Looking for some serious travel inspiration now the borders are opening up? Why not take a leaf out of Hollywood’s book? From the Australian outback to the lost city of Petra, here are some of the most beautiful movie locations in the world.
The Most Beautiful Movie Locations in the World
1. Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Movie: Lara Croft: Tomba Raider
Angkor Wat was already having a bit of a moment in the early 200s, but then Anjelina Jolie started poking around as the infamous Lara Croft and the world couldn’t get enough. The Temple of Ta Prohm formed the mystical backdrop for the movie and is so synonymous with it that the 800–year–old landmark has been dubbed Tomb Raider Temple.
2. Salzburg, Austria
Movie: The Sound of Music
The hills are alive with much more than music in Salzburg. The Austrian city is bursting with medieval and baroque architecture, a clifftop fortress and the fast-flowing Salzach River. The real Von Trapp family did actually live here too, albeit not in that epic white mansion. Most of the hit-musical was filmed in and around the city. More than 300,000 visitors head here every year to follow in the footsteps of Julie Andrews.
3. Skiathos, Greece
Movie: Mama Mia!
It’s over ten years since Meryl Streep told us it’s a rich man’s world and Amanda Seyfried got to run around the beach with Dominic Cooper, but we’re all still harbouring fantasies about moving to a Greek island. Most of the movie was shot on Skiathos, as well as Skeplos.
4. Petra, Jordon
The ancient city of Petra, carved into vivid red sandstone, was ‘lost’ to the Western world for centuries. Once the capital of the Nabataean Empire between 400 B.C. and A.D 100, the city remained empty until the 1800s. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. In Indiana Jones, the fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon was modelled on the eastern entrance to Petra.
5. Savoca, Italy
Movie: The Godfather
Vito Corleone famously came from a real village in Sicily called Corleone, but the charming village of Savoca stood in for it in the movie. Producers chose the location because it was relatively untouched and had fewer issues with the local mafia. With its russet-red buildings, citrus trees and cacti tumble down the hillside we forget why he decided to leave…
6. Matamata, New Zealand
Movie: Lord of the Rings
For Lord of the Rings fans, New Zealand has become synonymous with Middle Earth, and nowhere more so than Matamata. Alexander Farm, located in Matamata, served as the movie set for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The site is located just two hours south of Auckland and is home to the Hobbiton Movie Set, which features over 44 hobbit holes, gardens and hedges, the double arched bridge and the plunging Wairere Falls.
7. Maya Bay, Thailand
Movie: The Beach
The Beach, that 2000 movie starring Leonardo di Caprio which inspired a million Gap Year trips to Thailand, put Maya Bay on the map. The idyllic bay, with its white sand and turquoise water, can only be accessed by anchoring a boat at Loh Samah, then walking through rocks and jungle. In 2018 the bay closed indefinitely to allow it to recover from damage caused by millions of tourists.
8. DuPont State Recreational Park, North Carolina, United States
Movie: The Hunger Games
Some of the most violent and memorable scenes from The Hunger Games were filmed in DuPont State Forest. Its lush pine forests, craggy mountains and dramatic waterfalls made the perfect backdrop for the sci-fi hit. Head to Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, where you should be able to find Katniss’ pond and the spot where Peeta camouflaged himself. You’ll might even spot the odd black bear and deer if you’re lucky too.
9. Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco
This tiny desert town in Morocco has been the setting for everything from The Mummy to Game of Thrones. But the most famous movie set here is undoubtedly Gladiator. Ridley Scott reimaged the stunning red desert fortified village as an ancient Roman city. In fact, it’s where Russell Crowe’s Maximus famously says “Are you not entertained?”
10. Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
Movie: Harry Potter
The 100 foot (30.5 metres) viaduct has been immortalized by the Harry Potter movies. Nothing quite captures the excitement of the start of a new term (Harry Potter movie) like a shot of the Jacobite steam train rolling across Scotland to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can also spot it in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where Harry and Ron manage to land the flying Ford Anglia on the tracks.
11. Martha’s Vineyard, United States
The sharks may be mechanical, but the backdrop for Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws – which has terrified generations – is real enough. Most of the movie was shot in Martha’s Vineyard, now an upmarket holiday retreat off the coast of Massachusetts. Today, the flick still holds a special place in some residents hearts – they even host the occasional ‘JawsFest’ festival.
12. Ksour, Tunisia
Movie: Star Wars
Not quite a galaxy far, far away – Tunisia in fact. The Sahara desert provided the backdrop for Luke Skywalker’s adventures. Some of the most famous filming locations include Ksour, traditional fortified granaries in Tataouine, which were reimagined as the Mos Espa slave quarters and Ong Jemal, also known as Camel’s Neck.
