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How to Take the Ultimate Game of Thrones Vacation

By Yahoo Travel
updated September 29, 2021
The alcazar courtyard, seville
Courtesy nancyb926/myBudgetTravel

This article was written by Sid Lipsey and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

When we last saw Game of Thrones two of its most interesting characters were traveling, and not for pleasure: The too-smart-for-his-own-good Tyrion had to go on the run after murdering his vengeful ex and complete jerk of a father, and teenage badass Arya hit the road because... well, because she really had nothing else to do.

Fortunately, we Game of Thrones fans can travel just like our favorite characters from the show—and, unlike them, have fun doing it. Fans have begun taking pilgrimages to the international locations where the show is shot. And places where the Game of Thrones cast and crew spent last year filming Season 5 (which debuts on HBO on April 12) are expected to see massive increases in tourism.

Related: You Can Take a Cruise Based on 'Game of Thrones'?

Various touring companies are offering special Game of Thrones-themed vacations to Season 5 filming locations (luxury travel referral service Zicasso is offering GoT tours of Season 5 filming locations in Spain and Croatia).

Here are the spots you'll want to see after you've watched the new season. Just don't be too disappointed if you don't see any dragons.

The Alcázar of Seville: Seville, Spain

What it is in real life: A former Moorish fort that's now the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

What it is on Game of Thrones: Reports indicate the Alcázar courtyards will serve as the Water Gardens Palace in Dorne, home of Prince Doran Martell. He's the older brother of the late Prince Oberyn, whom we last saw getting his eyeballs squished out during an especially gory trial by combat. You'll be happy you still have your eyeballs when you gaze upon this beautiful place.

Osuna, Spain

What it is in real life: Home of the nearly 500-year-old Osuna University building.

What it is on Game of ThronesVarious reports suggest a pivotal Season 5 battle scene was filmed at Osuna's century-old bullfighting ring. GoT fan site Watchers on the Wall snapped a photo of an actor who appeared to be a stand-in for Peter Dinklage (aka Tyrion Lannister) on the set.

The Alhambra Palace: Granada, Spain

What it is in real life: A stunning fortress complex that dates to 889. It is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What it is on Game of Thrones: Crews reportedly visited this complex while scouting for shooting locations. Did they actually shoot anything here? We'll have to watch to find out.

Related: 12 Things We Learned About Travel From Watching 'Game of Thrones'

Klis Fortress: Klis, Croatia

What it is in real life: A nearly 2,000-year-old fortress that overlooks the city of Split. It is famous for its legendary defense against the 16th-century Ottoman invasion.

What it is on Game of ThronesWhere Daenerys Targaryen begins her drive to free the slaves of Meereen, culminating in her brutal crucifixion of the slave owners.

Diocletian's Palace: Split, Croatia

What it is in real life: One of the most popular attractions in Croatia's second-largest city, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What it is on Game of ThronesThe city of Meereen, where Daenerys Targaryen ruled over her newly freed slave population last season. Watchers on the Wall reported that the Game of Thrones crew returned here to shoot scenes for Season 5.  

Dubrovnik, Croatia

What it is in real life: A former war-torn city that has become the jewel of the Adriatic.

What it is on Game of Thrones: Kings Landing! This is the site of countless backstabbings, one gut-wrenching beheading, an icky incestuous affair, Tyrion's sweet victory in the Battle of Blackwater, and karma's even sweeter victory at King Joffrey's wedding.

Related: The Ultimate 'Game of Thrones' Escape in an Iron Age Hut

Krka National Park, Croatia

What it is in real life: The seventh-largest national park in Croatia.

What it is on Game of ThronesA frequent go-to location for outdoor scenes.

The Cathedral of St. James: Sibenik, Croatia

What it is in real life: Consecrated in 1555, this cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What it is on Game of ThronesAll signs point to this city standing in as Braavos, where young Arya Stark was traveling to at the end of Season 4.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

What it is in real life: The capital of Northern Ireland.

What it is on Game of Thrones: One of the main filming locations and a mecca for fans. Queen Elizabeth II even dropped by to visit the cast as they were filming Season 5. Many interiors were shot at Titanic studios, while outdoor settings like Winterfell and Robb Stark's camp were shot nearby.

A number of operators offer tours of the various locations. The cable company Xfinity is even offering its customers a Game of Thrones Belfast vacation.

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Inspiration

Free & Cheap in NYC (For Real!)

