In honour of the premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones, I figured I would finally write about my experience with Dubrovnik Walks on their Game of Thrones walking tour.
I assumed everyone knew Game of Thrones partially filmed in Dubrovnik, but apparently my crazed-fan was showing more than I realized. So, for those who aren’t aware, Game of Thrones films across the globe. From Ireland to Croatia, you can find spots where the famous series was shot. Albeit, much of the scenery is often CGIed so things like flying dragons can be possible.
That’s why Game of Thrones tours are so helpful: they show you the parts of the city you might not realize were a part of the show.
Because I love the show, I knew I was going to take a Game of Thrones tour in Croatia. I actually ended up taking two: one in Split and one in Dubrovnik. I’m writing about the Dubrovnik one now, because it was the more extensive of the two. So much of the show was filmed in the historical city that it made for a truly excellent tour.
Taking a Movie Tour
I’d never been on a movie tour before going to Croatia so I didn’t really know what to expect. Did they just tell you what happened in that spot and move on? Did they play the movie? How did it all work??
Our guide carried a binder full of stills from the show. He held them up at each stop to show us exactly how the scene before us appeared in Game of Thrones. Without that, I would have needed to binge watch the whole show before the tour to have caught half the references he made (it’s a seriously dense show, even for a fan!).
I was so glad they made an effort to visually connect every spot to the show. The photos made it much more real, even when our guide was undoing the movie magic behind them.
From St. Lawrence to the Iron Throne
The Game of Thrones Dubrovnik tour takes you around the city – actually more than a city tour does. You start by walking to the St. Lawrence fort, which featured heavily in many unrelated parts of the show. (Note: this is not for someone with limited mobility. The walk up to the fort has a ton of stairs to get up to it.)
The tour continues past the docks, up through the city centre to the street where Cersei did her walk of shame, and around to the front gates of the old town. Finally, we ended by sitting in an Iron Throne replica in a prop shop in one of Dubrovnik’s many narrow passageways.
Our guide weaved in bits of information about the city itself, but the focus was definitely on Game of Thrones.
You can enjoy the tour without seeing the show, but it’s not what you’re looking for if you want Dubrovnik history.
Some Scenes Filmed in Dubrovnik
- The Mountain crushing the Viper in the old hotel courtyard.
- Cersei’s walk of shame (probably the most famous scene in the city).
- Marcella leaving for Dorne from the docks.
- Joffrey’s party with the lion head statues.
- The hound and the bucket headed knight jousting.
- The well where Cersei famously says, “Power is power.”
- The Hound saving Sansa from being raped.
- Daenerys’ party with the peacocks.
There’s so many more, but you get the point. And the tour covers all of them!
The Guide: A Seemingly Endless Fountain of Information
Our guide seemed to know every detail about Game of Thrones (the show – he hadn’t read the books when he gave our tour) and the actors’ time in the city.
Apparently it’s very common for citizens of Dubrovnik to have worked as extras on the set, since so many people were needed. That means that about half the city have personal stories about their time on set. Those that don’t absorb everyone else’s and share them with the tourists.
Our guide had taken some of the actors on a kayaking tour when he work on Dubrovnik Walks’ kayaking tours.
The rest of his knowledge had either come from an extremely intensive training or an equally intensive love of the show. I like to think it was the latter, especially with how excited he got talking about the Mountain’s death.
Breaking Down the Movie Magic
I love movie magic. Partially, because I love learning the truth behind it.
Dubrovnik wasn’t used as just one place in the shows: it was featured in numerous scenes around the GOT world. Because of that, a lot of movie magic was needed.
One of my favourites was learning where they filmed the Battle of Black Water: a tiny inlet used for starting kayak tours. Real ships couldn’t possibly fit there, so it all had to be CGIed. The Croatian government (justifiably) refused to let the crew have a green fire lit on the ocean, so that had to be done on an Irish lake.
But, through movie magic, it all became the dramatic battle we got to watch on TV.
How cool is that?!
Top 5 Stories from the Tour
- When filming in St. Lawrence fort, they had to carry all of the equipment and costumes up to the fort. That meant every actor going up had to lug their fair share to get everything they needed to the top.
- Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, is quite short in real life. With that and her dark hair, people never recognized her on the streets.
- The bishop in Dubrovnik wanted to ban the naked walk of shame scene. Unfortunately, GOT pays very well to close down businesses for the use of areas for filming, so the bishop didn’t get his way. People rioted to allow the filming to occur. In the end, they compromised by only using the main entrance of the cathedral in the walk.
- Most of the filming occurred in July and August, since that’s when Dubrovnik gets the least rain. It also happens to be the hottest time of year. I visited in May and it was HOT – like summer-shorts-and-tee-shirt-but-still-sweating kind of hot. Those poor actors had to rewear (heavy) costumes and stand in the hot sun for up to 12-hour days.
- The rooftop view of Dubrovnik’s old town is actually King’s Landing in the show. You wouldn’t know it looking at them side by side, since the old town had to be greatly expanded to fit the million said to live in King’s Landing. The only building structure that maintained was the cathedral, which they used as the roof of the sept (although they made it stand out more).
Dubrovnik Walks’ Game of Thrones Tour
Interested in taking the tour? It runs every day at 2pm in English and Spanish.
The guides’ English is perfect. Seriously, I took two tours with the company and spoke with a few other guides and their English was incredible. It’s super easy to understand them, even if you aren’t a native English speaker.
Book online to ensure there’s room for you, as tours fill up quickly (especially in the high seasons).
The tour costs 20 Euros for adults. That doesn’t include the 7 Euro entrance fee to get into the St. Lawrence fort. If you have a Dubrovnik Card, your entrance is free. Don’t worry about buying this ticket ahead of time. You can get it on your way in.
The walking tour lasts a couple of hours. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Bring lots of water!
I recommend checking out the Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik. It’s so filled with information that I had a hard time jotting it all down as the tour went on. You’ll be entertained from start to finish by your guide’s GOT facts, the beauty of the city you’re in and the helpful photos that bring you into the show.
For 27 euros, it’s a great deal that will keep you busy for a couple of hours and leave you with tons of facts to wow your friends. …Or make you seem crazily knowledgable about the show. But is that really a bad thing? No!
As Petyr Baelish says, “Knowledge is power.”
… even if that power is just winning GOT trivia nights.