Where the Kids Roam

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Discover the captivating beauty of Dubrovnik, where ancient walls guard a maze of cobblestone streets, inviting you to explore its rich history and stunning coastal views.

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Buckle up, folks – we’re diving headfirst into the sun-kissed, history-steeped, Game of Thrones-famous pearl of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik! I’ll be your snarky (but knowledgeable?) tour guide through the nooks and crannies of this UNESCO-anointed Old Town gem. Grab some Dornish wine and Braavosi snacks – this is going to be an epically long journey.

A Whirlwind History Crash Course

Let’s get the mandatory scholastic preamble out of the way first. Dubrovnik’s story begins way back in the 7th century when some random group of refugees from the Roman ruins of Epidaurum decided these rocky sea cliffs would make a prime spot to rebuild. From those inauspicious beginnings rose the mighty maritime Republic of Ragusa that became the envy of the Adriatic over the centuries to come.

This strategically-located trading powerhouse attracted the ire of everyone from the Venetians to those ornery Ottomans, both of whom tried their damndest to conquer it over the years. Thanks to some ingenious nautical knowledge and seriously formidable defensive walls and fortresses, Ragusa managed to fend off every attack and remained fiercely independent up until unceremoniously being swallowed by Napoleon in 1808. So much for all that.

But enough musty history already! The real star here is the remarkably preserved Old Town district that mercifully emerged largely unscathed from the ’90s Balkan conflicts. Let’s explore already!

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A Game of Thrones Fanatic's Paradise

You’ll be hard-pressed to walk more than a few feet without some giddy tour guide thrusting their umbrella towards yet another Westerosi filming location. The pockmarked icons are simply everywhere you turn in Old Town’s car-free marble maze.

The jewel in the crown is obviously the oppressive Fort Lovrijenac perched atop a 37m sea rock – better recognized by GoT fans as the formidable Red Keep in King’s Landing. Word is you can still find productions assistants’ coffee cup rings scorched into the stonework.

Then there’s the iconic scene location where Cersei’s famous Walk of Atonement humiliation took place. Be forewarned that the baroque-styled St. Dominika Street and its stairs get insanely congested with selfie-snapping travelers clamoring for penance shots of their own.

For a breath of fresh air from the fantasy mob scenes, I recommend escaping to the arresting sea views from Dubrovnik’s own Zig-Zag Street along the city walls. This vertigo-inducing medieval alleyway has remained remarkably tourist-free, probably thanks to the abundance of treacherous steps and hairpin turns earning it the nickname “Break-Leg Street.” You’ll get unbeatable panoramas over the famous orange-tiled rooftops along with prime people-watching of disoriented cruise ship patrons haplessly trying to navigate the labyrinth.

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Where to Kick It Medieval Style

Now that you’ve had your fill of cosplay photo ops, you may be wondering where all the actual residents eat, drink, and make merry. Never fear, I’ve got insider recs to all the best old-school spots.


If you’re hankering for fresh seafood paired with pours of muscati wine like a proper Ragusian aristocrat, hotfoot it to Proto in the heart of Old Town. Housed inside a refurbished 16th century palace, you’ll dine on succulent calamari and fresh-caught whatever amidst hushed ambient lighting, vaulted ceilings, and covert servers who move with a monk-like quietude. Just don’t get too terribly sloshed or they’ll politely but firmly escort you out like any self-respecting nobleman.

For more of a lively tavern vibe, push past the tourists congesting the main drags and duck into the inconspicuous Zlatne Vode wine bar. With its rough-hewn stone walls, burnished copper taps, and endless streams of local Peljesac vintages flowing, you’ll feel like you accidentally stumbled into a clandestine knight’s meeting hall. Just be sure to order up some complimentary smoked meat and cheese platters – you’ll need sustenance to keep pace with the spirited salters bellying up alongside you.

For an atmospheric courtyard dining experience straight out of Meereen itself, reserve a table at Lokanda Peskarija. Housed in a beautifully renovated 17th century palace, this elegant yet unpretentious restaurant seamlessly melds traditional Croatian specialties like braised veal cheeks and daily market fish preparations with breathtaking Old Town ambiance. Pair your crisp Posip wine with stunning views across sparkling harbors far more serene than the Blackwater Rush.

If grander, royally refined digs are more your style, then you’ll want to treat yourself to a meal at Nautika. This two-Michelin starred fine dining jewel set aboard a stunning yacht-like restaurant specializes in sublime yet innovative twists on Dalmatian culinary traditions. Tickle Your Dowager palate with sea bass ceviche spiced with yuzu, or delicately seared beef filet with bone marrow butter, black garlic jus and crisped parmesan. Just be prepared to drain the coffers for the privilege – mains hover around a kingly $35 USD.

