Taking one look at Dubrovnik, located at the southernmost tip of Croatia, you’d agree that it’s meant for the big screen. With 16th century stone walls surrounding the city, striking red-roofed buildings, and its location on the Adriatic Sea, it’s truly something out of a storybook… or an HBO series.
We actually ended up in Dubrovnik by chance. We knew we wanted to visit Croatia and Dubrovnik had the cheapest flights. So without really knowing anything about the city, we booked our tickets. It wasn’t until a week or so before our trip that we realized portions of Game of Thrones had been filmed there. As huge GoT fans, you can imagine this had us crazy excited!
Looking up scenes from the show and then seeing the sites in real life was fascinating and at times just comical. We give mad props to the location scouts for seeing so much potential. While the city definitely has an ancient look and feel, pretty much every corner has signs of modern civilization from lit up cafes to power lines to street signs and traffic signals. We couldn’t believe how they were able to transform each location using clever camera angles or by digitally removing whatever didn’t work to create the awesome medieval land of Westeros.
Walking through the city, you’ll see all sorts of GoT memorabilia. You’ll also get stopped by a hundred tour representatives trying to get you to book a GoT tour. We were on a budget, so we decided to do our own (read: free) tour. We saw plenty of guides running around in full costumes though, and it definitely looked like it’d be a fun experience. Or at the least give you some amazing Instagrams!
When visiting Dubrovnik, taking a Game of Thrones tour or at least pulling up the images from the series and comparing them to the actual locations is a must. If you want to keep it cheap like us, we recommend following this GoT guide and making a game out of finding the places yourself!
Doing this will take you all through the Old Town (the main part of the city surrounded by the ancient walls), which is a seemingly endless maze of winding alleyways speckled with cafes, restaurants, cats (Dubrovnik has so many cats!), hidden bars and specialty shops.
There’s a main strip running through the middle of the Old Town, but the true beauty is found when you start wandering away from the crowds, up side streets and random stairways.
While Old Town is amazing and beautiful, it’s only a small part of what makes the city so epic.
Dubrovnik is long and narrow, with the Adriatic Sea on one side and green rolling hills on the other. Its shoreline is made mostly of rocky cliffs rather than sandy beaches which gives it a truly magical feel. The water is crystal clear, fading from a beautiful green to a deep emerald blue.
We seriously couldn’t get over how awesome the views were along the shore!
There are also a number of lush islands right off the the coast which are mostly untouched and uninhabited, adding to the beauty and old-world feel of the area. You can take boat rides out to some of the islands and go kayaking around Old Town to get a truly unique perspective of the city.
Our favorite way to see the city was from the top of Hill Srđ, the large hill directly behind the city walls. There’s a cable car that runs to the top as well as a cafe and the remains of Fort Imperial, which is now a war museum. It’s an experience you can’t miss!
If you’re strapped for time or not able to do much hiking, you can take the cable car up and back. It runs continuously throughout the day and each ride lasts only a few minutes, so you can do it quickly if need be.
I, however, can’t recommend enough hiking up the mountain and taking the cable car back down. It’s a bit of a strenuous hike with a windy path and loose rocks, but the increasingly amazing views of the city below are more than worth the effort.
We hiked up a couple hours before sunset which made for mesmerizing views at the top. Croatia’s known for its beautiful sunsets, and it definitely did not disappoint.
Dubrovnik is definitely one of the prettiest cities we’ve visited in Europe and we can’t wait to go back for beach season!
Until next time, Dubrovnik… or 9pm this Sunday on HBO 🙂
About the Arthur:
Allison and Eric are a husband-and-wife-duo who sold everything and left their home in San Francisco in search of adventure. They make travel vlogs and helpful videos about their travels and write about living a minimalist, nomadic lifestyle on their blog: The Endless Adventure.