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12 Iconic Destinations from Movies and Television

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City walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Visit these epic filming locations around the globe

Setting the stage for some of the greatest backdrops in cinema history, the following 12 iconic destinations from movies and television bring to life the silver screen.

Filmmakers explore the globe searching for the perfect locations to make medieval cities, fantastical villages, or fictional planets come to life. Rather than relying on movie lots or CGI, filming on location exemplifies the brilliance of the real world, which you can experience on vacation.

Whether accentuating the history of Croatia for Game of Thrones’ Dornish empire or expressing the beauty of Ireland for the far-flung resting place of Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker, the following destinations connect the magic of movies and television with the wonders of the world.

Overview

  1. 1. Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland • Star Wars
  2. 2. Dubrovnik, Croatia • Game of Thrones
  3. 3. Sicily, Italy • The Godfather
  4. 4. Highclere Castle, England • Downton Abbey
  5. 5. Cocora Valley, Colombia • Encanto
  6. 6. Matamata, New Zealand • The Lord of the Rings
  7. 7. Berlin, Germany • The Queen’s Gambit
  8. 8. Great Rift Valley, Kenya • The Lion King
  9. 9. Kinloch Rannoch, Scotland • Outlander
  10. 10. Arctic Circle, Norway • Frozen II
  11. 11. Petra, Jordan • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  12. 12. Skopelos, Greece • Mamma Mia!
  13. Bring the Screen to Life with Zicasso

1. Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland • Star Wars

Skellig Michael, Ireland

The famed Skellig Michael is pictured above

The rugged landscapes of Ireland's Skellig Michael island on the Wild Atlantic Way served perfectly for Luke Skywalker's hidden recluse in Star Wars’ The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Its steep landscape rises from the Atlantic with carved steps that take you to the dramatic twin peaks. It is easy to imagine Skywalker’s solitary existence on the island’s alien terrain. There remains a tower house and inscribed cross slab that is now occupied by puffins, razorbills, and gannets.

The island is only accessible during Ireland’s summers, but is a perfect getaway for historians and enthusiasts alike.

Star Wars Vacation Idea

Experience the epic adventures of a galaxy far away at the iconic Star Wars movie location on the Wild Atlantic Way, Skellig Michael island, with our Ireland and the Last Jedi Encounter: A Star Wars-Inspired Tour.

Highlights: Lough Leane • Cliffs of Moher • Skellig Michael island • Blue Stack Mountains • Newgrange in County Meath

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Ireland Tours & VacationsIreland Travel Guide

2. Dubrovnik, Croatia • Game of Thrones

Gothic rectors in Dubrovnik's Old Town, Croatia

Gothic rectors in Dubrovnik's Old Town

The seat of the Seven Kingdoms in Game of Thrones takes shape in the historical city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, on the Adriatic coast.

While absent of dragons and direwolves, Dubrovnik’s Old Town embodies a medieval atmosphere with 13th-century Gothic and Baroque architecture. Whether standing at the Pile Gate entrance or enjoying the view of the shimmering Adriatic Sea at Gradac Park, practically every corner of Dubrovnik contains a memorable moment from the Game of Thrones saga.

The stunning panoramas of the Dalmatian coast and the remarkable history of the city founded in the seventh century blur the lines between fact and fiction.

Game of Thrones Vacation Idea

Discover the Seven Kingdoms of Game of Thrones as you explore the royal sites of iconic houses with our Game of Thrones: A Unique Tour of Croatia.

Highlights: Klis Fortress • Expert tutorial on falconry • Peljesac peninsula • Lovrijenac Fortress • Lokrum Island

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Game of Thrones Tours & VacationsCroatia Travel Guide

3. Sicily, Italy • The Godfather

The small town Savoca on Sicily Island, Italy

The small town Savoca is pictured above

The Godfather trilogy has become an iconic film about the Italian mafia in America, but also captures life in Sicily, Italy, during the 20th century.

The mob family drew its lineage to the town of Corleone, but due to developments, it was substituted by the small villages Savoca and Forza d’Agrò for filming. Step into the life of Michael Corleone with a drink at Bar Vitelli in the commune of Messina and stroll in front of Chiesa di San Nicolò, where Michael married Apollonia Vitelli.

Learn how the trilogy reflects the traditions of 20th-century Sicily and how they persist today.

The Godfather Vacation Idea

Step into the shoes of the 20th-century Italian mafia on a cultural tour of The Godfather set and famous movie locations in Sicily with our The Godfather Tour of Sicily: Palermo & Taormina.

Highlights: Corleone • Savoca • Forza d’Agrò • Chiesa di San Nicolò • Culinary tour of Taormina

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: One Week Sicily ItinerariesItaly Tours & VacationsItaly Travel Guide

4. Highclere Castle, England • Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle in England

Highclere Castle is the main filming location of Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey provides insight into the daily lives of British aristocracy and those who serve them on the preserved grounds of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England.

On-screen, the abbey housed Lord and Lady Grantham, their children, and hired help Carson and Bates. In reality, Highclere Castle has remained the seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon since 1679. The grounds are open to the public approximately 70 days a year, including for two months in summer.

