I’ve teamed up with some of my favourite Travel Bloggers to share our best film location travel tips for 2017. With one destination for every month, the only thing left for you to decide is where to go first…
January: Santa Barbara, California, USA for Sideways
"It never rains in Southern California" – that's certainly true for Santa Barbara. I couldn't believe when Vlogger Rahul from Plush TV told me he shot this beautiful sunny video in January! Just bear in mind that the sun sets early in January (around 5 pm). Otherwise discovering the wine region of Santa Barbara just like Miles and Jack do in the film Sideways (2004) is your perfect escape during the dark winter months elsewhere in the world…
About the Blogger:
Plush TV is a lifestyle channel showcasing ideas, and places that are unique, trendy, and generally a bit off the beaten track. Currently, there are two shows: Fantastic Finds is where the team showcases fun, innovative gifting ideas. Some of these products are also available on their website: www.plushplaza.com. Plush Places is showcasing, trendy, exotic travel experiences. Both these shows are hosted by Rahul Jagtiani, founder of Plush Plaza.
February: Paris, France for Midnight in Paris
February is a magical time to visit Paris. It's off season, so you can avoid the crowds. Plus, there may even be some snow. Expat Travel Blogger Menorca from Europe Diaries has taken a closer look at this romantic city and one of its most famous movies – Midnight in Paris (2011)…
If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris , you might recollect the magnificent Pont Alexandre III, or the Alexandre Bridge in Paris, the city of love and lights. Even for those who have not, the exquisite sculptures of winged horses and the strategic location of the bridge , overlooking the Eiffel Tower , will be a treat for your senses. The bridge is where the famous closing scene of the movie was shot, with Gabrielle telling Gil (Owen Wilson), “Paris is the most beautiful in the rain.”
Several other movies have also been shot in Paris, such as Ratatouille – featuring the Notre Dame and Amelie featuring Café des Deux Moulins in Montmartre, Paris. If you are visiting France and do not speak French, here are some tips to help you out.
About the Blogger:
March: Girona, Spain for Game of Thrones
Fans of fantasy series Game of Thrones are spoilt for choice when it comes to visiting the series' film locations: From the rough, but beautiful shores of Northern Ireland to the spectacular backdrops of Iceland or the Mediterranean town setting in Dubrovnik, Croatia – there is something for everyone. Food and Travel Blogger Laura from Savored Journeys has checked out the Game of Thrones locations in Girona, Spain…
One of the most well-preserved medieval old towns in Europe can be found in Girona, Spain. For this reason, it was chosen by HBO as a filming location for Game of Thrones, Season 6. From the moment you enter the old town in Girona, you can see why it was chosen, and why it made such a spectacular filming location. You can take a walking tour of the Game of Thrones filming locations, and you'll see how they didn't have to change much about the city in post-production to make it perfect for the scenes.
From the incredible Girona Cathedral to the 14th-century Gothic Church of Sant Feliu, the old Arab baths and the Jewish Quarters, Girona has so many things to see, and so much history lurking around every corner.
The old city is not all there is to Girona, of course. There is a lively modern section of town with many places to eat, like our favorites Restaurant Sentits and Konig Café. Great cocktails can be found at Nykteri's Cocktail Bar, just on the edge of the old town. And within just 30-minutes drive is the entire Costa Brava to explore.
About the Blogger:
Laura shares her travels on her blog Savored Journeys, which focuses on where to find the best food and wine around the world. If you want to read more about the locations in Girona, check out Laura's dedicated Game of Thrones film locations post Visit Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Girona, Spain.
April: Bruges, Belgium for The White Queen
When I visited cute little Belgium town of Bruges for the first time ever in April 2016, it felt as if I've stepped back into the Middle Ages. Here is why I think that period film lovers and Bollywood fans alike will have a great time in Bruges…
Bruges is mainly known for the thriller In Bruges, in which Colin Farrell's sarcastic character nicknames the Belgium town "a shithole". Needless to say, the visitor numbers to Bruges rose dramatically in the years following the film's release. The city with the well-preserved medieval town centre also became more and more popular with film crews. In 2013, Bruges even hosted the film crew for PK – the most successful Bollywood film EVER!
