If you are like many people in the world, you may not have even heard of Dubrovnik, Croatia…unless of course, you’re a hardcore Game of Thrones fan. But believe me when I say, it’s a great place to celebrate Christmas. It is a beautiful city and a UNESCO heritage site, and its old school charm will make you feel like you’re in the middle of a holiday fairy tale.
Besides being all lit up for the holiday season, there are plenty of things to do when you visit. Here are a few you’ll want to add to your list.
Dubrovnik Christmas Market and Winter Festival
The Dubrovnik Christmas Market opens at the end of November and goes into early January. It is located in the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town at Luza Square.
The market has plenty of events that are great for children and adults. There’s live entertainment and concerts, a skating rink, caroling and art workshops where you can learn how to make traditional Croatian Christmas decorations. The Torta Cake Party is a must see for children as it features Christmas fairy tale workshops, live music and a live Nativity scene.
There is also plenty to buy at the market. This includes Croatian handmade goods and other unique souvenirs. Cultural food items like cabbage and sausage are also available.
Admission to the market is free but some events may require an additional fee.
Dubrovnik Christmas Advent
This Christmas festival also takes place in the Old Town section. The area comes alive with houses decorated to the nines that even spill into the street. People walk around eating seasonal food and drinking beer and wine. Live concerts and entertainment bring the city to life.
Christmas festivities really kick off for Badnjak, a celebration that takes place on Christmas Eve. During the day, everyone gets dressed in their finest clothing and heads out for mass at an Old Town church. They gather at bars to enjoy drinks and then go door to door to visit friends and relatives and eat and drink even more.
During Badnjak, there are typically free live performances in the Town Square including those held in front of the Church of the St. Blaise.
Winter Saturday Mornings in the City
In order to encourage tourism in the city, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board organizes a Winter Saturday Mornings in the City event. This runs from November until March and provides tourists with a free walking tour of the city.
To take advantage of the free tour, register in advance by 6 PM the Friday before by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Then meet up at the Tourist Information Centre Pile at 10 AM on Saturday to check out the city.
After the tour, guests can stick around for a free performance by the folklore ensemble FA Lindo which takes place in front of the Church of the St. Blaise at 11:30 AM.
The Codfish Days
Codfish is a traditional Croatian Christmas dish. As such, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board partners with the Winter Festival and local restaurants each year to make sure the fish is a heavily featured menu item.
Visitors can go to these restaurants to try codfish in a variety of dishes including codfish in bianco or red sauce, codfish soup, fried codfish balls, codfish souffle and more.
New Years Eve at Luza Square
If you are still in the city for New Years, be sure to check out the celebration at Luza Square. The festivities typically kick off at noon on New Years Eve with live performances that go straight through the night. Once the clock strikes midnight, oysters and champagne are served to those in attendance.
Take a Game of Thrones Tour
Earlier in the article, we mentioned a Dubrovnik and Game of Thrones connection. True fans will know that they city was the filming location for King’s Landing as well as famous scenes like Cersei’s walk of shame, King Joffery’s tournament and Daenerys Targaryen visit to Qarth.
A Game of Thrones tour is a popular Dubrovnik activity year-round and it is especially fun at Christmastime when the city is lit up for the holidays. Here are some of the sites you are likely to see.
From reading this article, you probably already know that Old Town is the happening spot in Dubrovnik. It has beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries palaces and fountains. The main street of Old Town is called Stradun and it’s made of white marble and lined with lovely late Renaissance houses. It crosses the city ending at an old port where you can take a boat to the wooded island of Lokrum.
Impressive sites in Old Town include St. Blaise’s church, Dubrovnik’s cathedral, the Sponza Palace and the Dominican and Franciscan monastery.
Also known as the steps of Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing and the site of Cersei’s Walk of Shame, these steps are located on the south side of Gundulic Square and lead up to Uz Jezuite St, the site of Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius and two Dubrovnik colleges, Collegium Ragusinum and Jesuit College.
St. Dominic St
The site of many King’s Landing market scenes, this street is located near the Dominican Monastery and links Ploce Gate with Stradun.
Ethnographic Museum Pupe
Doubling as the exterior of Littlefinger’s brothel, this museum is a great place to view folk costumes and textile handiwork. It is located in an old granary that dates back to the 16th century. It once served as the building where the Dubrovnik Republic kept all the state’s grain reserves.
AKA Game of Thrones’ Red Keep Gate, this gate marks the east entrance to Old Town. It was built at the end of the 14th century and serves as the base for the statue of Sveti Vlaho, the patron saint of Dubrovnik. The gate has an inner and outer section and incorporates a stone bridge, the same bridge that Cersei passes over after her Walk of Shame.
Rector’s Palace serves as the residence of Game of Thrones Spice King in Qarth. It was built in the 15th century and served as the quarters for the elected rector who governed Dubrovnik at the time. The palace includes his chambers, his administrative offices, his public halls and even a dungeon.
Dubrovnik is a charming place to visit and it is the perfect place to enjoy a winter holiday. What activities will you be partaking in when you make the trip?