As flying becomes cheaper and long-haul trips become more accessible for the man on the street, it’s becoming increasingly possible for intrepid travellers to follow the paths of our favourite movies. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the biggest hits of the past decade – and where they were really filmed:
Matamata, New Zealand
Lord Of The Rings
The other-worldly landscapes and hobbit holes of Hobbiton really do exist and they’re easily accessible from New Zealand’s Wellington. Lord of the Rings fans can take a guided tour of the film set and gaze out over verdant countryside, taking in Matamata’s farming heritage and one of the region’s countless hiking routes.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Cambodia is a country soaring in popularity among international travellers. Home to the spectacular ancient temples of the Indiana Jones movies, much of Cambodia feels like stepping deep into the past. Many of the temples and monasteries are almost 1,000 years old and Angkor Wat, where a number of scenes from Lara Croft were filmed in 2000, remains the biggest religious structure in the world.
The Dark Knight
As vast cityscapes go, Chicago is rivalled by few others. It’s no surprise, then, that The Dark Knight’s producers opted for the “windy city” as the perfect representation of Gotham. Both the Gotham National Bank and the Gotham Police Department are in fact the old Chicago Post Office Building, an enormous disused structure which was once the largest building in the world. The film also features Chicago’s Daley plaza (Wayne Enterprises HQ), the Chicago Theater and the Berghoff, West Adams Street.
The Hangover Part II
One of the biggest movies of 2011, the hit comedy was set in the hedonistic red light district of the Thai capital. Many of the scenes were actually shot in LA, using either CGI or mock-up interior sets, but it’s still possible to retrace the guys’ footsteps in Phulay Bay Resort, Soi Plaeng Nam and the Ancient City.
There aren’t many locations more fitting to Bond’s darkened past than the dramatic hilltops of Glencoe. According to the BBC, the crew were “absolutely blown away” by the scenery when shooting the movie and that’s no surprise, given the Scottish Highlands’ rugged peaks, epic cliffs and often moody skyline.
Grand Hotel Pupp, Czech Republic
You’ll find the majestic five-star set of Casino Royale in the Czech town of Karlovy Vary, Western Bohemia. The building itself is over 300 years old and it’s enormous, spanning an entire block and several stories. It’s memorable as the place Bond first sets eyes on his brand- new Aston Martin DBS before heading into Casino Royale.
Tribeca Fire Station, New York City, USA
Hook and Ladder 8, or Ghostbusters HQ, has been around for more than a century. It’s still in full use, although visitors who ask nicely might be allowed to take a peak inside by the station’s firemen. The interior of the station, though, is actually an entirely different location in real life – these scenes were shot in Los Angeles.
Christchurch College, Oxford, UK
The mythical chambers of Hogwarts can’t be found in some distant corner of Scotland as the books suggest – the movies were actually filmed around the historic University of Oxford. Dating as far back as the 16th century, many of the College buildings remain essentially unchanged and they capture the magic of the Great Hall, the Hospital Wing and the Grand Staircase perfectly.
The movie’s fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon is based on the eastern entrance to the ancient Middle Eastern city – although what lies beyond the entrance is confined to Hollywood fiction. The real thing is just a facade with only a small hall inside. It’s still a jaw-dropping spectacle though, and the recent discovery of a massive monument “hiding in plain sight” for centuries does nothing to quell the location’s sense of mystery.
The smallest of the four major Hawaiian islands was the setting for Jurassic Park, with locations all over the island featuring heavily in the hit blockbuster. Spectacular waterfalls, striking volcanos, deep valleys and vast reservoirs can all be found on the island, which was battered by the most powerful hurricane ever to strike Hawaii during filming.
The Man with the Golden Gun
“James Bond Island”, off the coast of Phuket, is one of over a hundred rocky islands in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay. It was relatively unknown before the movie, but it’s been a major tourist attraction ever since, and its unusual towering profile makes for an absolutely stunning view from across the bay on Phuket.
The cult classic was set almost exclusively on Martha’s Vineyard, located just off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Despite being a relatively tiny island jutting into the Atlantic, it now attracts visitors from all over the world, with a vibrant culture, fisheries to die for and boundless natural beauty attracting the international traveller.
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
The world-famous US penitentiary, now disused and accessible to visitors by ferry, was the perfect setting for the high-octane thriller. Its former military fortifications and remote location makes it one of the most formidable-looking prisons in the world. Notorious for being “inescapable”, Alcatraz closed in 1963 after many years in operation.
NASA’s Space Power Facility, about 65 miles west of Cleveland, was the real location of the movie’s vast laboratory, while the ‘Stuttgart’ square where Loki wreaked havoc, is in fact Cleveland’s Public Square. What appeared to be the ‘Manhattan’ battle was actually filmed in Cleveland too.
Las Vegas, USA
Iconic and instantly recognisable, America’s “Sin City” has been home to dozens of hit movies over the years. Ocean’s Eleven is no exception as the group plots an elaborate heist involving the (entirely real) Bellagio, Mirage and MGM Grand casinos.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Istanbul’s most frentic marketplace played host to Ben Affleck’s thriller, standing in for 1970s Tehran. Located deep in the Old City-Sultanahmet quarter of the city, the Bazaar is always packed with traders and locals and the tmosphere is intense; filming was only possible on a major holiday. Both the nearby blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia can also be seen in the movie.
So there you have it, 16 of the most incredible movie locations in the world. Whether it’s the bustling cities of Gotham, Cleveland, Las Vegas or the stunning natural landscapes of Hawaii, Thailand or Scotland, each and everyone one of them needs to be visited, so why not start ticking them off your list when you’re on your travels.
However, you don’t want your vastly improved holiday experience to be ruined through being ill abroad, suffering sickness abroad, dealing with food poisoning on holiday, injury or theft. So if anything does happen to you, make sure to file holiday illness claims or holiday accident claims, as soon as you’re back!