“Stop!” he yelled at me from across the courtyard. “Yes, you!”
“Show me your student card! How did you get in here? The school is closed today. You’re not supposed to be here!”
The ironic thing was he actually looked like Vernon Dursley and was about to have a palpation that I had snuck past the guards.
The many colleges of Oxford University were closed for orientation day, and tourists were being turned away as students passed through the gates. Though I hadn’t traveled from Australia to see my Harry Potter trail go cold, and as an 20 year old employing the idea that if I didn’t look suspicious, they wouldn’t have reason to stop me, I walked myself straight through the gates.
Though after a lovely afternoon exploring Christ Church College, pulling out my camera was what gave me away.
“I just walked in” wasn’t a response which went over particularly well with this over inflated professor who had made it his mission to turf me from the grounds.
But I had completed my goal for the day. I had discovered the filming locations which famously feature in the Harry Potter films, and create the iconic gothic backdrop that became the unmistakeable Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
In Europe for the year, I decided I would visit the following famous film locations as well.
Hidden Film & TV Destinations in Europe
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Throughout the UK
Film locations for the Harry Potter movies are not limited to Oxford. When not in the studio, filming occurred at various locations throughout the UK, including the wild Scottish Highlands (home of Hagrid’s Hut) to the historic London market that became Diagon Alley.
Be Sure to Visit
- Australia House (the interior shots of Gringotts)
- Millennium Bridge (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
- London City Hall (headquarters of the Greater London Authority)
- Great Scotland Yard
- Claremont Square (exterior of Grimmauld Place in the Order of the Phoenix)
- Leadenhall Market (exterior for Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron)
- St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (entrance to King’s Cross station)
- Alnwick Castle (regularly used as the setting for Hogwarts)
- Durham Cathedral & Gloucester Cathedral
- The Jacobite Steam Train (iconic shot for the Hogwarts Express)
Although Kings Cross wasn’t actually used for filming, you can visit platform 9 3/4 which has been constructed to mimic the real thing. There’s often a line so we recommend getting there early in the day.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones has been filmed throughout many countries, including Northern Ireland (visit Castle Black in Belfast), Malta, Morocco, and Iceland, however the most famous European filming location is Croatia (if you plan to tour all countries where the series has been shot, be sure to compare prices on all types of travel deals).
The ancient Croatian port city Dubrovnik used as a major stand-in for outdoor scenes set in King’s Landing.
Be Sure to Visit
- The City Walls (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and featured in numerous episodes since Season 2)
- St. Dominic Street (used in most of the market scenes in King’s Landing)
- Pile Gate (the main entrance to the Old City)
- Gradac Park (location of the Purple Wedding feast)
- Minčeta Tower.
Skyfall (James Bond)
For James Bond fans, you could spend all year exploring the various film locations across Europe. So I chose my favorite one. Skyfall filming locations included London and Turkey, though Glencoe was the scene of Bond’s family home (even though the house itself was created in the studio in Surrey).
While you’re in the highlands of Scotland, the following films were set here too: Being Human, Braveheart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Complicity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Highlander 1 and 3, Kidnapped, Made of Honour, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Angels and Demons
Rome / The Vatican City
Filming for Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons took place across Rome, and although they were banned from filming at the Vatican City by the Catholic Church, they did a fantastic recreation in the studio.
Be Sure to Visit
- The Pantheon
- Santa Maria del Popolo
- St Peter’s Square
- Santa Maria della Vittoria (where you can see Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St. Teresa”)
- Piazza Navona (see the Fountain of the Four Rivers)
- Sant’Agnese in Agone
- The Castel Sant’Angelo (the secret elevated “Passetto di Borgo” which actually does lead from the Castel Sant’Angelo to Vatican City)
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- The Sistine Chapel
The iconic gangster film The Godfather was inspired by the real-life events of Sicily’s notorious mafia, and if you plan a trip you’ll be instantly transported to the real-life set version of the film.
Though don’t be fooled into visiting Corleone; Though it does have strong historical links with the mafia, this is an overdeveloped city which wasn’t used for filming. The cities where they did filming in were Forza D’Agro and Savoca (a pretty hillside village at the end of a steep, winding drive on the east side of the island, accessible from Taormina).
Sicily’s capital, Palermo, was another source of inspiration for the film.
Skiathos Island, Greece
One of the best movies to inspire Greek travel, Mamma Mia is set on the stunning islands of Skiathos and Skopelos. Here you’ll find the familiar tavernas, beautiful sandy beaches, and glorious sunshine that feature in the film.
Be Sure to Visit
- Kastani Bay and beach (“Does Your Mother Know” was performed)
- Agios Ioannis Prodromos Monastery (the wedding chapel)
- The beach and cliffs above Glisteri (Glysteri)
To get there you can take a ferry from nearby Volos, which is connected to Athens by high-speed train.
The Sound of Music
The Austrian city of Salzburg is famously beautiful, and it’s here where you can take a stroll through the same scenes and scenery you saw in your favorite movie!
More than 300,000 “Sound of Music” fans come to Salzburg every year so as to walk in the footsteps of the Trapp family. You can explore the original shooting locations by organized tour, but they’re hard to miss.
Be Sure to Visit
- Mirabell Palace & Gardens (where Maria and the Trapp children sing “Do-Re-Mi” and run through the hedge tunnel)
- Pegasus Fountain & Musical Steps
- Hedge Maze & Gnome Park
- The Salzburg Puppet Theater (whose puppets are used by the children to perform “Lonely Goatherd”)
- Winkler Terrace (where ‘Do Re Mi’ began, and has the best views of town)
- Saint Peter’s Church Cemetery (where the Von Trapps hid from Nazis in although this was filmed in Hollywood)
- Palace Leopold (the main filming location in Salzburg for the scenes depicting the exterior of the Von Trapp family home)
You can take a day trip to Salzburg by high speed train from Vienna, Innsbruck, Budapest, Prague, Munich, and Zurich.
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