For more laidback tavern fare straight from the mead halls of Winterfell, you can’t go wrong with a pitstop at Gradska Kavana Arsenal. This cozy cellar cafe and bar is renowned for its hearty meat stews, roast lamb, and rustic flatbreads baked to perfection in their wood-fired oven. Flinging back a few pints of chilled Balkan lagers amidst the weathered stone accoutrements will transport you back to the revelries of Westeros yore.

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As for where to frantically toss your doubloons in the evenings…

The Hilton Imperial

A splurge-worthy stunner set inside a renovated 19th century villa. Not only will you enjoy primo old harbor views and plush rustic decor, but the location conveniently straddles both the ancient city core and the swankier Ploce district’s nightlife scene. If you’re looking to precisely orient your “Shame!” recreations, the Pucic Palace in the center of it all is the medieval-styled luxury choice.

Villa Dubrovnik

This sumptuous seaside retreat is the perfect romantic haven to repair with your moon and stars. Imagine airy rooms swathed in Italian silks and lavish bathrooms with panoramic views across the glittering Adriatic Sea. A dreamy cliffside beach and private yacht ensure the ultimate upscale privacy, while still being a mere stroll away from the heart of the Old Town’s attractions. Renting out the entire 5-star palace will cost lords deep pockets – around $15,000 per night.

Grand Villa Argentina

This palatial residence dating back to the 1930s has been meticulously restored into a magnificent 5-star boutique hotel and lavish Balinese-inspired spa adored by celebrities. Its prime location just steps from the Pile Gate entrance to Old Town also makes it an ideal homebase for exploring Dubrovnik’s every nook and cranny. Lush Mediterranean gardens surround the heated pools, where personal cabanas and attentive poolside service cater to your every whim. A night’s stay in these lavishly appointed 21 rooms and suites ranges from$100-$490 USD.

Hotel Excelsior

For those who prefer opulence and grandeur on the larger boutique hotel scale, the legendary Hotel Excelsior has been lavishly hosting Europe’s aristocracy since first opening in 1913. This Venetian Renaissance Revival masterpiece sits directly on the waters of the Adriatic, with its own private beaches and trio of pools sculpted into the seaside cliffs. Mere steps from the iconic city walls, the Excelsior drips with old-world glamour through its sumptuous interior decor, exquisite terraced gardens, and attentive butler service befitting royalty. Join fellow nobles at the elegant Piano Bar for cocktails and live music into the wee hours. Rooms start at around $250 USD per night in peak season.

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Old Town's Iconic Centerpieces

While Dubrovnik’s entire Old Town could be considered one massive living museum of Venetian Renaissance splendor, a few key attractions simply cannot be missed amidst all the Game of Thrones hoopla.

Walking the Walls and Battlements of King's Landing

It’s no secret that the iconic fortified walls of Old Town Dubrovnik were thrust into the global spotlight when producers pegged it as the perfect real-life stand-in for the brutally contested King’s Landing. As you gaze upon the imposing 82-foot-high ramparts stretching for nearly 2 kilometers around the city, visions of Lannister armies sieging its gates become remarkably vivid.

To amble along the entirety of the ancient walls and battlements, prepare for around 2 hours of leisurely strolling. However, you’ll want to get an early start to avoid peak crowds and searing Westerosi sun exposure.

The Dubrovnik City Walls are open year-round from 8am until 5pm in winter, and extended hours from 8am to 6:30pm late spring through early fall.

Entry fee is around $30 USD.

Game of Thrones Walking Tour

For an even more immersive exploration of Old Town’s filming locations, booking a Game of Thrones walking tour is an absolute must. These informative 2-hour guided jaunts around the city will give you an intimate glimpse into how real streets, forts and gardens were transformed into iconic Westeros settings.

You’ll visit the unforgettable scene of Cersei’s walk of atonement through the streets of King’s Landing. You’ll see adorable Jesuit monastery steps doubling as Littlefinger’s brothel alcove. You’ll practically smell the spent wildfire lingering in Blackwater Bay. And that’s just the beginning!

Most tours depart at 10am, 1pm and 4pm daily from the City Walls entrance. Tickets are around $21 USD for adults, with discounts for kids 12 and under. More for smaller group, more extensive tours. 

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The Citadel of Dubrovnik: Lording and Clocktower

At the heart of Dubrovnik’s formidable defenses stands an imposing circular fortress and iconic Renaissance clocktower that any Game of Thrones fan will instantly recognize. This stalwart redoubt is none other than the Revelin Fortress, which served as the regal setting for many of Cersei’s royal courtyard scenes in King’s Landing.

