We’ve all sat back engrossed in a film and have wondered where exactly it was set. The rolling mountains featured in The Lord of the Rings spring to mind, or the gloriously clear waters of The Beach.
Whether it’s a utopian paradise set on crystal-clear waters, an enchantingly quaint town you’ve never heard the name of, or one of the world’s bustling hub cities, there’s an endless list of big screen locations that are sure to add tingles to travel-itchy feet.
For starters have a ponder at our favourite films for travel inspiration. But beware, watching these films may cause intense feelings of jealousy, wanderlust and a sudden urge to rush out the cinema and directly onto a plane (don’t say we didn’t warn you!)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain
The Woody Allen directed drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona simply oozes passion, with an extremely good-looking all-star cast consisting of Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, Rebecca Hall and Javier Bardem. Intense intertwining relationships develop between all four, but the artistic city of Barcelona does well to distract from all that sexual tension! City highlights such as the fantasy-like Park Guell, the Gaudi-designed architecture of Casa Milà and the bustling shopping street of Las Ramblas all look pretty hot on screen too.
Mamma Mia! – Skopelos, Greece
Hollywood’s most successful musical focuses on the main character, Sophie, searching for her biological father. The combo of powerful ABBA ballads and the tiny Greek island of Skopelos, has made this into the ultimate feel-good summer flick. The island exudes beauty and romance and there’s certainly no shortage of nooks and crannies to explore. Swim in the sparkling clear waters as little fish dart between your toes, wander aimlessly through the charming white-washed cottages or uncover the tiny secluded coves which are only accessible by boat.
When Harry met Sally – New York, US
This ultimate rom-com classic follows the friends-or-not relationship between the main characters Harry and Sally over the span of 12 years through several chance encounters in the Big Apple. Follow the couple through some of the city’s famous landmarks, such as the leafy Central Park or the famous Katz Delicatessen, where the movie’s legendary fake orgasm scene took place.
Aristocats – Paris, France
No list of romantic locations is complete without an inclusion of the stunning city of Paris, dubbed by many as the ‘City of Love’. The French capital has been used as the backdrop for countless romance-filled films, but watching the ever-elegant Duchess fall in love with the endearing alley cat Thomas O’Malley is a true delight. Especially as the feline lovers slink across the rooftops of the city with the iconic Eiffel tower bathed in the glow of the moon in the backdrop. How purr-fectly romantic!
The Beach – Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Ever since a young Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed adventuring on the white-sand beach of the stunning Maya Bay in Thailand for backpacker flick-favourite The Beach, tourism in the country has been teeming. And with the postcard-perfect tropical islands, the smiling friendly locals and the deliciously divine dishes, it’s no surprise at all. There are hundreds of exquisite beaches dotted across the whole country to take your pick from, but if your heart is set on swimming in the same crystal clear waters as Leo, head to the Phi Phi islands down south where you can catch a boat to discover perhaps the world’s most recognisable beach.
Pirates of the Caribbean – Various Caribbean locations
The ever-popular Johnny Depp rules the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, as he cavorts around the Caribbean with his carefree attitude, his brilliantly creative get-up and his fond love affair with rum. So, for many Disney fans a trip to the Caribbean is high up on the bucket list for those wishing to trace the hazardous character’s footprints in the sand. The blockbusters are filmed in various different locations in the Caribbean, but some recurring sites include Port Royal, the historic sleepy fishing village in south-eastern Jamaica, the real-life pirate island of Tortuga off the coast of Haiti and the stunning tropical island of Dominica.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Oahu, Hawaii
Forgetting Sarah Marshall centres on poor Peter Bretter (played by the hilarious Jason Segal) mourning his tattered relationship with famous actress Sarah Marshall (depicted by the adorable Kirsten Bell), but somehow we can’t help focusing our attention on the ridiculously incredible location of the film. Turtle bay resort in Oahu, one of the ultimate paradise islands of Hawaii, is simply a holidayer’s dream come true, with its gorgeous ocean room views, the lavish spa and swimming pools. Not to mention the nearby utopian-like surf spots. One can only dream eh?
