Can You Guess Where Your Favorite Movies Were Filmed?

It’s a widely known fact that most movies nowadays are filmed inside Hollywood studios or backlots. However, in order to add some authenticity, some directors choose to shoot their films on location – that is to say, in a real-world setting. Movie buffs, do you wanna learn which are the real-life settings of your favorite films? Then don’t miss this list, because here are the 23 most surprising locations of some of the most iconic films in history. Make sure you don’t miss #11, #5, and #3!

Photo: Courtesy of Decorados Moya

#23. Lost In Translation – Tokyo

Lost in Translation is a romantic comedy about the love story between a washed-up movie star and a lonely young woman. The story is set in Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and that’s also the place where the movie was shot.

Photo: Courtesy of Unsplash

Some of the scenes were shot in some of Tokyo’s most remarkable landmarks, such as Heian Shrine, Park Hyatt, Rainbow Bridge, Shibuya Crossing, and the Jogan-Ji Temple. If you travel to the most populated city on earth, make sure you visit all those sites!

#22. Twilight – Washington

Twilight is a romantic fantasy film about the relationship between a teenage girl and a man who is secretly a vampire. Released in 2008, the film stars heartthrob Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, and it became a great hit among teenagers.

Photo: Courtesy of The Daily News

The story is set in the town of Forks, but while most fans believe this town is completely fictional, it actually exists in real life. Forks is located in Clallam County, Washington, and ever since the release of the film, thousands of tourists travel to visit some of the film’s locations, such as Eerie Drive and Kalama High School.

#21. Popeye – Malta

Popeye is a musical comedy film based on the adventures of the famous sailor cartoon of the same name. Popeye lives in the coastal town of Sweethaven, which of course is a made-up site. But can any of you guess where the film was shot?

Photo: Courtesy of Viator

This live-action movie was filmed in Malta, a small island and country located in the Mediterranean Sea. Make sure you visit the island’s 16th-century capital Malta La Valeta, which is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

#20. Doctor Strange – Kathmandu

Doctor Strange is an American superhero film about a brilliant doctor who is drawn into the world of mystic and supernatural arts. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the film was shot in one of the most ancient and sacred cities in the world. Do you dare guess?

Photo: Courtesy of

The movie was filmed in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Kathmandu is a 2,000-year-old city home to dozens of temples and street markets, many of which appear in the film. The picture above, for instance, shows Kathmandu’s iconic Durbar Square, one of the city’s three UNESCO Heritage Sites.

#19. 127 Hours – Utah

127 Hours is a biographical drama film about a mountain climber who is trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone. Starred by Hollywood legend James Franco, the film was a major success and received multiple Academy Award nominations.

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The movie was filmed in Moab, Utah, while the canyon was filmed at the Blue John Canyon. Last but not least, the pool beneath the canyon was filmed at the Homestead Crater at the Homestead Resort and Spa, near Heber Valley.

#18. Jaws – Massachusetts

Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975, Jaws is one of the most iconic thriller films in history. It tells the story of a small coastal town which is threatened by a killer white shark responsible for multiple deadly attacks. Can you guess where it was filmed?

Photo: Courtesy of Scandinavian Travel

The film was shot in an island known as Martha’s Vineyard, located in Massachusetts, USA. The opening scene where the blond woman is attacked was shot on South Beach, while the iconic scene where the young boy is attacked was filmed at Joseph Sylvia State Beach.

#17. Out Of Africa – Kenya

Out of Africa is a 1985 epic drama film that revolves around a passionate romance between a Danish plantation owner and a free-spirited game hunter. Starring Hollywood legends Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, the film received 7 Academy Awards.

Photo: Courtesy of Africa Geographic

Most of the scenes were shot in a coffee plantation located in Kenya. To be more specific, the plantation is found near the famous Ngong Hills, which are just 25 km from Nairobi. So if you ever happen to visit Kenya’s bustling capital city, don’t forget to visit these hills for yourself!

#16. The Dark Knight – Hong Kong

The Dark Knight is considered one of the greatest superhero films ever. But even though most of the film was shot in Chicago, one of the most iconic scenes was shot in the city of Hong Kong. Can you guess which scene we’re talking about?