Whether you sip tea in the café, explore the lavish English gardens, or discover the sensational Egyptian exhibition hosting artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb, you will be immersed in the regal ambiance of Downton life.

Downton Abbey Vacation Idea

Experience life as English aristocracy at Downton Abbey film locations on tours of Highclere Castle and more royal sites with our The Downton Abbey Movie Tour.

Highlights: Highclere Castle • Marlborough House • Downton Abbey-inspired culinary class • Windsor Castle • Harewood House

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: UK Tours & VacationsTop Seven Things to Do in the UK

5. Cocora Valley, Colombia • Encanto

Encanto brought Colombia to life with beautiful and colorful animation painting the screen to present the country’s heritage towns and introduce viewers to the magic of Cocora Valley.

Salento captures the essence of Encanto, portraying the peaceful and bright culture within an architecturally stunning town surrounded by jungle-clad hills. The whimsical stories come to life on hikes through the prolific forests or strolls through town following the fragrant aromas of Colombian dishes flooding the streets.

You can visit galleries and museums that share a sprinkle of inspiration behind the film's distinct design, find yourself in the shadows of towering wax palms, and sip Colombian coffee as you trace the natural splendor and culture that inspired Encanto.

Encanto Vacation Idea

Embrace the magic of Madrigal as you visit the Cocora Valley and Colombia’s breathtaking natural paradises that inspired the beautiful animation of Encanto with our Experience the Real Encanto in Colombia.

Highlights: Culture tour with Silleteros • Parque de las Luces • Encanto-inspired culinary tour • Tour of Salento • Coffee and chocolate tasting

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Colombia Vacations & ToursColombia Travel Guide

6. Matamata, New Zealand • The Lord of the Rings

Sheep grazing on the North Island of New Zealand

The working sheep farm at Hobbiton has fantastic views of the surrounding Kaimai Ranges

New Zealand’s rolling hills of Matamata and beyond encapsulate the imaginative world of Middle-earth and the Hobbiton in Peter Jackson’s interpretation of The Lord of The Rings trilogy.

The varied terrain of the North and South islands allowed for the different realms to be depicted. Imposing mountains represented Mordor, while pristine woodlands represented the Elvish settlement of Rivendell. The life of a hobbit comes into reality at the Hobbiton in Matamata on the North Island, where the Shire scenes for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies took place.

From the stories of hobbit holes to the breathtaking landscape on which the village stands, Hobbiton blends New Zealand’s natural beauty with the wonders of spellbinding storytelling.

The Lord of the Rings Vacation Idea

Encounter the beauty of Middle-earth and spend time in the home of the hobbits at Matamata at The Lord of the Rings film locations with our The Ultimate Lord of the Rings Tour: A 60th Anniversary Celebration.

Highlights: Tour of the Hobbiton • Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland • Private Weta Workshop tour • Private helicopter Lord of the Rings tour • Matukituki River jet-boating adventure

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: New Zealand Tours & VacationsNew Zealand Travel Guide

7. Berlin, Germany • The Queen’s Gambit

Berlin may not be the first location that comes to mind when one thinks about the breakout series The Queen’s Gambit. However, Berlin’s architecture presented the perfect backdrops for the show’s jaw-dropping set-pieces to represent America, Paris, and Moscow.

The distinct differences in architectural design from East to West Berlin showcase the country’s dramatic history. Tours of Berlin reveal elaborate palaces and historic hotels that are featured as locations to bring Beth Harmon’s story to the screen. The Friedrichstadt-Palast, for example, is an old-world theater that presented the ideal atmosphere for filming.

These architectural marvels represent one aspect of a vacation in Berlin that shares the history and culture, with global influences. You can also visit the neo-Baroque Reichstag or uncover Cold War history at Tempelhofer Feld.

The Queen’s Gambit Vacation Idea

Absorb the history of Berlin and admire the city’s antique architecture on our Beacons of Central Europe: Prague, Nuremberg, Berlin Tour that serves as a gateway to experience the phenomenal sets of The Queen’s Gambit.

Highlights: Palais am Funkturm • Friedrichstadt-Palast • Altes Stadthaus

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Germany Tours & VacationsGermany Travel Guide

8. Great Rift Valley, Kenya • The Lion King

The sensational scenery of The Lion King owes its inspiration to the magnificent conservancies of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, specifically Hell’s Gate National Park, which inspired the animators.

While you may not stumble upon Simba in Hell’s Gate National Park in a hurry, its impressive bushveld and towering cliffs provide photographic moments to capture as you admire the inspiration for Pride Rock. You can also cycle through the park on a safari unlike any other, pedaling past herds of zebras or searching for mandrills, which you may recognize from the film as Rafiki.

The Great Rift Valley offers no shortage of wildlife-viewing opportunities and you can travel to various parks within the region to spot all animals featured in The Lion King, including Masai lions, hyenas, blue wildebeest, and more.

