10 Fascinating Filming Locations of Most Iconic Movies and Shows That You Can Visit in Real Life
Updated On: November 08, 2023
Movies and TV shows make up a significant part of our lives. They’re where we hear fascinating stories, learn about diverse cultures, and observe some mental and emotional depths of compelling characters, all in our homes. These elements do pave the way for us to have a more profound understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
No matter what your favourite genre is, every story has its own way of broadening our horizons and adding value to our lives while offering entertainment and education, in some cases. Most films and TV enthusiasts would find intriguing elements in their favourite movies. However, the filming locations remain overlooked gems that can actually be the factor capturing our attention.
In fact, filming locations can make the marketing strategy of several films, and it can also break it. Exquisite scenes can significantly influence the desires of viewers more than you think. The more attractive the sets, the more people want to see them. Thus, the shooting locations are, in fact, a crucial aspect of every show or movie.
Needless to say, filming locations are determined by several factors, including the film’s budget, the settings of the story, and so on. Some movies can be pretty fine being shot within confined studios, while others require spacious landscapes with plenty of fresh air to deliver the story best. The most enthralling part is that the most iconic films and shows were shot in real-life locations that you can visit.
Here are some of the most splendid filming locations for iconic top-tier movies and TV shows that you can literally walk into their worlds and relive your best on-screen moments:
1. Harry Potter – The United Kingdom
The Harry Potter film franchise has quite captivated a huge fanbase ever since the release of the first movie. Watching our beloved characters grow up throughout the years was one of the fascinating aspects of the film. It’s always felt like we all grew up together and got to see their journey from childhood to the fine young men and women they became.
The original story of Harry Potter is known to be based in the UK, so it’s easy to guess that England was a huge part of the filming locations, along with Ireland and Scotland. Hogwarts School was a vital aspect of the franchise series, and although it was a fictional place, real-life places were used to depict the infamous school of wizards and witches, which was set in the Scottish Highlands in the books.
Alnwick Castle, located in England’s northern part, was used to shoot the exterior parts of the school in the first film. Standing before the mighty castle, you can get the sense of arriving for your first day at magic school. However, the interior parts of Hogwarts actually took place in the historic Oxford University. The insides of the colleges were featured particularly in the early movies, where they spent more time inside their school.
While Hogwarts is found in England in real life, the famous Hogwarts Express can be found in Scotland, known as the Jacobite Steam Train. Thanks to the Harry Potter franchise, this train station became quite popular more than it was, and people refer to it as the Harry Potter train. The later films were the ones set in several Irish filming locations, including Lemon Rock in County Kerry and Cliffs of Moher.
2. Game of Thrones – Northern Ireland and Iceland
Game of Thrones is one of the top TV shows in modern times that have taken the world by storm since its release. The series offers a captivating story with compelling characters, driving the top fanatics insane and attempting to keep track of several different storylines. Despite being an American fantasy drama, most of the filming locations took part in Northern Europe.
As a Game of Thrones enthusiast, we’re quite positive you’d like to see the fictional lands of Westeros in real life. The show offers plenty of castles and features knights, making it seem to be taking place in medieval England; however, most of the real-life filming locations were in Northern Ireland. Some scenes got away with being shot in Belfast Studio, while others required real locations.
Among the real-life filming locations that you can visit in Northern Ireland is the Magheramorne Quarry. It was the filming location of the Castle Black, with many of the sets built around here and left there for people to witness today. You can also witness the Causeway Coast featured in scenes of the Iron Islands.
Iceland was also a top location where many scenes took place, including the renowned Thingvellir National Park and Þórufoss Waterfalls. Thingvellir is a popular Icelandic tourist destination, encompassing several attractions and landmarks, including the Hengill mountain that was featured in the series. Games of Thrones was also shot in other countries, including Spain, Morocco, Croatia, and Malta, yet Iceland and Northern Ireland remain the top locations.
3. Star Wars – Around the World
Star Wars was another series franchise that significantly impacted the world thanks to its creator, George Lucas. The franchise started as a movie released in the ’70s before it exploded into a multimedia platform, becoming series, films, books, and even video games. Since the franchise has been going for over three decades, it’s hard to pinpoint a single filming location; however, we’ll be highlighting the most popular destinations featured in the franchise.
