Best Travel Destinations Seen on Screen
As seen in: Midnight in Paris (2011)
Woody Allen's Oscar-nominated romantic comedy, with Owen Wilson as the awkward, rambling protagonist, offers a glimpse of Paris's glamorous creative elite in the 1920s. Even without fantastical appearances by Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, the city has magical effects. In the film, free-spirit Gil, played by Wilson, stays with his perturbed fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her right-wing parents at the luxury hotel Le Bristol on the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. For a culture fix, Musée Rodin makes a memorable appearance in the film, partially due to a cameo by France's First Lady, Carla Bruni, who plays a museum guide.
As seen in: Melancholia (2011)
The sprawling estate in Lars von Trier's end-of-days film starring Kirsten Dunst is actually Tjolöholm Castle, a Tudor-style structure built around 1900 on a stunning peninsula in western Sweden’s Kungsbacka Fjord preserve. Travelers can tour the castle’s 36 rooms and explore the property’s beach trails and forests.
As seen in: The Tree of Life (2011)
Some of the most striking scenes in Terrence Malick's high-minded film, about a 1950s family and the origin of life, take place in Texas swimming holes like Hamilton Pool, 30 miles southwest of Austin. Formed millennia ago when erosion revealed an underground river, the lagoon and surrounding preserve attract swimmers, hikers and picnickers. In the city's Zilker Park, the three O'Brien brothers (actors Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler and Tye Sheridan) play in the man-made Barton Springs Pool.
Matamata, New Zealand
As seen in: The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
Before Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) embarked on an epic quest to destroy the ring, he lived in a cozy hole beneath the lush green hills of Hobbiton. A working sheep and cattle farm in the rural New Zealand town of Matamata (population 12,000) provided the vibrant backdrop. After director Peter Jackson finished the trilogy, the local government decided to leave the film's hobbit holes intact, and travelers to the picturesque countryside can now tour the set and farm.
As seen in: Harry Potter (2001-2011)
Visitors to the Scottish Highlands can literally take the Harry Potter route. The Hogwarts Express that carries Harry, Ron and Hermione to their majestic school of magic travels across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is used by real passenger trains along the West Highland line. Furthermore, Harry battles a dragon during the Triwizard Tournament at Steal Falls, a waterfall at the base of Ben Nevis mountain. Most of the Hogwarts interiors—the ascending stone staircase, the cavernous dining hall—were shot a few hours south of the Scottish border in Oxford, England.
As seen in: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Doomed playboy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), his naïve fiancé Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) and compulsive liar Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) refer to their breathtaking Italian island setting as “Mongibello,” but principal shooting took place in Ischia. The southern Italian island in the Bay of Naples has volcanic thermal spas, rocky cliffs, beautiful beaches and ancient ruins. Tourists can visit Castello Argonese, the omnipresent fortress looming over the island, and sunbathe at Bagno Antonio, a private beach club, for a small admission fee.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
As seen in: The Twilight Saga (2008-2012)
Though Forks, Washington—the setting for author Stephenie Meyer's cult vampire book series—is a real place, many of the films' outdoorsy scenes took place on woodland sites in Vancouver, including Coquitlam's Minnekhada Regional Park. In Breaking Dawn—Part 1 (2011), Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) marry in the fir and pine forests of Squamish, BC.
As seen in: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
If only every breakup could be followed by a trip to Hawaii. Actors Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Russell Brand and Mila Kunis filmed the comedy in 30 days at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. Famous for its surfing and pristine beaches, the north side is wilder than the island's developed southern shore, where Honolulu, the state's urban center, is located.
As seen in: Mamma Mia! (2008)
The ABBA–driven musical about a daughter's quest to uncover the identity of her father brought its heavyweight lineup of actors (including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth) to several Greek islands including Skopelos. The cast performed “Does Your Mother Know” on Kastani Beach and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) jumped with her potential dads into the Mediterranean from the cliffs near Glisteri. Cast and crew’s accommodations included the Skopelos Village Hotel, the Prince Stafilos Hotel and the Adrina Beach Hotel.