Kateryna kyslyak was traveling the Croatian coast between Dubrovnik and Split, making all the stops that charter clients can make, trying to figure out how far from each port the cast and crew from HBO’s Game of Thrones had gone to shoot iconic scenes. It took her just two weeks to find seasons two through six. “It almost looks like on TV,” says Kyslyak, whose company, Contact Yachts, is offering Game of Thrones charter itineraries this summer. “I have never seen anything better preserved than the old towns of Croatia. They wouldn’t need that many graphics or extra people; they were filming while tons of tourists were just walking around.”
The show’s final season is scheduled to air in 2019, and excitement is high in places where the cast and crew have filmed. Those locations dovetail with popular waypoints on yacht-charter itineraries: Dubrovnik is a main filming location for King’s Landing, capital of the imaginary Seven Kingdoms in Westeros; it was in real-life Gradac Park, just outside of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, that fictional King Joffrey was poisoned during the show’s Purple Wedding; and Fort Lovrijenac is the filming location for the Red Keep (whose imposing seaside presence, in reality, has earned it the nickname “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”).
Crews from the HBO show ‘Game of Thrones’ film often in Croatia — at locations easy to access by charter yacht.
“Local people, they offer guided tours, and they also tell you stories about their relatives who played a sadistic part in some episode, or maybe they played a slave,” Kyslyak says. “They tell you the stories and then recommend where you can eat at a local place where the cast and the crew had dinner.”
The really good news is that Game of Thrones tchotchke shops aren’t sprouting up everywhere to mar the natural beauty. A few are around, but Kyslyak saw just one during the entire two weeks that she scouted sites. Otherwise, the spots are perfectly preserved, which is likely what attracted the show’s producers.
“The artisans, the shops, they’re doing their own thing,” she says. “They are very welcoming, and fans will definitely find their way. You don’t need to look for the locations. They’re just there.”
The stretch of Croatian coastline from Dubrovnik to Split has been popular with charter clients for a number of years now. It can include stops at locations such as Mljet, Korcula and Hvar, which offer a combination of beautiful natural backdrops for watersports fun, as well as classical architecture for sightseeing. During a seven- to 10-day charter itinerary, Kyslyak says, it’s easy to incorporate the Game of Thrones stops along with those others.
Days can begin around 10 a.m. with breakfast aboard, and because the sun stays up late during summer, afternoons can go on as long as everyone is having fun ashore. Two days apiece in Dubrovnik and Split should do it, with everywhere in between being negotiable according to the charter client’s tastes.
Locals in Croatia will tell you about their relatives who played sadistic extras or slaves in past episodes.
For instance, with a stop at Klis Fortress near Split, Game of Thrones fans can discuss its fantasy-world namesake — the city of Meereen — while charter guests who don’t watch the show and simply want to enjoy the scenery will also have lots to do.
“I highly recommend it,” Kyslyak says. “You see a panoramic view of the Adriatic and the whole coast. And not only that, but you also see the villages and how Croatians really live. You can just embrace all of it.”
She offers just one warning: Don’t wait too long to book. The season seven Game of Thrones premiere drew a reported 30 million viewers last year, and with season eight expected to be the last, fans are likely to swarm come summer 2019, when it airs.
“Here in Europe, everybody is watching it too,” she says. “A lot of my friends, when they found out I was going to the locations, they couldn’t believe it.”