Movie-Inspired Travel Destinations: Which Ones Live Up to the Fantasy?3 min read
A movie location can be so much more than just pretty scenery behind the actors. It becomes another character with a life of its own, influencing the plot and the course of the story. Some live on in our memories as places we’d like to visit to relive the excitement of the film. But are these destinations worth the trip, or is it simply the magic of the silver screen that makes them so appealing?
Let’s take a look at some movie locations that were enthralling on screen, and whether they measure up for a real-life visit.
The Beach – Ko Phi Phi Leh, Thailand
Leonardo DiCaprio and his fellow backpackers find a secret beach in Thailand were they attempt to set up a modern-day utopia. A protected cove, crystal blue waters, and a lush forest surround their encampment – a dream vacation for any beach lover. In reality though, the setting for The Beach was completely manipulated for the movie by bulldozers and chainsaws to make it more “paradise-like.” The environmental and ecological damage is still an issue.
Our advice: Skip it! Try Koh Lanta instead if you’re looking for a Thai beach getaway since it’s less touristy.
Braveheart – Glen Coe, Scotland
Glen Coe is a U-shaped glen in the Scottish Highlands, which has served as the backdrop for movies such as Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Skyfall. Glen Coe rewards climbers, hikers, and hillwalkers with spectacular vistas that are every bit as beautiful in person as they are on screen.
Our advice: It’s worth the trip. The nearby village of Glencoe offers inns and pubs that, while not luxurious, offer rustic comfort after a long-day’s hike.
The Sound of Music – Salzburg, Austria
Who could forget Julie Andrews’ iconic twirl as she sang the title song against the backdrop of the Austrian Alps? The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg, Austria, which is also the birthplace of Mozart. The town is a mecca for tourists, who sometimes outnumber the locals during peak times. However, it’s worth the trip to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its baroque architecture, monasteries, and churches.
Our advice: It’s a movie- and music-lover’s dream. Look for guides who specialize in The Sound of Music tours.
Casablanca – Casablanca, Morocco
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in this classic tale of international intrigue in the heart of World War II era Morocco. Casablanca today is a mix of medieval ruins and modern attractions. The skyline is dominated by the Hasan II Mosque, which is the largest in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. You’ll also find luxury hotels and restaurants at Casablanca’s Corniche, the beachfront district.
Our advice: Casablanca is worth a short visit, but make sure you spend time in Marrakesh, Fez, and Medina.
The Lord of the Rings – New Zealand
A trip to New Zealand is a dream come true for any Lord of the Rings fan. Tour companies offer multiple week-long tours that visit the most popular settings from the movies, with stops for skydiving, white water rafting, and wine-tasting along the way. Beyond the movie tours, New Zealand has world-class beaches, mountains, and glaciers for active travelers to explore.
Our advice: Go, but make sure your trip includes a visit to Auckland to see the Sky Tower – the largest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere, at over 1,000 feet tall.
- Thailand Beaches, image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal
- Glen Coe, image courtesy of BBC
- Salzburg, image courtesy of The Huffington Post
- Casablanca, image courtesy of The Daily Mail
- New Zealand Sky Tower, image courtesy of Huffington Post