olenna.  

Below captures the scene in season three when I decided I had to find out if that place was real or not.  It was and it was right there waiting for me in Croatia!

Image by neufal54 on Pixabay

Final Thoughts & Tips

With HBO’s Game of Thrones coming to an end in 2019, I am preparing myself to say goodbye to so many great characters but I will not be saying goodbye to Croatia.  

I am already planning to go back in 2020 with friends, who are not GOT fans, but who I plan to convert!  If I could ever get Hayley to sit still long enough to get through an episode of Game of Thrones, I am sure she would realize Croatia needs to be added to her bucket list.  

Whether you go on your own, as a couple, with friends or with family, here are my top 5 tips for visiting Croatia:

  • Know your currency: You will want to exchange money for Croatian kuna or plan to use an ATM once you arrive. I have met many people that didn't realize Croatia does not accept euros.  Know before you go!  The kuna currently equals 1 for every .15 cents in U.S. dollars so that is A LOT of kuna!  Croatia is a great value. 
  • You don't have to be a Game of Thrones fan to enjoy Croatia.  I have traveled all over the world and Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.   If you are closer to my age than Hayley's, you may not even know where Croatia is.  When I was in school, we called it Yugoslavia.  Know before you go!
  • If you aren't sure you want to spend an entire week of vacation there, look into the many cruises that now include Dubrovnik and Split as ports of call.  You can get a great primer for what Croatia is like and then you can plan a longer visit for the future.  
  • If you are a Game of Thrones fan, just know that the sites won't look exactly like they do on TV.  There are a lot of CGI effects that the show uses to "enhance" the already beautiful buildings.  For example, don't expect to see the Great Sep of Baelor at the top of the "shame, shame" steps.  There is an old church there, not a behemoth cathedral. 
  • "You know nothing Jon Snow" (or any other traveler who is used to the well run trains in Europe).  Croatia does not have a great train system but it does have a great bus system.  Getbybus is a great site to use to figure out how to get from town to town.  
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About the Author

I am a mom first, and a wandering (but not lost) soul second. After years of planning travel for friends, I became a Cruise Planners Travel Advisor. You can learn more about the services I can offer you by visiting me at Memories by Marley

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