However, I mainly came to Bruges for one reason: Having read all of Philippa Gregory's books, I was excited to trace the actual filming locations of the TV series The White Queen (2013), which was exclusively filmed in the Flanders region of Belgium.
April was a pretty good time to visit as it was already a bit warmer and flowers blossomed up everywhere. Just bear in mind that the weather in April is traditionally very unsteady in pretty much all European countries. There can be heavy rain showers from one minute to the next (this even happened to me on my one day in Bruges). But after that, the sun will shine again. Just take an umbrella and you'll be fine. 🙂
For more tips about film location hunting in Bruges, check out my When in Bruges post!
May: New York City, USA for Sex and the City
New York City is famous for its extreme climate: The winters are often bitter cold with lots of snow and ice, while the summers can be boiling hot and muggy. If you come to New York City in May though, the month when spring is in full splendour, you just can't go wrong.…
Films fans visiting New York are, of course, spoilt for choice. There are literally tons of film locations they could trace here. In fact, Central Park alone is one is THE most used public film location in the world!
So where to start? Well, the classic guided bus tour When Harry Met Seinfeld will give you a good overview of several different film locations throughout the city. And of course, for any Sex and the City (1998–2004) fan, the dedicated Sex and the City Tour will most likely be your thing.
However, film location hunting in New York doesn't have to be expensive. Sex and the City fans can head to 64 Perry St, NY 10014 and see the exterior of Carrie's apartment building FREE of charge. Not far from here is the famous Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker Street and W. 11th Street, New York, NY). Just a word of warning: The cupcakes are indeed heavenly and you will most likely not leave the shop without one!
Ready to explore the film capital New York? Here are my 5 Steps to Plan your Stay in New York City
June: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for Oceans Twelve
June is a good time to visit Amsterdam. It can be pretty warm already, yet the masses of tourists are not quite there yet as most people, especially families, tend to go on their summer vacation in either July or August. Hollywood blockbusters that have been filmed here include The Fault in Our Stars (2014) and Oceans Twelve (2004), which American expat Melissa from UnClogged in Amsterdam, has taken a closer look at…
Even non-stoners took note when Brad Pitt and George Clooney messed with Matt Damon in an Oceans Twelve scene set in Amsterdam's Dampkring coffeeshop. In the 2004 sequel to Oceans Eleven, Clooney's gang bunks up at the luxury Pulitzer Hotel, romps through the boutique-filled Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets), and stumbles into one of the city's quirkiest museums, KattenKabinet, an homage to cats in art set in a 17th-century residence. The thieves never get to the world-renowned Rijksmuseum or any other of Amsterdam's 50+ museums, but the city's UNESCO-recognized canal ring and Golden Age mansions are a luminous backdrop for their contemporary capers.
There's more to a European capital known for soft drugs, cheese and windmills than the Hollywood blockbuster reveals. Amsterdam blooms in springtime, when Keukenhof opens with the world's most dazzling display of tulips. In April, the city celebrates Koningsdag with the wildest street party of the year. Summer brings concerts and festivals to venues around town, as well as open-air theater in Vondelpark and Amsterdam Bos.
In October, the world's finest DJs showcase their talents for ADE. Year-end holidays bring ice-rinks and oliebollen stands to public squares while the Amsterdam Light Festival illuminates long winter nights. Whenever you visit, there's something for everyone in a charismatic global village that mesmerizes as a stage for Hollywood's hunkiest.
About the Blogger:
Melissa Adams is an American freelance writer who traded sunny Newport Beach, California for a soggy patch in northern European. As a resident of Amsterdam since 2010, she shares tips for visiting the Dutch capital at UnClogged in Amsterdam: An American Expat Plumbs Holland.
