A mist-shrouded ancient forest, a white sand beach with turquoise waters, a palace floating on a lake, a mud-brick kasbah tower… these exotic locations might sound like scenes from the silver screen–well, they are. But they’re also real-life places where movies were filmed, and where you can visit and feel like you’ve stepped into a favorite film. We hope our list of 18 movie-inspired destinations gives you an idea for your next trip–or at the very list, your Netflix queue.

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: New Zealand

Fans of Middle Earth can visit the jaw-dropping forests, mountains, and lakes which provided jaw-dropping filming locations from the Shire to Rivendell. Orlando Bloom called New Zealand “the most beautiful, magical place with great hospitality.”

Lord of the Rings

Photo Credit: Hrund Thorsdottir

2. The Talented Mr. Ripley: Phlegraean Islands, Italy

This twisted thriller was filmed in the sun-drenched seaside and picturesque fishing villages on the islands of Procida and Ischia off the coast of Naples.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Photo Credit: Miramax

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel: Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Though you can’t say at the real Grand Budapest Hotel (because Wes Anderson used a model for the exterior and a vacant department store for the interior—not to mention the fictitious country of Zubrowka—as his setting), the Grandhotel Pupp and the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary where it’s found inspired many of the film’s charming details, like the funicular train and the chamois statue.

Grand Budapest Hotel

Photo Credit: Grandhotel Pupp

4. Into the Wild : Denali, Alaska

Brave explorers can hike in stunning scenery on the Stampede Trail through Denali, Alaska, and even pass the actual Magical Bus where Christoher McCandless (the film’s hero and real-life adventurer) spent his last days in the wild.

Into the Wild Photo Credit: Emanuele Equitani

5. Y Tu Mama Tambien: Oaxaca, Mexico

No guarantees that you’ll experience a steamy romance on par with the film’s, but a road trip through Oaxaca to the secluded Bahias de Huatulco will be life-changing nonetheless.

Y Tu Mama Tambien

Photo Credit: Anhelo Producciones

6. Sans Soleil: Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo

One of the most impressive images from Chris Marker’s fascinating 1983 documentary is the scene featuring hundreds of figurines of maneki neko, the famous white Japanese waving cat, which was filmed at this quiet shrine dedicated to felines.


Photo Credit: Kanpai-japan.com

7. Octopussy: Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

Want to stay in the floating palace full of a harem of sexy women which James Bond, disguised as a crocodile, swims to in Octopussy? You can—it’s a luxury hotel on Lake Pichola. (BYO harem.)


Photo Credit: Sonya and Travis

8. The Shining: Timberline Lodge, Oregon

For a spooktacular Halloween getaway, check into Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge, whose striking facade was used as the exterior of the doomed Overlook Hotel.

The Shinning

Photo Credit: Seatosummit.net

9. Samsara: Bagan, Myanmar

This visually mesmerizing non-narrative documentary was filmed over five years in 25 locations all over the world, but filmmaker Ron Fricke says, “We always talk about one place as our favorite.” Co-director Mark Magison finishes that thought: “That would be the Burma aerials over the Bagan temples, they were just magnificent.”


Photo Credit: Southernmaynmar.com

10. Lawrence of Arabia: Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

Did you know that a lot of this classic epic was filmed in Spain, rather than the deserts of the Middle East where it takes place? One authentic location, however, is the mud-brick kasbah of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco. The UNESCO-recognized oasis still evokes Arabian romance today.


Photo Credit: Steve Elson

11. The Cave of the Yellow Dog: Inner Mongolia

This tender film about a young girl growing up on the Mongolian steppes who befriends a dog she meets in a cave will make you want to do two things: get a dog, and go to Mongolia.

The Cave of the Yellow Dog

Photo Credit: BKM

12. Notting Hill: Portobello Road, London

Who can resist the charm of this lovely movie, which is as much a love story for the London neighborhood of Notting Hill, where it’s set, as it is for the rom-com careers of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

Notting Hill

Photo Credit: Nikos Roussos

13. Princess Mononoke: Yakushima Island, Japan

Hayao Miyazaki sent his animators to the moss-covered forests of remote Yakushima Island, off the southern coast of Japan, where twisted cedars (some thousands of years old) provided inspiration for the film’s ancient tree.


Photo Credit: Casey Yee

14. The Loneliest Planet: Georgia

Bet you didn’t know you wanted to go trekking in the Georgian wilderness until you saw this gorgeous independent film.

loneliest plant

Photo Credit: Inti Briones/Sundance Selects

15. The Sound of Music: Salzburg, Austria

From the iconic Alpine meadows and the walls of the Nonnburg Abbey to the lakeside castle and von Trapp villa, Salzburg holds countless “favorite things” for fans of The Sound of Music.


Photo Credit: Robert Wise Productions

16. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Hebei Province, China

The other-wordly cliffside temple scenes were filmed at the awe-inspiring Mount Cangyan in Hebei Province. Those with a fear of heights need not apply.

crouching tiger

Photo Credit: Adventurepatches.com

17. The Beach: Phi Phi Leh Island, Thailand

Yes, the dialogue is corny and the movie’s liberties are a disappointment to anyone who enjoyed the book, but the untouched islands where The Beach was filmed are paradise with a capital P—even without ‘90s Leonardo DiCaprio by your side.

The beach phi phi leh island

18. Tomb Raider: Angkor Wat, Cambodia

When it was filmed in 2000, “Tomb Raider was the first film to be shot in Cambodia since Peter O’Toole played Lord Jim in the shadow of Angkor Wat in 1964.” In the 15 years since then, Cambodia has transformed from a trip only the most intrepid backpackers would attempt to a destination which should be on every tourist’s list.

Dream it, Book it, Live it. 


Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

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