By Sid Lipsey for 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.
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.
1. 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.
2. Osuna, Spain
What it is in real life: Home of the nearly 500-year-old Osuna University building
What it is on Game of Thrones: Various 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 Thrones: Where Daenerys Targaryen begins her drive to free the slaves of Meereen, culminating in her brutal crucifixion of the slave owners.
5. 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 Thrones: The 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.
6. 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.
7. Krka National Park, Croatia
What it is in real life: The seventh-largest national park in Croatia
What it is on Game of Thrones: A frequent go-to location for outdoor scenes
8. 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 Thrones: All signs point to this city standing in as Braavos, where young Arya Stark was traveling to at the end of Season 4.
9. 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.