13. Dunnottar Castle, Scotland
The ancient rambling Dunnottar Castle, located a 20-minute stroll along the clifftops from Stonehaven Harbour, is one of the strongest castles in Scotland. It’s no wonder that Franco Zeffirelli chose it to stand in for Elsinore Castle in his blockbuster interpretation of Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson. The original fortress dates back to the 9th century, but the castle’s interiors – including the drawing-room – are even more interesting.
14. Iguazù, Argentina and Brazil
Movie: Black Panther
You won’t be able to hop off to Wakanda any time soon, but you can take a trip to the spot where the Black Panther is coronated – Warrior Falls. The scene was filmed at Iguazù Waterfalls, which straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil. At nearly three km long, it’s the world’s largest waterfall system.
15. Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii
Movie: Jurassic Park
The breathtakingly wild and rugged Kualoa Ranch steps in for the ‘land before time’ in both the original Jurassic Park and the latest movie in the franchise, Jurassic World. With its beaches, mountains, waterfalls, rivers and dense jungles, it isn’t difficult to see why. Kualoa Ranch is a popular filming location, used for movies including Godzilla and Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle too.
16. Namib Desert, Namibia
Movie: Mad Max
The pulse-raising thriller is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but filming took place in the Namib Desert. Its russet-red sand dunes, sprawling arid landscape and endless stretches of empty roads make the perfect setting for a dystopian wasteland.
17. Görlitz, Germany
Görlitzer Warenhaus Department Store stands in for the elegant and ageing Grand Budapest Hotel. The art nouveau department store is one of the best-preserved department stores from the beginning of the 20th century and remained open until 2009. Its winding staircases, grand elevators and distinctive atrium all feature in the movie.
18. Kyoto, Japan
Movie: Memoirs of a Geisha
Japan’s cultural capital Kyoto provides the striking backdrop for this story about a young girl-turned-Geisha, Chiyo. Filming took place in the Gion neighbourhood and several temples including the pagoda of Kiyo-Mizu. One of the most iconic scenes sees her sprint through the 10,000 lucky red gates to the Fushimi Inari shrine.
19. Louisiana, United States
Movie: Django Unchained
Tarantino’s award-winning story of a slave freed by a German bounty hunter was shot in Wyoming and California, but the most dramatic scenes take place on the Evergreen Plantation in Louisiana. The 250-year-old sugar plantation is now a registered historic landmark, complete with centuries-old oak trees and ‘The Big House’ too.
20. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
True, Avatar has been heralded as one of the best CGI movies of all time, but parts of it were filmed in (and inspired by) a real place. The Hallelujah Mountain is actually the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which sits in the Hunan Province. The movie’s editing team added the mountains in post-production to make it seem like they were floating in the air.
21. Pagsanjan, Philippines
Francis Ford Coppola’s epic movie, Apocalypse Now, is set in Vietnam and Cambodia in the Vietnam War, but most of the filming took place in the jungles of the Philippines. Take the river trip to Pagsanjan Falls; the dramatic gorge surrounded by towering cliffs and lush vegetation formed the backdrop for the final scenes.
22. Trang An, Tam Coc, Vietnam
Movie: Kong: Skull Island
Much of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island took place in the wetlands of Vietnam’s Ninh Binh province. The peaks and rivers were transformed into the legendary home of supersized monsters and Kong. The scenic Trang An–Tam Coc area, just 100 km from Hanoi, features lush green paddy fields, striking limestone outcrops and near-vertical limestone peaks. It’s home to 600 different species of flora and over 200 types of fauna too.
23. Anji bamboo forest, China
Movie: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Big-budget blockbuster, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, won Ang Lee an Oscar. Filmed in a handful of striking locations across China – including the Gobi Desert – some of the movie’s most famous scenes took place in the incredible bamboo forest of Anji. It’s a popular spot with hiking enthusiasts but it’s still as peaceful and secluded as ever.
24. St Petersburg, Russia
Movie: Anna Karenina
Made in 1997, Anna Karenina was the first Western movie filmed in post-Soviet Russia. Bernard Rose’s sparkling adaptation of Tolstoy’s celebrated novel takes place on the streets of St. Petersburg, with shots of the spectacular Winter Palace and the Hermitage.
25. Queensland, Australia
An obvious suggestion, true, but this epic 2008 drama starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman undeniably showcases some of Australia’s most spectacular scenery. While the movie is set in Darwin, most of the filming actually took place in Bowen, Queensland. Other stunning outback locations include the Kimberly Ranges and Kununurra.
26. Ecola State Park, Oregon, United States
It’s pinned as Forks – which is a real town in Washington – but all four Twilight movies were mostly filmed in Oregon. La Push Beach, where Bella first finds out about her bae Edward, is actually the Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.
27. Valldal Valley, Norway
Norway stands in for Alaska in most of the sci-fi drama, Ex-Machina. In fact, you can even sleep at the Juvet Landscape Hotel, otherwise known as Nathan’s mountainside retreat. The spectacular landscape includes the fast-flowing Grondalen waterfall, a fractured coastline navigable only by tunnels and ferries and Norway’s famous fjords.
