Visit the Amityville horror house, sing along the rolling hills of the Sound of Music, swim bravely through Jaws territory, tear through the forests of the Hunger Games, and skip along the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley. Here are some of the best locations every film buff should visit:
1. Avatar forests, Hawaii
Avatar is set in the verdant rainforests of Hawaii. While most of the filming is done with CGI, real scenes were shot at the Keahua Arboretum in Kauai. Run through the rainforest along Big Island’s Hamakua Coast where Jake Sully and Neytiri perfected their green screen moves. Visit Hawaii.
2. Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment, New York City
Pose on the stairs of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City at 66 Perry Street in New York City, one of the most famous locations visited by film buffs. The apartment building was used for exterior shots only – interior shots were filmed in studio. Visit New York City.
3. The Hunger Games forest, USA
The Hunger Games was shot amongst the pines of DuPont State Forest in North Carolina. You can visit three significant scenes filmed here, including the Fire Scene filmed near the old airstrip, the Pool Scene where Katniss jumps into a pool after being burned, and the River Scene where Katniss tracks Peeta after he’s injured. Hunger Games tours are available. Visit USA.
4. The church in Mamma Mia, Skopelos
The romantic comedy, Mamma Mia, starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan, was filmed mostly on the Greek island of Skopelos. Visit Agios Loannis church that was used as the chapel exterior in the famous wedding scene and stand on the spot where Meryl Streep sings “The winner takes it all”.
5. District 9 landscape, South Africa
The sci-film, District 9, was filmed on location in Chiawelo, a real-life township in Soweto where people were actually evicted from their informal housing much the same way the aliens were kicked out of their homes in the film. The movie was shot during winter when director, Neill Blomkamp, thought Johannesburg looked most like “Chernobyl”. Did you know that just one actor played all of the aliens? Visit South Africa.
6. Western town in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Spain
Mini Hollywood in the Tabernas Desert in Spain is the filming location for many Spaghetti Westerns, including The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood. Explore these old Western towns which have grown into a Wild West tourist attraction.
7. Amityville Horror house, Amityville
The Amityville Horror, based on a novel by Jay Anson, is the story of the Lutz family who move into a haunted house and experience inexplicable paranormal activity. You can visit this Dutch-Colonial style house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville where the film was shot. Visit USA.
8. Monty Python’s Camelot, Scotland
Monty Python & the Holy Grail was filmed on location at Doune Castle in Scotland. The castle, which was portrayed as King Arthur’s home, Camelot, comes complete with a Great Hall and Round Table.
9. The Overlook Hotel from the Shining, USA
If you’ve always dreamed of visiting The Overlook Hotel based on the Stephen King novel, The Shining, you’re in luck. You can explore Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, northern Oregon, used as the exterior of the Overlook. The hotel interior was filmed in Hertfordshire. Visit USA.
10. Angels & Demons, Vatican City
The filming of Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons at the Vatican City was forbidden by the Catholic Church. However, the film producers managed to recreate the Vatican City by posing as tourists and taking thousands of photographs to digitally recreate it. Relive the thriller while walking through the endless galleries.
11. The Subterranean pool from 127 hours, USA
At the start of 127 Hours, Aron Ralston (James Franco) meets two hikers and together they dive into a 17m deep subterranean pool. The pool is actually a natural hot spring at the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah, but unfortunately you won’t be able to dive into the spring as it’s been prohibited for safety reasons. Visit USA.
12. The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings hobbit houses, New Zealand
Explore the hobbit houses used in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films at Matamata, just 2 hours from Auckland. The Shire has over 44 hobbit holes set into the rolling hills, surrounded by grazing sheep and green pastures. You can join a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set.
13. Jaws Amity Island, USA
The Steven Spielberg movie, Jaws, was filmed in Martha’s Vineyard, an island in Massachusetts only accessible by air or boat. Visit the town centre where Chief Brody stocks up for the “beach closed” signs, the Cappaquiddick ferry, and Joseph A Sylvia State Beach. Visit USA.
14. The Sound of Music, Austria
The Sound of Music was filmed in the city of Salzburg and you can visit various film locations, including Mirabell Gardens where Maria and the children sing “Do-Re-Mi”; Residenz Square where Maria sings “I have confidence in me”; St Peter’s cemetery where the flight scenes were filmed; and the Sound of Music Pavilion at Hellbrunn Palace where “I am 16 going on 17” was filmed.
15. The prison in Shawshank Redemption, USA
Visit the abandoned Ohio State Reformatory, a striking 19th century building in Mansfield where the Shawshank Redemption was filmed. See the office of the prison warden, the parole board room, and Andy Dufresne’s escape tunnel. Visit USA.
16. Ghostbusters’ Firehouse, USA
The fire station in Ghostbusters is actually a working firehouse at 14 North Moore Street in the Tribeca area. The firehouse was used for exterior shots while interiors were filmed in a decommissioned firehouse in Los Angeles. The firehouse now has a Ghostbusters badge on its wall. Visit USA.
17. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in X-Men, Canada
Hatley Castle in British Columbia was filmed as the exterior for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men movies. Guided tours are available. Visit Canada.
18. Canyon of the Crescent Moon in Indiana Jones, Jordan
The Last Crusade, the third movie in the Indiana Jones series, is filmed in the city of Petra which can be reached by horse or camel via the Siq, a narrow opening in the cliffs. Explore Al Khazneh temple, known in the film as the Canyon of the Crescent Moon where the Holy Grail was hidden. Visit Jordan.
19. The Harry Potter Studio Tour, London
Book your tickets to Hogwarts and explore the Harry Potter film sets, including Hogwarts Bridge, the Great Hall, Hagrid’s Hut, Gryffindor Common Room, the boy’s dormitory, the Potion’s classroom, and Dumbledore’s office. You will also see props like Harry’s broomstick, Hagrid’s motorcycle, and a 1:24 scale model of the Hogwarts castle. Walk along Diagon alley past Ollivanders Wand Shop, Flourish and Blotts, Gringott’s Wizarding Bank, Eeylops Owl Emporium, and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Don’t forget to try some Butterbeer!
20. The Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City, USA
The author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, often penned his novels at Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego – and it’s believed that he modelled the Emerald City after it. Stay at Hotel Coronado.
Which film locations would you like to visit?
Main image credited to tom_hall_nz (Flickr)