50 Most Iconic Filming Locations
A lot of movies are filmed on sets with green screens so that in post-production the special effects teams can transport the actors anywhere they need to be. However, in some exceptional cases, producers and directors allow the actors to step outside the sets, and into actual filming locations in real life. This is always a treat for viewers who can spot where those locations are, and it helps the audience feel more attached to the film. If you are interested in seeing where some of your favorite movies have been filmed, check out this gallery of the 50 most iconic filming locations.
The Fox Plaza
The Fox Plaza in Los Angeles was used to portray the exterior of the imaginary Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard. John McClane spent a lot of time trying to hunt down German extremists in this building in the movie, and former President Ronald Reagan is also portrayed as having offices in the building complex once his tenure ended.
The best part is the 34-story skyscraper is still up to date and is still a very beautiful building. Besides Die Hard, the building has been featured in at least three major motion pictures.
Between the sixth and eighth centuries, a Gaelic Christian monastery was constructed on a small yet remarkable island off Ireland’s coast. This remarkable structure was rightly used in more than two Star Wars movies to portray a land in a different timeline and a distant galaxy.
This space served as Luke Skywalker’s refuge in at least two Star Wars movies. Skellig Michael’s incredibly unique rocky location is the reason it is home to one of the most remarkable views on the planet.
The Gorlitz Department Store
From 1913 to 2009, the Gorlitz Department Store was one of the longest-reigning department stores on the planet. The standout store was located out of a striking art building in that span, and it has also been on the radar of a couple of movie producers over the years.
It was used as the main shooting location for The Grand Budapest Hotel, a 2014 Wes Anderson movie. Safe to say the decision to use the Gorlitz Department Store for filming paid off as the movie won an Academy Award for Best Production Design.
The Amityville Horror House
The Amityville Horror house is on many lists of the scariest locations in the US thanks to several rumors that the place is haunted because a young man killed several family members there in 1974.
Apparently, the young man was disturbed but the rumors and lore behind the house has given at least two movies named after it plenty of inspiration. These movies have a couple of sequels as well, and the house that was used in the 1979 movie lies in Toms River, New Jersey, while the 2005 sequel used a Salem, Wisconsin home.
Queenstown, New Zealand
In many scenes in the timeless Lord of the Rings trilogy, the remarkable landscapes, and scenery of Queenstown, Glenorchy, and Arrowtown in New Zealand were used to portray Middle-earth.
Thanks to the movie, these locations get to rake in some revenue from tourism as fans of the movie visit the location to enjoy full-day or half-day Lord of the Rings-inspired tours. Adults can expect to cough up as much as $225 for the tours while a child's ticket is about $100.
The Island of Ischia
The Island of Ischia is a striking Mediterranean island that lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea. This beautiful island was used as the set of The Talented Mr. Ripley, a psychological movie that stars the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon.
Thanks to its remarkable aesthetics and the movie, the Island of Ischia has become a famous tourist attraction that millions of tourists visit each year to enjoy the thermal spas and natural beauty. It was also featured in Cleopatra, a 1936 historical movie.
The Hitching Post II Restaurant
The Hitching Post II is the restaurant that the struggling writer and wine enthusiast, Miles, visited frequently in Alexander Payne’s 2004 dark comedy, Sideways. Located on the Central Coast in California, the restaurant is a great place to relax and dine as it offers some delicious California-themed wine, BBQ meat, and delicious desserts when it’s not being used as a movie set.
In the movie, Jack and Miles met up with Maya and Stephanie at the Hitching Post. The restaurant even has its own winery so it serves its own wine that pays homage to the movie.
The Christ Church Cathedral
The Harry Potter movies were shot in some remarkable locations as you’d expect from movies about magic, witches, and wizards. One such location is the Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral which is known to attract over 300,000 visitors per annum.
The 16th Century cathedral became so famous because it was used to portray the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter movies. There’s even a walking tour for fans that want to see some iconic spots like the staircase and the Great Hall.
Apocalypse Now is a Vietnam War film that was set in Cambodia and Vietnam but the shooting actually occurred in Phillippines’ jungles. The shoot itself was notoriously disastrous for the most part as Francis Ford Coppola described there were too many actors in the jungle with too much money and equipment.
Despite the movie’s wobbly production, fans can take a guided trip on the Bumbungan River, which lies next to Col. Kurtz’s compound in the movie. This tour allows fans to follow in Capt. Willard’s wake.
