Avanti on Location: 9 Amazing Film Destinations
Whether it’s a sweeping landscape shot or a memorable on-screen moment between your favorite characters, watching movies on the big screen can be one of the quickest ways to ignite the travel bug and whisk you across the world. These famous film backdrops not only allow travelers to immerse themselves into their favorite movies, but offer a blend of history, culture, and stunning natural beauty. From spectacular cities to remote desert dunes, these iconic international locations are sure to make for unforgettable memories and elevate your trip with the magic of Hollywood.
Take a look at these famed film settings, and stay tuned for more classic locations from TV, pop culture, and beyond!
– United Kingdom –
London, England (Harry Potter): A city that’s already brimming with an enchanting allure, London is made even more magical by its many ties to the beloved Harry Potter film franchise. Beyond the studio tours and soundstages, muggles and superfans alike can visit several of the 8-part series’ iconic filming locations right in the heart of the city – from the famed Leadenhall Market dressed up as Diagon Alley to the hidden Platform 9 ¾ at bustling King’s Cross Station.
Puzzlewood, England (Star Wars: The Force Awakens): Described by LucasFilm president and Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy as ‘the most magical forest on the face of the earth', the ethereal atmosphere of England’s Puzzlewood has drawn countless filmmakers in search of a mystical aura. Most recognizable from 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' as the planet Takodana, this ancient woodland outside Dean hosts thousands of twisted trees, moss-covered rocks, and a labyrinth of pathways and trails that create a dramatic background for any nature scene.
Glen Coe, Scotland (Braveheart): The famed tale of Scottish knight William Wallace was told for the first time on the silver screen in 1995’s ‘Braveheart’ – winning the Oscar for Best Picture and captivating audiences with the lush, moody beauty of Scotland. Although portions of the epic blockbuster were actually filmed nearby in Ireland, the quintessential opening sequence that sets the feel for the entire film is composed of sweeping aerial shots of the picturesque Glen Coe and Loch Leven – showcasing the rugged Highlands that shaped the characters on-screen.
– Europe –
Salzburg, Austria (The Sound of Music): A setting just as unforgettable as its soundtrack, the scenic villages and landmarks in and around Salzburg, Austria bring the beloved musical 'The Sound of Music' to life – and all remain quite accessible for visits and tours. Take in the memorable settings scattered throughout the von Trapp family’s home town and recreate some of your favorite songs and scenes in Salzburg’s famed landmarks like the Mirabell Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, and Leopoldskron.
Skopelos, Greece (Mamma Mia): A destination brimming with breathtaking beaches and crisp, white-stoned architecture, the producer team for 'Mamma Mia' settled on the scenic Sporades archipelago to film the beloved ABBA-infused rom-com. Located in the heart of it all, the island of Skopelos provides many of the film’s exterior shots and acts as the fictional island of Kalokairi. Accessible by ferry from nearby Skiathos, fans can climb to the site of Sophie’s wedding at the cliffside church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, or bask in the film’s pristine coastal backdrops at Kastani and Glysteri Beach.
Prague, Czech Republic (Mission: Impossible): A destination that has long been a favorite for filmmakers due to its stunning architecture, well-preserved historic sites, and diverse neighborhoods, Prague has played host to several big-budget films – yet few of them give the city more screentime than Tom Cruise’s original smash 'Mission: Impossible.' Full of settings for action-packed scenes from the car explosion underneath the Charles Bridge to fleeing on foot through Old Town, it is easy to walk – or run – through Prague just like Ethan Hunt.
– North Africa and Middle East –
Petra, Jordan (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade): In addition to its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient city of Petra skyrocketed as a tourist destination with its portrayal as the Canyon of the Crescent Moon in the blockbuster film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.' An age-old city full of remarkable architectural wonders, the intricate rock-cut Treasury building Al-Khazneh acts as one of the most iconic backdrops from the entire franchise – and the perfect locale for Harrison Ford’s archaeologist character to embark on his adventures.
Aït Benhaddou, Morocco (Gladiator): Casual viewers may be quick to think Ridley Scott’s colossal Roman tale was filmed on-location in Italy, however, many of the movie’s most memorable scenes took place in Morocco and the ancient city of Aït Benhaddou. Serving as the backdrop for the fictional city of Zucchabar, the ksar outside Marrakech hosted the custom-made coliseum set in addition to many of the film’s exterior scenes. Follow in the footsteps of Maximus throughout this UNESCO World Heritage site across its winding streets and magnificent architecture, and answer the film’s famed question, 'Are you not entertained?'
Wadi Rum, Jordan (Lawrence of Arabia): The 1960’s provided Hollywood with countless innovations from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’-style special effects to the advent of newer widescreen formats like Panavision Super 70, and fewer locations were better suited to wow viewers with the new technology than the sweeping desert landscapes of Wadi Rum in Jordan. Prominently featured as the backdrop to the epic 'Lawrence of Arabia,' the vast red sand dunes and towering rock formations of Jordan helped to net the masterful film 7 total Oscars including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction.
Comment below with some of your favorite filming sites that we missed!