Why travel when you can watch the world on a screen? This is what an idiot would say. Here, for your delectation, are 11 TV and movie filming locations that are great solo travel destinations
Our favourite films and shows should inspire us to see the world for ourselves. Some of the places they are shot are ideal for solo travel, with loads to see and do and ample opportunity for going, “Oooh, it’s that place from that bit of that thing where she said that stuff!”
1. Game of Thrones – Iceland, Croatia and Northern Ireland
Game of Thrones filming locations are, to say the least, varied – just ask the actors. While some characters have spent a lot of their working year in glorious Croatia (particularly Dubrovnik, which doubles as King’s Landing), others have spent all eight seasons in the somewhat less clement Iceland (much of the land beyond the Wall) and Northern Ireland (pretty much everywhere else). If you’re visiting Game of Thrones locations in the last of these, you can also double up with some Line of Duty location-hunting in Belfast.
2. Broadchurch – Dorset, England
British fiction always had a wonderful habit of placing the most grotesque crimes in the quietest of locations. Think anything by Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders and Happy Valley. It’s a trait brilliantly parodied in Hot Fuzz (filming location: Wells, Somerset) and done to perfection in Broadchurch: which sees some utterly heinous offences take place on Dorset’s glorious Jurassic coast, and more specifically West Bay.
3. The Harry Potter films – England, Scotland
Much of the Harry Potter series was shot in the movie wonderland of Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire and many Harry Potter filming locations are all around London, but for some gentler IRL Potterite experiences (minus the magic) you could visit Durham Cathedral and Christ Church College in Oxford, both of which provided much of Hogwarts school, or head to the glorious Scottish countryside. Here you’ll find Glen Coe, which featured as background lushness in several of the films, or get a train between Fort William and Glenfinnan and cross the Glenfinnan viaduct – part of the Hogwarts Express’s route.
4. Jumanji – Oahu, Hawaii
Due to local tax regulations and conservation concerns, the recent Jumanji rehash couldn’t be filmed in the real Jumanji. Instead, it was filmed on Oahu island, one of cinema’s go-to filming locations for tropical wonder (though not, ironically, Tropic Thunder, which was filmed on another Hawaiian island, Kauai). Oahu has been seen on screen in 50 First Dates, The Descendants and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was a filming location for Jurassic Park AND Jurassic World. Before that, it was in Elvis’s Blue Hawaii and was the background for the most famous beach kiss in history in From Here to Eternity. But best of all, it gave a home to some of Keanu Reeves’ and Patrick Swayze’s surf-offs in Point Break.
5. Poldark – Cornwall, England
Cornwall didn’t need much help to attract visitors, but Poldark, the BBC’s period drama about a rustic, rural noble family who like to spend time trotting around the beautiful Cornish countryside, has done local tourism no harm at all. Poldark‘s filming locations are dotted all over the county, so go there, channel your inner-Victorian, and indulge in a horse-ride across Bodmin Moor, kayak through a landscape shaped by tin mines, go on a Poldark seas safari, or simply take your shirt off in a field and feel the breeze on your nipples.
6. Mamma Mia – Skopelos and Skiathos, Greece
If you’ve seen (and sung along to) either film then you’ll know that the ABBA-worshipping musicals Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia 2 filming locations appear to be in some celestial paradise, not of this Earth. The sea, the beach, the hills, the village, the donkeys – they are all unreal in their beauty. But they are real – just head to the neighbouring islands of Skopelos and Skiathos, strip to your bare minimums, and belt out some Dancing Queen. You’ll be the winner taking it all, not taking a chance on wasting your money, money, money.
7. Rogue One – Maldives, Jordan
Rogue One is a very, very good film, but it’s also the least compelling reason to visit its filming locations. You have the Maldives, for a start, which are the Maldives. Delicious beaches and perfect seas are their thing, whether or not you want to picture an AT-AT storming them. Then you have Jordan – home of many other films, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Lawrence of Arabia (home of cinema’s best ever intro scene) – which is Jordan. It’s all jaw-slackening deserts, lost cities and good quality of life, plus a nice dose of adventure sport if you feel like it (droids and laser-guns not included).
8. Black Panther – South Korea, Argentina, Atlanta
“Where in Africa are you sending us?” you say. Because, with the fictional (or is it?) country of Wakanda being in Africa, you’d assume that Black Panther’s filming locations are also on that continent. Well, bar some aerial shots of South Africa, Zambia and Uganda, you’d be wrong. That mad car chase? Busan in South Korea. The Warrior Falls? The Iguazu Falls on the Argentina-Brazil border. Oakland, California? Atlanta, Georgia.
9. The Beach – Thailand
The Beach had a ‘Poldark’ effect on Thailand, boosting tourism beyond the traditional backpacking, self-finding, year-gapping types it had mostly attracted before. Sadly, the actual beach film location in The Beach – Maya Bay – had to close indefinitely to the public last year because the film had caused a massive surge in Chinese tourists, but you know what? Thailand is a big place and has other beaches. Try them.
10. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – Matmata, Tunisia
There are three levels of Star Wars fandom that can take you to Tunisia. 1. If you’re a total Stan, you can stay at the Hotel Sidi Driss – part of a Berber cave village that doubled as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home. It is, however, politely speaking, very basic accommodation. 2. If you really like Star Wars but also nice, comfortable hotel rooms, you can visit the village for a walk around and a couple of photos. 3. If you don’t give a sh*t about Star Wars, you’ll find that Tunisia is just a really nice country and all that Jedi stuff can be completely avoided.
11. Ozark – The Ozarks, USA
When people first saw the title of this brilliant Laura Linney-Jason Bateman Netflix series about an accountant and his family getting caught up in organised crime, most outside of the USA probably assumed that Ozark was the name of a murderous villain, the acronym of a murderous organisation, or the birth-planet of an alien race (probably murderous). But the Ozarks is, in fact, a beautiful lake- and mountain-filled region that touches four US states – Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas – and a favourite summer vacation destination for Americans.