The city that doesn't sleep has a reputation for not exactly being cheap. This is, after all, the land of the $1,000 ice cream sundae and the $45,000 hotel room. But we here at BT love New York for its down-to-earth qualities that anyone can enjoy. In fact, the best activities don't cost a dime—or if you do shell out a few bucks, it's worth it and then some. Where to find this awesome, accessible stuff to do? Ask the locals, of course. We talked to famous New York citizens, BT readers who know the city inside and out, and our own Empire State–based editors, who—with a little prodding—gave up their secret favorite NYC pastimes that won't leave you standing in Times Square with your pockets turned inside out. Whose advice will you take first? What's your favorite free or inexpensive thing to do in New York City? The Food: "Sunday dim sum (dumpling) brunch in Chinatown at Dim Sum Gogo. It is my favorite place to stuff myself on these delicious morsels." —Patricia Field, fashion designer, costume designer for Sex and the City, and native New Yorker "My favorite thing is to go all the way up to Harlem with a bunch of guys and go to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. It's inexpensive and so much fun. Go with a big group!" —François Payard, James Beard award–winning pastry chef with five namesake bakeries and patisseries in NYC "I have an on-the-go job, like most New Yorkers, but it's also important to stay healthy during the day. Try Gray's Papaya on the Upper West Side, which offers their Recession Special of two all-beef hot dogs and a nutritious juice drink for just $4.95, or the famous 'street meat' food carts on Midtown corners, being sure to opt for the lean grilled chicken over the greasy beef." —Lee Tressel, Triple-A strength and conditioning coach for the New York Yankees  "We have kids, so our favorite is a visit to Economy Candy on the Lower East Side! Nostalgic, a great area to walk in, and of course a great time for the kids!" —BT reader Melika Nixon, via Facebook The Sights: "Staten Island Ferry. You get a fantastic view of lower Manhattan. An up-close pass by the Statue of Liberty. And you can interrupt a busy day of touring on foot with a relatively relaxing free boat ride where there is plenty of seating. That's about as much as you can ask from something that's free." —Pat Kiernan, NY1 news anchor "The parks! Pack a lunch and spend the day at Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan—visit The Cloisters while you're there—or Hudson River Park. There's so much going on over a long stretch." —Amy Lundeen, photo director, Budget Travel "In the summertime, I like going to the roof of the Met. The museum is a suggested donation (I usually give a couple of bucks), and you don't have to purchase anything at the bar on the roof. You can just enjoy the art installation and the view!" —BT reader and New Yorker Jennie LaIacona, via Facebook "Visitors often overlook the neighborhoods that locals love, but spending time off the beaten visitor path is the best way to experience New York City like a local. Make sure you spend time in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island before heading home. You won't regret it!" —Marty Markowitz, former Brooklyn borough president and current VP of borough engagement and promotion for NY's tourism org, NYC & Company "Walk the beautiful Brooklyn Heights Promenade, then across the Brooklyn Bridge. Fabulous 360-degree views!" —BT reader Roger Warner, via Facebook The Activities: "Le Carrousel in Bryant Park. Kids can ride on a cat, a frog, a rabbit, and other beautiful carved animals in the middle of Midtown's perfect oasis. Tickets are only $3, and grown-ups who want to stand beside their little one ride for free."—Robert Firpo-Cappiello, editor in chief, Budget Travel "Free museums on Fridays! Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria and MoMA." (Both free from 4–8 p.m.) —BT reader and New Yorker Sean Layton (@seanrlayton), via Instagram "I love going for long strolls around the city. You never know who you'll bump into or what you'll see. I've stumbled upon movie premiere red carpets, the Metropolitan Opera showing their opening-night performance on the big screens in Times Square, and Robert De Niro filming in the East Village—I accidentally wandered into the shot!" —Kaeli Conforti, digital editor, Budget Travel "The Steinway piano factory tour in Queens. Requires advance reservation, but it was so interesting and free!" (Email info@steinway.com or call 718-721-2600 to inquire.) —BT reader Eve Zucker Strauss, via Facebook "I so enjoy attending free readings at unique NYC bookstores like Word in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; the legendary Strand (18 miles of books!) on 12th Street; McNally Jackson in Nolita; and even the Barnes & Noble flagship store in Union Square. I've met famous authors ranging from Naomi Wolf to Meg Cabot to Chuck Klosterman and gone home carrying a signed book that I intended to buy no matter what. Check out the websites' events pages, or go regardless and just get lost in the stacks." —Jamie Beckman, senior editor, Budget Travel "Walk and walk and walk! Central Park has free walking tours of specific areas of the park. Also, free walking tours from Free Tours by Foot." —BT reader Wynne Gavin, via Facebook "Exploring the free galleries in Chelsea neighborhood, especially Hasted Kraeutler and Yancey Richardson; breaking for food-truck snacks on the nearby High Line; and then going back for more artful inspiration! The galleries are generally open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but if you want to rub elbows with art-scene 'somebodys,' show up on a Thursday evening for an opening and (reasonably) indulge in the free wine." —Whitney Tressel, photo editor, Budget Travel

