All Articles 21 must-see places from your favorite movies and TV shows

21 must-see places from your favorite movies and TV shows

Take a trip around the world with 2021's top hits, including Squid Game and Dune.

Jamie T.
By Jamie T.18 Nov 2021
Dune
Photo: Unsplash

Films take us places. You’ve been there: entire countries, worlds, or universes away, immersed in beautiful scenes ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary. When it all cuts to black, sometimes you’re left wondering where you are. The most scenic places in the world look incredible on big screens—but where’s the wonder if you can’t experience them in person?

Here’s a way to enter the worlds of the films and TV shows you loved in 2021. From cult hits like Squid Game to visual spectacles like Dune, we’ve gathered 21 trending film locations you should add to your travel bucket list.

Light spoilers ahead...

Squid Game

You’ve probably binged on all nine episodes of this dystopian Korean thriller, where desperate, cash-strapped contestants compete in deadly games for a growing cash prize. Since its release in September, Squid Game broke records to become Netflix’s most-watched series to date. While most of the smash hit was filmed in specially-built sound stages, outdoor scenes were shot along the streets of Seoul.

Namsan Park, Seoul

1. Namsan Park, Seoul

This is Seoul’s largest park, which also happens to be the place Gi-hun, the show’s protagonist, was dropped off after escaping the first game. Explore the park’s many scenic trails and then walk over to the N Seoul Tower for unbeatable city views. The top-rated private Central Soul Tour combines a visit to Namsan Park with other must-see attractions in Seoul such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village.

Wolmido Island, Seoul

2. Wolmido Park, Seoul

In episode 2, we see ruthless gangster Deok-soo meet his fellow gang members at the old-school My Land Amusement Park on Wolmido Island, located just outside of Seoul in Incheon. This full-day ‘escape from the crowded streets of Seoul’ tour will take you from Seoul to Wolmido Island with stops at other seaside attractions, including the picturesque Yeongjong Rail Bike.

Yangjae Citizen’s Forest Station, Seoul

3. Yangjae Citizen’s Forest Station, Seoul

Few Squid Game fans can forget the iconic ddakji (paper flipping game) scene. Filmed at the subway station in the wee hours, Gi-hun plays countless humiliating rounds of Korean ddakji with a mysterious recruiter—earning him not only multiple slaps to the face, but also his first invitation to the Squid Game. Thankfully, you aren’t Gi-hun—so find your escape at Yangjae Citizens’ Park forest trails right next to the station, and end your day at the museum-lined stretch of Nambusunhwan-ro 20 minutes away. The Seoul Arts Centre, Hanwon Museum of Art, and National Gugak Center are excellent cultural pit stops.

Dune

Based on Frank Herbert’s grandiose sci-fi epic from the ’60s, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune takes us 20,000 years into the future to the desert planet of Arrakis, where hallucinogenic “spice melange” rolls freely over desert sands, plundered by the Great Houses for its rarity and role in intergalactic space travel. Desert scenes were shot on-location across Jordan and Abu Dhabi to showcase the natural beauty and hostility of Arrakis’ harsh desert climate.

Rab al Khali (Empty Quarter), Abu Dhabi

4. Rab al Khali, Abu Dhabi

Only the largest desert in the world could be the perfect dwelling for Dune’s colossal sandworms lurking just beneath the surface. Most of the ornithopter and sandworm chase scenes were filmed here, owing to the miles of undisturbed landscape in every direction. Dune bash your way around on a 4WD desert safari complete with a unique private dining experience— the incredible landscapes are sure to blow you away (no sandworms included).

Wadi Rum, Jordan

5. Wadi Rum, Jordan

Villeneuve chose Wadi Rum for its sprawling granite outcroppings—ideal dwellings for Arrakis’ native tribes, the Fremen. These ancient and expansive landscapes are best explored on heart-pumping 4WD tours—but should you have the time, set off on a 3-day tour that covers Jordan’s other spectacular destinations, including the Dead Sea and Petra. Just remember: the Fremen are watching...

Nordjford, Norway

6. Nordjford, Norway

Look no further than the peninsular region of Nordjford Coast to glimpse the ocean homeworld of Caladan, where Paul Atreides watches a forlorn sunset before leaving for his new life in Arrakis. Surrounded by ice-blue waters and mountainous plateaus, this picturesque fjord is located between the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Cover glacial terrains and dramatic coastlines in the greater Nordjford and Sunnmøre area on a 7-day fjord hiking adventure by Holiday Norway.

No Time To Die

As the 25th installment of the Bond series, No Time To Die marks actor Daniel Craig’s final appearance as classic spy James Bond. This time, the MI6 agent retires to tranquil Jamaica—the birthplace of Bond, where Ian Fleming wrote the original novels. Italy and Scotland feature as scenic backdrops to chase sequences and stunts throughout the film.

Matera, Italy

7. Matera, Italy

The opening car chase scene kicks off in Matera with Bond’s car speeding into figure-eight donuts, guns ablazing. Known as the “City of the Dead,” Matera spiritually echoes Vesper Lynd’s departure from Bond’s life in the previous film. Explore the town’s hollowed grottoes and mountainside dwellings on a private walking tour with locals, where you’ll learn how this ancient warren-turned-World Heritage Site became Italy’s hidden gem. Travellers say Cripta del Peccato Originale and Parco delle Chiese Rupestri di Matera are ruins worth revisiting.

