Need to see something else than grey skies and wet asphalt? To get you through January, we’ve listed 10 beautiful movie locations that you’ll probably recognize.
Matamata, New Zealand/The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand. More than 150 locations in both the North and the South Islands were used. The Matamata area south of Auckland on the North Island was discovered by director Sir Peter Jackson in 1998 on his search for suitable set locations. Matamata is home to the Hobbits and the lush area with its quaint Hobbit houses has since become an international tourist destination.
Maya Bay/The Beach
Maya Bay in Thailand’s Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park became an international tourist destination after The Beach. The Leonardo Di Caprio drama is based on Alex Garland’s novel with the same name. The turquoise water, white sand and dramatic cliffs has since made it a popular holiday destination. So popular that, at its peak of popularity in 2018, about 6000 people were visiting every day. Extensive littering and disturbed wildlife caused authorities to temporarily close the bay that same year. It’s expected to reopen in May this year.
Görlitz Department Store/The Grand Budapest Hotel
This magnificent Art Nouveau construction saw the light of day in 1913 in Görlitz, Germany’s easternmost town. In Wes Anderson’s comedy-drama The Grand Budapest Hotel, the building serves as hotel. It’s also the place where the concierge Gustave is framed for the murder of a wealthy widow. The department store closed in 2009. It was bought by a private investor in 2013 and scheduled to reopen in 2016. However, it has not yet opened due to the need for extensive renovations.
Finse/ Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Have you ever dreamt of visiting the planet Hoth of the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes back? Well, you can. The scenes of Hoth were shot in 1979 in the Norwegian town Finse, a small community east of Bergen, not far from the Hardangervidda National Park. The film team was troubled by cold temperatures (-29°C), snowstorms and avalanches, but despite this the movie was released in the spring of 1980. The price tag of $33 million made it the most expensive movie to ever have been released at the time. Today, the Finse area is popular with skiers and hikers.
Park Hyatt Tokyo/Lost in Translation
The glistening city lights of Tokyo is the stunning backdrop to the events of the Sofia Coppola movie Lost in Translation. Most scenes were filmed at the five-star hotel Park Hyatt Tokyo – with rooms with a view to say the least. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) first meet in the intimate New York Bar on the 52nd floor.
Iceland/The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
As many of you know, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a daydreamer who travels mostly in his mind. Until one day when an unexpected turn of events sends him on a journey across the globe. However, what appears to be Greenland, Afghanistan or the Himalayas are actually various locations in Iceland. Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula is where Walter Mitty grabs a bike and embarks on a neck-breaking chase. The iconic skateboard scene was shot in the coastal town Seyðisfjörður and Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier, is where Walter Mitty finally finds his friend Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).
Ischia, Naples/The Talented Mr. Ripley
While the Italians have always loved the picturesque island of Ischia, movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cleopatra, as well as Elena Ferrante’s international bestsellers The Neapolitan Novels, have not surprisingly also made it popular also with international tourists. The largest of three islands off the coast of Naples, Ischia offers 40 kilometres of coastline, azure waters, volcanic hills and elegant towns as well as plenty of historic sites, including the medieval Castello Aragonese, which sits on an islet connected to the island by a causeway.
Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia/Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
The Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia was built at the end of the 12th century as a Buddhist monastery and university. The ancient building, surrounded by jungle and with trees growing out of its ruins, became the atmospheric backdrop of the Tomb Raider movie where Angelina Jolie portrays a wealthy British archaeologist trying to prevent an ancient artefact from falling into the wrong hands. It’s since been increasingly popular with tourists and is nowadays also known as The Tomb Raider Temple.
Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford/ Harry Potter
The majestic 16th century Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, UK has featured in several of the Harry Potter movies. This has made it a popular destination for young and old Harry Potter fans from across the globe. In fact, the visitor numbers have been rising steadily since the release of the first movie. Harry Potter fans will recognise the staircase leading up to the Great Hall which was used for the arrival scene for new Hogwarts students in the first two movies. The Great Hall was replicated in studios as the grand dining hall at the Hogwarts school.
Udaipur/The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited was shot in a number of locations in India, including the “city of lakes” Udaipur. This historic city, founded in 1558, is located between Mumbai and Delhi and its rich heritage is manifested in many temples, forts and palaces. This has made it a popular movie location for many Hollywood and Bollywood productions including Wes Anderson’s epic train adventure The Darjeeling Limited. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which served as inspiration for the movie, was the very first hill railway in India and is still in use today.