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Top 10 Greatest Movie Locations of all Time

by Katie Sorene

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Do movies give you wanderlust? Travel into your favorite movie setting with this list of the greatest movie locations of all time.

Love location movies? Leave the movie theater desperate to book a flight there and then?

Check out this list of the Greatest Location Movies of all Time and travel right into your favorite movie scenes!

1)    LORD OF THE RINGS, NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand

This Oscar winning movie trilogy boosted New Zealand as a top travel destination for millions seeking to re-create Frodo’s mythical journey for themselves.

The rolling hills of Matamata became Hobbiton, the home of Bilbo and Frodo with crops and flowers planted on set an entire year before filming began.

The eerie volcanic region of Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National park was the sinister setting for “Mordor” and “Mount Doom” where the ring is forged.

The Southern Alps and the South Island glaciers became the “Misty Mountains” where Gollum hid away with the ring for 500 years.

Countless “Lord of the Ring” tours await so go venture into “Middle Earth”.

2)    THE BEACH, THAILAND

The Beach, Thailand

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Hat Maya, the main beach on Phi Phi Leh island was chosen as the setting to Danny’s Boyle’s depiction of Alex Garland’s novel, “The Beach.”

The fantastically popular movie transformed Thailand into THE quintessential backpacker destination as wide-eyed travelers set off in search of their own slice of island paradise.

The beach seen in the film, however, is not actually the same as in real life. Surrounding mountains were digitally added during post-production. Controversy also arose during filming due to 20th Century Fox’s bulldozing of the beach to make it more “paradise-like”

The Tsunami of 2004, however, has since restored the beach to its natural look.

3)    LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, JORDON, SPAIN AND MOROCCO

Wadi Rumm Jordon

craigfinlay

Much of the wow factor of this 1962 epic movie lies in the awe-inspiring desert landscapes filmed in Jordon.

The camp of Prince Feisel is set in the red cliffs of Wadi Rum and the spectacular entrance of Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) was filmed on the mudflats of Jafr.

Many of the movie’s other locations were actually filmed in Spain. The town of “Aqaba” was constructed at a beach named Playa del Algarrobico close to Almeria in southern Spain.

The “Middle Eastern” settings were filmed in the Moorish city of Seville.

Scenes were also shot in Morocco at Ait Benhaddou, a village made up of many small fortresses, northwest of Ouarzazate.

4)   CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN, CEPHALLONIA, GREECE

Kefalonia, Greece

Captain Corelli (Nicholas Cage) falls in love with local Greek girl Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) during WWII.

Perhaps the biggest star of the movie is the stunning Mediterranean backdrop of the Greek island of Cephallonia.

Following the release of the movie in 2001 the island was busting at the seams with tourists coming to see the movie’s romantic Greek setting for themselves.

Movie location tours are offered on the island although it is debatable whether the steep path-ways and crowded beaches live up to the idyllic setting portrayed in the movie.

Most of the filming took place in the village of Sami.  The Italians’ campsite was built on Antisamos Bay and the bomb explosion beach scene took place on Myrtos Bay.

5)   APOCALYPSE NOW, PHILIPPINES

Luzon Philippines

Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” a harrowing Vietnam War tale was brought to life by Francis Fort Coppola in 1979.

The movie was actually set in Luzon, the northern island of the Philippines.

The surfing beach, fresh with the smell of napalm is Baler Bay and has, in fact, recently emerged as a top surfing destination in the region.

The movie sets were originally located in Iba, on Luzon’s west coast, but after being destroyed by Hurricane Olga, were re-located to Pagsanjan. The “Do Long Bridge” was built here, as was Kurtz’s compound.

6)   ALIVE, CANADA

Canada

john.d.mcdonald

A powerful survival story of a Uraguayan rugby team involved in a plane crash in the Andes mountains in 1972.

The bleak mountainous terrain in which the movie is set is not Chile or Argentina but, in fact, the Purcell mountains in British Columbia, Canada. Other scenes are also set in Windermere and Vancouver.

7)   CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, CHINA

China

A Chinese  film in wuxia martial arts style, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” became a surprise international success, becoming the highest grossing foreign language film in American history.

Made on a mere $17 million budget this movie was a magnificent achievement.

Filmed in several locations across China, there are some stunning settings in the movie including the spectacular Gobi dessert, Anji bamboo forest and the Summer Palace north of Cheng De.

The film was primarily made in Beijing with location shooting in the Anhui, Hebei, Jiangsu and Xinjiang provinces.

8 )    CITY OF GOD, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

favela rio brazil

eflon

A hard-hitting portrayal of life in the favelas of Rio, “City of God” offers a window to viewers into the brutality and desperation that dominates these slums.

“Cidade de Deus” is a real neighbourhood in Rio in the western zone of the city, established in 1960 in an effort to move the favelas out of the city center.

The movie was not actually filmed in “Cidade de Deus” but in nearly areas. Street children were used as actors, heightening the sense of realism throughout the movie.

Despite the movie’s unsavory portrayal of Rio, “City of God” provoked intrigue in the city, travel to Brazil and interest in the city’s dubious favela tours!

9)   THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, SOUTH AMERICA

lake huapi argentina

Juanedc

A young Che Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) embarks on a motorcycle trip across South America witnessing the social inequality which later fuelled his revolutionary zeal.

