Some dazzling film scenes make you stand up and say, “Wow, where is that?”, because it’s difficult to believe that these locations are for real. In today’s world, incredible computer technology and green screens can create whole worlds in a movie studio. But there’s nothing like the awe that cinema-goers feel when they see a film shot in an incredible location, be it in scenic landscapes, cool cities, or surreal historical sites.
Write down some travel ideas from 25 famous locations that you can actually visit.
1. Lord of the Rings – New Zealand
New Zealand received a huge surge in tourism after the Lord of the Rings trilogy put it in the spotlight. The cinema-goers were overwhelmed by the wide, untouched nature of the film, the fabulous mountain ranges, the dramatic cliffs and the artificial hobbit holes.
2. The Beach – Thailand
If you want to prove that film tourism can be both a blessing and a curse, The Beach is the place for you. It was released in 2000 and shows a baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio finding a mysterious map and sneaking up to a remote island community, a paradise hidden from the outside world.
3. The Godfather – Italy
After we saw the godfather, most of us wanted to pick up an Italian accent. This cult film, considered one of the best films of all time, is an amazing story about the growth of a mafia family with Don Corleone as the main character and a reluctant son, Al Pacino, who has to decide in which direction his life should go.
4. Indiana Jones and the last crusade – Jordan
The Last Crusade is the third installment in the popular Indiana Jones series, and here we head to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. The Holy Grail is said to be housed in the “Crescent Canyon”, actually – in real life – in Al Khazneh. The elaborate sandstone carving and the Greek architecture make it an exceptionally beautiful structure.
5. Harry Potter – United Kingdom
No list of famous locations would be complete without the Harry Potter series, and London is everything you hope for: full of old world charm, architecturally beautiful and the perfect setting for a film about witches and magicians in training.
6. Jurassic Park – Hawaii
It really looks like a country ahead of time, and no doubt it was an obvious choice to film a remote island where dinosaurs are cloned and brought back to life. When Jurassic Park came out, it was celebrated for its CGI, which may seem tame today, but was incredible at the time and very scary for children.
7. Batman: The Dark Knight – Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s glittering skyscrapers and dense urban jungle have long attracted producers and location scouts who are fascinated by the futuristic old world landscape. In The Dark Knight, Christian Bale continues to fight as The Batman against The Joker, played great by Heath Ledger, who died so sadly shortly thereafter.
8. Angels and Demons – Italy
This film is like a treasure map for history buffs and travel lovers, with dozens of incredible (and real) places that tourists can easily find. After the overwhelming success of the Da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks returned as Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist who tried to prevent an attack on the Vatican.
9. Doctor Strange – Nepal
Ancient cities always offer a great background, because cinema-goers are transported back in time to places that are not affected by the outside world. In Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a brilliant surgeon whose skilful hands are crushed in an accident and plunge him into a dark depression. In search of a cure, he travels to a sacred place known as “Kamar Taj” and seeks the guidance of “The Ancient One”.
10. Mamma Mia! – Greece
The ‘magical Greek island of Kalokairi’, where most of Mamma Mia! filmed is a real place, although known by a different name. The dramatic cliffs and picturesque white sandy beaches are located on the island of Skopelos off the east coast of Greece.
11. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cambodia
In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, the seemingly abandoned stone temples with statues and walkways that are slowly buried by Banyan roots look like a film set, but are one of the most famous historical sites in all of Southeast Asia.
12. Pretty Woman – United States of America
Pretty Woman, the legendary movie starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, plays in Los Angeles. Gere plays Edward Lewis, a successful businessman who hires a beautiful prostitute, Vivian Ward, to be with him at several high-flying events. She lives with him at the incredibly glamorous Hotel Beverly Wilshire, where she enjoys a luxurious week with fragrant bubble baths, champagne and, finally, true love.
13. Avatar – China
While this film was known for some of the most incredible CGI ever known in the industry, the setting for the film was actually inspired by real places, mostly in China.