The Martian is a 2015 Sci-fi movie that stars Matt Damon and whose central theme is the fear of being alone. One of the things that stand out about the movie is the expansive and remarkable locations that were used, one of them being Wadi Rum or the Valley of the Moon, a protected Jordanian desert that looks like Mars.
It is for this reason that Ridley Scott became fond of the desert so much that he used it in not one, but two of his space movies. Crazy to think there are areas on Earth that can be easily made to look like it was on a different planet.
Devils Tower is a gigantic rock formation that is technically called a laccolithic butte. It was the first natural formation to be declared a National Monument in the US, and it lies in Wyoming’s Bear Lodge Mountains.
The tower was prominently featured in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie, which tells the tale of the experiences of multiple individuals with an extra-terrestrial being. The place was scouted for the movie by Joe Alves, the production designer and most scenes shot there took place in the evening.
Dallas City Hall
The makers of the 1987 movie RoboCop were drawn to the modernist Dallas City Hall so they used it as the Omni Consumer Products’ headquarters. Being the headquarters of the company that makes RoboCop is huge but the City Hall is imposing so it turned out to be a great choice.
The Dallas skyline was also used as a stand-in for Detroit in the satirical film that is a violent love letter to the city. Visitors can buy a ticket to see this real-life location in all its glory.
Seaside, Florida was used to portray the incredibly beautiful Seahaven Island in The Truman Show. In reality though, Seaside is essentially a planned neighborhood that was created in the New Urbanist fashion that emphasizes expansive and walkable communities.
Seaside is really an amazing American town that thousands of American visitors flock to thanks to the existence of many spots that can be recognized from the movie. Visiting Seaside has become a sport of sorts for many people, and tourists typically look for the iconic locations used in the movie.
Al Khazneh is a mesmerizing rocky location in Jordan that was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The beautiful temple was literally carved out of a sandstone rock surface many centuries ago to become a part of the city of Petra.
In the third installment of Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Al Khazneh was used to portray the resting place of the Holy Grail. As a result of the increased exposure from the movie, the Jordanian temple has become a tourist attraction, and we all have Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig to thank for it.
In some cases, it is impossible to remake a scene from a movie because of the real-life location. This is the case with the Park bench at Chippewa Square that was featured in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump. In the box-office hit movie, Forrest Gump sat on the bench and narrated his life story for most of the movie.
Chippewa Square itself lies in the district of Savannah, Georgia; while the square itself still exists as we saw in the movie, the bench doesn’t as it has long been moved to Savannah’s History Museum.
The Timberline Lodge
The Timberline Lodge is a breathtaking location that sits about 6,000 feet high in the Mount Hood National Forest. The remarkable location is perfect for skiing, and it is a popular skiing location, but its spectacular views mean it's also great as a movie location.
Therefore, it’s only right that the Timberline Lodge was also used as the exterior of the imaginative Overlook Hotel in The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie. More than just a beautiful lodge, Timberline is home to some excellent service, as evidenced by the high reviews it gets.
The United Methodist Church
The grounds and scenery provided by the United Methodist Church in La Verne, California were perfect for the final scene in the 1967 blockbuster, The Graduate. In the famous scene, Benjamin Braddock managed to convince his love interest not to marry someone else.
He did this by being incredibly persuasive while shouting her name over and over, and banging his fists on the wall. The beautiful church became famous after it was used in the movie, and it has remained open for worship ever since.
The Nijo Castle
The psychological thriller movie Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, and it is the kind of movie that demands you to pay attention to get a grasp of what’s going on. Most of the movie’s scenes happened in the subconscious of the many characters but real-life locations were used to shoot these scenes.
One of the most famous locations used in the movie’s production is the Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Japan. The castle is just one of the many international locations the crew ventured to for filming.
We all know about the remarkable length the producers of Game of Thrones went to make the iconic series we all love. To portray the beautiful fantasy island of Westeros, many incredible real-life spots were explored across the UK, Northern Ireland, and Iceland, with Northern Ireland accounting for most of the incredible locations.
Places like the Tollymore Forest in Country Down and the Paint Hall Studios in Belfast were used to portray places in the show’s fantasy world. Iceland, for instance, was used for scenes shot north of the wall.