To re-create the journey portrayed in the film you’d need to travel 5,000 miles, west from Buenos Aires, Argentina, through Patagonia and into Chile along the Andes to Machu Picchu and lastly to the Guajira Peninsula in Venezuala.

The movie was shot for the most part in the real locations of the journey, including awe-inspiring scenes in the Lake District of Argentina, the Atacama Dessert, the sacred Inca village of Ollantaytambo, Peru and, of course, the Machu Picchu ruins.

If you’re thinking of setting off on a trip around South America, this is the movie for you!

10)    BRAVEHEART, SCOTLAND

Glencoe scotland

This epic movie about Scottish war hero, William Wallace is a fiercely nationalistic tale featuring awesome landscapes of the Scottish highlands.

The breathtaking scenery depicted in the movie is the wild, rocky highlands of Loch Leven and Glencoe.

To much controversy, the battle scenes within this quintessentially Scottish movie were actually set in Ireland, using members of the Irish Army Reserve as extras.

Want to walk in William Wallace’s footsteps – go conquer the Scottish highlands!

Have you been to any of these movie locations?? Got more suggestions for more movie-inspired trips? Let us know, we want to hear from you!

If you like this you might also like: 15 Most Magical Places in the World

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15 comments… read them below or Add a Comment

Dina

Fun to read this while actually doing a road trip in New Zealand to see all of the beauty (including the LOTR location beauty). New Zealand is amazing indeed, currently my favourite place to visit for its natural beauty. I haven’t seen all of them yet, so I can comment on a few. Totally agree with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Braveheart too!

Steve

Great list. Although, if you were to have a number 11, I would love if you put Petra from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade up there. I know it wasn’t there for a good portion of the movie, but it is just so amazing.

Andi

Gorgeous pics! I loooooved the Motorcycle Diares and City of God.

Vera Marie Badertscher

In Ireland, we stayed at a farmhouse B & B overlooking the beach where Ryan’s daughter was filmed long ago. The pub nearby (at Duncan) has pictures of the movie’s stars and locals who played extras.

jessiev

only scotland! great list!

Prague City Breaks

A great list of the wonderful locations, CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN locations in Greece was awesome.

Roly

To be honest, when we plan a holiday, we plan it around the filming locations which we would like to find, my wife is an avid fan of the Harry Potter films and we have visited 90% of the locations (unfortunately I’ve not updated the website with all the information), however the locations used can become a commercial trap, raising prices to enter a location.

We visited America many times and visited very small towns which were used as filming locations, a prime example is George Romero, in many of his earlier films he used Pennsylvania and Florida. The two main reasons are he grew up in Pittsburgh and his family were originally from Florida, also these two states gave cash incentives to have movies filmed there (Canada is now the location to film because of tax reasons)

When a new blockbuster comes out, the only director I’m interested in finding out is who the Director of Photography is, as this impacts on the feel of the film and the locations used.

I could go on forever about filming locations, the advantages and the disadvantages of choosing the right location, the impacts with tourist industry. What I will say, when we have visited a house which has been used as a filming location, 90% of the owners are interested to talk to us and show us around, but with the world as it is now, we are looked on as very suspicious characters.

I would not argue with your number 10, however I would like to give you my 10 ten if you will.

1) Lord Of the Rings (New Zealand) – what a great promotional tool to boost New Zealand as a tourist Attraction. Pity the director did not choose England as Tolkien based his books on the landscape of Yorkshire.

2) – El Topo (Mexico)

3) – Forrest Gump – (South Carolina USA)

4) – Schindler’s List – Krakow, Poland

5) – The Good the Bad and the Ugly – Spain

6) – Fiddler on the Roof – Croatia

7) – Sound of Music – Austria

8) – The Godfather – Sicily, Italy

9) – Apocalypse Now, Philippines

10) – Star Wars – Tunisia

CanCan

Probably not as exciting, but The Killing Fields (Cambodia) and Bridge Over the River Kwai (Kanchanaburi, Thailand) come to mind.

Sarah V.

My favorite movie is The Departed, so can we add Boston to the list? Great city with lots of history, yummy food, and plenty of attitude.

Also, west Texas plays a pretty major role in No Country for Old Men.

Laura from Ciao Amalfi

Fun article idea! I’d also add in the island of Procida near Naples, Italy. Parts of “Il Postino” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” were filmed there.

RennyBA's Terella

Yea this give me wanderlust – thanks for sharing!

Btw: You just have to come and visit one day so we can make one from Norway together :-)

mina

‘the beach’ definitely made me want to go to thailand! cute post

Natalie (EFT Tapping)

Well, I’ve been to various countries in Latin America, Canada, last 2 weeks Philippines and now I’m in Thailand. Since I’m in the area, seems like I shouldn’t miss China and New Zealand!

Gorgeous pics!

Neal

While I wouldn’t disagree with any on the list I would have to include Florence for its beauty and romance. Films like Hannibal, Room with a View, Tea with Mussolini and Paise all show off the wonderful narrow streets, the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo magnificently.

Stu Lloyd - Thailand JING JING

Great angle for a travel piece, and nice to see Thailand included with The Beach.

In northern Thailand there have also been a few movies made that you might have heard about:

Good Morning Vietnam, Rambo 4, Air America, and American Gangster, to name a few. So if you enjoyed the scenery, it’s Chiang Mai province you should head for …

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