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One of the film’s most thrilling moments is when Batman has to jump from one building to the other on his way to find crime boss Lau. One of these buildings happens to be the second tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, the International Finance Center.

#15. Django Unchained – Louisiana

Django Unchained is a Western film that tells the story of a freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife from a ruthless plantation owner. The story is set in the southern state of Mississippi, but most of the scenes were shot in Wyoming and California.

Photo: Courtesy of Louisiana Travel

However, the movie’s most memorable scenes took place in the National Historic Evergreen sugar plantation, located in Wallace, Louisiana. Several of the plantation’s buildings were used for the film, including the main house and the slave cabins. This plantation can actually be visited, so what are you waiting for?

#14. The Babadook – Australia

The Babadook is a 2014 horror film about a widowed mother who struggles with her son’s fear of a monster who supposedly lurks in the house. It was the directorial debut for Jennifer Kent, who obtained several nominations and awards for her job.

Photo: Courtesy of Life, the Giant Squid

Many people believe the film is American since it was a big hit in this country. However, the film is from Australia, and it was entirely filmed in Adelaide. Even though most of the film was shot inside Adelaide Studios, a few scenes were filmed in the city’s streets.

#13. Gone With The Wind – California

Gone With the Wind is an epic romantic drama film set in the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. Released in 1939, it won several Academy Awards – including Best Picture – and became the highest-grossing film of the time.

Photo: Courtesy of Good Morning America

Although many of the scenes were filmed in a plantation in Georgia, others were shot on some of California’s most iconic landmarks. For instance, the famous barbeque scene at Twelve Oaks was shot at the Bush Gardens estate in Pasadena, while the scene in which Scarlet says “she’ll never go hungry again” was filmed in Northwest Los Angeles.

#12. Mamma Mia – Greece

In 2008, Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep starred in a remake of the iconic musical Mamma Mia, and they sure made us laugh! The story is set on the fictional island of Kalokairi, and I’m sure that anyone who has seen the film has fallen in love with its beauty. Do any of you know the real name of the island?

Photo: Courtesy of TripSavvy

The film was shot in a Greek island named Skopelos. Skopelos is located in the west of the Aegean Sea and forms part of the Thessaly region. It is larger than Mykonos and Santorini, but way less famous. Next time you plan a visit to Greece, please add this to your bucket list!

#11. Master And Commander – Galapagos Islands

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is an epic war-drama film set in South America during the Napoleonic Wars. It received a whopping 10 Academy Award Nominations, of which it won 2. Most of the film was shot in one of the most remote and unusual places on earth. Do you dare guess?

Photo: Courtesy of jaygraham.com

The film was mainly shot in the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago famous for its diverse plant and animal life as well as its beautiful beaches. To be more specific, many of the jaw-dropping landscapes shown in the film belong to Bartolomé Island. Next time you visit South America, head towards Ecuador and book a flight to this natural marvel!

#10. The Hurt Locker, Jordan

The Hurt Locker is an American war film that depicts the obstacles and challenges faced by an army bomb squad during the Iraqi War. Not only did the film win the Academy Award for Best Picture, but its director Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman in history to receive the Academy Award for Best Director.

Photo: Courtesy of The Travel

While the story is set in Iraq, the movie was mostly filmed in another Middle-Eastern country: Jordan. Allegedly, the film crew members had proposed to film the movie in Morocco, but Bigelow insisted on picking a place like Jordan in order to make the film appear more authentic.

#9. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cambodia

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an action-adventure film based on the iconic Tomb Raider video game series. The character of Tomb Raider was portrayed by one of Hollywood’s greatest legends of all time, Angelina Jolie.

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Most of the movie was filmed in Cambodia‘s most famous landmark, the Angkor Wat temples. These 12th-century Hindu temples are one of the world’s most impressive architectural wonders, so if you haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for?

