Calling out to all the fans! You’ve seen the movie a hundred times, you’ve been to all the expos, you dressed up as your favorite character for Halloween; what else could you possibly do? Well, what if we told you that it was possible to visit the exact location where your favorite movie was filmed? That’s correct! We put together 15 iconic film locations around the globe that are both tourist and fan friendly. So keep your credit cards handy because this is your guide to your perfect fan moment.
15 Must Visit Iconic Film Locations Around the Globe
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Ireland)
It’s not surprising that the Star Wars saga topped our list when talking about the most iconic film locations around the world. If you’re a true Star Wars fan, you’ve stood by Luke through his grueling battle against the Dark Side from start to finish. Perhaps one of the most famous locations of the film was the ocean planet of Ahch-To, where Rey found Luke. This scene was actually filmed on Skellig Michael, an isolated sea crag rising from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. Rising from the sea, Skellig Michael is an uninhabited rock that towers 714 ft. above sea level. Before serving as an unearthly film location, the island acted as the home to a monastery in the 8th century. Lucky for fans, this sea crag is accessible by a boat tour where you will have the chance to explore the island and take in the sights.
2. Lord of the Rings (New Zealand)
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most celebrated fantasy works in the world, which is why New Zealand is next on the list. New Zealand is perhaps the most tourist-friendly movie location due to a variety of customized tours, specific to popular locations in the film. Yes, super fans, that means you can walk through several of the 150 locations used in the film on an action-packed road trip around the Middle Earth. If that’s not the ultimate photo op I don’t know what is. Tours range from a two-day journey through the Rotorua Agrodome, Te Puia, and Mitai Maori Village, to a two-week adventure through the highlights of the Middle Earth. Explore the breathtaking scenery made famous in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies while secretly living out your dream. Oh, and to all the die-hard fans out there, costumes and re-enactment scenes are included so go your geek on!
3. The Sound of Music (Austria)
Not a Sci-Fi fan? Don’t worry, the hills are still alive in Salzburg Austria. Take a stroll through the original scenery and shooting locations you saw in The Sound of Music and walk in the footsteps of the Trapp family for a day. Tours allow fans to relive their favorite scenes by taking you to iconic locations such as the Lake District and famous gazebo. If you’re a history buff, you’ve come to the right place. Tours also visit popular sites around the city as well as Salzburg’s hidden architectural gems, rich in both history and culture. Be prepared to jump back in time a few decades and relive the cinematic experience in full effect, yodeling and all.
4. Harry Potter (London)
Visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Check. Chose your wand and robe? Check. Sampled butterbeer in the souvenir cup? Check. Tamed the Hipogriff? Check. Signs of the biggest Harry Potter fan? Not so fast! We have something that brings you even closer to the world of Harry Potter!
Enter the magical world of wizardry and witchcraft by visiting the very locations that the Harry Potter movies were filmed. If you want the ultimate Harry Potter experience, you will be in fangirl heaven on a Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London that takes you behind-the-scenes of the films. You’ll get up close and personal with the sets, props, and costumes used by your favorite characters and also have the opportunity to visit site locations around London. Take a walk in Harry’s shoes by visiting the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, Diagon Alley and the infamous Tower Bridge. London is a historic and architectural masterpiece, but more importantly, it’s where Harry Potter was filmed.
5. Inception (Japan)
What would you do if you had the power to enter the dreams of others? Okay, that maybe impossible, but you do have the ability to enter the Japanese temple that was used as one of the quintessential locations in the making of Inception. The Japanese temple of Nijo Castle served as the second dream level in the heist on Saito’s mind in the film. Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns in Kyoto, who ruled Japan for over 260 years. It now acts as an architectural masterpiece and popular tourist destination due to its historic stone walls and stunning details. Visiting this film location won’t give you special powers, but, the ancient temple is something straight out of a dream.
6. Gladiator (Africa)
If you’re more of a sword-and-sandals connoisseur, it’s time to travel back in time to AD 180 and channel your inner emperor. Okay, so you can’t really go back in time, but you can visit the preserved site in Morocco where Gladiator was filmed. Do you remember the scene where Maximus was sold into slavery in what appeared to be an 11th-century ksar? Well, that was actually filmed in Aït Benhaddou, a fortified mud-brick city located in the desert of Morocco. Aït Benhaddou has served as the setting for several other record-breaking movies, such as “The Mummy,” “Babel,” “Prince of Persia,” and even the hit series “Game of Thrones” due to its authenticity thanks to Hollywood touch-ups. The site is open to tourists and does not only provide insights about these famous films, but you will also witness dramatic mountain scenery and traditional Moroccan culture. So you won’t be battling to the death on horseback, but you will have the opportunity to ride on a camel’s back.
7. Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade (Jordan)
Hold onto your fedora and dust off your leather jacket super fans. You didn’t think we would forget about Indiana Jones, did you? In the Last Crusade, Indiana finds the one and only Holy Grail in a real-life treasure known as the Al Khazneh. The Al Khazneh is an ancient, ornately carved temple located in Petra, Jordan that literally means “The Treasury.” The site is known for its architectural detail, dramatic temples and mysterious tombs that can be traced back to the first century AD. Petra is Jordan’s biggest tourist attraction largely due to its presence in the finals of the Indiana Jones film and has become the ultimate hub for fans of the franchise. What better way to discover your inner archeologist than to explore an ancient tomb on the Holy Grail of trips?
