10 Iconic Movie Locations To Make Your Next Vacation Feel Like a Hollywood Production
Experience Reel Life in Real Life
For many of us, watching movies is a way to take a break from the real world and immerse ourselves in different worlds and stories. From stunning landscapes to historic events and iconic cities, films and TV shows transport us to all sorts of exciting places. But what if you could turn that big-screen experience into a real-life vacation? While we can’t exactly jump into the movies themselves, we can visit the actual locations where some of our favorite films and TV episodes were filmed.
So, why not plan your next vacation around some of these iconic movie spots? From recent blockbusters to classic films and cult favorites, there’s something for everyone on this list of 10 must-see movie locations.
1. Timberline Lodge, Oregon: The Shining
If you’re a fan of the classic horror film “The Shining,” then you’ll definitely want to add Timberline Lodge to your travel bucket list. This luxurious hotel and ski resort was the inspiration for the iconic Overlook Hotel in the movie, and it’s easy to see why. The lodge’s striking, pitched-roof exterior is instantly recognizable and will transport you right back to the film. Plus, it’s located just an hour outside of Portland, Oregon, and sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet on the south side of Mount Hood, making it a perfect destination for both skiing and sightseeing. While the interiors of the hotel used in the film were shot on sound stages in London, the exterior is the real deal and can be visited and even stayed in by movie buffs and nature enthusiasts alike. With around two million visitors each year, it’s a must-see destination.
2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Tomb Raider
Visiting Angkor Wat is like stepping back in time to ancient Cambodia. The intricate carvings and towering structures are a sight to behold, and it’s no surprise that it was chosen as a filming location for the famous movie Tomb Raider. Not only is it a popular destination for tourists, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site recognized for its historical and cultural significance. Whether you’re a fan of the film or not, exploring Angkor Wat is a must-do for any traveler visiting Cambodia. The temple complex is vast and can take several days to explore fully, but it’s worth every moment to take in the beauty and grandeur of this ancient site.
3. Northern Ireland: Games of Thrones (The Upcoming Prequel)
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’re in luck. The hit fantasy series was filmed in a variety of breathtaking locations in Northern Ireland, including the dramatic coastlines, ancient castles, and stunning landscapes that serve as the perfect backdrop for the epic drama. Some of the most iconic filming locations include Titanic Studios in Belfast, Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Larrybane, the Antrim plateau, Castle Ward, Inch Abbey, and Downhill Strand. Castle Ward, an Irish National Trust location, was even transformed into the iconic Winterfell for the series. These locations offer show fans the opportunity to step into the world of Game of Thrones and immerse themselves in epic fantasy.
4. Hobbiton in Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies
If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. This picturesque, storybook-like set was explicitly built for the films and included over 44 hobbit holes, gardens, hedges, the double-arched bridge, and even the Wairere Falls. Visitors can take guided tours to explore the set and see iconic locations like the Green Dragon Inn, Hobbit Holes, and the Mill. And it’s just a two-hour drive from Auckland. So, pack your bags and take a trip to Middle-earth!
5. Hebei Province, China: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
China’s breathtaking landscapes and historical landmarks served as the perfect backdrop for the film. From the rugged peaks of the Great Wall to the lush greenery of Chengde Mountain Resort, the film crew had a wealth of stunning locations to choose from. The ancient city of Hebei, in particular, was a prime location for filming, with its World Heritage-listed sites such as the Great Wall, Chengde Mountain Resort, and the Qing Tombs. The Peking Man archeological site in Zhoukoudian also made an appearance in the film, adding an extra layer of historical significance to the production. Overall, the diverse range of locations in China allowed the film to capture the country’s rich cultural and natural heritage truly.
6. DuPont State Recreational Park, North Carolina: The Hunger Games
DuPont State Forest served as the perfect backdrop for The Hunger Games thrilling and intense scenes. Its lush pine forests, rugged mountains, and cascading waterfalls were the ideal setting for the science fiction blockbuster. Visitors can head to Triple Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls to see the spot where Katniss’ pond was located and where Peeta hid himself. The forest is also a great place to spot wildlife, such as black bears and deer. It’s a must-visit destination for any Hunger Games fan looking to immerse themselves in the world of the film.
7. King’s Cross Station, Landon: Harry Potter
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re probably familiar with the iconic scene in which Harry and the Weasley family walk through a brick wall at King’s Cross Station to reach Platform 9 3/4. This magical platform, which serves as the departure point for the Hogwarts Express, is referenced throughout the film series and has become so popular that King’s Cross Station has even created a designated photo opportunity for fans between platforms 9 and 10. If you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan, this is definitely a location worth visiting on your next trip to London.
8. Ksour, Tunisia: Star Wars
Tunisia may not be a galaxy far, far away, but it’s undoubtedly an exotic destination for Star Wars fans. The original Star Wars film and several other films in the franchise used Tunisia as the backdrop for the desert planet of Tatooine. The Sahara desert was the perfect setting for Luke Skywalker’s adventures, and fans can still visit many of the filming locations today. One of the most iconic spots is Ksour, a collection of historic walled granaries in Tataouine that were transformed into the Mos Espa slave quarters in the film. Another popular location is Ong Jemal, also known as Camel’s Neck, which served as a backdrop for several iconic scenes. These filming sites are a must-see for any Star Wars fan and offer a unique and exotic travel experience.
9. Skopelos, Greece: Mamma Mia!
The movie Mamma Mia! was a colorful, feel-good film filled with a fantastic cast and the iconic songs of ABBA. But it was the Greek Islands, particularly Skopelos, that truly stood out with their picturesque white traditional houses adorned with fuchsia flowers, crystal clear waters, and denim fashion. The sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again also captured the beauty of the Croatian island of Vis.
10. Kyoto, Japan: Memoirs of a Geisha
The movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” transported audiences to the picturesque and cultural city of Kyoto, Japan. The film’s locations included the famous Gion neighborhood, known for its traditional Geisha culture, as well as several iconic temples such as the Kiyo-Mizu pagoda. One of the most memorable scenes from the film was the depiction of the main character, Chiyo, running through the 10,000 red torii gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine. Kyoto’s rich history and stunning landscapes served as the perfect backdrop for this captivating story.