From James Bond driving his silver Aston Martin around Scotland’s majestic valleys and glens to Jordan’s otherworldly red desert scenes, the world's most cinematic landscapes are often just a flight away. So with a bit of movie inspiration, travellers can get up close to some spectacular real-life film locations. Here are a few ways to walk in the footsteps of characters from your favourite moments in cinema.

Soak up the United Kingdom's iconic sights

Oxford University, Christ Church College

Many Harry Potter film scenes were shot at Oxford University, with Christ Church College notably inspiring the Hogwarts Great Hall (Photo: Getty Images) 

From the eponymous West London neighbourhood of Notting Hill to Austin Powers’ colourful ‘swinging London’ of the 1960s and the snow-dusted modern London of Love Actually (head to Mayfair's Grosvenor Chapel to re-create Peter and Juliet's heartwarming wedding scene), the English capital has always been an iconic pop culture location.

But beyond London, the United Kingdom itself is a smorgasbord of historic film and TV delights. You could travel to Oxford University, for example, where you'll rediscover the magic of experiencing Harry Potter, as if for the first time. That's because the University, one of the oldest in the world, is home to the dreaming spires which make up Hogwarts Castle. Christ Church and New are the colleges to focus your explorations on. The colleges to focus your explorations on are Christ Church and New College

Or, travel west of London to witness the grandiose 17th-century Highclere Castle in Downton Abbey, the UK’s evocative heritage continues to allure on the big screen.

Tour the cinematic vistas of South Africa 

Majestic white beach of South Africa

South Africa has gained popularity as a movie location not only for its diverse and stunning landscapes but also for its unique combination of being able to double for various settings (Photo: Getty Images) 

The African continent has always brought a sense of mystique to the movies, and the more temperate climate of South Africa means the Rainbow Nation has a kaleidoscope of fine scenery to offer global cinema. 

Travel to metropolises like Johannesburg, for example, which shimmers on the silver screen in District 9, while the arid Kalahari desert seen in The Gods Must Be Crazy teems with wildlife like zebra, lions and antelope. And with 2,800km of glittering coastline, the crystalline waters and sugar-white sands of South Africa's Western Cape sparkle in 2014’s The Perfect Wave - shot on location around Cape Town's easily accessible beaches. 

Be seduced by the many charms of France

A French brasserie in Paris

The Lumière brothers, pioneers of cinema, held the world's first public screening in Paris in 1895, igniting the birth of French cinema (Photo: Getty Images) 

The romance of France has left an indelible mark on film history, and perhaps no European city oozes effortless cinematic charm quite like Paris.

Like Amélie Poulain, you too could wander the serpentine streets and endearing cafes of the hillside Montmartre neighbourhood which features in 1999’s Amélie – be sure to sip a coffee at the Café des 2 Moulins, Amélie's workplace in the film. The French capital has starred in near-countless great movies, of course. If action's more your thing, you might recognise the Pont des Arts from the breathless closing scenes of The Bourne Identity's. For thriller fans, any visit to the Louvre will be enhanced by the great museum's role in a key moment for Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code.

You can also find evocative French scenes further south, in Provence's languid vineyards, as seen in the likes of A Good Year – pay a visit to rustic Château La Canorgue, the Bonnieux winery which became Château La Siroque in the film.

Star in your own Parisian adventure by staying in the heart of the City of Light at the Paris Marriott Champs Elysees Hotel.

Scale the scene-stealing heights of the UAE

The Burj Khalifa, UAE

Tom Cruise performed a death-defying stunt in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), scaling the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, in Dubai (Photo: Getty Images) 

Who can ever forget the nailbiting sight of Tom Cruise scaling the side of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in 2011’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol? This legendary scene on the world’s tallest building was when the UAE truly announced itself on the big screen, and ever since this unique corner of the Middle East has continued hosting epic adventures.

From Vin Diesel taking his car airborne between Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers in Furious 7 to Dubai’s futuristic Jumeirah Beach Residence playing a starring role in Star Trek Beyond, expect to see a lot more of the UAE’s ultra-modern landscapes at the movies in the future.

Gaze upon the emerald beauty of Ireland

Skellig Michael, UNESCO site off Ireland's emerald coast

Skellig Michael, a UNESCO site off Ireland's coast, which featured in the Star Wars franchise, was a monastic retreat from the 6th to 12th centuries (Photo: Getty Images) 

The Emerald Isle’s mix of rugged, windswept scenes combined with the humour and warmth of its people have long made for a distinct and delightful cinematic tradition. The Republic's stunning, sea-sprayed islands were part of The Banshees of Inisherin’s unique charm – if you fell in love with the film's beach scenes, make for Keem Bay, Achill Island – just as the winding country roads of County Galway graced Brendan Gleeson’s brilliant The Guard.

