Top Filming Locations in the World
New York City
It’s probably the world’s most recognizable skyline and arguably the most famous city for movies on this list. Ask anyone to name at least three films with New York City as the backdrop and you’ll likely get an answer in an instant. There’s something about New York’s grit, classiness, and romanticism that attracts directors to this town. Woody Allen’s introductory shot of Manhattan or Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver shows you how diverse the city can be. Movies like Annie Hall and more recently Sex and the City also use the sceneries of New York City beautifully.
The movie business started and continues to thrive here so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to find Los Angeles among the top filming locations in the world for movie buffs. Hollywood is here. Everything that’s synonymous to the movie industry is based in Los Angeles (LA), but in addition to theme parks, the iconic movie theatres and sidewalks, Los Angeles also provides a backdrop for some of the most memorable films of all time. From the image of Gloria Swanson saying that infamous one liner in Sunset Boulevard to Ryan Gosling driving on the streets of south LA at night in Drive, the city reminds us that there’s often tragedy attached to fame.
The English capital certainly earns its stripes as one of the top filming locations in the world thanks to the James Bond and Harry Potter franchises, two of the most profitable and famous ones in the world. Both used many of London’s iconic sites such as Kings Cross Station, the real MI-6 headquarters, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Borough Market just to name a few. There are also other notable films such as Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes, and the lovable Peruvian/English bear, Paddington that introduce us to the splendor of London.
Washington, D.C., has served as a canvass for many of Hollywood’s take on political scandals, most notably Watergate. All the Presidents Men was Hollywood’s version of the story. Decades later, another movie Frost Nixon, looked into the scandal further and examined the now infamous interview by David Frost of former president, Richard Nixon. Though most of the movies shot in Washington involved controversial topics revolving politics, there are some that showcases the District’s lovely scenery like the ones seen in Forrest Gump and The Exorcist.
The Eternal City has appeared in countless memorable films for decades. So much so that you can set up a travel itinerary visiting the sites from some of Rome’s most iconic films. When you visit the city, it’s hard not to think about Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck traversing the streets of Rome on a Vespa in Roman Holiday or the trio of American secretaries throwing coins at the Trevi Fountain on Three Coins in a Fountain.
Those with an affinity for spy movies will find Istanbul atop the cities they would want to visit. It’s where the east meets the west and thanks (again) to the James Bond franchise, it became synonymous with spy related movies. Many films followed in Bond’s footsteps including Taken 2 and The International, which had shot scenes in this picturesque Turkish city. Something about the tangled web of streets and the diverse mix of cultures makes Istanbul attractive to anyone trying to keep a low profile. Watching the chase sequence atop the Grand Bazaar in Skyfall still gives me goose bumps.
The shimmering neon lights on The Strip and its grand hotels attracted filmmakers to shoot their movies in Las Vegas. Movies like The Hangover, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Bugsy and Ocean’s Eleven were shot almost completely in Sin City. These movies tell us the evolution of Las Vegas from the desolate dessert town to America’s playground. Though most people will likely come to Las Vegas to party and have fun, movie buffs will likely add on an itinerary that includes a stint at a poker table at Caesars to count cards just like Ray Babbitt and a stop at Bellagio’s dancing fountains hoping to catch the tune of “Claire de Lune.” It definitely deserves a spot in our list of top filming locations in the world.
I reckon many filmmakers felt the same way Tony Bennett did about San Francisco when he sang the lyrics of his now famous song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and why wouldn’t you? The Pacific Ocean borders the city to the west, with the hills and valleys of California’s Napa and Sonoma to the north. The picturesque skyline of San Francisco, its cable cars, and its pioneering culture for evolution and innovation has set the stage for some of the most iconic films in recent history. Movies like Vertigo, Dirty Harry, Milk and The Joy Luck Cub certainly comes to mind.
These are just some of the top filming locations in the world, that I can think of. What do you think should be included in this list?