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Real movie lovers realize that it’s not only the plot, music, or great direction that matter when they kick back with a film, looking forward to be transported to another world. No, a lot of the time the make or break comes down to the setting.

A number of locations around the world have proven to be popular among movie makers, whether they are exotic spots, busy cities or rural settings. And these locales appear in our favorite films again and again. So what makes them so special and why are they chosen so often? Read on to find out.

Top 5 Destinations For Movie Buffs

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London

Often providing the setting for big movie productions, London certainly has been popular as a destination for both British and Hollywood films over the years. All genres are covered, right from romance, espionage and crime to period films.

As far as romance goes, London has been the setting for films such as Wimbledon (2004) starring Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, the romantic comedy hit Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994 – Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell) and 1998’s Shakespeare in Love with Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes (set in 1593 London during the reign of Elizabeth the First).

If you fancy your James Bond action, London certainly provides the setting for many memorable scenes from the movies of one of Hollywood’s favorite spies. Think of Somerset House (passed off as St. Petersburg, Russia) in Goldeneye (1995) and The National Gallery in Skyfall (2012). Most action buffs enjoy a good car chase. London based movies have seen them too: Think of The Sweeney (2012) that features scenes of London police going after the bad guys.

London as an international city with years of cinematic history will certainly continue to bring film many more great settings.

Cape Town

It is easy to understand why Cape Town has become a popular destination for film and photo shoots. Think unsurpassed natural beauty, a great climate, favorable exchange rate, and friendly people, and you have all the ingredients for an attractive setting to work in and put on the movie screen.

South African actress Charlize Theron, who won the Academy Award for Monster in 2004, stars in the Hollywood production The Last Face (directed by her ex-boyfriend Sean Penn) with many scenes filmed in and around Cape Town. Javier Bardem, himself an Oscar winner (for No Country for old Men; 2008) stars opposite her.

In 1995, the South African rugby team won the World Cup (William Webb Ellis Trophy) on home soil. A movie to celebrate the event was made in Cape Town and the famous Newlands Rugby Stadium is seen throughout the film; also Robben Island where Nelson Mandela (portrayed by Morgan Freeman) was jailed for 27 years.

It seems that Cape Town and its surroundings as a backdrop for Hollywood productions is here to stay. This intriguing city seems to always be featured in “must visit” columns of magazines and websites.

Las Vegas

As the world’s premier gambling destination, Las Vegas is often used as the backdrop for films involving casino themes, and it’s probably a safe bet to predict that Las Vegas will remain as a backdrop for movies for a long time, thanks to its uniqueness and glamour.

Examples of classic films set in Vegas include Rain Man (1988) with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. In a scene in Caesar’s Palace casino, Hoffman’s character wins the pair a handsome amount of money at blackjack thanks to his incredible mathematical skills. Also, the Martin Scorsese film Casino (1995) starring Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone, and one of the scenes from the 1971 film Diamonds are Forever (Sean Connery as James Bond) taking place in Circus Circus, Las Vegas.

The list of films set in Vegas casinos is practically endless, with characters trying their skill at games such as blackjack, roulette and slots. Though recent films have been experiencing a poker boom, with the poker variant of Texas Hold’em being the most popular.

The gradual stages of each hand provide opportunities for suspense and intense cinema. Perhaps the most notable example is Casino Royale (2006), where James Bond outwits his nemesis Le Chiffre at the felt table and wins a cool $115 million.

Paris

The City of Light, the City of Love – you decide – Paris is always right up there when it comes to choosing a film location. Many classics have been filmed in the French capital.

Memorable titles that come to mind are: Charade (1963) with two of the greatest screen legends of all time, Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in the leading roles; Le Divorce (2003 – Merchant Ivory Productions) starring Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Glenn Close and others; Woody Allen’s romantic Midnight in Paris (2011) starring Owen Wilson, and who could forget Moulin Rouge from 2001 with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman.

Paris, of course was also the backdrop of Last Tango in Paris (1972 – directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider) as a couple getting to know their own (and their partner’s) darker side. Paris has been the backdrop for various themes, not only romance and love, but also action, intrigue and soul-searching.

