If you could step into the world of your favourite film, would you? Most of us wouldn’t bat an eyelid before saying yes. And while there is no way to magically transport yourself into your most loved movie, you can surely take a trip to the real-life movie sets – ust don’t be surprised if they look nothing like they do on the silver screen.
The creativity showcased on screen can turn regular places into magical, fantastical sets. Take for instance The Lord of the Rings set that turned a sheep farm in New Zealand into the fictional planet Middle-earth.
Hobbiton in Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies
The Shire appears in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series. And it would be interesting for diehard fans of the movie to know that they can now visit the shires’ movie sets. The Alexander family farm, which doubles as the Shire is actually The Hobbiton town in New Zealand. A 12-acre complex, there are tours available to visit the storybook-like set. You can book one of several guided tours which takes fans to filming spots like the Green Dragon Inn, Hobbit Holes, and the Mill.
The Wadi Rum desert as Mars in The Martian
The iconic film The Martian showcases the planet Mars. But the interesting thing is The Wadi Rum desert in Jordan features as Mars Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney spends almost the entire film on the planet by himself. The desert is definitely otherworldly but the Wadi Rum desert has also been featured on The Last Days.
Skellig Island, Ireland in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Nestled in Ireland Skelling Micheal is home to the remains of an ancient monastery and visitors must climb 618 steps to see it. These steps are iconic as they are part of the movie set for the blockbuster Star Wars films – “The Force Awakens,” and more of the island is featured in “The Last Jedi.” You can visit the remains of the 8th century monastery, though the island is only accessible by boat. The ride can take anywhere between 45 minutes to two hours, depending on conditions. It’s an island in Ireland and another UNESCO World Heritage site.
Skopelos, Greece in Mamma Mia
The stunning Greek island architecture has made a strong impact in the film Mamma Mia! Although the script of the film is based on a fictional island, fans can visit the real-life island of Skopelos in the western Aegean Sea, where the movie was shot. Connected to the mainland by 110 steps, the Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri was used for the wedding scenes at the end of Mamma Mia. The film was shot all around the Greek island of Skopelos.
Alnwick Castle as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies
Calling all Potter fans, it’s no surprise that most of the film was shot in the United Kingdom. But pinpointing the exact locations can be tiresome. The Alnwick Castle in Northumberland doubles up as Hogwarts in the film series and can be most prominently seen in Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Its magical aura has also been showcased in the scenes of Broomstick Training. While most of the exterior shots of Hogwarts were based on a model built for the films, many of the more up-close scenes were filmed at Alnwick. Guests can also book broom tours at the castle.
King’s Cross Station in London Harry Potter
Even if you’ve only seen the first Harry Potter film once, you are likely to remember the iconic scene in which Harry Potter and the Weasley family walk straight through a brick wall at King’s Cross Station to reach Platform 9-and-three-quarters. The magical platform to the Hogwarts Express is seen and mentioned again multiple times throughout the film series and the King’s Cross Station in London has actually marked the platform between platforms nine and 10. Potter fans can visit the station for photoshoots.
Oxford University in England, Harry Potter
The famed English Oxford university served as the movie set of numerous scenes throughout the Harry Potter series. From Christ Church’s Staircase to Christ Church’s Dining Hall the school’s Bodleian Library, the courtyard and lush green lawns and more. So many corners of the university became parts of Hogwarts that make a visit to it seem like a magical wizarding world. But the great hall of Oxford’s Christ Church College was the inspiration behind Hogwarts’ Great Hall as well.
Leopoldskron Palace in Salzburg, Austria in The Sound of Music
The Von Trapp family home is actually the Leopoldskron Palace in Salzburg, Austria. Originally, Schloss Leopoldskron was built for an archbishop and his family in the 18th century. Today, it is a hotel people can stay at as well as visit for tours. The Venetian room from the castle was copied and used as the ballroom for the interior shootings which were done in the studios.
Varda Viaduct in Adana, Turkey in Skyfall
If you’re a James Bond fan, the ominous Varda Viaduct is worth a visit. Originally built as a railway between Europe and the Middle East, the viaduct was featured in the opening chase scene of Skyfall and has become a treasured piece of Bond history. In the opening sequence Bond ends up fighting his opponent on top of a moving train. As the train crosses over the Varda Bridge, Bond is shot and falls dramatically into the ravine below. In the movie, he drops into the deep, rushing water, but when we went, there was barely a trickle at the bottom of the ravine.
Hanapepe Valley Hawaii in Jurassic Park and Jurassic World
Remember that scene in the original Jurassic Park film where the cast helicopters down onto Isla Nublar as a giant waterfall cascades behind them? Those waterfalls weren’t just computerised sets but they actually exist in Hawaii’s lush Hanapepe Valley, which is actually the site of several scenes in both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Hawaii visitors can even go on guided Jurassic Park-themed tours to see multiple filming locations from the movies.