Perhaps lesser known is that Ireland has also hosted the mighty Star Wars franchise, where the rocky island of Skellig Michael was a pitch-perfect casting choice as Ahch-To and can be reached by boat.

Understand why Morocco is the film-maker's muse

A local town in Morocco

Morocco is a cinematic chameleon, doubling as various locations in films like Gladiator and Inception due to its diverse landscapes and rich cultural aesthetics (Photo: Getty Images) 

Many American and European artists and writers called Morocco home in the postwar years, and this alluring North African country has been inspiring Hollywood ever since. 

Daniel Craig’s James Bond found himself under the glare of Morroco's beaming desert sun in 2015’s Spectre after boarding the real-life Oriental Desert Express, with scenes of the train shot in the spectacular landscape near the city of Oujda. Fez’s bustling markets and narrow souks, meanwhile, became cinematic gold during the thrilling tuk-tuk chase in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

With the Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace acting as the perfect base, you too can lose yourself in the medina of Fez, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Take in Italy's wealth of classic sights

Picturesque landscape of Italy overlooking the water

Italy's picturesque landscapes have made it a popular film location. Iconic movies like The Godfather and Under the Tuscan Sun showcase its stunning and diverse settings (Photo: Getty Images) 

From Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn meeting at the foot of Rome’s famous Spanish Steps in Roman Holiday to Al Pacino and Robert De Niro prowling the Sicilian villages of Forza d'Agrò and Savoca (which stood in for Corleone) in The Godfather movies, Hollywood's finest directors have used Italy as a timeless canvas for decades – and with the country’s deep history and beautiful settings, it isn’t hard to see why.

The movies have also been an opportunity to highlight lesser-known Italian sights that could inspire future travel, including Ischia's sublime Aragonese Castle in The Talented Mr Ripley and the magical hillside town of Cortona in Under The Tuscan Sun.

Admire Namibia's beauty from mountain to desert to coast

Desert of Nambia

The breathtaking desert landscapes in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) were not Australian, as one might expect, but filmed in the dramatic Namib Desert in Namibia, Africa (Photo: Getty Images) 

The dust-blasted trucks thundering through the Namib Desert in 2017’s Mad Max: Fury Road swept Namibia into the public’s consciousness, especially when the movie went on to win six Oscars. But actually, Namibia’s striking beauty has been part of Hollywood lore for many years.

The opening scenes of 1968’s legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey were shot amid the granite peaks of the Spitzkoppe Mountains, while more recently Tom Cruise’s The Mummy reboot was filmed near Swakopmund on Namibia's Atlantic coast in 2017. With both of these locations available to visit through guided tours, expect to see more of Namibia’s spectacular landscapes on the big screen soon.

Delight in the eye-popping colours of Greece

Skopelos island, Greece

Greece's stunning landscapes, ancient ruins, and picturesque islands have made it a popular choice for filmmakers, providing a timeless backdrop for a wide range of movie genres (Photo: Getty Images) 

Is there a location whose colours pop off the big screen more than the Greek Islands? With pastel blue towers, whitewashed houses and glittering crystalline waters, the coastal scenes set around Messenia in Before Midnight and the charming island of Skopelos in Mamma Mia! are magnificently Mediterranean and could only be Greece

There are millennia of history to discover in this fascinating country, too, so make sure to explore breathtaking sights like the Church of Agios Ioannis and the rocky ruins of Kastro before ordering a glass of wine and settling back with another glorious Greek coastal view. 

Get out of this world in Jordan

Petra, a famous archaeological site in Jordan's southwestern desert

Jordan's diverse landscapes, including the iconic Petra and Wadi Rum desert, have attracted filmmakers, creating a cinematic canvas for productions like Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian (Photo: Getty Images) 

Some landscapes are so striking that they simply have to be committed to the silver screen. With its undulating red dunes, chiselled canyons and stark rock formations, Jordan's Wadi Rum desert is like a real-life sci-fi movie set. Whether it’s classic productions like Lawrence of Arabia or more modern epics like Dune, this desert is one of the world’s most remarkable shooting locations, and its jeep tours and Beduin camps make travelling there a joy.

Soak up cinematic views of the Dead Sea before heading into Wadi Rum by booking a multi-night stay at the Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa.

Published: November 21, 2023

Last Updated: December 11, 2023

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