The Hook & Ladder Company 8 Firehouse
The Ghostbusters movies feature the Tribeca firehouse, which has been in use since its construction was completed in 1903. The Hook & Ladder Company was home to firefighters, some of whom were the first to respond to the scene of 9/11.
Owing to its rich history, the firehouse has gotten lots of attention over the years, and some money has been put into it to upgrade its facilities. The firehouse was used as the base of the Ghostbusters movie after Dan Aykroyd chose it.
The Varda Viaduct
Varda Viaduct is a 100-year-old viaduct, and at roughly 320 feet, it is the tallest of its kind in Turkey. The remarkable location was featured in the 2012 James Bond film, Skyfall. You can catch a view of the viaduct in the scene where Bond gets shot during a fight on a train cruising down a single track.
Thanks to the beautiful design of the Varda Viaduct, it has become a famous tourist attraction frequented by fans of Skyfall, and those curious enough to want to take a look at Turkey’s tallest viaduct.
The McCallister Family House
Home Alone tells the story of a youngster that got left behind by his family, and therefore had to spend the holiday season alone by himself in the family home. An iconic Georgian house was used to portray the McCallister family home; the real-life house lies in Winnetka, Illinois.
Home Alone fans became familiar with the house thanks to the amount of time Kevin spends in it, and the foes he had to ward off while he was in it. It became a famous tourist attraction as a result, and in 2012, it was sold for roughly $1.6 million.
Hawaii’s Kauai region is home to some breathtaking natural locations dotted by lush views and striking mountains but despite the incredible beauty of the place, it is inherently dangerous so it’s best explored with a guide.
These beautiful views provided the perfect location for the filming of several scenes in Jurassic Park by Steven Spielberg. While the locations are famous tourist attractions, the only way for tourists to explore them is with the aid of a guide, and the tours don’t always run either.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct
The Glenfinnan Viaduct’s 416-yards length makes it the biggest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. The expansive and lush viaduct was used for filming four Harry Potter movies, which is more than half of the movies in the series.
Glenfinnan was typically shown in scenes in which the Hogwarts students were traveling to school on the train as it provides exactly the kind of view you’d expect from train windows on long trips. Fans can take a ride on the luxury Royal Scotsman train to enjoy the views.
The unusual decision to highlight and focus on the city’s slums earned the producers of Slumdog Millionaire lots of criticism but on the flip side, the movie managed to paint a realistic picture of the underworld of one of India’s most popular cities.
Slumdog Millionaire was mostly set in the Mumbai slums although some scenes were done in Agra which is the place where Jamal became an accidental tour guide. For many people, the unforgettable closing sequence at the train station is the highlight of the movie.
The NASA Facility
Anyone who’s seen an Avengers movie knows the great lengths that Marvel goes to create hyper-realistic scenes. They have a film studio in New Mexico but that’s not where all the Avengers action happens. The studio also ventured to The NASA Facility in Cleveland, Ohio.
The NASA Space Power facility that lies in Sandusky was selected thanks to its futuristic design, and its 122-foot aluminum vacuum chamber was used to portray the vast laboratory in the movie. They also used the Lakeside Court House for some filming.
Tulane University, Louisiana
Green Book tells the story of a bouncer that became an African-American classic pianist’s driver. The movie centers on a tour across the South so this is basically a road movie shot in various locations across New Orleans, New York City, and more.
However, most of the movie was shot in different locations across Louisiana, including The Clover Grill, the International House Hotel, and the most prominent Tulane University, the most recognized of all the locations. The best part is most of these locations are open to date and can be visited by fans.
Hotel Sidi Driss
We already know how moviemakers seek out Arabian desert areas because they provide an aesthetic not far off from the planets they seek to portray in their projects, so it’s no surprise that this Tunisian hotel has been nicknamed the Star Wars Hotel.
Hotel Sidi Driss can be found in an arid region of Tunisia, and it is quite a famous shooting location for Star Wars. It serves as the Lars homestead on Tatooine thanks to its unique architecture, and the hotel is always open.
The Namib Desert
The first three Mad Max movies were shot locally in Australia but for the fourth installment in the series, the producers decided to seek out a different location. They found the remarkable dunes of Namibia’s Namib Desert desirable so they ventured down there for filming.
The original plan was to shoot in Broken Hill but that plan had to be axed after some unexpected rainfall caused the landscape to become unusually lush, ruining the kind of wasteland effect the producers were aiming for.