Rio de Janeiro

When it comes to Rio, think images of never-ending parties, girls, beaches, and very possibly the Rio Carnival too. As far back as 1946, Rio has been used as a setting for some great scenes, like in the thriller Notorious (produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock), starring big names of the time such as Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

More recently, picturesque Rio was chosen as locale for movies such as Fast Five from 2011, where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker escape America to avoid being sent to prison. Breaking Dawn, part of The Twilight Saga, also featured scenes from Rio where Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) enjoy their honeymoon in a luxury vacation home.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: London New Years Fireworks by Chris Chabot. Table Mountain in the mists by South African Tourism. Eiffel Tower by night by Moyan Brenn.

    26 Comments

  1. Great Information. Even in Bollywood they use many location all around the globe which also makes popular the location too among travelers

    • Thanks Sumti – cool to hear that they even use many of these locations in Bollywood too!

  2. Totally agree, love to see the places that some of them are filmed. Especially some of the classics in Paris or the gorgeous tropical locations

    • Absolutely! There’s something magical that transports you back into the plot of your favorite film!

  3. I’m a cinema lover and I really like visiting places and cities following “movee itineraries”.
    London is my favorite, together with Rome, for sure.

    • Rome is a great one too Sabrina! Many fantastic movies and films which feature around the eternal city – my favorite was Angels and Demons from Dan Brown!

  4. While I am a traveler with an urban taste preference, I am not really excited by urban film locations. It’s cool that scenes from The Da Vinci Code were shot in the Louvre, or scenes from Skyfall in the National Gallery, but there are more exciting reasons to visit those places.

    I am often inspired to visit natural places after seeing them in film. Many of the scenes from the original Jurassic Park movies were filmed on my favorite island in Hawaii, Kauai. I’d love to visit some of the shooting locations for LoTR and Game of Thrones.

    • You’ll love Iceland then John! Many films have taken advantage of the stunning natural landscapes, including I believe Game of Thrones.

      I would love to get to New Zealand to visit places from LoTR too 🙂

  5. Totally agree. Brugge is not a popular destination for filmmakers, but the movie which called In Brugge, was the main reason I wanted to visit the city

    • I haven’t seen that one Mansoureh – I’ll have to add it to my watch list!

  6. I rather like finding places I’ve seen in the movies – as you’ve said there are quite a few in London. Croatia is quite special too

    • Croatia is a great one! I loved my time there, will have to check into which movies have been filmed there recently 🙂

  7. In Croatia the most recent film was filmed Star Wars: Episode VIII, and of course Game of thrones among others.

    • Croatia is a beautiful spot for films … I still have to watch the most recent Star Wars Film, as well as Game of Thrones, so I’ll have to carve out some time this week for TV!

  8. Paris in Moulin Rouge! What a classic that film is, although it was a bit of a letdown when I saw the real Moulin Rouge in Paris and the windmill didn’t look quite as beautiful as it did in the film. It was fun nevertheless! Singapore has recently made a short appearance in the recent movie Independence Day, that caused a bit of excitement in local social media.

    • One of my favorites! It’s a classic film – and one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time too!

      We are heading through Singapore in a couple of weeks, so will have to make sure we watch Independence Day before we go!

  9. Living in London, I can tell you there are movies being filmed here all the time. I saw some of the Bond film Spectre being filmed a few years back. I do find it interesting though that London seems to be a popular city to be utterly destroyed in action movies of late. London Has Fallen, Thor, the new Independence Day movie…London just get leveled.

    • Haha I’ve noticed that trend of London being destroyed in recent action films too! I guess it’s one of the world’s leading epicenters so probably acts as a good symbol for catastrophe when it’s leveled!!

  10. These are really nice top travel destinations for movie freaks. London are Rio amazing places indeed. Out of curiosity, check out about the city I live – Ouarzazate. Very famous movies were shot here. Thanks

    • Thanks for the tip on Ouarzazate, Joao! Will check it out 🙂

  11. My first choice would have been Alaska but then again, most movies that are about Alaska, are not even filmed there (except from Into the wild) … I never figured that about Rio but … going there in two months so now I’m getting even more excited about that trip. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • You’ll love Rio Anto! So excited to follow your trip 🙂 I love Alaskan movies too, though sadly as you mentioned, not a lot of them are actually filmed there! Which does amaze me actually, because the landscapes are so stunning you would think it would be a great set … probably too remote though.

      Into the Wild is one of my favorite films 🙂

    • Love London so much – I can definitely see why film crews keep returning!

  12. London Would be go to visit! I understand why so many movies are filmed there.

    • Absolutely Tanya! One of my favorite cities in the world too 🙂

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