Travel is the one thing you buy that makes you richer
Movies have introduced us to extraordinary places in the world we didn’t know existed, and showed us scenery that has captured our imaginations. For film buffs who love travel, nothing is more exciting than visiting the real life location of your favourite movies. Here are some of the most popular film locations to add to your movie travel bucket list!
“I love getting lost on purpose” Lisa Desrochers
A 4×4 trip out to Matmata in the Tunisian desert will transport you to the harsh desert planet of Tatooine, the homeworld of Anakin and Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies. Here the Sidi Driss Hotel, which is made up of five pits connected by underground tunnels, was the location for Luke Skywalker’s home in Star Wars Episode IV. May the force be with you!
Oxford University’s Christ Church forms the atmospheric location to stand in as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the eight Harry Potter movies based on the wildly popular children’s books. Visitors to the university are able to climb the grand Hogwarts staircase – which dates back to the 16th century – wander around the spooky cloisters, visit the classrooms of Professor Quirrell and Snape and peek into the Gryffindor Common Room.
In London, Kings Cross railway station (where Harry Potter takes his train to school) has an actual Platform 9 3/4 , which is complete with a trolley half disappearing into the brick wall – the ultimate Harry Potter photo op!
The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movies have put New Zealand firmly on film travellers’ bucket lists. The beautiful country, which is home to a diverse array of natural wonders such as mountains, fjords and glaciers, became the fantastical world of Middle Earth during the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was shot over 274 days on 150 locations spread throughout the country’s two islands. One of the most famous places to visit in New Zealand for a dose of this world is the picturesque rural village of Matamata on the North Island. This serene place which stood in for the Shire, with thatched cottages surrounded by idyllic rolling countryside of sheep farms and meadows, is also known as Hobbitown and attracts around 80 000 visitors a year (website). The volcano of Mt Ruapehu was the dark realm of Mt Doom, where the ring was forged, while the beautiful forest of Rivendell can be found in Kaitoke Regional Park.
The idyllic island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in Thailand is a tropical paradise with a white icing-sugar beach framed by palm trees, soaring mountains and a lush rainforest and fringed by a translucent turquoise sea. It was the perfect location to shoot the island Shangri-La of the Alex Garland novel, The Beach, about a group of travellers and expats who try (and fail) to create a utopian community. The beach on the small island, called Hat Maya, has become one of the most visited places in all of Thailand, with thousands of tourists arriving by boat from a bigger island nearby every day. Hordes of tourists aside, it’s still spectacularly beautiful.
The 2008 feel good film Mamma Mia! had a lot to love – the music, the cast, the heartwarming story – but undoubtedly what many millions of viewers warmed to was the stunning locations the film was shot in: the Greek islands, with their sparkling waters, charming towns of whitewashed houses, narrow cobbled streets and beautiful beaches. The film was mainly shot on two islands – Skopelos and Skiathos – which are a quick ferry ride away from one another. Most of the scenes were filmed on Skopelos, such as the wedding scene which was shot at a monastery perched on top of a sea cliff, the scene where ‘Does Your Mother Know’ was performed on Kastani Beach and the scene where Amanda reads her diary to her friends, while the harbour scene took place on Skiathos. If you’re a big Mamma Mia! fan you could explore the islands by film scene (just don’t forget to sing those catchy ABBA tunes while you’re at it).
The dreamy film Lost in Translation was shot nearly entirely in Tokyo, Japan’s capital and one of the most exciting cities in the world. The city itself has a starring role in the film, as almost every scene plays up its beautiful urban environment, from those expansive views from Charlotte’s hotel room to shots of rain-slicked city streets of flashing neon signs. The film’s locations were mainly in the districts of Shinjuku and Shibuya, two bustling areas of youth culture and skyscrapers.
Lost in Translation fans can make their own film itinerary in Tokyo, from hotel to food to partying. Bob and Charlotte stay at the Park Hyatt hotel, a luxury hotel on the top floors of a tall building in Shinjuku. Rooms are incredibly pricey here, so if you don’t have the cash to splurge to experience a taste of Bob and Charlotte’s fictional stays, you can always have a cocktail in the classy jazz bar on the top floor, which is where the characters meet the first time. Ichikan is the sushi restaurant where Bob and Charlotte go for dinner, while the karaoke scene was filmed at Karaoka-Kan in Shibuya and the club scene was at Air in Daikanyama.
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