Busan, South Korea
Black Panther has had an Oriental/Asian connection from the jump. In the first installment in the series, we saw some of the lead characters track Ulysses Klaue to South Korea after Marvel had announced that filming would be done in South Korea’s second biggest city, Busan.
At the time, the announcement was a big deal and the producers ended up using some remarkable locations like the Gwangan Bridge and the Jagalchi Fish Market. The decision paid off in the end as the movie earned $25.3 million in opening week sales in Korea.
Mayan Temple Ruins
Star Wars is one of those movies characterized by intense action and remarkable shooting locations. The director of the original Star Wars movie, George Lucas, found the Mayan temple ruins in Guatemala to be a perfect spot for filming so he proceeded to film there and use it to portray the Massassi Outpost rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin.
Lucas had discovered the spot on a poster that hung on the wall of an agency while he was in London and he opted to go and film there in the Tikal National Park.
The Mehrangarh Fort
Considering the number of remarkable spots in the country, it’s no surprise that some producers go all the way to India to film movie scenes. In this case, the director of The Dark Knight Rises was drawn to the stunning Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur region so it was featured in The Dark Knight Rises.
The fort is a breathtaking one that lies roughly 400 feet above Jodhpur and even has its own palaces and courtyards. It basically provided the perfect aesthetics for the DC movie.
The medieval ksar of Ait Benhaddou is a small town in Morocco’s southwestern region characterized by a remarkable red desert landscape that makes for some nice views. The producers of Kingdom of Heaven, Game of Thrones, and Prince of Persia all found this tiny Moroccan town appealing enough to film part of their movies there.
However, the most prominent movie that was shot there was Gladiator, a movie released in 2000 and was a blockbuster hit. The cast and crew of Gladiator shot in Morocco for a total of three weeks in order to portray the ancient city of Rome.
Katz’s Deli is an iconic eatery located on the lower East Side of New York City. Some of the best classic delicatessen food can be had there, along with some traditional Jewish foods but the food isn’t the only thing the place is known for.
An iconic scene in When Harry Met Sally was shot in the restaurant more than 30 years ago, and the eatery has remained famous to date thanks to the iconic scene and the quintessential pastrami on rye.
The Sicilian town of Savoca
Savoca, which can be found close to the coastal town of Taormina was used to portray the village of Corleone in The Godfather. Savoca is a beautiful Italian village that is characterized by hillside terrace homes with cactus and citrus trees.
From one side, the village looks out to the Ionian Sea and it is considered the country with seven faces because of its unique urban structure. Together with the nearby Forza d’Agro village, Savoca is known for being the filming location of The Godfather.
St. Vincent Volcanic Island
St. Vincent’s rugged and pretty Wallilabou Bay was featured as Port Royal in the first and second entries in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Most of the scenes in The Curse of the Black Pearl were shot on the island of St. Vincent while some other scenes were done on Grenadines’ smaller islands.
Some damage was done to the dock after The Curse of the Black Pearl was completed so some modifications had to be made to it by the time the second movie was made. However, most fans didn't even notice the changes, so it was a job well done.
Fifth Avenue and 57th Street Tiffany’s
Tiffany’s is a luxury department store located at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan. Despite the way it was portrayed in the movie, the spot didn’t become an on-site café until 2017, when guests finally got to have breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was shot in New York City for the most part, and all the interior shots except for parts shot at the Paramount Studios were filmed at Tiffany & Co., which was one of the prominent filming locations.
The Marin County Civic Center
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin County Civic Center complex is characterized by remarkable balconies and pink stucco walls that provided the perfect background for the unforgettable interior shots in the 1977 sci-fi movie, Gattaca.
The striking building was nominated for the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 2015 but sci-fi fans will remember the striking complex for the inspiration it gave George Lucas and sci-fi director Andrew Niccol while they were making Gattaca. The Civic Center stands out both in terms of shape and overall size thanks to Frank Lloyd Wright’s tireless efforts.
The rich summer colony of Martha’s Vineyard provides holiday fun-seekers with some breathtaking views devoid of threats, except the occasional sunburn. This kind of island provides striking filming locations, and Steven Spielberg took full advantage of the aesthetics while making his Jaws movie as most of the film was shot there.