8. Les Miserables (England)
As music fans know, Les Miserables is a captivating cultural phenomenon filled with drama, love, and English landmarks. But wait, we thought the movie was based in France. Well, despite being set in France, the film was actually shot almost entirely in England at common tourist locations. Some of the most heart-wrenching scenes were filmed at key locations including Greenwich in London, Chatham in Kent, and Winchester College in Hampshire. Fans all over the world come together to visit these famous attractions each year to step in the footsteps of their favorite characters. Oh, and we promise the tour is just as beautiful as the movie.
9. Avatar (Hawaii)
If you consider yourself an “Avatar,” we are pretty sure you categorize as a fan. Although fans learned the hard way that they couldn’t visit the alien world of Pandora, they can, in fact, visit the tropical site where some critical scenes were shot. Some of the most adrenaline pumping scenes were filmed right along Hawaii’s Hāmākua Coast, which served as the rain forest in the movie. Another Hawaiian location in the film is the Keahua Arboretum, which is a nature preserve that has become a popular attraction for both tourists and locals. So far there haven’t been any sightings of blue catlike aliens in the trees, but that hasn’t stopped bigfoot followers, right?
10. Saving Private Ryan (Ireland)
There isn’t one person who was not moved when watching the emotional D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan. But have you ever wondered how they created such a realistic portrayal of the events of World War II? The opening scene was set in Normandy where Allied forces invaded France (add link), but the actual beach had strict filming restrictions. This led the crew to Ballinesker Beach in Ireland, where 2,500 men in the Irish Defense forces took part in creating this unimaginable scene. Ballinesker is known for its bird-watching but has seen an increase in tourism since the film premiered. Tourists gather each year on the D-Day anniversary to remember the soldiers and their role in the war, while also walking on the set of their favorite movie.
11. The Godfather (Sicily, Italy)
We’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse. What if we told you that you could visit the exact locations that helped set the stage for one of the greatest films of all time? Francis Ford Coppola, a relatively unknown director at the time insisted on real locations. Well, calling all Godfather fans, it’s time to take a trip to Italy and walk in the footsteps of the Mafia. Although Corleone is a real town in Sicily, the movie was actually filmed in the bordering towns of Savoca and Forzà d’Agrò. Coincidently, Corleone has actual Mafia history, with a long list of mob bosses and more than 150 Mafia-related deaths in the 1940s. Although you can visit the famous sites on your own, a great way to get the ultimate “Godfather” experience is to do a tour where you will see the famous Bar Vitelli, among other places you’ll recognize from the films. After all, what better place to mimic the mannerisms of Al Pacino than the organized crime dynasty of Sicily? But before you grab your passports you can visit some of the locations in our very own New York as well!
12. Mamma Mia (Greece)
Mamma Mia, here we go again with another musical lovers’ paradise on the beautiful island of Skopelos, Greece. If you’re anything like me, you were probably too focused on your pitchy (and sometimes frightening) voice to appreciate the breathtaking setting of the film. The famous “Kalokairi Island” is actually an island off the coast of Greece named Skopelos, which served as the main shooting location of the film. Fans from around the globe can visit the very spot where Sophie found her dad, along with iconic locations such as Kasteri Beach. As if this island wasn’t paradise within itself, super fans will be in “Mama Mia” heaven in Greece where the sun always shines and the tone-deaf can roam free.
13. Batman Begins (Iceland)
To all the avid comic-book readers, superhero diehards, and bat-fans, we didn’t forget about you. Gear up in your bat suit and head over to Iceland to tour the exact glacier that the movie was filmed on. A very unusual choice for Wayne Enterprises? Although the movie took place in Tibet, it was actually filmed on the Svínafellsjökull Glacier in Iceland. Fight sequence on the frozen lake against the stunning views of mountains and frosty landscapes are all from here! Svínafellsjökull is Europe’s largest glacier and is known for its beautiful flora growing between black sand beaches and the massive iceberg. Super fans won’t want to miss this action-packed experience, because, in the end, it’s not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you, right?
14. Brave (Scotland)
Really? A children’s animated movie? I know it may seem a bit far-fetched, but even animated movies are based on real locations. Did you now that the Disney Pixar animated film was actually inspired by historic locations in Scotland. When visiting the country for inspiration, the producers ended up altering their original ideas to incorporate several famous landmarks. Dunnottar castle and its staggering cliff-side rocks acted as the inspiration for Merida’s family castle. This medieval fortress is located on the north-east coast of Scotland and acts as a popular tourist attraction and history lover’s dream. Sure, you won’t see Princess Merida strolling around the castle with her bow and arrow, but you can witness your favorite movie come to life in Scotland
15. Mission Impossible III (China)
Okay, this one’s for the ladies. Come on, how can you resist a movie with Tom Cruise? Of course the setting was pretty spectacular too. The movie was filmed at several famous landmarks in China including the Oriental Pearl Tower and Jinmao Tower. The Oriental Pearl Tower has quickly become one of the most visited attractions in Shanghai due to its unique architectural design and astounding height. Tourists come from all over the world to ride up the double-decker elevators and see the breathtaking views of the city. Standing in the sixth tallest radio station in the world sounds pretty appealing, right? But standing in the same building that Tom Cruise filmed a record-breaking movie, now how could you possibly pass that up?