Built in the 16th century at the height of Dubrovnik’s autonomy, the Revelin was intended as both a mighty seaward bastion and luxurious lodgings for the city’s esteemed guests. Its signature arched bridge, cloaked Baroque interior halls, and statuesque Amerling Fountain formed an opulent backdrop for the television capital’s Westerosi nobles to plot, preen, and politic.

But the true star of the Revelin is the crenellated circular stone clock tower, which has reliably kept time in the Old Town since 1464. Its ornate green-tiled baroque facade, flanked by life-size statues of famed sculptors Michelozzi and Montelupo, remains one of Dubrovnik’s most treasured and photographed landmarks. Time your own visit just right and you may even catch the reassuringly familiar tolls of Cersei’s clocktower chimes echoing through the streets.

The Revelin Fortress is open daily from 8am to 7pm in peak season, with more limited hours of 9am to 4pm off-peak. Entry is about $10 USD.

Fun Beyond the Walls

While you could easily spend weeks drinking in the timeless majesty inside Dubrovnik’s fortified enclave, the surrounding landscapes offer plenty of adventures worthy of the boldest Westerosi explorer. Here are a few must-do excursions:

Island-HoppingBoat Tour

No visit to this seaside kingdom would be complete without setting sail across the sunbaked Adriatic to the nearby Elaphiti Islands. On these small-group boat tours, you’ll frolic on secluded beaches, snorkel brilliant turquoise coves, and dock at ancient fishing villages unchanged for centuries. Most cruises also include generous buffet spreads of local seafood, cheeses, and the briny Dalmatian wines that will have you singing salty sailors’ songs all the way back to port. Tours typically last around 8 hours and cost $55-85 USD.

Sea Kayaking the Ancient City Walls

For the ultimate Game of Thrones-channeling expedition, grab a paddle and embark on a guided sea kayaking tour literally in the shadow of Dubrovnik’s towering fortresses. These small-group outings will have you gliding across the glassy waters of the Adriatic, ducking through the carved archways and harbor barricades just like Littlefinger himself. As you bob serenely beneath the imposing ramparts and bastions, expert guides will regale you with vivid tales of real-life sieges and naval battles for Dubrovnik’s freedom. The 3-hour tours generally run twice per day and cost around $49 USD.

Game of Thrones Countryside Tour

While Old Town scored plenty of screen time, many pivotal GoT scenes were actually filmed in the breathtaking rural areas surrounding Dubrovnik. On this full-day tour, you’ll get chauffeured in air-conditioned comfort to several key filming locales like the medieval walled city of Ston (standing in for Cersei’s walk from the Sept), the abandoned Baroque village of Trsteno (backdrop to the Westeros palace gardens), and the iconic arched bridge over Žrnovnica River seen in the Battle of Blackwater Bay. With educated guides painting vivid pictures of the on-set action, you’ll feel utterly transported into the heart of the Seven Kingdoms. Full-day pricing is around $100 USD.

Embrace the Drama at Dubrovnik's Summer Festival

Of course, no sojourn in Dubrovnik would be complete without experiencing a bit of the city’s own rich performing arts traditions that have persisted through sieges and struggles across centuries. Each summer from mid-July through late August, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival takes over the ancient city with an effervescence rivaling the most glittering nights in King’s Landing.

Throughout the storied streets and squares, you’ll encounter a mesmerizing cornucopia of opera, ballet, theater, concerts and traditional folk performances that instantly transport you back through the veil of time. The crown jewel is undoubtedly the male acapella vocal group Klapa, whose spine-tingling harmonies have been echoing through these lanes since the days of the Renaissance. To experience their thunderously moving Croatian folk songs while bathed in the flickering glow of the Old Town at night is nothing short of sublime.

But perhaps the most dramatic festival offering is the ability to attend live theater productions amid Dubrovnik’s most iconic settings. Imagine taking your seat amidst the historic Revelin Fortress, or even the city’s hallowed Rector’s Palace and Church of St. Vlaho, as world-class Croatian performers take center stage inside the selfsame courtyards and chambers once graced by nobility. As that final resonant line rings out against ancient stone walls, you’ll be left breathless by the timeless power of drama intersecting history.

Individual tickets for Summer Festival events vary wildly, with basic performances from $5-15 USD and premier concerts or operas climbing upwards of $30-100 depending on venue. But trust me, the once-in-a-lifetime experience of immersive theater amidst such hallowed spaces? Utterly priceless, and a memory to lord over all your Game of Thrones friends for ages to come.

So pack your sigil-adorned valise and prepare for an odyssey through time, lore, and legendary landscapes. Whether delving into the dark intrigues of King’s Landing or uncovering Dubrovnik’s own rich heritage, this medieval jewel of the Adriatic is sure to leave you heady with wanderlust and a newfound thirst for high adventure in the real world.