28. Chatsworth House, United Kingdom
Movie: Pride and Prejudice
Chatsworth House, the stately home located in the Derbyshire Dales, masquerades as Pemberley in Joe Wright’s 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice. The house likely inspired the fictional home in the original novel too. Jane Austen visited the house briefly before writing the famous novel.
29. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Movie: Robin Hood
Dubrovnik is best known as the King’s Landing in the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones, but it’s also a popular location for blockbuster movies. Most recently, it was transformed into medieval Nottingham in the new Robin Hood movie starring Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan and Taron Egerton.
30. Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines
Movie: The Avengers – Infinity War
The latest Avengers instalment was shot all over the world, but one of its most breathtaking scenes was filmed at the Banaue Rice Terraces. The ancient green landscape boasts a seemingly endless series of terraced fields, climbing up thousands of feet along the natural contours of the mountain.
31. Kefalonia, Greece
Movie: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Much of the 2001 tearjerker, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, was filmed on the beautiful island of Kefalonia. Most of the filming took place in the tiny village of Sami and the beach at Antisamos Bay.
32. Havana, Cuba
Movie: Our Man in Havana
Incredibly most of Our Man in Havana, an adaptation of Graham Greene’s famous novel, was shot in Havanna just two months after the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro reportedly even visited the set during filming. The movie captures the colourful capital’s vibrancy, with iconic shots of the Plaza de la Catedral, Hotel Sevilla and Calle Lamparilla.
33. Alberta, Canada
Movie: The Revenant
It’s set in 19th-century South Dakota and Montana, but filming for The Revenant mostly took place near Calgary, in Alberta. You’ll recognise the Canadian Rockies, with shots of Bow Valley and Fortress Mountain. The horrific bear attack was filmed in Squamish Valley, on the border of British Columbia.
34. The Grand Canyon, United States
Movie: Thelma and Louise
While the movie follows the story of two pals on a road trip from Arkansas, most of the filming took place in California and Utah. But the famous final scene – possibly the most iconic scene in all of film history – is pure Grand Canyon.
35. Kenting National Park, Taiwan
Movie: Life of Pi
Ang Lee’s blockbuster, Life of Pi, might be set in India but most of the movie was shot in the director’s homeland – Taiwan. Several recognisable locations feature in the movie, including the abandoned Shuinan Airport, Taipei Zoo and the Houbi Lake. Kenting National Park is the oldest of Taiwan’s national parks, featuring colliding mountains, vibrant coral cliffs, limestone caves and sandy beaches. It’s also where the fluorescent island scene takes place.
36. Gourdon, France
Movie: Les Miserables
Victor Hugo’s plot is set in Paris, but most of the filming took place in England. That is, except for one impossibly French scene. when Jean Valjean heads off to redeem himself, he hotfoots to the charming hilltop village of Gourdon, in the Alpes Maritimes region. Come spring, it’s bursting with orange trees and colourful flowers.
37. Mehrangarh Fort, India
Movie: The Dark Knight Rises
Rising magnificently above the city of Jodhpur in Rajhastan, Mehrangarh Fort is the first thing Bruce Wayne (Batman) sees when he’s managed to escape prison. The fifteenth-century palace was once one of India’s largest forts. You can see why the exterior made a suitably scary prison but inside it’s pure Maharaja luxury.
38. Skellig Michael, Ireland
Set on the remote island of Skellig in County Kerry, Skellig Micheal plays the role of other-worldly Ahch–To. The location first features in The Force Awakens, but it then plays a huge role in the latest instalment, as Luke Skywalker trains Rey. Despite its remote location, there’s been a huge surge in Star Wars-related film tourism. Thousands of aspiring Jedis make a pilgrimage to the Wailing Woman rock every year.
39. Bruges, Belgium
Movie: In Bruges
Obvious? Yes. Underwhelming? Never. The whole of pint-sized Bruges is like a movie set, from its medieval bell tower to its timer-fronted buildings. Filming for the eponymous film starring Colin Farell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes really did take place in the UNESCO World Heritage designated city centre, so you can relive your favourite scenes from the movie with ease.
40. Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica
Movie: James Bond: Dr No
Most of Dr No takes place in Jamaica and Crab Key, a fictional island off Jamaica. The first-ever sighting of a James Bond girl, Ursula Andress, is on a Jamaican Beach. Sean Connery’s famous waterfalls scenes took place at Jamaica’s top attraction – Dunn’s River Waterfalls. Standing at a staggering 180 feet, they’re every bit as impressive as they were when James Bond frolicked about in them, over 50 years ago.
Filming for the charming and true story of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) king-to-be Prince Seretse Khama’s marriage to English woman Ruth Williams took place in Botswana. Unsurprisingly, big wildlife takes centre stage throughout. One of the main film locations is Serowe, Botswana’s largest village and the capital for the Bamangwato tribe in the early 20th century.