Film Locations: Discovering the World’s Top Filming Destinations

Locations Where Films Are Shot

Have you ever wondered how directors find the right locations for their movies? It’s the job of the location manager, or scout.

According to IMDB, Central Park appears in more films than any other space in the world. Trafalgar Square is another top location, with 31 credits in film and television.

1. Central Park

Filmmakers often use locations to give their films a sense of realism that a set can’t provide. They’re often cheaper, too.

Central Park was the site of a lot of movie action, including “Home Alone 2,” Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner in “Sleepless in Seattle” and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, “North by Northwest.” You can relive some of the scenes from those movies, and more, at this iconic New York City location.

Iceland’s unique landscape makes it a favorite filming locale, from the waterfalls that stood in for Warrior Falls in 2018’s “Black Panther” to the volcanic mountains that provided the backdrop for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” You can also visit Reynisfjara and surrounding glaciers, which doubled as the planets of Lah’mu and Eadu in Rogue One.

2. Niagara Falls

Movies can be filmed anywhere in the world, but they often choose to film on location for tax incentives and rebates. Central Park has a whopping 532 credits, but it’s also worth visiting other popular filming locations, including Chile’s Atacama Desert, which has 50 credited appearances in movies like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Mexico’s Niagara Falls, which has 142 credited filming appearances.

The ’80s classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was filmed throughout Oregon, but the real highlight is Astoria, where you can walk in Mikey’s footsteps on 38th Street or visit Haystack Rock and the Ecola State Park. Meanwhile, Kyoto’s ornate seventeenth-century Nijo Castle is a key setting in the mind-bending Inception. And if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, New Zealand’s Putangirua Pinnacles were the eerie cliffs where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli pursued the orcs in The Hobbit trilogy.

3. Mexico

Movies can transport us through whip-smart dialogue, superb acting, stunning visuals, and fitting musical scores. But one important part of a film often gets overlooked: the location.

Moviemakers sometimes choose to shoot scenes on location rather than in a studio for more realistic results and cost efficiency. They also may be able to take advantage of tax incentives and rebates for shooting on-location in various countries worldwide.

Prague, for instance, has become a top movie location due to its low production costs and talented local crews. Its architecture resembles many parts of Europe and the city has strong government support for filming. Buenos Aires is another popular South American location, earning the nickname “Paris of the Americas” for its European inspiration and beautiful landscape. Cabo de Gata in Andalusia is our fourth favorite location, having doubled for America’s wild west in dozens of Spaghetti Western movies including Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

4. Cabo de Gata

The coastal protected area of Cabo de Gata-Nijar in Almeria has some of the best preserved cliff coastline in Europe and is popular for outdoor activities such as sea kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, snorkelling and all types of fishing. There are also mountain biking and 4X4 excursions.

The village of Los Albaricoques, which is surrounded by prickly pear cactuses and agaves, provided the backdrop for scenes in Sergio Leone’s classic 1965 spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. The bleak landscape of Cortijo del Fraile in the same vicinity inspired Federico Lorca’s seminal drama Bodas de Sangre (Bloody Weddings).

Other attractions include the beaches of Playa Monsul and Media Luna (Half Moon Beach), which are backed by distinctively shaped huge volcanic rocks. This area is also a bird watcher’s paradise, with the highlight being the sight of flocks of migrating flamingos that congregate in Las Salinas during spring and summer.

5. Dakar

Filmmakers can transport audiences into another world with whip-smart dialogue, superb acting and beautifully shot pictures. But the setting of a movie can have just as much impact.

Located on the Cap Vert peninsula, Dakar is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, which moderates tropical temperatures with cooling breezes. The city is home to a dozen national and regional banks, including the BCEAO that manages the unified West African CFA franc currency.

Yoff fishing village childhood inspired Babacar Thiaw to launch Copacabana Surf Village, a groovy beachside hangout with a lounge and Dakar’s first zero-waste restaurant. He’s also the founder of the local branch of Surfrider, an international nonprofit dedicated to keeping our beaches clean.

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