20 Cool Places Where Movies Were Filmed

20 Cool Places Where Movies Were Filmed

Whether it’s some far-off planet, a fantastical kingdom or a bustling cityscape, movies can often provide us with the ultimate escape. But despite the ever-advancing technology of CGI, real on-location movie sets offer a far richer and more convincing portrayal of the setting in question. Here’s a list of some of the coolest places where our favourite movies were filmed.

1. Petra, Jordan - The Treasury from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"

A card-carrying member of the “New 7 Wonders of The World”, this fascinating rock-cut structure was made even more famous after it was prominently featured in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Serving as The Treasury, the film’s climactic fictional temple which houses the Holy Grail, Petra is also a world-renowned travel destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site that tourists flock to year-round.

MoviethumbPhoto by Alex Vasey

2. New Zealand - Middle-earth from "The Lord of the Rings"

With many lush forests, towering mountains, and rolling green hills, New Zealand has become a popular place to shoot for many filmmakers, including native Kiwi Peter Jackson. The famed director put the breathtaking landscape of New Zealand on the map when he used it to depict places like the Shire and Morodor in his blockbuster “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Tobias-Keller-73F4Pkoukm0-UnsplashPhoto by Tobias Keller

3. Skellig Michael, Ireland - Ahch-To from "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

Any real Star Wars fan would know this remote island off the coast of Ireland as Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker's mysterious hideaway in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Skellig Michael, an ancient monastic settlement named after the archangel Michael, is full of rugged terrain, lush greenery and a mystical atmosphere that immerses fans in the rich Star Wars lore. 

Elle-Leontiev-Sud1N7Avt4G-UnsplashPhoto by Elle Leontiev

4. Dubrovnik, Croatia - King's Landing from "Game of Thrones"

Who would have thought "King's Landing" is really just a Croatian coastal town on the Adriatic Sea? With fortified walls, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture, filming in Dubrovnik was a no-brainer for the “Game of Thrones" crew. The show's popularity has led to a spike in tourism, with many companies giving guided tours of key places from the show.

Spencer-Davis-Fwtjvfqyuqq-UnsplashPhoto by Spencer Davis


5. Wadi Rum, Jordan - Mars from "The Martian"

Eye-popping dunes, towering cliffs, and a vast desert make Jordan's Wadi Rum the prime place to serve as Mars in this Matt Damon-led flick. Wadi Rum presents the harsh and inhospitable terrain of "the Red Planet", highlighting the film's tale of survival and perseverance. Visitors can check out the otherworldly landscape by way of commercial jeep tours and camel rides.

Rita-Idydmpjqxzq-UnsplashPhoto by Rita

6. Alnwick Castle, England - Hogwarts from "Harry Potter"

This giant castle brought the famous Hogwarts School of Witch and Wizardry to life on the big screen. Alnwick Castle, the current seat of the 12th Duke of Northumberland, sports cool architecture and lush fields perfectly fitting everyone's favourite wizardry academy. Luckily, Alnwick Castle is open to the public for both Potterheads and avid travellers alike, with over 600,000 yearly visitors. 

Jeffrey-Zhang-Cyjrk-Kaaqy-UnsplashPhoto by Jeffrey Zhang

7. New York City, USA - Gotham City from "The Dark Knight Rises"

Depicting the brooding, gritty streets of Gotham City wasn’t going to be easy, but New York City was an ideal stand-in for the caped crusader’s infamous stomping grounds. Landmarks like Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge were prominently featured in the acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy’s final film, bringing the famed comic book city to life. NYC regularly attracts millions of tourists and continues to serve as a compelling setting for all sorts of prominent films and television series. 

Florian-Wehde-J6Mysj3Wntg-UnsplashPhoto by Florian Wehde

8. Phuket, Thailand - The Beach

Leonardo DiCaprio's first post-Titanic film put this island paradise on the map after showing off its clear-blue water and white sandy beaches. It's not a surprise that the movie's portrayal led to a massive spike in tourism for the island of Ko Phi Phi Le, so much so that it had to be shut down temporarily. Here's hoping tourists will have a chance to enjoy this beauty for years to come.

Humphrey-Muleba-Tejfa7Vw5E4-UnsplashPhoto by Humphrey Muleba

9. Kyoto, Japan - Memoirs of a Geisha

With its well-preserved traditional architecture and serene gardens, Kyoto served as an excellent backdrop for this epic period piece. A historic and picturesque city on the Japanese island of Honshu, Kyoto was a great place to film “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Boasting a blend of cultural heritage and scenic landscapes, Kyoto continues to be a major tourist hotspot for both film buffs and travel junkies.

Cosmin-Georgian-Gd3Ysfyrstq-UnsplashPhoto by Cosmin Georgian

10. Kauai, Hawaii - Jurassic Park

Although set on an island off the coast of Costa Rica, the infamous prehistoric theme park was actually filmed off-location on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Its lush tropical landscapes and dense forests were the perfect setting for the wayward amusement park, with many tourists still opting to take helicopter tours of the stunning island and its famous Jurassic Park filming locations despite the film's less-than-alluring depiction of its terrain. 

