Sometimes filming locations can surprise you. Although not a movie, the fourth season of the television series Fargo was actually filmed a lot around my neighborhood and home city of Chicago. In fact, the funeral home/Smutny family residence was actually our neighbor’s house right across the street! Knowing fun little tidbits and movie or TV show trivia like that makes traveling the world a little more magical… especially when you can point to a scene or entire film and say: “I’ve been there!”
Whether you’re a Diehard film buff or just see movies as a Passing Fancy, there are some pretty incredible places in the world that have been captured on film that you can visit. Once you see them in person, you’ll probably look around and understand why they were chosen for a movie set—and became so famous in their own right.
What follows are the 10 best trips every movie lover should take, plus a few other travel suggestions that aren’t technically film locations but do hold a touch of that Hollywood magic you’ll love. And next, don’t miss The 8 Easiest Countries to Visit Right Now.
This is the only destination on this movie lovers’ list that is both a filming location and a major tourist experience in one. It’s similar to the Harry Potter experience, except that Hobbiton is like a J.R.R. Tolkien time capsule. Much of the 1,200-acre sheep farm in Waikato, New Zealand is exactly as it was when the area was used for filming both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.
Tolkien fans for sure need to see this quaint Shire, while less hardcore fans will still appreciate the immaculate attention to detail (or, at the very least, the thousands of sheep that still live here). Head out to Middle Earth and treat yourself to a second breakfast.
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Even if the name isn’t familiar to you, it’s all but guaranteed that the landscape will be, considering that Wadi Rum in Jordan has been used as a cinematic backdrop for decades. Per a list from Wadi Rum Desert Eyes, this magnificent landscape has been featured in nearly 20 movies, as well as a documentary (The Face – Rock Climbing) and a television episode (Star Trek: Discovery).
This red-tinged desert has often been used to portray Mars without leaving Earth in films like The Martian and Red Planet. It has also made numerous appearances in all its desert glory in Lawrence of Arabia, Dune, and Aladdin. Seeing Wadi Rum is, truly, an out-of-this-world experience.
Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens and, more so, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Skellig Michael was a niche location to visit. An island off the coast of Ireland, Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves St. Fionan’s monastery, according to Heritage Ireland. These ancient buildings (not to mention the 618 stone steps) have mostly been inhabited by birds since the monks left hundreds of years ago. That all changed when Star Wars brought attention to this magnificent landscape.
If you visit, you won’t see any Porgs around. Although, you will see plenty of Puffins, which were both the inspiration for and impetus of the creation of the Porg bird species.
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Fans of the 1990 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, listen up! The stunning hotel, The Headland, in Cornwall will give you so much nostalgia. The Headland, looking more like a castle than a hotel, has been an iconic part of the region since the turn of the 20th century. A Victorian-style architectural gem along the coast, The Witches fans don’t only get a taste of this place’s cinematic interpretation, they get an experience in luxury as well.
Mamma Mia!, here we go again. The island of Skopelos in Greece, like many other filming locations, was not a huge destination before a film put it on the map. Mamma Mia! showcased the jaw-dropping landscape around the island, from its shimmering waters to towering vistas.
According to Visit Greece, the first island inhabitant was believed to be Peparithos, the son of Dionysus (the god of wine and drama) and his wife Ariadne. That said, feel free to have some vino while visiting the island in homage.
For many film buffs, just seeing The Stanley Hotel will give them goosebumps–and for good reason. This iconic hotel was the setting for Stephen King’s The Shining. Don’t worry, Johnny won’t be popping out of any doors with axes, though you can stay in room 217 like King did, which garnered the inspiration for his novel.
Actually, much of the hotel is considered to be haunted. With or without the love of horror films, The Stanley certainly lives up to its cinematic comparison.
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One look at Scotland’s Doune Castle will have Pythonites reciting lines like there is no tomorrow. And will they stop once they get started? “Ni!”
Why? Because Monty Python and the Holy Grail featured the castle so prominently. The 14th-century castle became not just the epicenter of silliness, however, it even became Winterfell in Game of Thrones too. Do keep an eye out for killer rabbits, though, because King Arthur and his merry lot had an awfully hard time with one in particular.
Another Star Wars spot, this time in Tunisia. Hotel Sidi Driss will give even the stingiest galactic traveler a smile. Here, you can explore Luke Skywalker’s home of Tatooine or get cozy in the film-inspired troglodyte hotel. This immersive hotel all but literally transports you to another world. Fans will get a kick out of staying in a place that was featured in four of the Star Wars films, including the original. Per the hotel, Uncle Owen’s house has 20 rooms for guests to stay in and the building is cozy all year round.
What is particularly cool about the Museum of the Moving Image in New York is that it isn’t just focused on one element of media. MoMI showcases everything incredible about film, television, and all digital media—including video games. The museum boasts one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of moving image artifacts in the world, which includes over 130,000 pieces. MoMI has an impressive collection of glass slides celebrating early cinema, a recreation of an over-the-top movie palace circa 1920, plus a massive collection of over 5,000 artifacts from 1894 to 1931 showcasing the silent film era.
If films are a major passion of yours, you need to see The Hollywood Museum. Not only does this location celebrate the glitz of Tinseltown, but it also houses some unbelievable pieces of cinematic history that range from the iconic to the downright weird. The museum holds over 10,000 one-of-a-kind pieces of Hollywood history, including Hannibal Lecter’s jail cell from Silence of the Lambs.
Not to mention, the museum is inside a building that is itself a piece of Hollywood history. The Max Factor Building was once home to Max Factor, also known as Tinseltown’s makeup de jour. According to the museum, Max Factor designed looks for stars from the silent film days all the way through the 1970s.
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