It’s a sad day when you grow up to find out that most of your favourite movies were filmed on a set in a swanky studio in Hollywood.
But don’t worry, that’s most of your favourite movies, not all of them.
And there’s even some not-so-good films that are filmed on such amazing locations that you’ll want to visit just to see if it looks as jaw-dropping in real life as it does on the big screen.
Alternative Airlines' top filming locations you can visit
The Shining, 1980
Based off the Stephen King novel of the same name, The Shining redefined the conventions of a horror film. Swapping jump-scares and dark-lighting for a terrifying psychological showpiece.
Where was The Shining filmed?
Not to burst your bubble, but the majority of The Shining was actually filmed at the Elstree Studios in the United Kingdom (which is actually a movie set you can visit). However, the exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel — the fictional hotel that drove Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) from a loving father to man set out on a murderous rampage — were filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, USA.
Today, the lodge is very popular with tourists, attracting a couple of million people to the area each year. It’s grounds have been made into a ski area, named Timberline Lodge Ski Area, so if you decide to visit, you can make a ski holiday out of it too.
You can book a standard Queen Room at the Timberline Lodge and stay at the location of The Shining for approx $250USD per night. There are also Economy Twin Rooms available for around $165USD per night, depending on what time of the year you visit. *Prices suggested in 2021
The nearest airport to Timberline Lodge is Portland International Airport (PDX), which can be reached on airlines such as Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It’s around a one-hour and 20 minute drive to the Timberline Lodge ski area from there.
Mamma Mia!, 2008
Other than the smash hits from the Swedish foursome, the ABBA-centric extravaganzas Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are famous for two things — their light-hearted spirit and their amazing location.
Where was Mamma Mia! filmed?
Mamma Mia! was filmed on the Greek islands of Skopelos and Skiathos, as well as Pelion on mainland Greece. An area so beautiful, that even world-travelling free-spirit Donna Sherridan (Meryl Streep and Lily James) couldn’t bare to leave the islands and decided to settle there.
The majority of the two movies were filmed on Skopelos — the area surrounding Donna’s house is called Gilsteri, the main beach featured in the film is Kastani beach and the church where Sophie Sherridan (Amanda Seyfried) gets married in is the small church of Agios loannis Kastri.
Skopelos, Greek island
Take me to Skopelos
Unfortunately, Skopelos doesn’t have an airport. The best option is to fly into Skiathos and get a short boat ride over to Skopelos.
You can fly to Skiathos International Airport (JSI) on airlines such as British Airways (seasonal) and Austrian Airlines (seasonal). Alternatively, you can fly into Athens on many major airlines and then get a short domestic flight to Skiathos with Olympic Air or Sky Express.
Jaws forever changed the world’s perception of sharks. Sure, there were shark-attacks before Jaws, but Steven Spielberg’s thriller made the world worried to dip their toes in the ocean after it’s release. And even to this day, many can’t go out too far from the shore without the thought of a potential shark attack in the back of their mind.
It’s a testament to the excellence of Jaws. But it might also make you wonder, ‘why on Earth would I want to visit the place where Jaws was filmed?’.
Where was Jaws filmed?
Jaws was filmed in Martha’s Vineyard, a 9 x 26 mile island in New England, USA. You can reach Edgartown on the west coast from Menemsha on the east coast in around an hour's drive.
Shark sitings in the area are actually pretty rare and it’s not until recent years that the king of the ocean has emerged in the surrounding areas.
Instead, what you can find plenty of in Martha’s Vineyard is charming fishing villages, warm and inviting inns and local restaurants with delicious food.
Two of the mast famous locations from Jaws are in the same village. South Beach (where the opening scene was shot) and the most popular tourist location, the ‘Jaws Bridge’, can be both be found in Edgartown.
Make sure not to dive off the Jaws bridge into the surrounding waters. Firstly, you’re not actually allowed to. Secondly, the locals hate it. And thirdly, although shark sitings are rare in Edgartown, it’s probably not worth the risk.
A charming William Thacker (Hugh Grant) falls in love with Hollywood actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) in this romantic-comedy set in the UK. Notting Hill was written by Richard Curtis, five years after the release of another Curtis film, Four Weddings and Funeral, solidifying him as the master of the rom-com genre.
Where was Notting Hill filmed?
Notting Hill was filmed in — yep, you guessed it — Notting Hill, in London. You can walk through the colourful houses of Notting Hill in search of the blue door to William Thacker’s flat, but sadly the travel book shop where William works has been replaced by a gift shop. The cinema featured in the film is still there, but it now runs as a theatre named ‘the Print Room’.
Notting Hill is located in West London and can be easily reached with the cities underground system.
We recommend visiting Notting Hill on a weekend when the area really comes alive. And, if you can, plan your visit around Notting Hill Carnival, which falls on the last weekend of August every year.
50 First Dates has all the goofiness you’d expect from a regular Adam Sandler movie. But, if you can stand all the gross-out humour, it’s a semi-uplifting story and you might just find a new number one on your list of ‘famous movie locations to visit’.
Where was 50 First Dates filmed?
The majority of 50 First Dates was filmed in Oahu, Hawaii. You can head to the east coast and visit the Whitmore’s house in the north of Waikane, Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor — where Henry docks his boat — a little further south. Other filming locations such as Sandy Beach Park and Makapuu Lighthouse can be found in the most south-east part of Oahu.
However, the real must-visit for any fan of 50 First Dates is the Hukilau Cafe where Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) and Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) first meet. The Hukilau Cafe is situated off the coast in the area of Laie. When visiting, try the Hakilau burger which was featured on the food reality show, Man v. Food.
Beach in Oahu, Hawaii
Take me to Oahu, Hawaii
The main airport in Oahu is Honolulu International Airport (HNL), which is around a 20 minute drive from central Oahu. You can fly into Honolulu International on Hawaiian Airlines, Scoot and Jetstar Airways.
The Godfather, 1972
Considered by many as the greatest film of all time, The Godfather gives an insight into life for the Italian-American mafia in the 1940s and 1950s.
Where was The Godfather filmed?
Parts of The Godfather were shot in New York and other parts were shot in Sicily, Italy.
In the film, the Corleone family are said to be from the town of Corleone. However, when the The Godfather was filmed in 1974, Corleone no longer resembled the Corleone of the 1940s.
Therefore, to give the film a more authentic feel, The Godfather was filmed in the northeast towns of Sicily — Forza D’Agro and Savoca.
There are tour companies that will take you through the various different filming locations, or you can make your own way around and visit them yourself. Iconic filming locations such as Bar Vitelli and the church that Michael gets married in are found in Savoca.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the iconic filming locations of The Godfather and the rest of Sicily, we dare say it’s an offer that you can’t — and definitely shouldn’t — refuse.
St.Nicolo church in Savoca where Michael and Apollonia Corleone were married. Credit: Clemensfranz
Take me to Sicily
Palermo Airport is the closest airport to central Sicily. You can fly into Palermo Airport (PMO), base yourself around central Sicily and make day trips to Forza D’Agro and Savoca. Airlines that fly into Palermo Airport include easyJet, Air Italy and Volotea.
Or you can stay in the areas where The Godfather was filmed by flying into Catania Airport, which is much closer to Savoca and Forza D’Agro. Airlines that fly into Catania Airport include Lufthansa, Edelweiss Air, Swiss (seasonal) and Vueling.
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