Despite its dragons, direwolves, and white walkers, the Game of Thrones world isn’t quite as make-believe as it may seem. In fact, its capital, King’s Landing, is almost entirely filmed in the very real—and very beautiful—city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Dubrovnik is known as the pearl of the Adriatic, thanks to its strategic location on the Dalmatian coast and its stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture. And show-watchers have taken notice: Since the HBO show debuted, the city saw such an exponential rise in tourism that it has dubbed it the Game of Thrones effect.
So if you are “set-jetting” to Croatia, skip the overpriced and crowded guided tours and follow our King’s Landing guide instead.
Dubrovnik’s walls are featured in many Game of Thrones scenes, from Cersei’s power walks to Tyrion’s brooding moments by the Narrow Sea. In fact, these ancient barriers are the main reason Game of Thrones went to Dubrovnik in the first place: “To find the full-on, immaculately preserved, medieval walled city that looks uncannily like King’s Landing, where the bulk of our show is set, that was, in and of itself, just such an amazing find,” says cocreator D.B. Weiss.
For a small fee, visitors can climb up these stone walls and walk the whole circumference of the city. It’s touristy, but for a good reason: Every section of the walls offers a specular view of either Dubrovnik’s terra-cotta rooftops or the glimmering Adriatic Sea. Go early in the morning to beat the crowd, and in the summer months, to beat the heat. As any Gold Cloak could tell you, perimeters around the realm in sun get unpleasant fast.
This park, located about nine miles from Dubrovnik, doubles as the Red Keep’s gardens. It’s as beautiful as it is secretive—its tall hedges are just the place to…