Filmmakers spend days scouting the perfect location for their movies, or building intricate sets in backlots. Getting to explore the real life locations from some of your favourite movies just makes them all the more special, and there is no shortage of interesting, fun filled, and simply incredible locations around the world. Some of our favourite picks even include entire cities for you to explore and discover. Here’s a list of 25 spots from movies that deserve a stop off on your next trip.
25. Glenfinnan Viaduct – Harry Potter
The breathtaking landscape in the picturesque west highlands of Scotland is punctuated by a viaduct bridge that’s known for one thing: birds-eye views of the Hogwarts Express. You can spot the easily recognizable red train in real life chugging along the track and puffing white steam against a backdrop of rolling green hills. For an authentic ride on the Hogwarts Express, you can take the Jacobite Steam Locomotive on a journey along an epic 84 mile stretch of stunning scenery.
24. Horta Museum – The Danish Girl
For the most part, The Danish Girl, a delicate story of the first official trans operation is filmed in the colourful landscape of Copenhagen. But, one of the locations is a beautiful art nouveau style building in Belgium: the Horta Museum, in the Saint- Gilles district of Brussels. It is a former home of the art nouveau legend Victor Horta. It’s twisting staircases, furniture embellishments and even doorknobs are designed and crafting with exquisite detail, even the walls are full of swift curves and golden hues in the art nouveau style.
23. Griffith Observatory – LaLaLand
LaLaLand is a love letter to the classic films of Hollywood, so it’s only natural that it focuses on some iconic settings in the heart of Los Angeles. Previously famed for its association in the James Dean classic Rebel Without A Cause. The Griffith Observatory and its lofty surroundings are brought back to life in the beautifully crafted scenes in LaLaLand. The two leads literally leave the ground to float around the observatory’s planetarium in one of the most magical moments. Just two miles down the road is the hilltop where Mia wears THAT yellow dress, set against the backdrop of LA. There’s also a pretty awesome view of the Hollywood sign from the Griffith Observatory car park.
22. The Bench – 500 Days of Summer
Although this is not a traditional love story, cinematically it is a love story with the city of Los Angeles. The iconic bench where Tom and Summer sit admiring downtown LA, unfortunately, has about as much of a happy ending as they do. Angels Knoll where the bench sits has been purchased by a private developer and will soon be turned into another ‘car park’ ruining the inspirational architecture. Strangely, it seems quite fitting considering its use in the film.
A stroll around the city will suck you right back into the film with spots like the Art Deco style Hotel Barclay, the Broadway Bar from the karaoke scene, and the Million Dollar Theatre where Tom and Summer watch Vagiant! “Half vampire! Half giant!” Or, you could just visit an Ikea in any city in the world.
21. Görlitzer Warenhaus (Gorlitz Department Store) – Grand Budapest
The Grand Budapest was filmed mostly in Gorlitz, Germany. The preserved Art Nouveau department store, Görlitzer Warenhaus, was built at the start of the twentieth century and had the perfect vibes for Wes Anderson’s quirky hotel interior where most of the hotel scenes were filmed. The grand old department store is actually going to be restored and reopened in all its glory once again, though a date has not yet been realized. Take a wander around the charming city to see if you can also spot the storefront that was used for Mendl’s bakery.
20. Hobbiton – Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
Step into the green pastures of the shire in New Zealand’s North Island. The locals fell in love with it and decided to preserve the set exactly as it was made for the film. You can make like a hobbit, grow some hair on your toes and enter your very own hobbit hole. The set includes Bilbo’s green circular doored home in Bag End, and you can even book a buffett option to enjoy a smorgasbord of Hobbit favorites on your tour. It’s no secret that the incredible landscapes of New Zealand gave life to the world of LOTR. Mount Dgauruhoe, an active volcano in the Tongariro complex made for a perfect Mount Doom, and Mangawhero Falls was used for the mystical camp of Ithilien. There is so much to explore in Middle-earth.
19. Bletchy Park – The Imitation Game
Alan Turing built his war-winning Enigma codebreaker (that he names Christopher) on the grounds of a nineteenth-century Mansion in Buckinghamshire. These days you can come here to explore the once top-secret world of code cracking mathematicians and inspirational historical figures. If you drive there, spookily the GPS may drop you off at the wrong location, see if you can crack the code to the right address.
