If you could step into the world of your favourite film or television series, would you? Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to answer “yes.” And while there is, of course, no way to magically transport yourself into the movie of your choice, you can visit the real-life locations where several iconic flicks and series were filmed. P.S — travel only when it’s safe to do so. By Hillary Maglin
31 Iconic Filming Locations
From entire towns to tiny, hidden gems off the beaten path, Hollywood tends to go for unique and extravagant locales when it ventures off the backlots (think ancient Middle Eastern temples, otherworldly terrain, and the glamorous streets of Manhattan). But that’s not the rule. For example, our list includes an unassuming New Mexico gas station and a set of city steps in the Bronx.
So, whether you’re dreaming of living out your Lord of the Rings fantasies or you’re just dying to get a photo in front of Walter White’s Breaking Bad house, the list below will tell you exactly how and where to make that happen. And who knows? Maybe a few of these iconic filming locations are even close enough to inspire a summer road trip!
Hobbiton in Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand — The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies
The cosy town of Hobbiton, home to Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, may have been created specifically for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, but the storybook-like set remains. If you ever find yourself in the New Zealand town of Matamata, you can book one of several guided tours which takes fans to film spots like the Green Dragon Inn, Hobbit Holes, and the Mill.
Al Khazneh in Petra, Jordan — “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”
If you’re a fan of the Indiana Jones film series (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), you may know this wonder of a structure as the mystical temple of the Holy Grail, which is carved into the side of a canyon. In reality, the Al Khazneh temple exists as an ancient mausoleum in Petra, Jordan. Visitors aren’t able to venture inside the temple, but they’re not missing much — in contrast to the film’s intricate chambers and booby traps, the inside of Al Khazneh is simply a small, stone room.
Mokule’ia Beach in Oahu, Hawaii — Lost
Dreaming of visiting the crash site of Oceanic flight 815? Head to Oahu’s Mokule’ia Beach, which was used as not only the crash site but also the location of the survivors’ camp in the first season of the mega-popular series. Though the series changed filming locations in the later seasons, fans of the show often stop by Mokule’ia to see where it all began. Book a tour to see more Lost sites, such as the Dharma village, Jacob’s lighthouse, and more.
Dubrovnik, Croatia — Game of Thrones
If you were to walk down the streets of coastal city Dubrovnik, Croatia, you’d immediately recognise the cobblestone roads and gothic architecture as King’s Landing, aka the capital of the Seven Kingdoms in Game of Thrones. If you want to snap some selfies in particularly iconic spots, head to the Old Town neighbourhood or the Walls of Dubrovnik, where members of the Lannister family spent much of the series brooding.
Astoria, Oregon — “The Goonies”
Because the ’80s classic was both set and filmed in Astoria, the Oregon port town is filled with “Goonies” relics. While there’s no comprehensive tour of all the must-see film sites, fans regularly create their own tours by visiting the home of Mikey (Sean Astin) and Brand (Josh Brolin) on 38th street, Ecola State Park (the former site of the Fratellis’ restaurant), Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, and more.
King’s Cross Station in London — Harry Potter
Even if you’ve only seen the first Harry Potter film once, you likely remember the iconic scene in which Harry and the Weasley family walk straight through a brick wall at King’s Cross Station to reach Platform 9-and-three-quarters. The magical platform to the Hogwarts Express is seen and mentioned again multiple times throughout the film series and has become so well known that King’s Cross Station actually marked the platform between platforms nine and 10. HP fans now regularly stop there for photoshoots.
Oxford University in England — Harry Potter
The famed English university served as the set of numerous scenes throughout the Harry Potter series. From staircases to cloisters to the school’s Bodleian Library, so many corners of the university ended up becoming parts of Hogwarts that a visit there may feel like a visit to the actual wizarding world. To top it off, the great hall of Oxford’s Christ Church College was the inspiration behind Hogwarts’ Great Hall, and the two are nearly identical.
Glenfinnan Viaduct in Inverness-shire, Scotland — Harry Potter
Glenfinnan is a scenic hamlet in the Scottish Highlands, and it also happens to be the home of the Hogwarts Express track, aka the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The elevated track, which was used in the second and third Harry Potter films (“The Chamber of Secrets” and “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” respectively), draws fans from all over the world. You can see the viaduct by stopping at the Glenfinnan Visitor Center, or by booking a train ride across it.
Baseball Field in Dyersville, Iowa — “Field of Dreams”
“If you build it, he will come!” The famous line from 1989’s “Field of Dreams” must’ve been somewhat prophetic, because now, people from around the world come to see the Iowa baseball field that was built for the movie. Head to Dyersville on any given summer day and watch hoards of film buffs gather on the diamond to play some ball, tour the site, or even rent out the home from the movie.