July: Los Angeles, USA for La La Land
Los Angeles is usually neither too hot nor too cold, which makes the epicentre of Hollywood an all-year-destination. With all the Hollywood studios that are based here, L.A. is one of THE most filmed cities in the world. However, there are not that many films ABOUT Los Angeles as a city. The musical-drama-comedy of the year – La La Land – changed all that…
Rather than showcasing the mainstream L.A. visitor attractions like the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, the production team of La La Land focused on Los Angeles “off the beaten track”. They also wanted to showcase this vast city in all its diversity. Therefore, some scenes were shot at world-famous L.A. attractions, such as the Griffith Park Observatory, where Mia and Sebastian enjoy a romantic date, while others were shot at lesser known L.A. sides. These include the Lighthouse Café on Redondo Beach, a jazz club since 1949, or Hermosa Beach Pier, where Ryan Gosling is performing the film’s title song “City of Stars” – by the way an interesting alternative to the often over-crowded Santa Monica Pier.
August: Cortona, Italy for Under the Tuscan Sun
August is the perfect time for a romantic getaway to Italy. And when you're thinking about going to Tuscany, Under The Tuscan Sun (2003) immediately comes to mind! The film is about a recently divorced writer who impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in an attempt to turn her life around. Australian expat Sandy from GlobalWanderings.ca, has checked out its beautiful film locations, for example the village of Cortona…
The ancient town of Cortona rises above the plain of the Val di Chiana with views to Lake Trasimeno to the south. There is no question that the geography is grand and the vistas are spectacular!
However, one of my greatest delights is looking along the narrow streets that disappear between the buildings as I stroll along Via Nazionale to piazza della Repubblica, or wander up an alley to discover the next piazza or one of the paths up the hillside to the Basilica Santa Margherita. Or maybe walk to the house used as ‘Bramasole’ in the film Under the Tuscan Sun.
Quieter than larger cities, but still with a wonderful vibe, Cortona brings Tuscan history to life today, in a beautifully authentic way. All the flavours of Tuscany are available, and you can find them in the osteria, caffes, and gelaterias. From the wines of the Val di Chiana, Montepulciano and Montalcino, to regional cheeses, salumi and fresh seasonal vegetables.
In the summertime, there are certain events worth planning for: The Medieval Street Festival The Joust of Archidado, for example, is held between May and mid-June and the international photography festival Cortona on the Move from around mid-July and early October.
About the Blogger:
Sandy Swanton is a freelance travel writer/photographer and blogger. After a 25-year career in written and visual communications in eastern Australia and western Canada, Sandy now lives in Italy. You can follow her travels on her blog, GlobalWanderings.ca.
September: Stockholm, Sweden for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
As the crowds of tourists tend to flock the Sweden's capital Stockholm in the summer months of June and July, September is the perfect time to explore the city at a leisurely pace… If you're lucky, it may even be very sunny and warm, which was the case during my visit in September 2016…
Stockholm is the setting of the millennium trilogy novels The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, all written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. In the early 2000s, all three novels were made into Swedish feature films. Plus, in 2011, Hollywood made a reboot version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander.
Fans of either the Swedish or American movies, should not miss the dedicated 2-hour-tour Millennium tour in English. The tour starts in Stockholm's trend district Södermalm, more precisely at Bellmansgatan 1 – the home of the main character, journalist Mikael Blomqvist. You will then walk your way through all the key film locations such as the Millennium editorial office, the characters' favourite bars and cafés, and of course Lisbeth Salander’s luxury apartment. Added bonus: a stunning view of Stockholm is included, too!
If you only have a few days in the Swedish capital and want to make the most of it, check out my 72 hours in Stockholm post. For more tested-and-tried sightseeing ideas in the Swedish capital, have a look at my other Stockholm posts.
October: Wicklow County, Ireland for Vikings
If you ask Irish people, they say it always rains in Ireland. But I didn't found that to be true when I came to have a look at the Vikings film locations just outside of Dublin in October 2016. On this sunny day, the view down on Kattegat was splendid…
The original Vikings may have come from the Far North, but the filming of the popular TV show Vikings (2013-ongoing) has exclusively taken place in Ireland! More precisely in the Wicklow Mountains National Park – an area, which offers spectacular coastline, mountains, glacial lakes and forests.