Pete-Gontier-Ao5Ujixv0Dy-UnsplashPhoto by Pete Gontier


11. Bangkok, Thailand - The Hangover Part II

The Thai capital of Bangkok was the perfect backdrop for director Todd Phillip's comedy sequel. Upping the ante of the first film’s outrageous Vegas hijinx, Bangkok’s mix of chaos and intrigue took the "Hangover" trilogy to new heights. Tourists readily flock to the famous city for its crazy street life, interesting history, and unique architecture. 

Dan-Freeman-G4E6Pcot4Ps-UnsplashPhoto by Dan Freeman

12. Fiji - Cast Away

This luscious island paradise was anything but for Tom Hanks’ pained protagonist in the 2001 survival drama “Cast Away.” With its impeccable beaches, lush vegetation, and clear-blue water, the island of Monuriki in Fiji regularly attracts tourists and nature lovers despite the film's harsh and harrowing portrayal of one man’s struggle to survive the elements. 

Nicolas-Weldingh-Gg2Vvz2Ycac-UnsplashPhoto by Nicolas Weldingh

13. Tokyo, Japan - Lost in Translation

Tokyo’s seemingly infinite urban expanse was the ideal backdrop to depict Sofia Coppola's isolating, fish-out-of-water narrative in “Lost in Translation.” With key locations like the Park Hyatt, Shibuya Crossing, and several distinct karaoke bars, Tokyo’s blend of traditional and modern elements made it a defacto costar alongside Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

Jezael-Melgoza-Laymbsj3Yoe-UnsplashPhoto by Jezael Melgoza

14. Chicago, USA - Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Thanks to this charming portrayal of the Windy City, skipping school never seemed more fun. Featuring popular locales like the Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, and the Sears Tower, Chicago’s depiction in John Hughes' beloved classic “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” will forever be etched in the minds of millions of adolescents hoping to play hooky like the loveable titular protagonist.

Sawyer-Bengtson-Tnv84Lojes4-UnsplashPhoto by Sawyer Bengtson

15. Sydney, Australia - The Matrix

"What is the Matrix?" Sydney, Australia apparently. Serving as the default urban backdrop of the sci-fi classic’s computer-simulated world, Sydney’s modern architecture and skyline brought “The Matrix” to life. The Wachowski’s expertly utilized locations like Martin Place and the Westpac Building rooftop to fully immerse filmgoers into some of the film’s most iconic and action-packed set pieces.

Alvin-Balemesa-05Gvjvxrb-8-UnsplashPhoto by Alvin Balemesa

16. Toronto, Canada - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” perfectly depicts the hometown of cartoonist and series creator Bryan Lee O’Malley. A true love letter to the Canadian city,  “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” highlights some of Toronto’s most iconic landmarks including Casa Loma, Lee’s Palace, and the prominent “Pizza Pizza” food chain restaurant, making for the ultimate cinematic portrayal of the Ontario capital. 

Marcin-Skalij-Ahmldxl Azu-UnsplashPhoto by Marcin Skalij


17. Los Angeles, USA - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Los Angeles and Hollywood's "Golden Era" is lovingly depicted in Quentin Tarantino's acclaimed period piece, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." By no means a stranger to portraying the City of Angels, Tarantino painstakingly recreates an accurate vision of late 60’s LA, complete with authentic street signs, cars, and scenes filmed on-location at the Cinerama Dome, Musso & Frank Grill, and the infamous Spahn Ranch.

Joel-Muniz-Dtfiz55A5Yc-UnsplashPhoto by Joel Muniz

18.  Las Vegas, USA - Casino

Equal parts glitz and grit, Martin Scorsese’s expertly crafted portrayal of Las Vegas’ seedy criminal origins is one of the famed director’s most iconic and celebrated films. Shot on location at several famous Vegas landmarks such as the Riviera Hotel and Casino and the Landmark Hotel, this classic crime drama’s neon-laden setting convincingly captures the world of gambling and organized crime.

Grant-Cai-9Xjdq8-Zlki-UnsplashPhoto by Grant Cai

19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - City of God

This Oscar-nominated Brazilian crime epic was filmed on-location in the actual favelas of Rio de Janeiro to depict its harrowing tale of how the infamous crime-ridden neighbourhoods came to be. Capturing the harsh realities of life in the slums, “City of God” expertly weaves its gritty narrative around Rio’s wayward yet vibrant Cidade de Deus suburbs, highlighting the devastating effects of crime and poverty on the area. 

Raul-Escobar-Txoj60Clby0-UnsplashPhoto by Raúl Escobar

20. Quebec City, Canada - Catch Me If You Can

Although meant to represent various parts of Europe within the film’s globetrotting narrative, these scenes were actually filmed in the Quebec capital. Sitting along the St Lawrence River, Quebec City’s cobblestone streets, well-preserved historic buildings, and picturesque squares are emblematic of the city’s distinguishable European influence, which tourists continue to flock to as one of Canada's most popular destinations. 

Joy-Real-Sq1Iicp0Pde-UnsplashPhoto by Joy Real