Who hasn’t dreamt of being transported into the wonders of film or stepping into the scenes of their favourite movies? From the verdant valleys of Ireland to the turquoise waters of Capri, movies have inspired and delighted us for more than 100 years. And while watching these locations on the big or small screen can move even the most hardened movie cynic, travelling to these locales literally transports you to another place.
While many Hollywood films are often filmed on closed lots in Southern California, many blockbusters and art house films are shot on location outside of the Golden State. While North America boasts a plethora of popular movie locations such as Vancouver, British Columbia, and New York, New York, Europe offers an even more vast array of iconic film locations that you can identify immediately. From quaint English villages to enticing Greek calderas to mystical ancient sites, these movie locations deserve to be explored in real life. Walk in the footsteps of fictional heroes such as Harry Potter and James Bond, travel back in time to the battlegrounds of WWII or pay a visit to Ingmar Bergman’s Sweden.
To help make your movie dreams a reality, Omio created The Film Map: Europe’s most popular film and TV locations. Movie buffs can use the comprehensive interactive map, with data compiled from IMDB, to create an itinerary of film destinations that are accessible to visitors. The Window Seat has cherry-picked some of the list’s highlights to curate the can’t-miss movie destinations across the continent.
And oh, if you simply can’t get enough of inspiring film locations, check out where some of the most wanderlust-inspiring films of all time were made. Ready, set, go!
Movie Magic: Explore the world of Harry Potter in the United Kingdom
After watching the spellbinding movies about JK Rowling’s wizarding world, it’s hard not to wonder: where were the Harry Potter movies filmed? Granted, most of the Harry Potter films were shot in the U.K., from the Scottish Highlands to Warner Bros.’ London studio to the grand halls of prestigious Oxford University. But did you know that the quaint German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber as well as Norway and Ireland were Harry Potter shooting locations? Still it’s the U.K. that one thinks of when one thinks of Harry, Hermoine and Ron.
Start your cinematic journey in London, on a 20-minute train trip to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden. Meander through cobblestoned Diagon Alley with all its enchanting shops, then step right into the majestic Great Hall and the Forbidden Forest. Take a minute to admire all the breathtaking costumes, trinkets and oil paintings used as props in the films. The Potions Classroom alone boasts more than 950 unique jars containing a variety of ingredients, all with their own hand-designed labels. The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a must for fans of the films, just don’t forget to secure your ticket well in advance due to the immense popularity of the tour.
If you’d rather do a Harry Potter tour on your own, you have a wealth of possibilities via train or bus. Start in the idyllic East Anglian village of Lavenham in Suffolk where medieval timbered houses doubled as Potter’s birth town, Godric’s Hollow. Pop by the de Vere House to gawk at the building where the “Chosen One” got his famous scar and move on to the guildhall that acted as the ramshackle version of his parents house after Voldemort struck. Another now iconic Harry Potter shooting location is the scenic Scottish Glenfinnan Viaduct. Dubbed by fans as the “Harry Potter bridge,” the Viaduct is where the Hogwarts Express (and a certain flying light blue Ford Anglia) swooshes by. Head north of Glasgow to Loch Eilt, which is the setting for Hogwarts castle. At night, under a full moon and a canopy of stars, you’ll feel as if you’ve become the chosen one yourself.
I Spy: Traverse the scenic streets of Italy with James Bond
While the character of James Bond has been captivating audiences since Sean Connery first appeared off the coast of Jamaica in Dr. No, it’s the locations that have been a kind of second star in the movie franchise. Bond has filmed everywhere from Monaco to Morocco to Portugal, but it’s Italy that has often taken centerstage.
The dapper English spy has lived la dolce vita and every one of the James Bond filming locations in Italy is as glamorous as the character himself. Coastal Bari and the landbound towns of Cosenza and Matera in Southern Italy were No Time to Die filming locations. Bari, the capital of Apulia, is a town rich in food and wine and Cosenza is the cultural capital of Calabria. Take a trip between the two to discover all the winding alleys and roads that Daniel Craig traversed in his last portrayal as the secret agent. Hilly Matera, the 2019 European Capital of Culture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was seemingly built for Bond action sequences. Hop on a motorcycle and ride along the cave settlements but make sure to go slower than Craig did as Bond. You’re not being chased and it makes for a more sensual experience.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of sun and sand, head north and immerse yourself in Casino Royale filming locations such as glitzy Lake Como and labyrinthic Venice. The former is best viewed by boat as many of the Bond filming locations were lavish villas such as Villa Balbianello and Villa La Gaeta on the banks of the lake. Venice boasts myriad alleys and streets that have appeared on the silver screen but much of the Casino Royale action takes place along the Grand Canal. Hire a sailboat and experience the romance for yourself.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Discover a More Colorful Ingmar Bergman Sweden
For film fanatics and serious cinephiles, filming locations in Scandinavia are of particular note. Auteur Ingmar Bergman first put his native Sweden on the big screen in It Rains on Our Love in 1946. Each of the master’s 60 films was set in his homeland and these often bleak, black-and-white tales of love, loss and family still resonate with audiences today. Thankfully, Sweden in reality is more vivid and colourful than Bergman’s films would have you believe.
Our map includes filming locations for Summer with Monica set in the Stockholm archipelago, Wild Strawberries set in Dalarö and the forests surrounding the lake of Vättern. Bergman fanatics regularly pilgrimage to the auteur’s house at hauntingly beautiful yet desolate Fåro on the bucolic island of Gotland where several of his melancholic masterpieces were filmed, including Persona and The Seventh Seal.
War and Peace: Follow in the Footsteps of Heroes at WWII Locations
A beautifully shot movie can inspire many to seek out the specific film locations, but sometimes a gritty film, based on true events, is even more intriguing. Directors have long been fascinated with the horrors of war and the two major world wars, not to mention Vietnam, have provided fodder for Hollywood directors. Films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai and All Quiet on the Western Front are WWII and WWI classics, respectively. In recent years, a new crop of films directed by Gen X auteurs such as Christopher Nolan, Sam Mendes and Quentin Tarantino have enthralled audiences around the globe. Nolan’s award-winning Dunkirk was shot across the Netherlands, France and England and Mendes’ 1917 was filmed exclusively in the United Kingdom—from Stockton-on-Tees to Barnard Castle.
Some of the Dunkirk scenes were indeed filmed in the French North Sea port town of the same name. Take a walk along the soothing beaches where hundreds of thousands of French and British troops were trapped in 1940. Stop by Rue des Fusillés and Rue Belle Rade where the French barricades are set in the film and where the main character is running for shelter from German forces.
Tarantino may have rewritten history in the tongue-in-cheek Inglourious Basterds but he filmed the movie in Germany. Most of the scenes were captured around the country’s capital Berlin, namely in nearby Potsdam’s Babelsberg studio, in small towns in the surrounding quiet, forest-filled region of Brandenburg and in the spa town of Bad Schandau in Saxony. The Babelsberg studio is also known as the place where nazi Joseph Goebbels produced his infamous propaganda films, which rightfully go up in flames in the Tarantino film.