Visit "GAME OF THRONES" Locations in Croatia on a Budget
Avid fans of HBO's Game of Thrones already know Dubrovnik's old town, Lokrum Island, Diocletian Palace, and nearby Klis Fortress in Split, just from enjoying the show. Dubrovnik's old town will be better known to fans as Kings Landing, the scheming Lannister family's seat of power and capital of the Seven Kingdoms. The Lokrum Island Monastery and Botanical Gardens are the real life version of the city of Qarth, in which warlocks and an overly helpful merchant, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, conspired to steal Daenerys Targaryen's dragons in Season Two. Diocletian's Palace and Klis Fortress in Split were combine to create the city of Meereen which Daenerys conquered in season 4.
Game of Thrones Fan Quiz
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Dubrovnik, Lokrum Island, and Split were chosen by the HBO series for an abundance of natural beauty and well preserved medieval architecture. All three of the real life locations are eerily reminiscent of George R. R. Martin's fictional cities in his A Song of Fire and Ice novel series. Since Lokrum Island is only 15 minutes away by boat from Dubrovnik, this area has become a prime tourist destination for Game of Thrones fans. These locations can be expensive to visit at the height of tourist season. Luckily with smart planning, they can be within reach of just about any fan vacationing on a budget.
How to Get To Croatia
April and September are great times of the year to visit Croatia on a budget. The weather is usually pleasant for sightseeing and outdoor activities, either warming up or cooling down. Plus you miss the peak of the regular tourist season, so there is less standing in line and lower prices to be found wherever you go.
Travelling to Croatia from America requires a valid passport. To save big bucks that you can put toward enjoying yourself while you are there, check the online travel sites for the best deals available on cheap airfare. Book in advance as far ahead as you can, at least 3 months ahead of your planned travel date.
Be as flexible as possible on the days and times you will travel. Early morning and middle of the week flights are usually going to be a better deal than flights at more convenient times and on weekends. Consider longer lay-overs and more connecting flights to find bigger savings too.
Other Recommended Items to Take to Croatia
- Bathing suit- especially one that can be used as walking shorts or as a top with a travel skirt for more versatility
- Shower/swimming shoes
- Tablet for reading with all the George R. R. Martin books and a few books you haven't read before
- Free Croatian English Translator app on Android from Google
- Camera or a phone that gets the job done
- Along with your smartphone, credit cards, ATM card, travelers checks, and the like take at least 100 dollars changed in the US into Croatian money.
- A conservative covered up look to wear into churches and cathedrals so as not to offend the older locals. For women, a mid shin or longer travel skirt (some reverse for more versatility) and a modest long sleeved shirt work great. Conservative trousers and a dress shirt is the male equivalent. This look will also help you out when the evening is cooler.
Try to see all you can of your connecting locations. If you don't have time, just talk to the locals in the airport. Try some of the local food available. Make your journey going there and later returning a positive part of your overall travel experience.
Travel to Dubrovnik with one bag that fits in the overhead compartment. This will save you from the distinct possibility of being parted from your luggage. You don't want to have to replace everything you brought to enjoy your Game of Thrones vacation.
Pack light. Choose travel clothes that can easily layer for warmth, will take you from day into night, can wash and dry overnight, and cover the host of activities available.
Take two pairs of comfortable, versatile, walking shoes already worn all day a few times at least. Pack a couple spare pairs of travel socks and travel underwear that can wash, hang, and dry overnight.
Game of Thrones Behind the Scenes-Dubrovnik
Booking Ahead vs. Last Minute Deals
It is always a good idea to book a Dubrovnik old town hotel ahead just so that you will have someplace to stay. Use online travel sites to compare reviews for hotels and get the best deal. Booking far in advance might save you a lot of money.
However, it is wise to check back often to see if you can find an even better rate after your first booking. You can always cancel the first, once you have found and booked something better.
If, when you see the place, you find you are unhappy with your hotel accommodations, find a hotel that you do like and negotiate for the best price. You might find an even better price by negotiating with a helpful staff in person. The trick is not to cancel what you have until you book something better.
What to Do and See in Croatia
Once you get through passport check at the airport in Dubrovnik, you will need 35 kuna per person (about 6 Dollars US) to board the airport shuttle. The first stop will take you to Old Town.
There is a Game of Thrones walking tour available in old town for about 80 kuna. Fans will visit the street where Joffrey got pelted with dung, see where Sansa sat when Little Finger invited her to flee with him, will gaze across the bay where Stannis's fleet was defeated at the the Battle of the Blackwater, and so much more.
The tour guides not only know a lot about the city's real history, they are also huge fans of Game of Thrones. Most have personal stories about watching the filming and meeting cast members. Some have even served as extras for the show. Be sure you ask about all the things that are fun to do after a day of exploring King's Landing. The guide will know all the best local restaurants and hot spots for nightlife.
There are Game of Thrones tour charters available to show you Lokrum Island. Compare prices and availability. Find out what is included in the tours and whether one will fit into your budget. Keep in mind that you can also take a taxi-boat from old harbor (the price includes admission to the island, which is a nature reserve.) Then you can explore the island at your own pace.
Lokrum Island is nature's version of a literal tourist trap. Once you are there, you are stuck there until you leave. You won't want to leave. Do your best to go well prepared.
Before you go, buy a map of Lokrum. They aren't available on the island and make finding your way around much easier. Every person in your group should take a large fluffy towel and a 2 liter bottled water. Also consider taking a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch bought from a grocery in Dubrovnik. Bringing a big bag of non-sweetened cereal will provide safe treats to share with the resident peacocks roaming the island. Take your own lunch too. It will be far cheaper than relying on the bars and restaurants there, which are more expensive than most you will find in Old Town and aren't terribly special at all.
Once there, you will find the Benedictine Monastery and Botanical Gardens fairly centrally located. On the south side of the island, there is a salt water "Dead Sea" lake that is a lot of fun to swim in due to the high buoyancy provided by the extra salt. There are also picturesque caves. If you look, or don't watch where you are going, you will also find a nude beach.
In the northern part of the island, you will find pristine beaches that fewer tourists discover and secluded pine forests. Roving bands of peacocks introduced to the island by Archduke Maximilian Ferdinand of Habsburg in 1859 are everywhere and may join you in a quiet, sunny spot. They are now the island's only residents because of a curse, as the story goes, put on the island by angry monks to stop the island from being sold to private entities.
If you want to bask in the sun you, will be glad you brought a towel to lie on. If you intend to swim, wear swim shoes. The beaches are cliff rock and are very sharp in places. There are marine animals on the sea bed that can sting you when you step on them, too. Protect your feet by wearing swim shoes since you have a lot more walking to do on your Game of Thrones vacation.
Split, Croatia is only 215 kilometers or a four to six hour bus ride from Dubrovnik. Careful planning can get you there in time for a six hour guided tour of Diocletian's Palace and Klis Fortress, and back to Dubrovnik again for dinner, nightlife, and much deserved sleep, all in the same day. If you are travelling with a small group, keep in mind that a car rental might be cheaper than buying all those bus tickets.
You will travel through Bosnia & Herzegovina so be certain to carry passports with you. If you choose to take the bus, book the route up the Dalmatian Coast to get there. You will enjoy non-stop ocean vistas and gorgeous scenery. ( Be sure to grab a bus seat on the left side to get best view.) Book the highway route back again because it is about two hours quicker in ideal traffic. Take bottled water, protein bars, trail mix, or the like with you for quick and easy pick-me-ups throughout the day when you need them.
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