Always wanted to know where some of the most beautiful places in popular movies were filmed? We’ll gladly show you where in the world you can find these places and visit them. Better have your passport up to date for these gems!
1. Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Movie: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
The beautiful Angkor Thom in Cambodia was the background for the adventure movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Khmer Empire during the 9th and 15th century. Many structures which were made of wood have perished but its remaining monuments and temples prove that Angkor Thom was indeed the ‘’Great City’’ the name implies.
The city with its stunning temple complex has grown to be the symbol of Cambodia and it is the reason why most tourists visit this splendid place. Every year, nearly 2.6 million tourists travel overseas to visit Angkor Thom in Siem Reap. Angkor Thom is quite large, so plan at least half a day to explore this city during your trip.
2. The Bellagio, Las Vegas, USA
Movie: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Ocean’s Eleven is a heist comedy movie that shows off the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The city is famous for its gambling, attracting millions of punters every year.
Of course, if it’s just the gambling you’re interested in, then you could always get the Vegas experience by playing online. Many casino sites allow you to play for real money, with some even offering a huge $1000 online casino bonus for new players to get started with.
However, it’s the beautiful buildings that house Las Vegas casinos, alongside the many other landmarks, that also draw people to the city. One great example is the Bellagio, which is where the majority of the filming for Ocean’s Eleven took place. It is perhaps the most recognisable building in Vegas, with it’s fountains being one of the most photographed spots in the city.
An interesting fact about The Bellagio’s fountains is that the lake holds a whopping 22 million gallons of water which comes from underground wells. It is estimated that 12 million of it evaporates into the dry air every year which gets refilled. That’s an impressive amount of water for sure, but the lake and fountains of this gorgeous hotel and casino resort are absolutely stunning.
3. Valldal Valley, Norway
In Ex-Machina we see the sinister side of AI examination when female robot Ava is tested on by computer programmer Caleb and genius CEO Oscar Isaac. In the movie, Nathan’s residence is set somewhere in Alaska, but in reality the movie was shot in two seperate locations in Norway.
Fjora House is a private residence which is not open for visits by the main public. But the stunning Juvet Landscape Hotel is. It is located in Valldal valley surrounded by the gorgeous fjords, forests and waterfalls. The hotel’s glass walls give breathtaking views of the river and the valley of the Norwegian wilderness.
When looking for a suitable location to represent the home of a rich mastermind, the makers thought the Juvet Landscape hotel stands for the ultimate exclusivity. For a man who doesn’t bother with boasting excess by living in a standard rich-man’s big mansion, they thought a residence with exquisite design would be the best fit for him. He’d value the peace, the privacy and great beauty of nature more than living in opulence. And we’d say they were right!
4. Salzburg, Austria
Movie: The Sound of Music (1965)
Who hasn’t seen this musical masterpiece? The undeniably beautiful hills of Salzburg formed the backdrop of the 1960s musical drama film The Sound of Music. In this movie, the mountains and hills are equally important as the acting skills of the cast. While watching, you just cannot help but wishing it were you singing in the meadow and walking next to the beautiful Lake District of Salzburg.
Fortunately, you can experience this yourself when visiting Austria. Most original filming locations are still open to the public so you can follow in the footsteps of the Von Trapp family. Schloss Mirabell and its gardens is where Maria taught the kids their first song ‘’Do Re Mi’’. Also Nonnberg Monastery, where Maria was turned down as a nun, is still open for visits. Schloss Leopoldskron, where many of the outdoor movie scenes were filmed, can still be visited for a tour and you can even reside.
Many of the other filming locations in Salzburg can be visited on your own. Alternatively, there are also several private The Sound of Music tour packages available. They let you enjoy musical walks and see the architectural landmarks with a tour guide giving you all interesting information about the most beautiful locations of your favorite movie.
5. Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Movie: The Beach (2000)
Ever wanted to go to paradise? In The Beach, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young American backpacker who is in the quest of excitement and buys a one-way ticket to Thailand. Shortly after landing in Thailand, he is eager to find the hidden beach which legend says to be a true paradise.
Maya Bay is sheltered by 100-metre high cliffs and has several soft white sand beaches. Its underwater world is equally as beautiful: its colorful corals and tropical fish can be clearly seen in the clear waters everywhere in the lagoon.
Ever since The Beach was shot here, Maya Bay has been the main tourist attraction of Phi Phi. The bay can be visited from November to April only, during other months the waves get too high which is dangerous for boats. Unfortunately, the tourist hotspot is so popular that tons of boats will anchor there carrying hundreds of people there. To (at least partly) avoid the crowds, try to visit Maya Bay early in the morning or in the evening.
6. Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan, Scotland
Movie: Harry Potter
True ‘’Potterheads’’ can easily go back to the filming location and feel the magic of the Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express themselves. The bridge can be found in the Lochaber area of the Highlands in Scotland and is called Glenfinnan Viaduct in reality. It was built in 1897 by Sir Robert McAlpine.
The Hogwarts Express is in real life the Jacobite Steam train rides on Glenfinnan Viaduct. The train runs seasonally from April to October so don’t book your trip during the other months of the year because you won’t be able to see it. But of course, the views of the bridge itself are worth seeing.
Glenfinnan Viaduct has been the backdrop in several other series and movies such as Charlotte Grey (2001), the Stone of Destiny (2008) and Ring of Bright Water (1969).
7. Ait Ben-Haddou, Morocco
Movie: Gladiator and The Mummy
Ait Ben-Haddou has been a fortified city (ksar) for many years and a handful of families still reside there. The city is located between the Sahara and Marrakech in Morocco. It is estimated that Ait Ben-Haddou was established in 757. Many believe that the founder is still buried in his catacomb somewhere in this city. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
Lots of money and effort has been put into the repair and preservation of the city’s buildings. The walls are made of a mud and clay mixture which needs to be reapplied frequently.
Ait Ben-Haddou has been the favorite location of many set-in-the-desert movies. In fact, it has served as the location of over 20 movies and series including Babel (2006), Alexander (2004), Sodom and Gomorrah (1963) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). It was also used in parts of the TV series Game of Thrones (2012).
8. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
Movies: National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
Remember the Griswold family of the late 70s and early 80s? The Grand Canyon was one of their to-see pit stops of their family holiday in the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983. And righteously so, it was absolutely the highlight of their holiday when it came to beautiful landmarks.
The Grand Canyon is a wide and steep river valley formed by the Colorado River in Arizona. It’s 446 km long, 29 km wide and is 1,857 meters deep which makes it bigger than the whole state of Rhode Island. Over millions of years, the canyon was created by geological activity and erosion by the river resulting in the Grand Canyon as we know it today.
This most popular National Park in the United States has a remarkable history of millions of years. It’s also home to thousands of different wild species. Its colourful scenery is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and most impressive landscapes in the world.
You can visit the Grand Canyon all year around, however some facilities are closed during the winter season. It is advisable to check the official website of the National Park Service when planning your visit. The website gets updated daily.
Fortunately for us movie fans, you can easily step into the world of your favorite film and imagine yourself there.