The Lion King Vacation Idea

Search the African bushveld for the animals of The Lion King on the ultimate safari adventure in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley with our Lion King-Inspired Family Safari: Pride of Africa.

Highlights: Mto Wa Mbu village • Big Five safari • Serengeti safari • Pride Rock tour • Victoria Falls

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Kenya Safaris & ToursKenya Safari Guide

9. Kinloch Rannoch, Scotland • Outlander

With sets in the stunning hills surrounding Kinloch Rannoch, Outlander reimagines the Scottish countryside to envision the Craigh na Dun set.

The remote village is a charming representation of traditional Scottish culture, with few tourists flooding the streets. Time feels like it slows down in Kinloch Rannoch, as though a nod to the time-traveling show that found inspiration among the surrounding rolling hills. Cycling, walking, and climbing are among the many activities to enjoy in the region.

You can also use the village as a gateway to explore more of Scotland. Tours to distilleries nearby can introduce your palate to single malts and blends that are favorites among local and international Scotch enthusiasts.

Outlander Vacation Idea

Spend time exploring the remote and lush hills of Scotland, as well as taste prestigious Scotch on our Essence of the Scottish Highlands: Nature and Distilleries, presenting opportunities to experience the sets of Outlander.

Highlights: Cycling • Hiking • Scotch tasting • Boat and kayaking loch tours • Blair Castle

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Scotland Tours & VacationsScotland Travel Guide

10. Arctic Circle, Norway • Frozen II

Frozen II tells the story of a magical queen from a winter wonderland that lifts folkloric and cinematic inspiration from the frozen reaches of northern Norway and the Arctic Circle.

The animators drew inspiration from many parts of the icy region, capturing an epic adventure through enchanted forests reminiscent of Norway’s yellow and red woodlands in autumn and across alpine slopes to the massive fjords.

On a trip to Norway you and your children can live your Frozen II fantasy by viewing the Northern Lights dancing in the sky over the Arctic Circle, exploring the customs of Sami culture, and participating in thrilling activities in the snow, such as skiing, ice fishing, and tobogganing.

Frozen II Vacation Ideas

Escape to the winter wonderlands of the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights and explore the snowy region as a family with our Frozen-Inspired Winter Family Tour of Norway or Frozen-Inspired Autumn Family Tour of Norway.

Highlights: See the Northern Lights • Sami culture tour • Skiing • Ice fishing • Cruise the fjords

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Norway Tours

11. Petra, Jordan • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Al-Khazneh, The Treasury, is the heart of the ancient city of Petra and the location of The Temple of the Sun in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The temple's iconic facade carved into the sandstone cliffs of Petra is a marvel to behold as you stand before the entrance of what has become one of the world’s most magnificent places to visit. Walks beyond The Treasury reveal more of Petra’s cinematic images that appear like a sandstone painting more than a city in which the Nabataeans once dwelled.

You will recognize every angle of Petra from the movie, with seeing it in person beyond what words can describe or films can reproduce. You can embrace the epic grandeur on a tour of Petra at night or from beyond the Al-Siq gorge.

Indiana Jones Vacation Idea

Immerse yourself in the history of Petra and unearth the famous cinematic images from Indiana Jones on our sample itinerary, From Petra to the Pyramids: The Complete Highlights of Jordan & Egypt Tour.

Highlights: The Treasury • Petra night tours • Al-Siq gorge • High Place of Sacrifice • Hiking

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Jordan Tours & Vacations

12. Skopelos, Greece • Mamma Mia!

Skopelos is a stunning Greek island in the Aegean Sea that you will recognize from the hit film Mamma Mia! The island is a slice of Mediterranean paradise that invites travelers to experience the pleasures of the Greek islands, while embracing the locations from the film.

The beaches of Skopelos are the main attraction, with the island presenting various cinematic shores to dig your toes into as you reimagine the scenes from the film. Glysteri Beach and Kastani Beach are among the sparkling pebbled shores that made their way into the final cut. You can also visit the Chapel of St. John, an iconic spiritual site that hangs on a rocky cliff overlooking the sea.

Your Grecian getaway inspired by Mamma Mia! leaves nothing to be desired as you sail across the waters in style, sip cocktails with unending sea views, and tuck into exquisite Mediterranean seafood.

Mamma Mia! Vacation Idea

Experience the gorgeous lifestyle of the islands, with colorful waters and rugged terraces, on our Delights of Deities: Greece Cultural Tour that includes a few nights in Skopelos to live your Mamma Mia! fantasy.

Highlights: Glysteri Beach • Kastani Beach • Chapel of St. John • Amarandos Cove • Agnontas

More Sample Itineraries & Travel Tips: Greece Tours & Vacations

Bring the Screen to Life with Zicasso

Visiting cinematic destinations allows you to travel into your favorite films to uncover new worlds and fantastical landscapes, bringing iconic movie and television moments to life.

Find the epic palaces of your favorite fantasy series or experience the magnificent ambiance of a new planet from an epic space opera with our Film, TV, and Popular Culture Tours & Vacations. It will take you to the places where famous movies were filmed and television shows set.

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