With film awards season in full swing - the 92nd Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, take place in Hollywood on 10 February 2020 - we take a look at some iconic film locations you can visit around the (golden) globe.
There are few things more glamorous or exciting than a blockbuster movie, and even though many of today’s cinematic extravaganzas are created in studios using special effects and CGI, there’s often no substitute for the real thing.
Many movies become synonymous with their locations - for instance, could The Lord of the Rings trilogy have been filmed anywhere but New Zealand? And while some directors surely choose world-famous locales to grab some of their fairy-dust, others have made stars of the places where iconic scenes took place, turning them into tourist destinations for film buffs to see for themselves.
If you’re the sort of film fan who gets travel inspiration from what you’ve seen on the big screen, then here are some great movie filming locations you might like to check out...
When Harry Met Sally - Katz’s Deli, New York City, USA
It might get wearying to hear fellow diners banging on the table and making weird noises to recreate ‘that’ scene from the 1989 hit comedy, but this traditional deli on New York’s Lower East Side opened a century before the film, and will no doubt still exist in another 100 years. There’s a sign pointing to where Meg Ryan gave her show - and diner - stopping performance (“I’ll have what she’s having”) but the restaurant’s world-famous Reuben sandwiches are worthy of a raised eyebrow in their own right.
Ghostbusters - Firehouse, New York City, USA
Staying in the Big Apple, the Hook and Ladder Company 8 Firehouse on the corner of Varick Street in Tribeca was the headquarters of goofy parapsychologists Peter, Ray and Egon in the original Ghostbusters film.
Fans are welcome to pop along and take photos, but keep your wits about you as it’s still a fully-operational New York Fire Department firehouse, so a fire engine - as opposed to the Ectomobile, the team’s iconic Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex - could come roaring out at any minute.
The Sound of Music - Salzburg, Austria
According to Tourism Salzburg, more than 300,000 visitors come to the beautiful Austrian city of Salzburg every year because of the classic Julie Andrews' film, which won five Oscars following its release in 1965. But while the Sound of Music Museum is still in the planning stages there’s plenty for the movie’s fans to see, from familiar locations, such as the Pegasus Fountain at Mirabell Gardens, where Maria (Andrews) dances with the children and the lake where the boating scene takes place, to dinner shows featuring songs from the film. The Marionette Salzburg Theater even puts on a dancing puppet show to mirror the one in the movie.
Mamma Mia! - Skopelos, Greece
Sticking with musicals, many of the locations of the hugely popular Abba-inspired film are both accessible and so familiar that with just one look you’ll hear a bell ring. But don’t try booking a trip to the ‘magical Greek island of Kalokairi’, because it doesn’t actually exist.
The film was mainly shot in and around the white sands of Kastani beach and dramatic cliffs of the Aegean island of Skopelos, now nicknamed ‘Mamma Mia Island’ by many of the movie-mad tourists who visit. Some even tie the knot in the dramatically located Agios Ioannis Kastri church that starred in the movie.
The Godfather - Sicily, Italy
Devotees of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic gangster movie also make pilgrimages to real churches. The Church of Sant’Agostino in Forza d’Agrò was the backdrop when Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) first arrived in Sicily, while the character’s marriage to Apollonia took place in the Church of Santa Lucia in Savoca, just eight miles away.
The lovely coastal town is also home to Bar Vitelli, a café where many of the film’s key scenes took place, and which looks pretty much the same now as it did then, right down to the beaded curtains in the doorway. But with one crucial addition - inside there’s a selection of photographs and mementoes from the film, and you can even have your picture taken holding a Sicilian shotgun - something fans might well consider as an offer they can’t refuse…
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Petra, Jordan
The third Indiana Jones film found the whip-toting archaeologist (Harrison Ford) on a quest to find the Holy Grail, and fans of the action movie can follow in his footsteps, albeit without any Nazis breathing down their necks. And not to the fictitious Canyon of the Crescent Moon, but to the 2,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra in Jordan.