14. Star Trek: Beyond – United Arab Emirates
In the latest Star Trek installation, the crew of the USS Enterprise is on a distant planet when their ship is destroyed by an alien army. And what better place is there to reach a futuristic space boundary than in one of the newest cities in the world, Dubai. Dubai is a state-of-the-art metropolis in the United Arab Emirates, literally built out of the sand in a few decades, and an emerging tourist destination. The skyline, full of smooth and shiny skyscrapers, served as the perfect vertical alien world in which the legendary Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and Jumeirah Lake Towers appeared.
15. Shawshank Redemption – United States of America
The Ohio State Reformatory in the United States is an imposing 19th-century building in Mansfield, Ohio that shows a mix of architectural styles – Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, and something called Richardsonian Romanesque. The inmates of the Shawshank State Penitentiary – including Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) – huddled behind this impressive facade.
16. Saving Private Ryan – Ireland
Steven Spielberg’s terrible and emotional portrayal of the 1944 D-Day landings in his Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan war episode used wind-swept Ballinesker and Curracloe beaches in Wexford, Ireland to campaign for Omaha Beach in Normandy. The beaches are awarded the Blue Flag beauties known for bird watching.
17. X-Men – Canada
Although it takes place in New York, the 2000 blockbuster is mostly filmed in Ontario, Canada with comic book favorites like Wolverine and Magneto. The Gooderham Words Distillery, once one of the largest distilleries in the British Empire and now an entertainment district in downtown Toronto, appeared on the opening scene as a Polish concentration camp.
18. Planet of the Apes – United States of America
Planet of the Apes has surfaced in several forms over the years – including a 1970s television series and a re-hash by Tim Burton in 2011. The original film (1968) with a confused and rugged-looking Charlton Heston comes to an end delicious Westward Beach in Malibu (between Zuma Beach and Point Dune), a beautiful strip of yellow sand that is washed by foamy waves.
19. The King’s Speech – United Kingdom
Westminster Abbey, the setting for real coronations, is played by Ely Cathedral in the oh so British film The King’s Speech by director Tom Hooper from 2010. The stammering Duke of York (Colin Firth) is “cured” of his voice problems by the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue and successfully conquers his first radio broadcast as King George IV. After the abdication of his brother Edward VIII.
20. The Avengers – United States of America
In The Avengers, a mix of superheroes – think of Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor – join forces to prevent Thor’s malicious brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) from conquering and governing Earth. The city of Cleveland in Ohio is also New York City, the scene of some particularly chaotic battle scenes. “Stuttgarter Platz”, where Loki forces the public to kneel in front of him, is Cleveland’s public space.
21. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Czech Republic
Prague is the location of the 2003 Comic Capri, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The “London Club”, in which the league of M is put together, is the great Rudolfinum, Prague’s former lower house and now a concert venue in which the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra is located.
22. The Hunger Games – United States of America
The 2008 science fiction hit, The Hunger Games, was written by Suzanne Collins and adapted for the movie screen in 2012. The games are violent, imaginative and extremely convincing in the beautiful pine forests, rugged mountains and rushing waterfalls of DuPont instead of the state forest in North Carolina.
23. Argo – Turkey
Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning offering tells the story of six Americans who escaped a besieged embassy in central Iranian Tehran in 1980. They are forced to hide until Tony Mendez (Affleck) uses an elaborate trick to help them escape. Of course, filming in Iran was impossible, so the filmmakers opted for the chaotic, colorful bazaars and crowded streets of Istanbul in Turkey as a replacement.
24. Skyfall – United Kingdom
Skyfall, number 23 in the Bond series, welcomes Daniel Craig as the only agent 007. But we say goodbye to the beloved M, played by Judi Dench, who is killed (spoiler alert!). The filming locations included London and Turkey, as well as Scotland – where Skyfall, Bond’s family home, is hidden in the misty valleys of Glen Coe (although the house itself is a plywood and plaster creation destroyed in Surrey).
25. 127 Hours – United States of America
Well, no one wants to have to chop off a body part to see a nice movie location, and you don’t have to when you visit Moab, Utah. 127 hours is the harrowing true story of Aron Ralston, who was trapped in a ravine with one arm under a boulder. In the face of certain death, he decides to do the unthinkable and cut off part of his own arm to escape.
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