There’s something quite magical about seeing filming locations with your very own eyes. The celebrities and cameras may have gone, but a story’s physical setting stays just where it is. You can consider it as a star in its own right.
Here are 10 travel destinations that should absolutely be on every film lover’s bucket list:
Starred in: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1999–2001)
“A rite of passage” is how a visit to New Zealand is described in this interactive map of the world’s top filming locations.One of the most beautiful places on the planet, New Zealand is the Lord of the Rings’ main filming location. The trilogy made full use of the location’s gorgeous natural landscapes and rolling green hills which any fan can recognize.
Starred in: Jason Bourne (2016)
The latest adventure of the titular spy-on-the-run brought plenty of white-knuckle, high-stakes thrills to the streets of the English capital. Eagle-eyed fans will quickly recognize the Woolwich Arsenal train station and its surroundings. These are the areas that were transformed into Athens in the film. They also wouldn’t miss the areas around Paddington Station and Paddington Basin, where Jason Bourne made a particularly tense phone call.
New York City, US
Starred in: Ghostbusters (1984)
We could have gone with any of the countless films shot in the Big Apple, but the original Ghostbusters is the one that truly captured New York City in its ’80s-glory heyday. Streets, plazas, skyscrapers, bridges- you name it.
Looking around as you walk through the city will instantly open up a floodgate of pure nostalgia and Bill Murray hero-worship. There are even guided tours available to match the location to the scene!
Starred in: Suicide Squad (2016)
Toronto has ‘stood in’ for many other cities in movies, but Suicide Squad’s Midway City may be its best fictional incarnation yet. Visitors can check out the spots where some of the film’s most iconic scenes happened. Just by walking along Downtown Toronto’s main thoroughfares, you can check out Yonge Street, Front Street West and Bay Street.
Visitors can check out the spots where some of the film’s most iconic scenes happened just by walking along Downtown Toronto’s main thoroughfares. When in the location, you should check out Yonge Street (car chases), Front Street West (Deadshot’s rooftop rappelling scene) and Bay Street (the helicopter crash).
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Starred in: City of God (2002)
Considered one of the finest films ever made by fans and critics alike, City of God—and by extension, Rio de Janeiro—is a true assault on the senses.
A walk around the city’s famous favelas will give visitors an authentic taste of Brazil. It will also give them an idea of how life must have been like for Rocket, Li’l Zé, Knockout Ned and company. Reminisce and venture into the Cidade de Deus suburb from which the film takes its name.
Starred in: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Speaking of an assault on the senses, how about a visit to the deserts of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast? It’s the setting of the latest (and brilliantly madcap) Mad Max film.
It’s only a four-hour drive from the Namibian capital, Windhoek. It’s far more accessible than Max and Furiosa would have you think.
Starred in: Kill Bill (2003–2004)
Although much of the two films were shot in Los Angeles and Beijing, Tokyo is the place to go if you really want to get a feel of the locations and inspirations behind this Tarantino classic.
Navigating this vast, sprawling city can sometimes be tough, but not for committed fans. They can easily find themselves crossing the stunning Rainbow Bridge where the motorcycle chase took place. They can stop by for a bite at the exact restaurant where the infamous all-against-one fight scene was set in Volume 1.
Starred in: Midnight in Paris (2011)
The City of Light is just as spellbinding in reality as it is on screen. It’s one of the best filming locations and it was brought to life especially well in Midnight in Paris. It’s so great that it even helped Woody Allen win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
A walk along the southern bank of the river Seine will bring fans to the exact magical spot where Gil time-travelled back to the 1920s where the story really began.
Los Angeles, US
Starred in: Back to the Future trilogy (1985–1990)
More of a cultural milestone than a movie, the three Back to the Future films continue to leave a massive impression on film lovers worldwide. A trip to LA is like a pilgrimage for any fan.
The Lone Pine/Twin Pines Mall (aka Puente Hills Mall on S Azusa Ave), the suburb of Hill Valley (which still exists as a set in Universal Studios) and Hill Valley High School (aka Whittier High School, East Philadelphia Street) are just some of the locations you can visit while you’re there. You won’t even need a flux-capacitated DeLorean to do it.
Starred in: Finding Nemo (2003)
While most of the story was set underwater (in the Great Barrier Reef, in fact), Sydney is where most of the action happened for those without the fins. Fans will remember Sydney Harbour as the location where Marlin and Dory went in search of Nemo.
With rows of white sails on pure blue waters, you’ll definitely enjoy Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The real-life version of the film is just as spectacular as you saw it on screen and you’ll find the local seagulls just as loony.
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Author: Irma Hunkeler
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St. Augustine.
Passionate traveler, food lover and music enthusiast.