Dear Mummy, we went on the most amazing adventure to Croatia recently. In October we left dreary England in search for warmer climates and idyllic scenery. Dubrovnik has been on my folks bucket list for some time, mainly for the connection with the hit TV show Game of Thrones but also because it’s a beautiful destination and a short-haul flight from the UK. It’s great place for families wanting a short break with a really easy transfer from the airport once you hit the tarmac in Croatia.
There are loads of hotels in central Dubrovnik however we opted to stay 30 minutes outside the main hub in a lovely little fishing village called Cavtat (pronounced Savtat). This allowed us to enjoy our hotel the Remises Hotel Epidaurus and take advantage of the all-inclusive option while being on the doorstep for tourist excursions.
My folks love Game of Thrones and it’s the most popular show in the world airing on TV screens in 170 countries. So there was no question that they wouldn’t visit Dubrovnik. While the series is filmed in about 7 different countries, Dubrovnik is used to film most of the exterior shots of King’s Landing, and that’s why we’ve joined thousands of tourists to see it in the flesh. I’m a bit too young to watch the show but my folks are obsessed and can’t wait for the finale.
We were impressed with how many locations were used in the city and Dubrovnik has played host to the HBO show’s cast and crew many times as they return series after series.
So, if you are like my folks and love Game of Thrones here’s the areas to visit:
1. Pile Bay
You’ll recognise the multiple areas of Pile Bay (aka Blackwater Bay) from several episodes in the series. We were lucky enough to recreate the scene from Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 1, where Sansa Stark and Shae are watching ships on the pier when Littlefinger approaches and talks to Sansa about getting her out of King’s Landing. In October the best times to visit Pile Bay and avoid the cruise ships were Wednesdays and Thursdays and we even managed to paddle in the bay and watch kayakers!
Glancing right from the pier we saw a little middle earth-esque cliffside staircase. During Season 2 Episode 1, King Joffrey orders all of Robert Baratheon’s bastard children to be killed so that they don’t threaten his claim to the throne. One of the scenes also shows the Gold Cloaks raiding homes here. It’s such a great place for an Instawalk and we took loads of photographs before we left.
2. Fort Lovrijenac
Fort Lovrijenac is the filming location of The Red Keep: the residence of the King of the Andals and the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. When you first enter the fortress you’ll see a long corridor to your left, which you might remember from Season 2 Episode 1, when Cersei and Littlefinger talk about finding Arya. He lets on that he knows about her relationship with Jamie quoting “knowledge is power.” She threatens his life stating “power is power.” Don’t be put off by the long walk up to the fort it’s well worth it!
It’s some walk up to the top of the fort, so make sure you don’t do what my daddy did and trek up in the midday heat! Silly daddy. The views are worth the sweat though and really give you the best views of Old Town Dubrovnik. When looking at tour guides the shot below is what they use to market Dubrovnik!
While up there you’ll also be standing in the same spot as the filming location for King Joffrey’s Nameday Tournament in Season 2 Episode 1. On a clear day you can see for miles and the skylines is clearly from Game of Thrones.
3. The Old Walls
This is a MUST for people visiting Dubrovnik. If it was a toss-up between the cable car and the walls we’d pick the walls every time. If entering from the Ploce Gate entrance (harbour area), walk counter-clockwise and head up the wall toward the west side and Minceta Tower and get the main views in first across the city. The entire north side of the wall gives you an amazing view of Dubrovnik (minus the CGI) which is used for many shots of King’s Landing. We entered from Pile Gate and had to walk right round which was interesting for mummy and daddy as I wanted to stop and chat to other tourists!!
Dubrovnik’s walls come second only to the Great Wall Of China as the largest on the planet. The walls were built-in the 10th century and fortified in 1453. They even survived a huge earthquake in 1667. They must be pretty study to keep an army of White Walkers out! The Old Town walls give stunning view across the Adriatic too and there were plenty of places to stop for refreshments on the way round. Make sure you take pennies with you! The ice-cream and OJ is delicious from these vendors.
The walls are 1,940metres long, 3m thick along the sea walls and 6m thick inland. Each of the Old Town’s four corners has its own fortress, Minceta Tower, Revelin Fortress, St John’s Fortress and Bokar Bastion. Even though my folks have seen the walls depicted in King’s Landing, the structure is far more impressive and breathtaking when you see it in person. Theres some drop down to the sea as well, which had myself (and my daddy) scared! Make sure you give yourself enough time (2hrs) to casually walk around the walls and take in the views.