Inspiration

Travelers Say "NO" to Indiana

Budget Travel recently asked its audience if their travel plans would be affected by Indiana's new "religious objections" law (officially known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act). The law has raised concerns about discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and visitors. In the days since we posed the question, several states and major corporations have imposed bans on non-essential travel to Indiana, and Indiana's governor and legislature have come under pressure to enact civil rights legislation to ensure that the law is not used to legitimize discrimination. We asked "Will you travel to Indiana?" on BudgetTravel.com and on our Twitter and Facebook platforms, and found that more than 90 percent of the 100+ respondents agreed with the #BoycottIndiana movement. Comments included: "Nope. Some states don't deserve my money." "Absolutely not. In fact, my cousin's husband's family just agreed to relocate their family reunion from Indianapolis (est. 200 people)." "I live in Indy. It is a great city and in spite of this dumb law, and by the way I know of no one who supports it, we welcome everyone!" "Sadly, no. It's a great state with great people." "Looks like the state could lose some serious money over this signing. with conventions pulling out and saying they won't return and the NCAA saying they have concerns about this as well. Thanks, Mike [Pence]. What happened to love thy neighbor and do unto others?" "Hell yes, it's a great state that doesn't take crap from progressive liberals who just need to mouth off about everything!" "I vote with my wallet and do not support bigotry." "Stick to travel." Overall, considering the emotions involved with this issue, we were pleased with the civil tone of the responses. The only comment I feel compelled to address is "Stick to travel." Budget Travel's mission is to make travel accessible to everyone. Whether you support Indiana's new law or not, we believe that travel (or "voting with your wallet," as several readers put it) is clearly one of the issues involved.

Inspiration

Will You Travel to Indiana?

You probably have friends or family in Indiana, right? And if you're a basketball fan, you're likely looking forward to next weekend's NCAA men's Final Four in Indianapolis, right? Or maybe you've been considering spending some time exploring Indiana's beautiful state parks, vibrant cities, and exceptional museums? But... On March 26, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a "religious objections" bill into law. The law will take effect in July and has raised concerns from the Indianapolis-based NCAA, the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, and other groups that Indiana has legalized discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and visitors. In response, SalesForce.com's CEO immediately posted on Twitter that the company would cancel all programs that might involve his company's customers or employees traveling to Indiana "to face discrimination." Major gay-rights advocacy groups are voicing the same concerns, and other businesses are expected to follow SalesForce.com's lead. So... Do you have plans to visit Indiana in 2015? Will the new "religious objections" law affect your travel plans? Please post a comment below or talk to us on Twitter or Facebook. (Popular social media hashtags for the topic include #Final4Fairness and #BoycottIndiana.)

Inspiration

Eat Like a Local in Orlando

Orlando is a pretty sweet place to be any time of year, but this spring is especially exciting. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom (as reported in 8 Incredibly Beautiful Places to See Spring Flowers), and the brand-new I-Drive 360, an entertainment center opening in early May that will be home to the 400-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel and the SeaLife Orlando aquarium. But even some of Orlando's biggest fans (and we count ourselves among them) are a little behind the curve when it comes to the city's food scene. Sure, the fish & chips at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are magical, and Walt Disney World has a tradition of fine dining choices at its parks, but if your idea of chowing down in the theme park capital mostly consists of chicken strips, French fries, and variations on the fried dough theme, we've got exciting news: Orlando offers an entire world (literally) of choices when you eat the way locals do. I-Drive offers an array of international food choices (after all, the "I" stands for "International"), including the acclaimed Ethiopian restaurant Nile 07, Indian fare at Aashirwad (winner of a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence), Italian at Ciao Italia (another TripAdvisor honoree that's been compared to Manhattan's finest Italian restaurants in reviews), and Japanese cuisine at RA Sushi (which complements its fine menu with one of the area's most popular happy hours). For families looking for healthy comfort food, we're not shy about recommending high-quality chain restaurants: Sweet Tomatoes offers an awesome buffet with something to please even the pickiest little eaters, and parents will appreciate the restaurant's heavy focus on fresh vegetables. And for those craving an upscale take on diner fare, the new I-Drive 360 will include a Shake Shack (the wildly popular burgers-dogs-fries chain that began with a hot dog cart in NYC's Madison Square Park). TR Fire Grill launched earlier this month, spotlighting locally sourced ingredients, hand-crafted cocktails, and an American bistro atmosphere. And keep on truckin' with Orlando's amazing mix of food trucks: The Arepas El Cacao truck is a permanent fixture on I-Drive you shouldn't miss. If you want to get a little bit off the beaten path, explore another great food neighborhood like Park Avenue in Winter Park, home to Tex-Mex standout Cocina 214, serving the favorites the restaurant's owners grew up cooking in Dallas. Orlando has no shortage of beautiful hotels, of course. Right now, we're psyched that the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive has rooms starting at $109, plus spring break deals through early April.