18. Barcelona – Vicky, Christina, Barcelona
Vicky, Christina, Barcelona is Woody Allen’s tribute to one of his favourite cities. Set against the backdrop of iconic landmarks and inspiring landscapes, this movie seriously showcases some of Barcelona’s most amazing sights. From the spectacular Sagrada Familia that stands at the heart of the city to the quirky little theme park atop Mount Tibidabo. You could travel to Barcelona with a plan to follow the route of the film and see some of the best sights in the city. Safe to say this movie would make a wonderful travel guide.
17. Tokyo, Japan – Lost in Translation
A few epic locations across the country crop up in this stark picture of a tourists experience in Japan. The hotel in Tokyo with the fabulous views of the city is the Park Hyatt located in the bustling main district of Shinjuku. You can hang out in the rooftop bar where Bob and Charlotte meet, and enjoy the sweeping views across Tokyo. If you stay at the hotel you can access the third tower rooftop, and swim in the pool with Tokyo’s best view. Enjoy a spot of karaoke in any of the numerous venues in the city. Charlotte also rides the bullet train to Kyoto, to visit the beautiful grounds of Heian Shrine and Nanzenji Temple, two of many historical and culturally revered sights in Japan.
16. Trevi Fountain – La Dolce Vita
The famously beautiful and ornate fountain in Rome that attracts visitors every day of the year, was made a symbol of Hollywood in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The character Sylvie wades into the fountain and stands under the waterfall lamenting for Marcello to join her. The scene was again paid tribute in Under the Tuscan Sun, with a character in a long black dress splashing around the pool. Don’t be tempted to be a movie star, however, it’s illegal to enter the fountain and you’ll be met with a pretty hefty fine.
15. Montauk Point Lighthouse – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Meet a stranger in Montauk at this cute little lighthouse that stands at the easternmost point of Long Island. A tiny museum is housed in the spherical tower and the short climb is worth the view from the top. The beach house where Joel and Clementine break in to spend a whimsical scene together is a few miles down the way on Georgica association beach.
14. Angel Falls- Paradise Falls In UP
The adorable old widower Carl Fredricksen vows to attach thousands of balloons to his house and float all the way to Paradise Falls to see a wonder of the world. Although Paradise Falls doesn’t exist in real life, its inspiration – Angel Falls is the worlds highest uninterrupted waterfall. At a height of 3,211 feet, that’s a height of more than 500 people standing on each other’s heads, it’s a sight to behold and worthy of its film dedication. This incredible natural wonder is in Venezuela and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
13. Mei and Satsuki’s House – My Neighbour Totoro
Mei and Satsuki are two little Japanese girls that go to live in a quirky old house in the middle of the woods whilst their mother is in hospital. There they meet the mysterious Wood spirit Totoro. In a town called Aichi in Japan, a house was built in the exact replica of the animation and can be visited in real life. Each detail is perfectly matched, including a bucket with a hole in the bottom!
12. Chatsworth House – Pride and Prejudice
Used as Mr Darcy’s wealthy Pemberley estate, Chatsworth House is a beautiful stately home in Bakewell. Still owned by a prestigious family, it has become a beloved part of the community. These days it sees less formal balls and more afternoon teas, outdoor cinema parties, and picnics on the grounds. It’s a popular site in the British countryside and the regal interiors are worth the tours, especially at Christmas when the halls are decked with holly and the occasional sheep can be spotted donning a Christmas hat.
11. Wadi Rum Desert – The Martian
Not quite as remote and a lot easier to access than actual Mars, the desert provided a fitting backdrop of vast nothingness to represent the surface of our closest planet. A Hollywood favourite for filming remote locations, the red hue of the sand of the Wadi certainly does a great job of acting like the surface of Mars, and you can be sure that the regular strength of gravity will help keep your feet firmly on the ground as you explore.
10. The Underground Pool – 127 Hours
Although Aaron Ralston was heading to his near death in Blue John Canyon, the cliff drop pool at the start of the film where Aaron persuades two travellers to drop with him into the unknown depths is actually in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. The underground pool is part of a hot spring complex at the Homestead Resort and Spa. Dropping through the canyon is not allowed for safety reasons but swimming and diving are encouraged.