The Rose City - named for the colour of its rock - played host to the infamous scene when a horseback Indy rides through a narrow sandstone canyon to the façade of the Treasury. Visitors can now do the same on one of the many ‘Indiana Jones Tours’, but there’s also the option to do the trip on foot, too, junior.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - Angkor Wat, Cambodia
There’s another incredible World Heritage Site and ancient ruins to explore if you follow in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie’s video game hero, as many of the action movie’s scenes were filmed at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple - featuring iconic smiling faces carved into the rocks - are the key locations if you’re on the clock, but in truth the whole temple complex, which dates back to the 12th century and had largely lain neglected until being reinvigorated by the film, is worth taking your time to fully explore.
Jurassic Park - Hawaii, USA
And you thought Jurassic Park was all CGI didn’t you? Actually the bulk of it is, but a good chunk of the exciting dinosaur adventure was filmed at Kualoa Ranch, a 4,000-acre private nature reserve and working cattle ranch on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The remote location is an ideal stand-in for a land before time began, so much so that it’s also appeared in Godzilla and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Jurassic Park was filmed in other sites in Hawaii too, including the incredible Manawaiopuna Falls, the Olokele Valley, Blue Hole in Kauai, and the National Tropical Botanical Gardens - all of which you can now explore safe in the knowledge that there are no velociraptors about.
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Görlitz, Germany
One of the quirkiest, funniest, and sorry for the bad language, sweariest films in recent years mixed live action with cartoon and hand-made models to create a truly unique concoction that critics and audiences adored. It also made a star of the previously abandoned Görlitzer Warenhaus department store in Görlitz, the art nouveau interiors of which - including a magnificent window, ornate columns and staircases, and a huge chandelier - were used as the hotel’s lobby.
The bulk of director Wes Anderson’s film, supposedly set in the imaginary Republic of Zubrowka in the 1930s, was filmed in the pretty eastern German town of Görlitz, close to the border with Poland, and a stroll round is bound to ring a few bells, especially if you remember Mendl’s bakery.
Field Of Dreams - Dyersville, Iowa, USA
When Kevin Costner’s Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella heard ghostly voices telling him “if you build it, he will come” and ploughed his cornfield to create a baseball diamond, he got rather more than he bargained for. Not least because more than one ‘he’ came - in fact scores of apparitions of deceased baseball players turned up, all yearning to have one more at bat.
And the visitor numbers - this time of real people, not ghosts - have skyrocketed ever since, as the owners of the land in Dubuque County have maintained the field as it appeared in the film and turned it into a tourist attraction. There are ongoing plans to develop a $74m baseball heaven complex but before that something even more exciting is taking place. This summer an official MLB game will be played at the site to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary. On 14 August the New York Yankees will take on the Chicago White Sox in a temporary 8,000-seat field that overlooks the original that appeared in the movie.
The Shining - Mount Hood, Oregon and Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Jack (“Here’s Johnny”) Nicholson was the undoubted star of Stanley Kubrick’s horror master-class, but to many fans the sinister Overlook Hotel was a crucial character too. Although the bulk of the filming was done on a set in Elstree Studios in England, the fictional hotel is based on two real properties in the USA. The exterior is the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon, a historic property in a ski area owned by the US Forest Service and family-operated for more than 60 years, while the interior was inspired by the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel at the east end of beautiful Yosemite Valley. Both properties and their surrounds are worth visiting for far more than their connection to the film - and if you don’t agree then “I’m just going to bash your brains in”.
Jaws - Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA
The upmarket summer paradise of Martha’s Vineyard - only accessible by boat or air - was used as the fictional resort town of Amity Island in Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller, and fans that visit can easily pick out some of the key sites. Menemsha Harbor is the location for Quint’s (Robert Shaw) shack, as well as the final resting place of his boat Orca, while Joseph Sylvia State Beach is where one of the shark attacks took place.
Edgartown is home to a number of other film landmarks, including the American Legion Memorial Bridge, better known as ‘Jaws Bridge’, from which many tourists jump as a rite of passage when visiting the island.
The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit - New Zealand
New Zealand has become synonymous with The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit franchise, and there’s no doubt Peter Jackson’s hugely successful movies have brought thousands of extra tourists to his homeland. And there’s plenty for them to see - Matamata, on North Island, played the part of the Shire, and Hobbiton, home of hobbits Frodo, Bilbo Baggins, Sam and Pippin, was built especially for the film in Waikato’s Hinuera Valley.
