Lockdown measures due to the pandemic continue to inspire a surge in TV watching and online streaming. Millions of us throughout the country are swept-up by breathtaking scenery on-screen, until travel is safe again. Since the early days of Hollywood, filmmakers have dedicated countless hours, and dollars, toward finding the perfect movie locations. After all, our willingness to immerse ourselves into a story depends largely on how well a set complements the movie. But who would’ve thought one day we’d be traveling virtually through our favorite films? So, while you binge classic movies, are you curious about where some of them were shot? Start a travel bucket list and add these top 10 awesome movie locations you have to see after the pandemic.
#1 | The Sound of Music: Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Germany
Mirabell Palace dates back to 1606. Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau commissioned the building as a token of love for his common-law spouse. Beautiful and lavish, can you picture Maria and the Von Trapp children’s iconic scene, “Do, Re, Mi?” This is the very same spot the kids leapt off of, before finishing the song on the step. Today, it is a popular place for weddings. You can find out whether the hills of Salzburg truly are alive and visit the Gnome Garden and the Pegasus Fountain.
#2 | Harry Potter: The Hall of Christ Church College, Oxford, UK
Prior to the pandemic, Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral would draw more than 300,000 visitors each year. This 16th century cathedral serves as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter film series. A walking tour includes recognizable locations from the films. You’ll see the fictional school’s stone staircase and Hogwarts’ Great Dining Hall. You might recognize the exterior of the Cathedral as the facade for Hogwarts.
#3 | Mamma Mia!: Skiathos, Greece
They may have been featured under a fictional name, but the Greek islands of Skiathos and Skopelos are the breakout stars of this hit musical. Today, “Mamma Mia!” is screened several nights a week at the open-air cinema, Attikon, on Papadiamanti Street in Skiathos Town. You can also take a scenic Mamma Mia!-inspired boat trip (accompanied by music from the film) from the nearby port where Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth arrived on Kalokairi.
#4 | The Lord of the Rings: Matamata, New Zealand
Yes, Hobbiton is a real place! The sets used for the Shire in both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies remain intact just outside the country’s picturesque rural village in the Waikato district. Nestled in between a large sheep farm, stretching across the rolling green hills, you can get whisked away to Middle Earth. Visit the tiny houses and gardens with perfectly manicured hedges, and Bilbo Baggins’ house at Bag End. There’s even a functioning pub at The Green Dragon Inn.
#5 | The Shining: Timberline Lodge, Oregon, USA
Who can forget Jack Nicholson’s terrifying portrayal of writer Jack Torrance slowly going mad at the fictional Overlook Hotel? Perched at an elevation of 6,000 feet in Mount Hood National Forest, horror fans still ask to stay in Room 217. That’s the original room number Stephen King used in the novel. Director Stanley Kubrick changed it to room 237 in the movie. You can almost hear Nicholson’s voice echoing in the lodge’s halls … “Here’s Johnny!”
#6 | The Godfather: Savoca, Italy
Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, The Godfather is known for its cinematic beauty. Film buffs know the Corleone family come from the town of Corleone, Sicily. However, filmmakers chose to shoot the classic gangster movie in the nearby villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agro, near Taormina. Fans of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece will resonate with a journey to the catacombs of Cappuccini Convent and the Santa Maria degli Angeli church. Visit Bar Vitelli, one of Coppola’s favorite spots, and the Church of St Lucia where the wedding of Apollonia and Michael Corleone was shot.
#7 | Rocky: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, USA
Undeniably, two of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia are the Rocky Statue and the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Who can forget Rocky triumphantly running up the steps while Rocky Theme Song, “Gonna Fly Now”, plays in the background? If you’re in great shape, you can climb the very same steps where Sylvester Stallone shot his iconic training scene in 1976. There are 72 stone steps leading to the museum entrance. You may need a ticket to get into the museum — but jogging up the steps is free.
#8 | Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: Al Khazneh, Jordan
Carved out of sandstone rock in the first century A.D., Petra Archaeological Park serves as the resting place of the Holy Grail in the third installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. This stunning temple is located amid rugged desert canyons and mountains in the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Petra is the capital of the Nabataean Empire and was once a thriving trading center. It remains a tourist attraction since its rediscovery by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.
#9 | Jaws: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA
Back in 1974, the work of pneumatically-powered sharks by a young Steven Spielberg, took moviegoers by storm. Though the film takes place in the fictional town of Amity Island in New York, it was actually filmed throughout Martha’s Vineyard Cape Cod. While Martha’s Vineyard has become a popular summer destination for the rich and famous over the years, remnants of the iconic film remain. Today, you can revisit the classic film through one-hour walking tours where favorite scenes were filmed. You’ll get insider stories about the film’s production, including the origin of the infamous line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
#10 | Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope: Tikal, Guatemala
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you know this ancient site as Yavin 4. The tops of these Mayan ruins appear as X-wing fighters leave the rebel base in an effort to take out the Death Star. Historically, Tikal is sort of a real-life rebel base. Before Tikal was abandoned in the 10th century BCE, it was influenced by the powerful city of Teotihuacan nearly 800 miles away. Like the rebels, Tikal tried to fight-off the far-reaching hand of its powerful rival. Today, you can “feel the Force” of the spectacular 2,500-year-old ruins in the 222-square-mile rainforest of Tikal National Park.
If you could visit any set location from any film or TV show, what would it be? Please share in the comments below!
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