No doubt about it - Europe is a land steeped in rich history and culture, but it’s also home to some of the best film locations in the world! Fantastic views, historical sites and jawdropping architecture that make you feel like you time travelled to different time periods - all makes for the perfect backdrop for silver screen magic. So if you’re planning your next European vacation, why not make things a little more interesting by heading to sites featured in your favorite movies?
From Harry Potter to The Sound of Music (and many more), walk in the footsteps of your favorite characters while being blown away by some of the most memorable attractions and landmarks.
🎬 London, England - Harry Potter
If you're a true fan of the wizarding world, then you know that when it comes to magical adventures, there's no place like London. This city has been featured in many movies over the years (including a classic favourite, Mary Poppins), but none as popular as the Harry Potter series. Since its publication in 1997 - the books about a child who discovers his magical powers and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - have become global bestsellers; they've also been turned into multi-billion dollar franchises including films, video games and amusement parks. So where exactly can you uncover this magical world hidden in plain sight? Leadenhall Market marks the entrance to the famous Diagon Alley, where Harry’s magical journey begins, and through to Kings Cross Station is where you’ll find signs for the famous hidden Platform 9 and ¾.
Used as the set for the interior shots of Gringotts Wizarding bank, this grand building is home to the Australian High Commissioner (and is usually the place to head to if you are looking to apply for an Australian visa…if you’re not a Potter film location hunter).
🎬 Venice, Italy - James Bond, ‘Casino Royale’
Nothing less than breathtaking for the most famous spy in the world. And when it comes to setting the scene, there is no place like Venice. In Casino Royale, Bond is told to stay out of Venice because it's too dangerous for secret agents. Maybe he should have listened. 😉 In real life, Venice is a maze of stunning canals and islands—and no wonder - a popular tourist destination. Its appearance is marked as James Bond arrives in Venice dramatically on a sailboat at St. Mark’s Basin.
In some scenes, you can easily see the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Also, not to miss is St. Mark’s Square, Sotoportego de le colonne, and the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory of Music, all breathtaking sites which were featured in the film.
🎬 Paris, France - The Da Vinci Code
Released in 2006, the Da Vinci Code was filmed almost entirely in the Louvre and its surrounding areas, mainly at night. Based on the bestselling thriller mystery novel of the same name by Dan Brown, the books and movies cultivated a large fan following and piqued the interest of surrounding the speculations about the Holy Grail legend and Mary Magdalene's role in Christian history. The Louvre, though, is a must-see regardless of its movie appearance, boasting 9.6 million visitors in 2019 alone. One of the largest museums in the world, it was built back in the 12th century and covers an area of 60,000 square meters (roughly 1/3 acre) making it bigger than some small countries like Monaco or Liechtenstein. The Da Vinci Code also used the exterior of the impressive Church of Saint-Sulpice.
🎬 Salzburg, Austria - The Sound of Music
The hills are alive in Austria! Salzburg was the setting for the classic favourite: The Sound of Music. The movie was released in 1965 and is based on the book The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, about a governess named Maria and the Von Trapp family who fell under the spell of her musical care. Till this day, thousands of visitors flock to Austria to walk in the footsteps of the legendary Von Trapp family. “Do Re Mi”, one of the most best loved songs from the film, was filmed at the Mirabell Palace Gardens right in Salzburg’s old town. Built in 1606 by prince archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his mistress, this palace is now a renowned wedding venue.
The famous lake terrace scenes at the von Trapp’s family home were all filmed at the baroque Leopoldskron Palace (shown above) - which dates back to 1736. Leopoldskron is a 25-minute walk or a short bus ride from the city center. Nowadays, it is used as a boutique hotel and entry is reserved for guests only - however, you can still see the breathtaking palace from the west side of the lake.
🎬 Prague, Czech Republic - Mission Impossible
We all have our favourite action films…and some are better than others! In the case of the iconic Mission: Impossible (and its very memorable theme song), some would argue that it’s one of the best spy films ever made. If you’re a fan of the franchise, then you definitely need to check out Prague, Czech Republic. This wondrous European city has been featured in many scenes from M:I and other Hollywood productions because of its gorgeous scenery and awe-spiring locations that were just made to be showcased on the screen. It also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, rich in culture and history that will leave you with almost too much to explore.
The city has been known as the "Golden City" for centuries with museums full of priceless artwork and artifacts from across Europe, festivals celebrating its rich cultural heritage (such as International Film Festival), and breweries specializing in pilsner beer. Remember that iconic scene where Ethan Hunt looks up at his reflection while trying to balance on top of an old church tower? Yup, that was filmed here too!
🎬 Travelling Europe Through a Movie Buff’s Lens
Insta challenge time: not only would this approach to travel be great for story-telling, make it a point to take photos of yourself standing exactly in the same angle as the movie shot (if you’re allowed to, of course!). Think of the side-by-side comparisons 😍
So there you have it - just a few film locations that make Europe the go-to destination for any movie buff! While some of these spots are accessible and easy to get to, there are some that may be a bit out of the way. Remember that it’s always, always helpful to keep your Google Maps on so you can get there safely and in good time - and we know just the travel SIM that will come in handy! 😉
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