4. Bokar Fortress
Several scenes were filmed on Bokar Fortress from the city walls. In Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 8 – The Prince of Winterfell, Tyrion and Lord Varys walk around on top of the fortress while discussing war. You can see Fort Lovrijenac in the background of some shots, and the seaside wall in others. My folks kept stopping to try to recreate scenes in photos which was funny to watch.
Later on in Season 7 episode 1, Cersei and Jaime stand on Bokar Fortress and watch the Iron Fleet arrive. It was a very sunny day when we visited and the sun was beating down, so we’d definitely recommend bringing sunnies and a hat. Being that high up can make you dizzy too!
We didn’t do a guided walk and found ourselves overhearing a lot of the tour guides chatting. It meant that we could go at our own pace. Sometimes the tours on the walls got in the way so make sure you hang back and let them past or they’ll be nipping at your toes on the way round.
5. Minecta Tower
Our favourite area on the walls the Minceta Tower was used as the exterior location for the House of the Undying in Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 10. Daenerys walks around trying to find the entrance into the House of Undying looking for her stolen dragons. You can walk inside and up a steep staircase to get the highest vantage point on the walls and it is spectacular, your legs won’t thank you for it as there’s a lot of steps from ground level.
If you walk round the outside of Minceta Tower you can recreate the shots from the series like my daddy did above.
6. Jesuit Staircase
The Jesuit Staircase is an important location in Game of Thrones Season 1 and 5. They are located on the south side of Gundulic Square. The dramatic stone staircase leads to the Poljana Rudera Boskovica, a city square where the Church of St Ignatius and two of Dubrovnik’s colleges – Collegium Ragusinum and Jesuit college. In Game of Thrones people from all over the Seven Kingdoms arrive at The Great Sept to pay their respects to Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), but Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) keeps the mourners waiting as she pays her own private respects to her deceased father.
Perhaps the most iconic scene in Cerise’s penance occurs on Dubrovnik’s Jesuit steps. Most famously it’s known as the Walk of Shame in Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10. The High Sparrow forcing her to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing, all while the deeply devout Septa Unella rings a bell and repeats the same one word over and over and over again.
7. St. Dominic Street
As Tyrion and Bronn are walking through the streets in Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 5, they witness a protest speech regarding King Joffrey. The speaker stands on top of the staircase on St. Dominic Street. There’s loads of scaffolding here which you can see on our video but we had a good time playing around the area. The architecture and stone carving is beautiful so is definitely worth a visit.
There are two entrances to Old Town Dubrovnik, Pile Gate and Ploce Gate. The entrance to Pile Gate was used in Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 10 when Jamie arrives in King’s Landing to visit his sister.
8. Pile Gate
Pile Gate is the extremely grand entrance the Old Town. Located on the western wall, the gate was built-in 1537 to protect the city from invaders. Though now it remains open pretty much all the time. This is a very busy area, so make sure you keep together when traveling as a family and keep belongings close.
This is the easiest way to get to the limestoned pedestrianised Stradun area of the old town which is lined with shops and restaurants. The walled city is a UNESCO world heritage site and upon entering you can see why. It’s very expensive inside the walls so make sure you take plenty of money or snacks.
As you walk through Pile Gate, you’ll be standing in a long entryway. This was where the King’s Landing riot was filmed in Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 6. After the Lannisters see Mrycella off to Dorne, they’re met with an angry crowd of townspeople. Someone throws fruit at King Joffrey and a riot ensues. The doorway at the end of the corridor (which in reality leads to a little park) is where Sansa runs to try to escape the men chasing her.
9. Ploce Gate
Dubrovnik’s Ploce Gate and Revelin Fortress were used as one of the entrances of The Red Keep. It’s the gate Cersei enters after her walk of shame in Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 10. You get great views over the harbour and its less busy here with a lot of the other tourists using Pile Gate to enter the Old Town.
10. Lokrum Island
We ran out of time but have heard that a visit to Lokrum Island is well worth it for Game of Thrones fans. You can sail to the little island where the city of Qarth was filmed and Lokrum Island is a small isle covered with lush greenery just 600 metres off the Dubrovnik coast. In the summer months a small ferry service runs regularly and there are tours available. The remains of the Gothic-Renaissance style Franciscan monastery build in the 15th century are well worth a visit if you get the chance. Lokrum was used to shoot scenes of Daenerys Targareon’s travels to Qarth, with the monastery as the House of the Undying.
The Croatian coastal town is surrounded by crystal clear waters. And while many people seek out Dubrovnik for a weekend city break, it’s worth mentioning there is a lovely beach nearby if you fancied sunbathing. We stayed outside town and there were many fishing villages nearby too.
We had a fantastic short break and would recommend Dubrovnik in a heartbeat. Have you been to Dubrovnik before, what was your favourite part?
Love Bella x