Places like the Amity Gazette Building that were featured in the movie have remained in the same condition despite all the years that have since passed. The small beach town had come alive in the book before the movie was even made.
The Contra Dam
James Bond’s unforgettable bungee jump from the Contra Dam in Switzerland is one that sticks to your memory for a long time, and it was correctly voted the best movie stunt ever in a 2002 Sky Movies Poll.
Bond plunged more than 700 feet down the dam after getting to the top and an unintended effect is that the dam became a famous bungee jump spot as a result of Bond’s leap. Fans can attempt to recreate the jump by going to the dam. The place is also known as the Verzasca Dam or Locarno Dam.
Ben Affleck’s standout 2012 movie Argo was inspired by the real-life story of the attack on the American Embassy in Iran. However, since relations between Iran and the US aren’t any better today than they were in the 80s and 90s, filming Argo in Iran was an impossible task.
The producers of Argo, therefore, opted to film in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, which is one of the oldest covered markets still running in the world. One of the most prominent locations used to film in the movie was the Pera Palace Hotel.
The Tabernas Desert
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was set in the Old West but filming was done partly in the Tabernas Desert in Spain. Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Van Clef are some of the Hollywood legends that starred in the legendary cowboy movie.
Unfortunately, despite the fame of the 170-square-mile national park in the 60s and 70s, it remains abandoned and is now filled with deteriorating Texas towns and shacks. However, that hasn’t stopped tourists from trooping in to see the famous desert.
The Skiathos Town in Greece is characterized by uncomplicated white houses and remarkable views of the oceans. Lying on the small island of Skiathos, in the Aegean Sea, this beautiful Greek town is known for its beaches and buzzing youth-led nightlife as there is an abundance of restaurants and bars on the sidewalks along Papdiamanti Street and the old harbor.
The town also provided the perfect backdrop for the 2008 movie, Mamma Mia. Thanks to that movie, about 150,000 people visit the island every year to see the sights and areas where the movie was filmed.
The Bayon Temple
Tomb Raider is one of those movies that compel producers to seek out striking locations around the world because the movie is all about ancient magical objects and caves. Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft was on a quest to retrieve some magical artifacts in the 2001 movie.
Her search led her to the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom, the Khmer Empire’s last city. The 12th-Century temple has been nicknamed the Tomb Raider temple thanks to the backdrop it provided for the movie, and it quickly became a tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors to Cambodia.
The Ohio State Reformatory
Before its doors were closed for good in 1990, the Ohio State Reformatory was operated as a prison for nearly 100 years. Coincidentally, the prison was closed a couple of years before The Shawshank Redemption was filmed and the structure was chosen for filming because it has a timeless appeal to it
It was also chosen as a film location because it was completely empty when producer Niki Marvin discovered it. Shawshank tours can be enjoyed by fans that visit the reformatory at any time of the year.
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel
Beverly Wilshire is a popular celebrity hotel that was opened in 1928. The hotel is located at the famous Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, and it has served the likes of John Lennon, President Barack Obama, and more distinguished individuals over the years.
In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts’ characters fell in love at the Beverly Hotel, and the management of the hotel cashed in on the trend by offering a "Pretty Woman For a Day" package to guests that want to recreate the iconic love story’s moments.
North Carolina’s Big Ivy Area
The Hunger Games ended up being the third most popular film series behind Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga. It also is responsible for putting North Carolina on the map as one of the most popular filming locations.
All four movies in the franchise were shot in North Carolina’s Big Ivy Area, which is also known as Coleman Boundary to locals. This area was used as District 12’s forest which is where the majority of the movies are held since that's where the games took place in the movie.
Who can forget the incredible young love displayed by Anakin and Padme in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Well, the scene of them tying the knot was filmed in Lake Como which is located in Lombardy, Italy.
This location was used since Anakin and Padme's love was forbidden so the location of where they eloped needed to look like a far away enough place where no one would find them. The villa has since been opened to visitors so they can come and relive the incredible scene.
The Lighthouse Café
Fans of the award-winning musical La La Land will easily recognize this now iconic café. The café is located in Hermosa Beach, California, and is just one of the many locations used in the film to pay tribute to Los Angeles.
Emma Stone had an incredible dance piece in this café while Ryan Gosling wowed the audience with his piano-playing abilities. This café was perfect for the scene since it has been a historical jazz location since the 40s, which matched the vibe of the movie.