Potential spoiler warning, but if you aren’t caught up yet… honestly that’s on you.
Most of us don’t have a dragon to catch a ride on, and last I checked Delta still isn’t offering flights to Westeros. But that doesn’t mean we can’t experience the scenic and magic world of Game of Thrones. The world is HBO’s soundstage when it comes to bringing the fantasy of this show to life, and while you can explore the seven kingdoms in the likes of Northern Ireland or Spain, there’s perhaps no place to better dive into the world of Game of Thrones than King’s Landing itself.
Outside of Belfast, Croatia’s Dubrovnik is the largest hotspot of filming locations for today’s biggest show. Within the walls and fortresses of the Old Town or in the surrounding tropical parklands, you’ll discover the likes of the Great Sept of Baelor, the Red Keep, the city of Qarth, and more.
There are several guided tours in Dubrovnik that will walk you through the sites and history – but in a town so small, I found it equally easy to wander the filming locations on my own. Who knows – maybe you’ll be wandering the side streets and stumble upon the Iron Thone!
So if you’re a Game of Thrones lover heading to Dubrovnik, here are the spots not to miss!
Jesuit Staircase – Steps of the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing
The Jesuit Staircase leading up to Saint Ignatius Church inside Dubrovnik’s Old Town was used to create the setting for one of the most iconic Game of Thrones scenes. The word shame ring any bells? These are the very steps that lead up to Great Sept of Baelor. Featured several times throughout the show, they played an iconic part of season 5 episode 10, where Cersei walks through the streets of King’s Landing in atonement for her sins.
Minčeta Tower – House of the Undying in Qarth
Way back in season two when Khaleesi was in Qarth, she encounters Pyat Pree and his warlocks. The House of the Undying serve as their headquarters, with a circular exterior that seems to have no entrance. When Danaerys’ dragons are stolen, she visits the madhouse and faces a series of visions.
Trsteno Arboretum – King’s Landing Gardens
This famous courtyard looking out over the sea hosted many conversations between the ladies of King’s Landing, particularly the Tyrrells. Just imagine Lady Olenna and Margaery sipping tea under the pergola, surrounded by roses. The arboretum, the oldest in this part of the world, is not to miss itself. Just 20 minutes from Dubrovnik, you can explore the 15th-century residence of the Gučetić-Gozze family, the adjacent aqueduct, mills, Neptune’s fountain, the behemoth Oriental Plane trees, and the famous belvedere pavilion.
The Rector’s Palace – Home of the Spice King in Qarth
This 12th century palace, sitting on Dubrovnik’s main promenade, served as the residence of the Spice King when Danaerys was in Qarth. Several indoor scenes were shot here, such as when the rulers of Qarth reject her request for ships. Today the palace is a museum of Dubrovnik’s history and heritage, open to visitors.
Hotel Belvedere – Oberyn Battles the Mountain
To the east of Old Town past Banje Beach sits one of Dubrovnik’s casualties of war – the Hotel Belvedere. The ruins of this luxury hotel sit abandoned – so visit at your own risk. But it was here on a balcony looking over the sea that Prince Oberyn Martell fatefully battled the Mountain in season 4, episode 8.
Fort Lovrijenac – The Red Keep in King’s Landing
Fort Lovrijenac – or the Fort of Saint Lawrence – sits just outside Dubrovnik’s Old Town walls. The tower serves as the Red Keep for many scenes throughout the seasons. In the first episode season 2, you’ll find Cersei and Littlefinger strolling a long corridor, discussing Arya. And in that same episode, the courtyard was used to host King Joffrey’s Nameday Tournament.
Lokrum (Benedictine Monastery) – Qarth
The isle of Lokrum sits just off Dubrovnik’s old town and is easily reachable via a short ferry ride. This lush island features stunning greenery and cliffs for lounging in the sun. A tropical paradise made it a fitting shot for exterior scenes of Qarth. In season 2 episode 5, Daenerys and Sea Jorah attend a garden party. This was filmed in the island’s Benedictine Monastery.
Gradac Park – Purple Wedding
Again to the east of Dubrovnik’s Old Town sits Gradac Park, where King Joffrey’s wedding to Margaery Tyrell was filmed in season 4 episode 2. Although it is more commonly referred to as the Purple Wedding, considering that was the color Joffrey turned when he was poisoned (also deserved).
Pile Gate – Streets of King’s Landing
There are two main entrances to Dubrovnik’s Old Town, each used respectively in the show. Pile Gate sits closes Fort Lovrijenac and served as the entrance to King’s Landing when Jamie visits Cersei in season 3. Inside the gate sits a wide entryway, which served as the setting for a riot, started when someone threw manure at Joffrey (deserved) in season 2 episode 6 after the Lannisters say farewell to Myrcella.
Ploče Gate – Gate to the Red Keep in King’s Landing
Old Town’s second entrance – Ploče Gate – served as the entrance to the Red Keep. Notably, it is where Cersei arrives after completing her walk of shame in season 5 episode 10. In season 2, Tyrion spoke to Lancel Lannister inside the gate.
Pile Harbour – King’s Landing Harbour
This small harbour sits between Fort Lovrijenac and Pile Gate, where a small jetty leads out towards the bay. A small pebble beach lines the coast, and this is where the Lannisters saw Myrcella off to Dorne in season 2 episode 6. Later in season 6, it is where Cersei waits Myrcella’s return. Further west, a small jetty was used in season 3 episode 1 when Sansa and Shae were approached by Littlefinger.
Today this harbour is where most kayak tours leave Dubrovnik, which I highly recommend. The tours will take you out on the bay and around Lokrum for exquisite views of the Old Town. You’ll get to explore caves and even cliff jump into the Adriatic – even the cast couldn’t resist taking the tour! Our guide had great tales of the actors which made the experience even better.
Fort Bokar and the City Walls – King’s Landing Walls
Perhaps Dubrovnik’s most iconic feature are its walls, encircling the Old Town. Visitors can walk the length of these walls for incredible views over the burnt orange rooftops of the city as well as the sea. Situated on the walls looking towards Fort Lovrijenac, Fort Bokar saw Tyrion and Lord Varys looking out at Blackwater Bay in season 2 episode 8, discussing defense strategies. In season 7 episode 1, Cersei and Jamie watch the Iron Fleet arrive from the city walls.
The Ethnographic Museum – Littlefinger’s Brothel in King’s Landing
The Rupe Ethnographic Museum was used to film the exterior shots throughout the series of the notorious Littlefinger’s brothel. The building once served as the granary of the Dubrovnik Republic, making the museum an interesting visit architecturally as well as educationally.
St. Dominic Street – Streets of King’s Landing
St. Dominic street serves as background for many King’s Landing market scenes. Season 2 episode 5 saw the circular steps of the Dominican Monastery used as a platform for a protestor speaking out against King Joffrey.
While I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I didn’t purposefully go chasing the show’s filming locations over the past few years. Yet as fate would have it, I have found myself in Dorne, Winterfell, and even north of the wall. But my favorite experience by far has been sitting on the Iron Throne in King’s Landing – running around the city walls, sailing around Blackwater Bay, and dining under the shadow of the Red Keep. Dubrovnik’s Old Town is truly a step back in time that just keeps me coming back.
If you’re heading to Northern Ireland check out my Game of Thrones tour experience!
And remember, when you play the game of thrones, you win or die.