Basically, the whole world seems to be a real-life set for the renowned Star Wars franchise. Yet, Lake Como in Italy was one of the most fascinating destinations featured in the series. It’s one of the most splendid Italian lakes that are worth visiting, and it was the filming location of the famous Attack of the Clones.
Another featured Italian location is the renowned Mount Etna, located in Catania, Sicily. It’s one of the most famous active volcanoes in the world that erupt regularly. Interestingly, the crew caught a real eruption on cameras from several angles, attempting to depict the significant encounter between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Spain was also among the filming locations of the famous franchise, with the popular Plaza de España being featured in the series. The Spanish square is located in Seville city and was used to film the exterior shots of the fictional City of Theed. On the other hand, The Battle of Hoth, which is one of the prominent wars in the history of Star Wars, was shot in Norways’ vast icy landscapes in Hardangerjøkulen Glacier.
4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Jordan
Indiana Jones is a fascinating film series that caters to lovers of archaeological discoveries, exploration, and historical adventures. It’s yet another franchise that has been around for several decades, with lots of films brought into being. Thus, there were a lot of filming locations throughout the years, yet Jordan was the one that captivated the attention of viewers in no time.
Thanks to the talented filmmakers, a forgotten part of the world was overlooked and needed to get the hype it deserved, and that’s Petra, the Jordanian city. Petra is an ancient city that earned a spot among the world’s Seven New Wonders, being home to the famous Al Khazneh temple, or The Treasury in English. The city features plenty of tombs, temples, and rock facades that speak of history.
Tourists from all parts of the world started flocking to Petra upon the release of Indiana and the Last Crusade. It piqued the interests of many travellers and tourists, compelling them to pack and go see the red-rock structure, Al Khanzeh, that was featured in the film. Another exciting destination featured in the film was Germany’s Bürresheim Castle which was used for the exterior shots of the film’s Nazi Castle.
5. Outlander – Scotland
The Scottish lands are well-known for their exquisite green landscapes and historical monuments, yet Outlander is among the TV shows that did well, featuring Scotland’s best parts. The show dropped in 2014 and aired for 6 seasons, featuring a captivating story set in medieval England and a set of compelling characters to fall in love with.
However, the filming locations are ones that sit proudly today within the borders of the Scottish Highlands, not needing to travel back in time. Doune Castle was one of the popular destinations in Scotland used to depict Castle Leoch, Colum MacKenzie’s fictional home. Interestingly, this 14th-century castle has made it to the big screen several times and not only this once.
Hopetoun House is another Scottish destination used to film scenes from Outlander. The renowned structure is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It houses a Red Drawing Room, which was used for shooting scenes of Sandringham Duke’s home in the first season. Although many castles in Scotland served as filming locations, the great outdoors also played a part.
Faskally Forest was used to portray the fictional Mohawk Village. It is an unmissable forest in Scotland that you’d enjoy exploring, located just half an hour from Kinloch Rannoch. Another highland used for filming was Glencoe, a highland spot located near the renowned Glenfinnan Monument. The spacious green terrain complemented by mountains and the clear sky as the backdrop was used as the opening credits of all episodes.
6. Lord of the Rings – New Zealand
Lord of the Rings is another famous film series that always seemed to be in rivalry with the Harry Potter series. Both were quite entertaining films and enthralling books that gained massive popularity throughout the whole world in no time. Although the series has already come to an end, it’s still deemed among the most successful movies of all time.
Interestingly, Lord of the Rings films were among the few films with huge production that were entirely shot in New Zealand. In case you are a Lord of the Rings fan, chances are you’ve wondered about the filming locations of all the places featured in the movie. We’ll walk you through the best destinations in New Zealand that you can visit and experience the fantasy world of the great series.
Wellington, the capital city, definitely played a role in this massive production. It’s home to Weta Workshop, the indoor studios where the special effects were done. Weta Cave is now a public museum open for visitors for unique Lord of the Rings tours. However, most of the scenes required outdoor filming locations.
Hobbiton Village was one of the iconic fictional places within the film series. Matamata town is the real-life filming location of the fictional town. The sets built for the film still proudly sit, becoming an open-air museum for the fanatic who would love to walk through the same air where the characters have.