#8. Rocky – Philadelphia

Rocky is a 1975 drama and sports film about a small-time boxer who fights a heavy-weight boxing champion. One of the film’s most iconic scenes is when lead character Rocky Balboa runs up the stairs of a building and, facing backward, lifts his arms and clenches his fists in a triumphant victory pose.

Photo: Courtesy of Entertainment.ie

While many of the iconic scenes included in this list were filmed in famous locations, this is an odd case in which the location became famous only because of the movie. The 72-step staircase belongs to the Philadelphia Art Museum, which became famous worldwide after the movie’s release.

#7. Lord Of The Rings – New Zealand

Many people believe that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the greatest movie franchise in history. Let’s not forget that the final film in the trilogy – Return of the King – set a world record after winning a whopping 14 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

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But apart from its thrilling storyline, one of the most remarkable features of these films is their jaw-dropping landscapes. As many of you probably know, the three films were shot in director Peter Jackson’s native land, New Zealand.

#6. Dr. No – Jamaica

Starred by Sean Connery and released in 1962, Dr. No is the first James Bond film ever made. If you’ve seen it, then you probably recall the beach scene featuring Sean Connery’s co-star, Ursula Andrews. Can you guess where it was shot?

Photo: Courtesy of Islands

This scene was filmed on The Laughing Waters, one of Jamaica’s most amazing beaches. If you ever plan a trip to the Caribbean, you should know that this beach is quite close to the port city of Ocho Rios, so that’s the place where you wanna head to!

#5. Mad Max: Fury Road – Namibia

Mad Max: Fury Road is a post-apocalyptic action film which is supposed to show what a futuristic version of Australia would look like in a desolate wasteland. But if you thought that the movie was filmed in Australia, you are mistaken.

Photo: Courtesy of The Travel

Originally, the film was meant to be filmed in Australia, but as a result of never-ending rainfalls, the producers chose to shoot the movie in the Namib Desert, in Namibia. Other potential locations that they considered were the Atacama Desert in Chile and Chott el Djerid in Tunisia.

#4. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade – Jordan

Indiana Jones is a film franchise based on the adventures of the fictional archaeologist Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana Jones”. Many critics and fans believe that the third film of the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is the best one of all.

Photo: Courtesy of CNN.com

Even though the plot allegedly takes place in places such as Portugal and Utah, most of the films were shot in completely different sites. Most scenes were filmed in Jordan, including some of the country’s most striking landmarks, such as Petra. However, other scenes were shot in Spain, Italy, and West Germany.

#3. Cast Away – Fiji

Cast Away is a survival drama film about a FedEx employee who is stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific. Most of you probably remember Tom Hanks’ brilliant performance as well as the friendship he establishes with Wilson the volleyball, but do any of you remember the film’s location and landscapes?

Photo: Courtesy of Movie Locations

All of the movie’s scenes were shot in Monuriki, an island that belongs to the Mamanuca archipelago, Fiji. This paradise island is uninhabited in real-life too, and it’s barely 1 km long and 600 meters wide. You can visit it by booking a tour, but you should know that it’s quite far off.

#2. Avatar – China

Avatar is considered to be the highest-grossing movie in history, having reached a whopping $2.78 billion at the box office. But even though part of the film is computer-animated, those misty green hills and valleys exist in real-life. Can you guess where they can be found?

Photo: Courtesy of Decorados Moya

Most of the scenes were shot in Zhangjiajie, one of the most beautiful national parks in China. Ever since the release of the movie in 200, this forest park has become a major tourist hotspot. The site’s main landmarks include the Phoenix Ancient Town and the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.

#1. Harry Potter – Alnwick Castle

Most people believe that the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is completely fictional, but this is not entirely true. On the first two films of the Harry Potter franchise, the scenes that take place in Hogwarts were filmed in a real-life castle named Alnwick Castle, located in the English county of Northumberland.

Photo: Courtesy of The Travel

Alnwick Castle was built in 1906, and it has become extremely famous ever since The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets were released. In fact, the castle now receives over 700,000 visits each year. Did you know that it was also used to shoot some scenes of the British TV show Downtown Abbey?

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    Hernán Tamargo

    Teacher. Political Scientist. Writer. Feminist... and much more!

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