The village is no longer there but you can still follow in Frodo’s footsteps by taking a tour of the valley. Incredible Tongariro National Park, across the Tasman Sea on South Island, offers more movie locations - scenes of the Ithilien Camp were filmed at Mangawhero Falls, and Mount Ngauruhoe showed off its dark side as Mount Doom.
Harry Potter - Various locations, England
The Warner Bros. Studios Tour London might be the ultimate attraction for fanatics who want to see where the young wizard was brought to celluloid life, but there are locations all over England that appear in the film series.
For starters - and you could argue this is magic - Harry’s alma mater Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry appears in multiple places all at once. Alnwick Castle in Northumberland provides many of the exterior shots, while Christ Church College and Cathedral in Oxford was used for its 16th-century stone staircase, Gloucester Cathedral provided the school’s hallways, Lacock Abbey near Chippenham in Wiltshire was used for a number of classrooms and, well you get the picture. Back in London, King’s Cross Station is the place to head if you’re looking for the infamous Platform 9¾, but don’t hold your breath on finding it.
Star Wars - various locations worldwide
Even though the Star Wars saga takes place “in a galaxy far, far away” and the Death Star’s off-limits - not least because it’s been destroyed at least a couple of times - devotees of the sci-fi classic have a wealth of options to check out, and you don’t need the Millennium Falcon to get there.
Some of the most recognisable locations include the beautiful island of Skellig Michael off the coast of County Kerry in Ireland - where Rey finally comes face to face with Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens and start of The Last Jedi - and the Plaza de España in Seville, Spain, which appeared as the capital of Naboo in Attack of the Clones.
The fabulous snow scenes on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back were filmed at Finse glacier in Norway, while southern Tunisia doubled as Luke’s home planet of Tatooine - named after the Tunisian city of Tataouine - and the film sets remain a big attraction to this day. There are many, many more, but so many special effects are added after the event it’s not always easy to recognise the starting point. May the Force be with you if you’re hunting them down.
James Bond - various locations worldwide
Not surprisingly there are plenty of locations all over the world where 007 fans can follow in the footsteps of the globetrotting super spy, so I’ll just pick out some key ones. One of the most obvious - and home to the earliest iconic scene in the series’ history - is Laughing Waters in Jamaica, the beach where Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) first appears from the sea in Dr. No. The location is also known as ‘James Bond Beach’, in much the same way as part of beautiful Phuket in Thailand is now known as ‘James Bond Island’, following its appearance as home to the evil Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) in The Man With The Golden Gun. The nickname not only makes it easy for fans to find, but also to get boat tours for a closer look.
Other memorable locations include Shinmoe-dake, a volcano in Kirishima National Park in Japan, where Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) set up shop - and launched rockets - in You Only Live Twice; Piz Gloria, a stunning 360-degree revolving restaurant in the Swiss Alps where Blofeld (Telly Savalas) set up shop - and an evil mountain health retreat - in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; and Ice Q, a gourmet restaurant on Gaislachkogl Mountain in Sölden, Austria, where Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) set up shop - and the sinister Hoffler Clinic - in Spectre.
There are loads more locations of course (even more than there are Blofelds), but Ice Q has become a must-see, courtesy of the stunning 007 Elements cinematic installation next door, and Piz Gloria not only offers knockout views but celebrates its cinematic notoriety with a gift shop and array of Bond-related menu items. And the drinks are shaken not stirred, of course.
To book your accommodation and take advantage of over 4,300 resorts in more than 110 countries available to RCI members, click on the RCI Resort Directory button below. Don't forget, as an RCI member, you should check out your personalised RCI Account online - and look out for your monthly RCI Account Statement mailings - to be sure you don't waste any of your RCI Trading Power or RCI Points so you can get away on all the amazing holidays that you deserve.
If you own timeshare but are not a member of RCI, you can become part of our holiday exchange community today. By clicking on the Join RCI button below, you can sign up in a few simple steps.