So, you've decided to visit Westeros! Beautiful, politically stable Westeros. Tourism to Middle-Earth may be on the decline, but The Seven Kingdoms are the hot new travel destination for intrepid vacationers. Take the trip now, before any forces of unspeakable evil tear through the countryside! But check out these hot Westeros travel tips before you go, because you'd probably like to return with your head (or at least, a few of your original limbs).
Fellow travelers will tell you that HBO is the quickest way to get to Westeros, but to really see the country's hidden gems, you're going to want to splurge on a George R. R. Martin guided tour. It might be slow going, but you'll have a more authentic travel experience (and it's marginally safer for any women in your travel party). Just watch out for cliffhangers.
Once you've chosen your method of travel, you're going to want to sit down with a map of Westeros and really zero in on the sights you want to see. You don't want to miss the Wall in the North (watch out for wildlings) or the Capital at King's Landing (watch out for court intrigue)! Roving armies may cause travel delays, so plan ahead.
Here are just a few more tips to get you ready for your tour of the Seven Kingdoms:
1. Beat the heat: visit Westeros in the winter!
Most tourists stick to the summer season for Westerosi travel. It's widely considered less lethal. But if you want to beat the crowds (and risk starvation), take the chance and visit in the winter! Travel alert: winters in Westeros last for an unspecified number of years, so pack a heavy duty parka and try not to be killed and eaten by marauding clans of cannibals.
2. Valyrian steel or dragon glass recommended
While traveling in Westeros, it's not a bad idea to be armed. At all times. Maybe consider sleeping with a knife under your pillow and carrying around antidotes to common poisons. When you're shopping for Westeros weaponry, try to get your hands on a Valyrian steel sword, and some chunks of dragon glass for any Northern expeditions. Of course, these materials are rare and in high demand so... good luck with that (it doesn't hurt to befriend an assassin from Braavos, either).
3. Try to bring a dire wolf or dragon with you
Westeros and Essos are very pet friendly! A giant, vicious, monster who has a taste for the blood of your enemies is the best choice, if possible. Just don't make a big deal about it. Don't march around with armies, talking up how you have a giant wolf and/or several dragons. The locals might get jealous. And then you'll end up with warlocks stealing your baby dragons, or possibly your wolf's head being sewn to your headless corpse.
4. Respect local religious practices
Most of Westeros worships the Faith of the Seven, so be respectful when entering any septs. Of course, up North the old gods are still in vogue, so don't mess with any godswoods, either. If you choose to visit the Iron Islands, the Drowned God is all the rage (or better yet, don't visit the Iron Islands). And if you're taking the Targaryen heritage tour of Dragonstone, please just pretend to be cool with the Lord of Light. His followers can be very... persuasive.
5. The best skiing is north of the wall, but watch out for armies of the undead
Every tourist and their mom is going to be visiting the Wall, at the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. If you're looking for a trip off the beaten path, venture just north of the wall for snowy mountain vistas and perfect skiing weather! Popular methods of going north of the wall include scaling the icy face of the wall with your bare hands or joining the Night's Watch for the rest of your life. Beware of snow zombies.
6. If you’re visiting the Eyrie, bring a parachute
No one ever plans to exit through the "Moon Door," but... better safe than sorry.
7. Avoid weddings
Westeros weddings may sound fun, but... just don't go. Decline any invitations. Do not RSVP. Do not send a gift. Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Try not to end up betrothed to anyone, especially if they're part of a politically significant house (and definitely stay away from any and all Freys). Also stay away from Dothraki Khals. Essos weddings aren't all that much better.
8. If someone tries to make you Lord of Harrenhal, graciously decline
If you hang around Westeros long enough, someone will inevitably try to make you Lord of Harrenhal. And sure, it's the biggest castle in the Seven Kingdoms. Yes, the surrounding tracts of land are very fertile, and you may think that you want to be Lord of Harrenhal, but you really, really don't. It's a real fixer-upper, since it was burned down by dragons several hundred years ago. And also you're definitely going to be murdered.
9. Try to avoid overhearing any conspiracies in King’s Landing
By all means, visit King's Landing! Try the lamprey pie! But if you overhear anybody talking to anybody else about anything, ever, get the hell out of there. If a guy named Petyr tries to ever tell you anything, don't believe him. And if you get into trouble, name drop the Lannisters until they let you go (unless you're in trouble with the Lannisters... then I can't help you).
10. Dorne has the best nightlife
If you're looking for a fun time, head on down to Dorne. They're a little more freewheeling and pro-orgy than the rest of the Seven Kingdoms (also, make sure to trash talk the other six kingdoms while you're there).
11. Hop across the narrow sea for a weekend jaunt!
There's also plenty to see in Essos, the continent just to the east of Westeros! Check out the Dothraki Sea (but avoid being massacred by the Dothraki), or the endless desert of the Red Waste, or the slave-city of Astapor, or... you know what? On second thought, maybe don't visit Essos.
12. Don’t get too attached to any kings
They never stick around for long.
Images: HBO, Giphy (13)