From Ireland's capital Dublin it's only about a one hour drive, which makes it the perfect destination for a day trip. You can either rent a car and drive yourself or – and that's the most convenient option – go there with a guided tour. Great news for film fans: there is a special film location tour, offered by Day Tours Unplugged!
As Wicklow County and the Wicklow Mountains National Park have long been used as a shooting location for TV shows and features films, you will not only get to see the film locations of Vikings, but also those of other feature films such as P.S. I Love You (2007) or Braveheart (1995).
For more info on this awesome film location tour, check out my Vikings film locations post.
November: Hogwarts Express, England for Harry Potter
November's best argument is that it's "off season" for most holidaymakers, meaning that you will encounter less crowds and more nature. Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations stepped on the Hogwarts Express to trace the adventures of the world-famous Harry Potter films…
The UK is a great place to travel if you’re a fan of Harry Potter. The first two films, in particular, used a variety of real places for their magical and muggle locations. My husband and I took our son and his cousin, both young teenagers, to visit some of these sites. We all love the Harry Potter stories. At the same time, my husband and I love historical buildings, while the boys love solving a puzzle. This trip satisfied everyone.
Two of my favorites were Alnwick Castle, where some of the exterior Hogwarts scenes were filmed, and Lacock Abbey, used for some of the classroom scenes in the first film. Both are the sorts of evocative medieval buildings I love. I could soak myself in the history to my heart’s content, while the boys stalked the grounds puzzling out where each scene was filmed.
And we especially loved the Hogwarts Express, more correctly called the Jacobite Steam Train. The train chugs through the breathtaking Scottish Highlands along a route where several Harry Potter scenes took place. It’s a great day trip, allowing a bit of time at the last stop, Mallaig, before heading back to the starting point at Fort William.
About the Blogger:
Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on Rachel's personal responses to what she sees and experiences as she wanders the paths of her life. She also explores other topics such as parenting, education or current issues, often from an expatriate perspective. She is a writer, blogger and teacher-trainer living in Groningen, the Netherlands. Born and raised in the US, she met her Dutch husband while she was in the Peace Corps in Malawi. He, their children and Rachel travel as much as they can.
December: Havana, Cuba for The Old Man and the Sea
Together with India, Iceland and China, Cuba has been named by industry experts to become one of THE emerging travel destinations of 2017. As Cuba is world-famous for salsa dancing, it's not surprising that a sequel of Dirty Dancing called Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) was filmed here. On her recent trip to Cuba, Jenni from Travel To Recovery also found out about the special influence that writer Ernest Hemmingway has had on the caribbean island…
Best time to visit Cuba is December to May as the rains come in June. There are high risks of hurricanes August to October so this time should especially be avoided. I visited in December and the weather was glorious we had one downpour that lasted about 30 minutes but it well appreciated.
Transport on the island is slow and even though it is possible to get around independently I would advise anyone to do a guided tour to get the best out of seeing the island.
Obviously, the highlight of any trip to Havana is going to be a ride in the old American classic cars. The island is so colourful and music is playing all the time, it is however like stepping back in time about 50 years which gives it so much character.
Carnival is at the end of July in Santiago Du Cuba and the streets will be buzzing this would be an amazing time to visit as the Cubans love to dance and who doesn’t start shaking their hips when you hear salsa music.
Ernest Hemmingway lived in Cuba and his novel and film the old man and the sea is based in Havana, you can visit El Floridita Bar, where Hemmingway allegeable invented the famous daiquiri cocktail.
About the Blogger:
Jenni is a travel blogger from the UK highlighting mobility issues whilst travelling. She shares tips, information and recommendations from her own experiences on her blog Travel To Recovery. Mainly travelling solo in luxury but at affordable prices. Curious about Cuba? Check out Jenni's post about exploring the Caribbean island on horse back.