Destinations Made Famous By Movies
Films are like books for me, sometimes I want one to be deep and thought provoking, other times I need something light, to make me laugh, and at other moments, I simply want to escape into a fantastical world filled with adventure, if only for a few hours.
When a film can achieve one or more of the above, I am generally happy, but I also treasure when a film surprises me, capturing my attention and imagination in a way I never expected.
Have you ever watched a film, set somewhere so beautiful that it becomes an essential part of the story itself? The story is woven into the landscape and without it, it would be nothing.
When Steven Spielberg filmed War Horse in Dartmoor, he said “When I got to Dartmoor I realised I had a third character that I had to include in War Horse and that was the land and the sky, so Dartmoor plays a major role.”
Films have inspired me to travel to countries and cities around the world, instilling a desire to witness these places for myself; to inhale the smells I imagined when watching the film, to see the sunsets or immerse myself in the crowds of some bustling, exotic city that captured my imagination and heart.
It’s that time of year again, when final touches are being made to dresses soon to be paraded on the red carpet in LA, subjected to almost as much critique as the films themselves. The Oscars, a celebration of creativity and let’s face, a lot of back slapping. Actresses and actors, directors and producers are nominated and awarded for their achievements in the film industry.
But what about the places they left behind? Many, it seems, continue to shine in the limelight cast their way during the making of, and in the wake of, these boxoffice hits. New Zealand saw a rise in tourism following the epic Lord of the Rings, as did Mumbai after the roaring success of Slumdog Millionaire. Even closer to home, over 60 years on, the lovely town of Cong in Mayo, continues to live its legacy as the location for the filming of The Quiet Man.
This morning on Ireland AM, I discussed six such film destinations. (Watch Slot here)
All eyes turned to Mumbai following the phenomenal success of Slumdog Millionaire and despite chaotic street scenes, images of poverty-stricken slums and a devastating storyline the city became one of the ‘top cities to visit’ overnight.
The film shows two sides of the city highlighting the extremes of modern day society in India, yet this did not deter visitors, but rather stirred a curiosity in many to visit Mumbai.
Mumbai is a city you will either love or hate. At first, it’s difficult to orientate yourself and the noise, smells and sights are overwhelming. It appears to be a city in chaos, yet, after a while, if you sit back and watch closely you will see it is an organized chaos and beneath it all is a sense of adventure and life.
Mumbai is generally used as a launching pad for travellers heading to the south of the country, to the beaches of Goa and the lush, green mountains of Kerala. However, there is plenty to keep you occupied in this vibrant city, from colorful spice markets to up-market designer shops, beaches and a glimpse into an ancient and most intriguing culture.
Some Sights not be missed
In the historic centre, Colaba, there is plenty to keep you occupied. Walk through the busy streets or jump into a rick-shaw and explore the area. Visit the Gateway to India and take a boat from here over to Elephanta Island known as the ‘city of caves’. Immerse yourself at Chor Bazaar, an antiques market or have a drink on the terrace of one of the many five star hotels on Juhu Beach.
One of the cities most impressive buildings is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria Train Station) featured in the film in the memorable final dance scene.
A Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck was the perfect showcase for the historic city. Some of the cities most iconic sites form the backdrop to this classic film, such as the Colossseum – 2000 year old marble structure, built as an amphitheatre and now open to the public for guided tours.
The Trevi Fountain built in the 18th century is one of the most photographed and visited sites in Rome, especially at night where it is lit up and people come to throw coins in, which is said to ensure your return to Rome. Audrey enjoys a coffee in the piazza by The Pantheon, built in the 1st century AD as a temple for pagan gods.
Obviously, one of the most famous sites is the Vatican City with an impressive eleven museums housing the cities best art collection, including Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Queues can be very long, so if you don’t want to visit all the areas, go towards the end of the day when the queues have dissipated.
Getting There fly direct to Rome from €40 each way
Hotel Accommodation from €80 per room per night
Special Offers from €299 per person (includes flights, 4 star hotel for 3 nights)
From €439 per person (includes flights, 3 star hotel for 3 nights)
The Beach, featuring Leonardo Di Caprio, based on the international bestseller written by Alex Garland brought the world’s attention to Thailand’s pristine beaches making it one of the top beach destinations.
While Hat Maya on Phi Phi Ley Island has become one of the most famous beaches in the world, it has suffered from over-exposure, and in reality is far from the deserted beach you see in the movie, but rather one packed with tourist boats and snorkelers.
However, Thailand has undoubtedly a fine collection of beaches and is one of the top destinations for 20 something year olds to travel.
Choosing an island depends on what you are looking for. If you’re seeking late nights and beach parties, head to Koh Phangan for full moon parties, just be sure to time your visit, although they seem to have a party every quarter of the moon these days! Koh Phi Phi has beautiful beaches and some luxurious accommodation with a good nightlife, while Koh Tao is more relaxed and excellent for diving. If you’re flying into Bangkok and are limited on time, head to the beautiful Chang Island a few hours south-east of Bangkok.
Getting There fly to Bangkok via London from €650 return
Hotel Accommodation from €15 per night
Special Offers with Go Hop.ie from €880 (includes flights, 7 nights hotel on Koh Samui)
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With stunning architecture, atmospheric cafes and bars and a rich cultural history, it’s no surprise that Paris has been the location for many a movie. A more recent film shot in the romantic city is the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates and Rachel McAdams.
Paris cannot be done in a weekend, but a great way to take in many of the sights is to start at Notre Dame and either walk or pick up one of the bicycles, and make your way down one side of the bank, crossing over to the other. It’s possible to cycle all the way down to the Eiffel Tower, taking in Hotel Ville, the Louvre and surrounding gardens and Musee d’Orsay.
Enjoy lunch of dinner in the Marais district, which is packed with cafes, restaurants and quaint boutiques. Take a metro to Montmarte and weave through the maze of streets discovering small galleries, cafes and shops.
Getting There Fly direct to Paris from €30 return
Hotel Accommodation from €100 per room night
The undulating landscape of Dartmoor National Park provided the perfect backdrop for the Oscar nominated film War Horse. Steven Spielberg has raved about the beauty of the area, claiming it as a star of his movie and such an endorsement has gone far to help boost the tourist profile of Dartmoor.
Tucked away in the southwest of England, Dartmoor National Park is a popular location for hikers, with plenty of treks through the moors and mountains. One of the most picturesque areas in the southeast, it is abound with rolling hills and pretty villages. It’s very much a place to go if you are looking for activities with plenty of cycle routes, pathways and other activities like fishing, kayaking and horseriding. For the less active, bring or rent a car and drive through the area, stay over in a quaint country house and enjoy the scenery.
There is a dedicated area on the local website indicating the locations of filming
Getting There fly direct to Southampton from €50 return
Hotel Accommodation from €100 per room night
Special Offers from €80 B&B and 5 course meal per person
A range of national parks and mountains were used in the filming of Lord of the Rings. Widescreen shots of wild, majestic mountains brought New Zealand to the forefront of the travel scene.
New Zealand is the perfect destination for those in search of adventure and the great outdoors. From great beaches in the Bay of Islands or the stunning Coramandel Peninsula, to erupting geysers and bubbling mud holes in Rotorua, kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, or wine lovers won’t be able to resist tasting crisp sauvignons in the Marlborugh region.
Adventure is everywhere in this land, as Frodo discovered, climb the Franz Josef Glacier, go skiing in Queenstown and whatever you do, don’t miss the stunning Milford Sounds and the lakes of the south.
Hotel Accommodation from €50 per room night
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