007 Films – Various locations around the world
Throughout the history of 007 James Bond films, there have been numerous captivating beach scenes (usually involving a bikini-clad Bond girl emerging from the sea), allowing fans to gain some solid travel inspiration over the years. Who could possibly forget Daniel Craig cementing his Bond status as he arises from the sea off the aptly-named Paradise Island in the Bahamas? Or Halle Berry donning that orange bikini for La Caleta beach situated in the historic Spanish city of Cádiz? Not to mention the variety of scenes filmed in exotic locations including the likes of Jamaica, Thailand and even our very own Holywell Bay in good ol’ Blightly (perhaps not so exotic). Which Bond beach destination comes up top on your list?
Lost in Translation – Tokyo, Japan
Watching the unlikely alliance shape between two strangers in the form of a young Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray makes for compelling cinema, as the lonely pair bond whilst exploring the metropolitan city of Tokyo. As the two battle with their separate fragmented relationships we are treated to exotic moments in Japan, plus a visual selection of various Tokyo hotspots. These include the hip shopping area of Shibuya, the wild red-light district of Kabukichō and not to mention the towering luxury hotel that the pair stay in, The Park Hyatt. Better get saving if you want a room at the top!
Eat Pray Love – Rome, Italy
A travel film through and through, Eat Pray Love sees Julia Roberts portraying Elizabeth Gilbert, a newly-divorced thirty-something travelling the world searching for a new-found spiritual discovery within herself. Although exotic locations in India and Bali are included in the film, our favourite scenes focus on Elizabeth’s four-month stint living and exploring the stunning city of Rome. She admires the historic sights of the Pantheon, meanders through the narrow streets of the Roman Ghetto and gorges on the finest Italian pasta and pizza possible. Now there’s a reason to travel!
In Bruges – Bruges, Belgium
In Bruges brought a flock of tourism to the Belgian city, as we saw Irish hit men played by the dashing Colin Farrell and funny-man Brendan Gleesan prowl around the charmingly quaint city in the comedy thriller. Wander through the medieval town and explore the old churches, the impressive museums and the picture-perfect parks such as the Koningin Astridpark featured in the movie. Bet you you’d never even heard of Bruges before the film came out eh?
Bridget Jones Diary – London, England
It’s impossible not to fall for unlucky-in-love Londoner Bridget Jones with her laugh-out-loud awkward errors and blunders in life and love. Visit her very own flat above the traditionally British Globe pub in Southwark, South London or ponder through the world-famous Borough food market like Jones herself. Go on to admire the magnificent Royal Exchange buildings where Bridget and Mark’s famous knickers-in-the-snow kiss scene took place, giving everyone that happy ending we had all hoped for – swoon!
Into the Wild – Various locations in the USA and Mexico
Into the Wild follows the true-to-life story of Christopher McCandless as he shuns society and seeks a simple life free of materialism and greed after destroying his credit cards and donating his life savings to charity. Now that’s what you call a budget trip! Whilst we wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking across the USA and Mexico and setting off on your travels with zilch in your wallet, one of Chris’s ways of saving money was camping on the move to save on pricey accommodation costs – works for those outdoorsy types.
The Motorcycle Diaries – Various locations in South America
The biopic Motorcycle Diaries follows a young Che Guevara and a fellow medical student on a trip across South America, visiting incredible countries such as Argentina, Venezuela and Chile, on nothing but a motorcycle. We watch the political icon emerge on his momentous journey that explores the intense pleasures of freedom and adventure alongside the harsh realities of living in these regions. You can’t deny the scenery though; we’re treated to sights such as the stunningly serene Nahuel Huapi Lake and the world-famous ruins of Machu Picchu.
On the Road – Various locations in the USA
Everyone knows a good ol’ fashioned road trip is a great way to explore a country without the sky-high prices of flying (no pun intended). Heck, you can even kip in the car to save accommodation costs if you’re really on a tight budget! On the road is a tale of just that. Set in the late 40s, young writer Sal journeys through the USA meeting various different types of odd and eccentric characters along the way. Location highlights include the desert town of Twentynine palms in California, the bustling old-school city of New Orleans in Louisiana and the culture-rich Puebla in Mexico.