9. Iceland – Walter Mitty
Destinations galore are showcased in the cinematography of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Though Walter travels to Greenland, Yemen and the Himalayas, most of the scenes were actually shot in the picturesque and rugged landscapes in Iceland. The entire country is a uniquely incredible place to visit with snowy mountains, ferocious waterfalls and endlessly spanning coastlines. Most people head straight to Reykjavik and are keen to experience the famous Blue Lagoon, but getting out into the wilderness is the true charm of this wild land and you might even find a private hot spring all to yourself. The climactic scene at Eyjafjallajökull volcano was also filmed here and can be visited in real life, although it did erupt as recently as 2010 so cruising towards its base on a Longboard a la Walter Mitty is probably not the safest idea.
8. Greece and Croatia – Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia was filmed on Skopelos on the beautiful Island of Greece, and since its debut tourists have been flocking to its glorious beaches and pristine waters. But since the second movie came out, the island on everyone’s Mamma Mia obsessed bucket list has become Vis: a beautiful Croatian Island. Most of the tropical scenes take place in a small village called Komiz, and nearby Stiniva was voted the best beach in Europe in 2016. The sleepy island of Vis only has one hotel, but there are numerous luxury villas in which to live out your own Croatian love story.
7. Jiufen, Taiwan – Spirited Away
This Ghibli favourite is set in Japan, but the place that inspired it is Jiufen; a quaint little mining town in Taiwan. Everything that inspired Miyazaki is here, from the gleaming red lanterns, piles of delicious food and even onsen hot springs. Witnessing the magnificent Grand Tea House and roaming the streets gives you the feeling you have walked onto the set of Spirited Away, and could disappear at any moment if you don’t dig into all the delicious treats on offer.
6. Paris – Midnight in Paris
The Midnight in Paris effect would have anyone wanting to hop onto a plane, train or bus to visit the city of love. Another of Woody Allen’s love letters to a beautiful city. This time showcasing the best of the intricate streets of Paris and the haunts of celebrated artists such as Claude Monet and Salvador Dali. Midnight in Paris shows the city at its most magical, elegantly crafting the best views, the monuments, and the ever-changing colours and lights of the city. Some of the best are the beautiful church of Saint Etienne du Mont, the Arc de Triomph, Place and Gardens of Versaille, and the River Seine.
5. Gion, Kyoto – Memoirs of a Geisha
Famously, Memoirs of a Geisha includes some of the most iconic cultural sites in Kyoto. Particularly the famous red Torri gates of the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Eastern Kyoto. The corridor from the base of the shrine is the most popularly photographed spot in Kyoto and generally crowded, but there are actually thousands of the vermillion red gates stretching like dominoes up the mountain. The hike to the summit rewards you with incredible views over Kyoto and the surrounding peaks. Come after dark for a more magical vibe when the gates are lit up beautifully and all the crowds go home.
4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia – Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider was the first movie to feature Cambodia for 30 years. The mysterious temple with trees roots bursting through its foundations gave people serious wanderlust for this ancient temple complex in Ta Prohm. Money from filming was invested back into the conservation and preserving of the site itself, publicity is sometimes good publicity for tourist destinations! Bars in Siem Reap still offer a range of tasty cocktails inspired by the film, and Angelina Jolie is quoted to saying, “It’s the most amazing place I’ve ever been to in my life.”
3. Philadelphia Museum of Art – Rocky
Few movies are as inspiring as the Rocky franchise. One of the most iconic scenes in the series, when Rocky runs to the top of the steps, was shot at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and shows an incredible view the Philadelphia skyline. Fans from around the globe like to come here to recreate the moment with themselves throwing their arms in the air triumphantly. A statue dedicated to Rocky also stands at the bottom of the stairs.
2. The Real Darjeeling Limited Train – The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is real, and the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s epic journey of three brothers is still in use today. The train winds its way through India’s rugged landscapes and the move shows just a taste of what traveling India is like. View the lower Himalayas and lush green pastures of the tea plantations in Darjeeling from the comfort of your cabin as you travel through this epic landscape.
1. Church of Montepulciano – New Moon
When Bella runs across the fountain in New Moon like a deranged cat chasing a squirrel, she’s actually in a studio. The square in Montepulciano doesn’t have a fountain in real life, but the charming clocktower is here. The medieval mountaintop town of Volterra is also a real-life location and is the oldest town in Tuscany.