It’s hard to overlook the fictional land of Sauron, the Dark Lord, known in the films as Mordor. Interestingly, Tongariro National Park was the filming location of dark Mordor, one of New Zealand’s most iconic landmarks. It’s an ideal spot for hiking among the mountains with fascinating views to observe. However, the special effects added in the movie made the place a little bit different from that in real life.
7. The Last of Us – Canada
The Last of Us is currently a trending series released on HBO. It was originally a video game launched for PlayStation 4, but the enthralling story soon turned it into a captivating show. Although the story was set in the United States, Canada was the actual filming location, with Alberta dominating the scene and depicting a post-apocalyptic America.
Several filming locations took place across Alberta, which is located in western Canada, including the famous Calgary town. It served as a fictional Boston appearing from the very first episode. Mount Royal University and Alberta Institute of Technology were among the filming locations featured in the college scenes of the series.
Edmonton City is another filming location situated in Alberta and north of Calgary. It was used as the city where the Cordyceps virus broke out. It’s home to the Alberta Legislature Building, which was used as a replica of Massachusetts’ State House. Alberta also embraces the beautiful Canmore Town, which was another pretty filming location featuring azure waters, spacious green landscapes, and snow-capped mountains.
8. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cambodia
Tomb Raider is another film series that initially started as an adventurous video game. Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft perfectly, aiding in popularising the story and character. Besides, the film featured incredible destinations in different places worldwide. The story of Lara Croft was taken from parts of Europe and all the way to Southeast Asia.
Despite the abundant filming locations used to produce this fascinating film series, Cambodia was the one to capture the attention of everyone. It’s home to the renowned Angkor Wat Temple, an ancient building that narrates Cambodian culture and history. The temple was featured in the movie, serving as the Ta Prohm Temple in the part of the story where Croft meets the mysterious girl.
Another interesting fact about the ancient temple is that it was among the inspiring locations Disney used to create one of its films. The temple was the inspiration behind the alluring Atlantis City in the famous Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Going back to Tomb Raider’s filming locations, London and Venice were among the European cities featured in the film. Hatfield House is a huge London villa seen in the film as Lara Croft’s house. Other English destinations that served as featured filming locations in the movie were the renowned Leaden-hall Market and Tower Bridge.
9. The Last Kingdom – Hungary
The Last Kingdom is among the most trending period dramas on Netflix at the moment. This epic series is based on Bernard Cornwell’s historical book series “Saxon Stories.” Although the series is based in medieval England, the filming locations were mostly set in Hungary. The majority of the scenes were shot inside Korda Studios in Budapest, which is open for the public to book tours around the medieval backlot built within.
Göböljárás Village is another Hungarian destination that served the story well, becoming the set of several Saxon towns, including Eoferwic, Winchester, and Rumcofa. The village sits outside Budapest and is around 30 kilometres away from the renowned Hungarian city of Százhalombatta. The vast landscapes of the countryside appeared to imitate Old England. Also, it served as the filming location of several battles in the series.
Another filming location that was featured in the series was Lake Velence, one of the largest lakes in Hungary, visited yearly by locals and tourists. The lake is a great swimming spot during the hot days of summer when family enjoy their holidays. It’s even quite crowded during autumn when the weather is a bit colder, given that the lake is among Europe’s warmest ones ever.
10. Home Alone – Chicago, US
Christmas wouldn’t really feel right if the most famous Christmas movie, Home Alone, wasn’t playing on every television. It’s one of the best family movies that people have been falling in love with, and it remains among the most iconic Christmas movies. It’s quite known that little Kevin was left alone at the family’s house in Chicago while they all flew to spend their vacation in Paris.
Interestingly, that colossal house featured in the film does exist in real-life, proudly sitting in Winnetka, Illinois. This area was the filming location of the majority of the movie’s scenes. Even the film’s interior shots took place in the house’s living room and the famous Grand Staircase.
The building is currently known as the Home Alone House. Even a couple of decades after the movie was released, people still visit the house and take pictures in front of the façade, imitating Kevin’s jaw-dropped shocked face.
Now that you’ve delved into some fascinating filming locations of iconic movies and series! Let us know which ones captivated you the most.