“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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Photo credits: Old Town Dubrovnik by Ivan Ivankovic. Dubrovnik roof tops by Les Haines.
Ha! I can about see his face all puffed up and red. Have you visited all these destinations?
Lol I can now say I’ve been kicked out of Oxford University :D I made it to all but Sicily, so that’s still on the list :)
I wonder why you got kicked out of Oxford? I used to study there and it is actually easy to get into trouble there. they are strict.
As we mentioned the colleges were closed for Orientation day so it was students only past the gates :)
Great post! And Mamma Mia was also filmed on the island of Skopelos, that’s very near Skiathos and much less touristy.
Apparently the cast were really, really cool – especially Piers Brosnen – and the local guy hired to drive him around cannot sing his praises enough.
The cast would eat in local tavernas after filming, and really integrated with the locals. The locals loved them! No prima donna attitudes at all.
Meteora in Greece – huge rock formations with monasteries on top – was used for filming a Bond film once, ‘For Your Eyes Only”
Thanks for the tip Rebecca! I seriously LOVE Mamma Mia, one of my favorite films of all time. And I’m a massive fan of all of the actors in it, so it’s awesome to hear that they’re all down to earth and super cool!
Meteora in Greece has been on my radar for a while because of the stunning monasteries, though I had no idea this was the setting of another Bond Film. Thanks for the heads up!
Haaa, that’s hilarious how you just walked in but yeah you are right, getting the camera out must have given the game away! Glad you got to see it all anyway though, despite the grumpy professor!
Grumpy professor probably made it more of an adventure that day haha, definitely gave me a story to tell :D!
Really cool list! The Da Vinci code also filmed in Rosyth, Scotland which is only 40 minutes from where I am now
Thanks Natasha! I LOVED the Da Vinci Code – awesome that you’re so close right now! Will have to add Rosyth to my next Scotland trip :)
Okay, first it’s been far to long since I last watched Mamma Mia so off to do that! And I never actually researched where in Greece it was filmed, so even though I’ve been to Greece a few times I just might need to return to go to the Mamma Mia filming locations.
I really love watching movies set in places, especially when I’ve recently been. Probably annoying for some, but I love being able to say I was in the spot!
I LOVE that movie – could watch it so many times! Lol I probably know it off by heart at this stage :D Pretty great excuse to plan another trip to Greece if you ask me!
I’m right there with you, I love saying that I’ve just been to a place too :)
My favorite one is Mamma Mia. I absolutely love Skiathos Island, Greece. I have watched the movie so many times. When Sophie sang “Honey, Honey”, the setting was perfect. I hope that I can visit this beautiful island someday.
I hope you have the chance to visit too! I’m sure you won’t be the only one who has rocked up and burst into song :D
At least you got your pics of Oxford! I think planning travels around movie locations is a cool idea. I’ve got quite a bit to cover still. From your list, I’ve been to Dubrovnik and Platform 93/4 and I saw Australia House from the outside. I’d love to visit the Scottish Highlands and the castles from Game of Thrones though.
Haha yes this is true, and getting kicked out makes for a more exciting story to write about :D Hope you have the chance to visit Scotland and take up the Game of Thrones trail soon!
Being passionate about movies and travel, I found this post pretty interesting. It gives a different thrill when you visit a place which you have seen in movies, places where the characters had walked around.The Godfather and James Bond are my favourites. I would have loved to see Paris(The Louvre) with Davinci Code in the list :)
Absolutely! It’s almost like you’re reliving the storyline but in real life. Being there really takes you to the heart of the plot line :)
Happy travels! Hope you have the chance to visit Paris and the Louvre.
This is a fantastic post. I love it. Movies & TV shows have been one of biggest inspirations for some of my trips. Skyfall inspired my trip to Istanbul. Game Of Thrones inspired my trip Malta. I’ve been inspired by video games and documentaries, I mean the list goes on. I don’t know about you but when I’m watching a movie and they show those beautiful flyovers of a city I’ve visited I get so excited!!! I’ll often rewind so I can see it again lol. Is that normal? Lol I love the info about Harry Potter as I’ve read all the books and watched all the films. Great post!!!
Thanks Christopher! Don’t worry you’re not the only one! I also get excited by epic flyovers of a city I’ve visited – I usually loudly proclaim “I’ve been there!” to everyone in the room lol!
Always brings back great memories from the trip too, so it’s always fun seeing an incredible plot line in a city you can relate to.
Hope we’ve inspired you to jump on the Harry Potter trail soon :D!
I’m lucky enough to walk past Durham cathedral everyday Monday to Friday (and occasionally do unofficial Harry Potter tours for student visitors!) because I work for the university. Its very cool to have a film location in my hometown. Don’t tell anyone but the next Avengers is being filmed here right now too!
I loved doing the Angels and Demons sites in Rome. I didn’t go on a specific tour, just wandered around myself. GoT would also be awesome.
You’ve started something now!
Ooooh nice Kate! And OMG I think I need to travel to Durham right now!! I don’t even know which Avengers cast member I would want to throw myself at the most … Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, OMG I would go into melt down lol. And I would definitely turn for Scarlett Johansson haha!!
Angels and Demons is a great film too – it’s so surreal being in the same setting it makes the plot line feel so much more real.
Say hi to the Avengers for me!
Austria totally one of my most loved nations.
I’ve collected 50 photographs of probably the most pleasant places in Austria
Nice one, Austria is a very photogenic location for sure!