So, let’s face it: half the country seems to a) be in Europe b) have booked a trip to Europe or c) are contemplating booking a trip to Europe. Our sun-worshipping population can’t help but jump on a long haul flight to follow the warmth, and we certainly follow suit when the opportunities arise!
But when the shopping is done, you’ve soaked up plenty of rays and you can’t possibly stomach another three course meal (I’m shaking my head at you, France) what’s next on the agenda? Enter: all those mind-boggling settings that you’ve seen on the big screen making you loudly declare “I HAVE to go there” but of course, they slip your mind when you’re back in reality. That’s where this awesome list of our Top 10 Filming Locations To Visit in Europe comes in, with everything from stunning vistas in Italy straight out of Under The Tuscan Sun to crumbling castles in Scotland from Game of Thrones and let’s not forget the chic cafe where you can reenact Blair and Serena’s Parisian sojourn…bon appetit!
Barcelona – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
With the combination of Penelope Cruz and Scarlet Johansson in a fiery love triangle, there’s no denying it, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is downright sexy as is its central filming location, Barcelona. There are a ton of outdoor locations featured in the movie to visit including La Rambla (where Cristina puts her camera to good use) and Parc Güell (home to one of the major Gaudi works) but our favourite setting is indoors at Bar Marsella where Cristina and Juan Antonios batted eyelids at each other. Here, you can try a glass of absinthe and of course, scout for your own Spanish lover (we can all dream, can’t we?).
Karlin District, Prague – James Bond: Casino Royale
Surprisingly Europe’s movie locations aren’t all about the three Cs (churches, castles and cathedrals). Back in 2006 our favourite English gent, Daniel Craig, graced our screens for the first time as James Bond in Casino Royale. The opening scenes of the movie were filmed in Prague and included the Danube House (River City Quarter), Strahov Monastery and the National Museum (closed for restoration but you can see the outside from the neighbouring new glass wing).
Top image – Strahov Monastery (Jorge Royan); bottom image – Dangue House
Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station – Harry Potter
Although this particular Platform 9 3/4 was never used for filming, it absolutely mimics the real thing – you’ll find it at the Harry Potter Shop at King’s Cross Station (although, there’s often a line so we recommend getting there early on a weekday to beat the crowds). These guys take Harry Potter re-enacting seriously and you’ll be given a scarf and wand to pose with in front of the station sign. Note: if you’re after a real setting we suggest a visit to Alnwick Castle, Northumberland that was regularly used as the setting for Hogwarts (and also appeared in Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves).
Images – www.harrypotterplatform934.com
Cortona, Tuscany – Under The Tuscan Sun
If this movie doesn’t give you a serious case of wanderlust then we don’t know what will! We’re positive that Under The Tuscan Sun is the sole reason for extended stays in Italy and with the idyllic setting in the movie, we’re absolutely keen for one too. Just as Diane Lane did, you can stay at Villa Laura, which was used as Bramasole in the movie. Although the 17th century estate dates all the way back to 600 AD it’s not dilapidated as it was on the big screen and while it retains the rustic charm, it’s actually a luxury B&B.
Images – www.villa-laura.eu
Chatsworth House, England – Pride and Prejudice
We’re pretty big fans of corsets and stately houses (sigh), and Chatsworth House, in Derbyshire (England) is the cream of the crop. It’s currently owned by the Duke of Devonshire (it’s been in his family since 1549) but in movie-life it’s been used several times but most notably as the home of Mr Darcy in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice. You can even see Mr Darcy’s bust sculpture (played by Matthew Macfadyen) on display but no smooching allowed, ladies. If you’re a fan of the movie you’ll recognise several parts of the house including the grand hall of statues and sculptures as well as the stunning panoramic view of the house from around the grounds.
Images – www.regencyhistory.net
Salzburg, Austria – The Sound Of Music
If you’re travelling with someone from the baby-boomer generation, there’s a good chance they’ll jump at the opportunity to embrace their inner Maria and travel to the picturesque locations from The Sound Of Music (after all, this was THE big movie!). There are plenty of spots to visit on your own accord such as Hellbrunn Palace where the song ’16 Going On 17’ was filmed. But we suggest you ramp up the cheese factor and jump on one of the sing-along tours to visit all of the main movie settings over several hours.
Images – www.austria.info/au
Skellig Michael, Ireland – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This jaw-dropping pinnacle-like island looks like it’s frozen in time so it’s no wonder that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was used as Luke Skywalker’s hideaway in The Force Awakens however filming ruffled some feathers (pardon the pun) as it was thought to disturb some of the habitat of the resident seabirds. Access to the island is limited to tours that run during summer (May to October) and even then you’ll have to hope for calm waters – although it’s well worth the sight if you can make it over.
Images – skelligislands.com
Chateau de Versailles, France – Marie Antoinette
Even travellers who aren’t interested in period films will be blown away by Chateau de Versailles, the home of Marie Antoinette on film and in real life. The ginormous estate was built during the mid-17th century during the reign of Louis XIV and is about a sixty to ninety minute trip from Paris via public transport. The gardens are World Heritage listed and during the summer you can see them lit up at night as part of the fountains night show and fireworks.
Images – chateauversailles.fr
Cafe Louis Philippe, Paris – Gossip Girl
We LOVE a pretty Parisian spot to while away the afternoon people-watching so it’s no wonder that Cafe Louis Philippe was frequented by Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen during their French vacation. With terrace dining, it’s cute and authentically French without the price tag of the usual Gossip Girl haunts.
Image – commons.wikimedia.org
Doune Castle, Scotland – Outlander, Game of Thrones, Monty Python
You’ll be killing a few birds with one stone thanks to a visit to this popular 13th century location. Done Castle was used as the setting for Winterfell in Game of Thrones, Castle Leoch in Outlander and in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You can check out the views, have a look in the kitchen or take the audio tour narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones that also walks you through the film set.
Images – www.visitscotland.com
Written by Jade Just – Contributing Travel Editor