Eurotrip – Various European locations
Nowadays a trip across Europe seems to be every teenager/twenty-something’s rite of passage, what with the cheap prices across the cities, the world-famous nightlife and the ease of travelling through many countries in a short period of time (and not forgetting the culture, of course!). American comedy Eurotrip allows us to live the dream trip through a group of teenagers, hitting various European hotspots such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome – to name just a few. Oh to be young again…
The Lord of the Rings – Various locations in New Zealand
The film adventure trilogy of all trilogies has sure done New Zealand justice, showcasing the lush greenery, the looming mountains and winding rivers as a young Frodo ventures out to destroy the ring and all its tortuous powers. Roam the country yourself to discover the majestic scenery (there’s certainly plenty). For real die-hard fans there’s a 14-day tour taking you to filming locations from one end of the country to the other – now that’s devotion!
Indiana Jones – Various locations around the world
Although the Indiana Jones films have been filmed in various different corners of the globe, including the USA, Italy and even the ever-so-glamorous Essex in the UK, there have certainly been some eye-catching scenes that have stood out in particular. Who could forget Indy shooting the crazy swordsman, set in the holy Tunisian city of Kairouan, or the flashback to a young Indy in the breathtaking Arches National Park in the USA? Truly action adventure at its best.
Finding Nemo – The Great Barrier Reef and Sydney, Australia
Poor Marlin’s epic quest to rescue his tiny clownfish son Nemo is peppered with encounters with the weird and wonderful creatures who live on the Great Barrier Reef. Any keen diver would soon be eager to add a trip onto their bucket list. Towards the end of the film we even get to admire Sydney harbour and get a peek at the impressive Sydney Opera house. When can we book our flights?
Slumdog Millionaire – Mumbai, India
Although admittedly Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t strive to inspire travel to India, there’s no denying that the Danny Boyle masterpiece depicts the real India in both a raw and beautiful way. We are able to get a rare glimpse of Dharavi, one of the largest slum areas in the whole of Asia in the huge city of Mumbai where the main characters grow up as youngsters. Then in stark contrast we’re given the opportunity to admire the other side of the India as we are shown around the grand Taj Mahal, one of the masterpieces of the world.
The Holiday – Surrey, England
The idyllic country cottage featured in The Holiday, nestled in the tiny village of Shere in Surrey could convince even the most dedicated sun-worshipper to snuggle indoors this winter with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a feel-good flick on the telly. With a quaint selection of small shops, a tea room, country pubs and an old church, the quintessential English village seems custom-made for a cosy retreat. And, you don’t even have to leave the country, saving you both valuable time and money from travelling – bonus!
Frozen – Norway
Although the Disney smash-hit isn’t explicitly set in Norway (rather the imaginary Kingdom of Arendelle), it’s been confirmed that the animations are deeply inspired from the Scandinavian country’s beautiful landscape and culture. The charming city of Bergen is the main inspiration for the fictional town and with its climbing hills, timbered houses and delightful harbour, it’s easy to see why. The success of the film has apparently given Norway an incredibly high boost in tourism from those keen to seek out the scenic delights illustrated so beautifully on the screen – go Norway!
Dumb and Dumber – Aspen, USA
Road-trip comedy Dumb and Dumber shows two good-natured yet hilariously dim friends demonstrate exactly what not to do when venturing out in the snow. Lucky for us though, through the pair’s cringe-worthy calamities and eye-watering embarrassments we are able to admire the glitzy ski city of Aspen in all its glory, surrounded by a mass of snow-heaped trees and gleaming slopes. Just remember to never, ever, lick a frozen pole!
Happy Feet – Antarctica
If you really think you can brave sub-zero temperatures then attempt to take the biggest travel challenge yet and consider a trip to Antarctica. Animal-lovers can visit the hardy wildlife including emperor penguins just like the ones featured in feel-good kids’ flick Happy Feet and experience moments of rare isolation as you voyage a deserted land so remote, so pure and so spectacular. Just remember clothes-wise: layer, layer and then layer again!