Devil’s Tower in Wyoming — “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Any “Close Encounters” fan will recognise Devil’s Tower as the mysterious mountain at the centre of the movie’s plot. The otherworldly, flat-topped structure is actually a real mountain (or butte) in the Bear Lodge Ranger District of northeastern Wyoming. It became the first U.S. national monument in 1906, and while you won’t find any extraterrestrial beings at its base, you will see plenty of wildlife and awe-striking scenery.
Painted Ladies in San Francisco — Full House
Most ’90s babies will remember the scene in the opening credits of Full House in which the Tanner family has a picnic in front of a scenic row of colourful houses. Well, those houses actually exist. If you head to San Francisco’s Alamo Square, you can sit on the lawn and take in the sight of those 7 iconic Victorian homes across the street. (Though if you want to see the house used as the Tanners’ actual home in the show, you’ll have to head a mile northwest to 1709 Broderick Street.)
Apartment Building at 90 Bedford Street in New York City — Friends
Friends has amassed a cult following of sorts over the years, so it’s only fitting that the apartment building used for exterior shots of the characters’ homes became a major tourist attraction. While the interiors of the two main apartments in the show were actually just Burbank-based sets, the greenish-grey façade used for the exteriors can be found on the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
Skellig Michael, County of Kerry, Ireland — “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
Good news, Star Wars fans: You can visit a piece of the film franchise’s history IRL if you’re willing to travel to a remote part of Ireland. The island of Skellig Michael played the part of Ahch-To, the rocky planet where Luke Skywalker and Rey spent time in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.” Interestingly, most parts of Skellig Michael that fans see in the movies are actually part of a 1,500-year-old Gaelic monastery.
Hanapepe Valley in Kauai, Hawaii — “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World”
Remember that scene in the original “Jurassic Park” film where the cast helicopters down onto Isla Nublar as a giant waterfall cascades behind them? Well, that waterfall really exists — in Hawaii. It’s part of Kauai’s lush Hanapepe Valley, which is actually the site of several scenes in both “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World.” Hawaii visitors can even go on guided Jurassic Park-themed tours to see multiple filming locations from the movies.
Albuquerque, New Mexico — Breaking Bad
Any Breaking Bad fan would recognise the house at 3828 Piermont Dr. NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico: It’s the home of Walter White. But that’s not the only location from the show you can visit around town. Stop by the A1A Car Wash (actually called Mister Car Wash) at 9516 Snow Heights Circle, then head to Mexican restaurant Twisters on Isleta Boulevard, which played the role of the Los Pollos Hermanos fast food joint in the show.
Doune Castle in Doune, Scotland — “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
Fun fact about Doune Castle: It was used to depict nearly every castle the characters travel to in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” — the producers simply used different angles to create the illusion that numerous locations were used. Head to the Stirling district of central Scotland if you’d like to visit — and because fans of the film regularly stop by, there should be plenty of people around with whom you can discuss the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.
Point Dume, Malibu — “Planet of the Apes”
This unassuming beach may not look much different than any other beach along the California coast, but it’s actually part of one of the most famous plot twists in cinematic history. At the end of the original “Planet of the Apes” film, the characters walk along this very beach, believing they’re on another planet, only to come across the ruins of the Statue of Liberty. Though no props from the movie remain, fans regularly stop by Point Dume for photos.
Skopelos, Greece — “Mamma Mia!”
It’s hard to forget the vibrant colours and stunning architecture of the Greek island in “Mamma Mia!” Though the story takes place on a fictional island, fans can visit the real-life island of Skopelos in the western Aegean Sea, where the movie was shot. You can even hop on a bus tour that takes fans to several iconic filming locations, including the Agios Ioannis Chapel and Kastani Beach.
Belvoir Castle, Wilton House, Burghley House, and Hatfield House in England — The Crown
The Crown’s filming locations include towns and palaces all over the United Kingdom, but fans are most likely to recognise England’s Belvoir Castle, Wilton House, Burghley House, and Hatfield House — all of which have ties to real royalty. These four estates were used for both exterior and interior shots in the series, and fans may particularly recognise Belvoir Castle and Wilton House as a stand-ins for Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, respectively.
Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment in New York City — Sex and the City
And I couldn’t help but wonder… what ever happened to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment? If you, like many Sex and the City fans, have asked yourself that question in recent years, the answer is right where it’s always been: 66 Perry Street in Manhattan’s West Village. Though the interior shots of Carrie’s famous digs were filmed on sets, you can visit the brownstone used for the exteriors. While you’re at it, grab a seat on a SATC hotspot tour to see more famous locales from the show.
Bayon Temple, Cambodia — “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”
Believe it or not, the ethereal stone palace Angelina Jolie’s character travels to in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” was not a set built for the movie. This very real Cambodian structure is known as Bayon Temple, and fans of the franchise can find it in the Jayavarman capital of Angkor Thom. It was originally built as a Buddhist temple, but tourists now visit to see Bayon’s hieroglyphic-like art and “face towers,” which feature hundreds of carved faces.
Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio — “The Shawshank Redemption”
If you want to get up close and personal with the prison Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) famously escaped from in “The Shawshank Redemption,” you can — but you’ll have to travel to Ohio rather than Maine, where the film takes place. Ohio State Reformatory lies about halfway between Cleveland and Columbus, and if you stop for a photo or tour (the reformatory hasn’t actually been used as a prison since 1990), you’ll notice it still looks exactly like Shawshank State Penitentiary.
Cafe des 2 Moulins in Paris — “Amélie”
Whether you sit down and have a meal at Cafe des 2 Moulins or simply stop out front for a photo, this aesthetically pleasing eatery is a must-visit for fans of French rom-com “Amélie.” The quintessential Parisian cafe, adorned with the bright red awning, is the workplace of the film’s title character and pays homage to its history with paintings of Amélie incorporated into the decor. You can find the cafe at 15 Rue Lepic in Montmartre.
The Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles — “La La Land”
Few films open with as much gusto as “La La Land.” The vivacious dance moves, the brightly coloured cars and clothes, and downtown Los Angeles glimmering in the distance — it’s truly an unforgettable scene, and it all takes place on the Harbor Freeway, one of LA’s busiest roadways. Because the road is an elevated highway, there aren’t many ways to visit it, per se, but if you’re in LA, you can drive across it near the city’s centre.
Varda Viaduct in Adana, Turkey — “Skyfall”
If you’re a James Bond fan, the ominous Varda Viaduct is worth a visit. Originally built as a railway between Europe and the Middle East, the viaduct was featured in the opening chase scene of 2012’s “Skyfall” and has become a treasured piece of Bond history. You can visit by riding a train across or by parking at a nearby overlook.
Staircase at West 167th Street in the Bronx — “Joker”
For years, the set of steps that connect Shakespeare and Anderson Avenues in the Bronx’s Highbridge neighbourhood were just that: a set of steps. That all changed when Joaquin Phoenix famously danced down them in 2019’s “Joker.” When the stairs even appeared in the film’s poster, fans began flocking to New York City just to take a photo in front of them. The steps are, of course, still there today, but you may have to fight through a crowd of Batman fanatics to get a good look at them.
Tom’s Restaurant in New York City — Seinfeld
While all those famous Monk’s Cafe scenes in Seinfeld were filmed on a soundstage, an actual New York diner was used for the exterior shots! Tom’s Restaurant in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighbourhood starred as the eatery Jerry and his friends frequented in the sitcom, and the restaurant is still open today. According to reviews, the food there is actually pretty fantastic — and you can head to the corner of Broadway and West 112th Street to try it for yourself.
Apartment Building at 455 Water Street in Brooklyn — Gossip Girl
Whether you’re an Upper East Sider, a Brooklynite, or none of the above, you likely remember the brown brick apartment building next to the Manhattan Bridge as the home of Penn Badgley’s Gossip Girl character, Dan Humphrey. Well, if you head to Water Street in Brooklyn’s glitzy DUMBO neighbourhood, you can actually catch a glimpse of the building’s interior. While NYC Gossip Girl tours exist, most focus on Manhattan locations and leave the beloved Brooklyn façade off the list.
Pike Place Market in Seattle — “Sleepless in Seattle”
Are you a romantic-comedy superfan? If so, you may want to plan a trip to Seattle for a DIY “Sleepless in Seattle” tour. The city’s ever-popular Pike Place Market is the setting of multiple scenes, whereas the houseboat used as Sam and Jonah’s home in the film can be found on the dock near Westlake Avenue North. And make sure to check out Athenian Seafood Restaurant & Bar, which features a barstool with a plaque reading “Tom Hanks Sat Here,” referencing the scene filmed there.
Katz Delicatessen in New York City — “When Harry Met Sally”
Want to have what she’s having? Head to 205 East Houston Street on New York City’s Lower East Side to find Katz Deli, aka the place where the most iconic scene from “When Harry Met Sally” took place. Aside from its appearance in one of the most well-known rom-com of all time, Katz Delicatessen has also become famous over the past few decades for serving up enormous pastrami sandwiches (which is just another reason to visit, if you ask us).
Stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art — “Rocky”
Cue the “Rocky” theme music! Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa triumphantly running up a city staircase is arguably one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history. And if you head to Philly, you can not only see those exact stairs, but you can recreate the scene entirely. The staircase actually serves as the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but luckily, you can visit the stairs without having a ticket to the museum.
Hillary Maglin is a digital editor who splits most of her time between New York City and Pittsburgh. You can find her on Instagram @hillarymaglin, where her DMs are always open to discuss travel gear, wine bars, and Taylor Swift’s latest record.
Editor’s Note: Keeping the current situation of the pandemic in mind, T+L India recommends every reader to stay safe, and take all government-regulated precautions in case travel at this time is absolutely necessary. Please follow our stories on #IndiaFightsCorona for all the latest travel guidelines.