Port Antonio, Jamaica

8. Port Antonio, Jamaica

Just outside Port Antonio, Bond’s open-air retirement villa stands alone at the coastline, perfectly remote whilst staying within the reaches of civilization—exactly like his previous retirement location in Skyfall. And Bond might be on to something: Port Antonio offers both jungle and beach activities, making it the ideal vacation (and retirement!) destination. A bus tour to Reach Falls and a rafting cruise along Blue Lagoon are choice ways to start exploring, but you could also do it all in a 2-in-1 tour if you’re adventurous enough.

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

9. Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

It’s not Bond without thrilling chases and stunts—and that’s where the lush mountains of Cairngorms enter the frame. A chase takes Bond through various areas of the U.K.’s largest park, specifically across Aviemore for its incredible forestry, and later across the countryside estate of Ardverikie along the shores of Loch Laggan. Walking trails, biking routes, and nature reserves are aplenty amid the moorland; this Loch Ness Glencoe and Highlands group tour takes you there, with stops at Glencoe, Cairngorms, and Fort Augustus along the way.

Jungle Cruise

Inspired by the eponymous Disneyland ride in California, Jungle Cruise tells the action-packed story of Dr. Lily Houghton’s cross-Amazon adventure to seek a mystical healing tree. (It helps that her partner is skipper Frank Wolff, better-known as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.) Much of the filming took place in a studio but selected scenes were shot on-location in Kauai and Lihue, with the special effects team taking a leaf from lush Hawaiian and Amazonian landscapes.

Wailua River State Park, Kauai

10. Wailua River State Park, Kauai

The film’s Brazilian town of Porto Belo was largely inspired by the pristine coastlines and bubbling brooks of Lihue, with Wailua River State Park and the majestic Wailua Falls forming key feature backdrops throughout the film. It’s easy to feel like you’re in the movie—just set off on one of many kayaking and hiking tours along the Wailua River, or expand your horizons with exhilarating ATV tours, scenic helicopter rides, or sightseeing boat tours. There’s something for everyone.

Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai

11. Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai

A few scenes were filmed within this private compound next to the surging Huleia River, where Hawaiian coots, endangered nene goose, and other iconic birdlife nestle throughout jungle plains. While the refuge is closed to the public, the best way to get close to Jungle Falls is through a kayaking and hiking tour along Huleia Stream. Pro tip: you can also admire bustling wildlife and lush canopies from the Menehune Fish Pond Lookout just a 6-minute drive away.

Kauai Plantation Railway, Kauai

12. Kauai Plantation Railway, Kauai

Locals perk up at the opening scene of the film, when Lily and Frank arrive in Porto Belo on a train clearly inspired by Kauai’s own plantation railway. Located next to the historic courtyards of the Kilohana Plantation Estate, this railway is one of the most family-friendly places in Kauai, with hourly train rides running daily and feeding farm stops along the way. Bundle your trip with a traditional Luau (feast) experience complete with live performances from flame twirlers and hula dancers right on the plantation grounds.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

This runaway blockbuster hit introduces superhero Shang-Chi to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first Asian Avenger to grace Hollywood screens. The film flits between glimpses of Shang-Chi’s fictional home village of Ta Lo (filmed in Sydney) to his modern-day life in San Francisco. Most of the filming took place on epic studio sets and sound stages, with choice on-location sets reserved for dynamic fight scenes.

Point Arena, California

13. Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

One of the film’s most high-intensity scenes is Shang-Chi’s epic Muni bus fight scene, where mysterious Ten Rings agents chased him onboard a bus hurtling down Nob Hill. The iconic sequence took place from California Street to the popular Fisherman’s Wharf, with a fleeting shot of Ghirardelli Square. This residential area is best explored from the waterfront on a 2.5-hour Segway tour or an hour-long historical walking tour.

Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

14. Prospect Reservoir, Sydney

If you’re looking for Ta Lo, this is it. The entire fictional town was built on a massive film set by Eastern Creek. This sprawling waterfront sits on the edge of Sydney, making it a great stop en route to the Blue Mountains only 30 minutes away, where peak sunset views and rugged bush trails await. Enjoy picnics, guided walks, and informative narration with a full-day tour on a comfy 28-seater minibus.

White Bay, Sydney

15. White Bay, Rozelle

The White Bay landscape along Sydney Harbour sets the stage for a few short scenes and B-roll shots in Shang-Chi. There’s plenty to do if you’re touring the area; beyond the usual suspects of the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Garden, opt for a half-day whale-watching cruise that takes you along the coastal harbour before entering the open sea; you’ll even see Manly Beach and Watson’s Bay along the way.

Last Night in Soho

This stylish psychological thriller pays homage to the Swinging Sixties. Starring a fashion student named Eloise (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) with mysterious time-traveling abilities, Last Night in Soho portrays Britain’s seedy Soho nostalgia and flashy pop-culture pageantry by whisking us all over London’s West End, circa 1960s.

Soho, London

16. Soho, London

Most of the film’s whirlwind sequences around Soho were filmed in the neon-soaked night across popular locales like Old Compton Street, the garden central of Soho Square, and the pedestrianized shopping and dining district of Carnaby. Continue your journey through culture-steeped West End streets with a local guide—perhaps on a West End Musicals Silent Disco Tour. Consider a pub crawl around Central London while exploring, or walk on the sinister side of this famed district with a tour of Soho’s most infamous crimes...

Fitzrovia, London

17. Fitzrovia, London

The London College of Fashion (LCF), situated right next to the stately Cavendish Square, is Eloise’s first stop upon arriving in London. It’s a brisk 10-minute walk from Eloise’s Ramsay Hall residence at Maple Street. For a more immersive experience, mimic the lifestyle of a fashion student by exploring the Oxford Circus’ most famed shopping districts of Oxford Street and All Saints Margaret Street. Join a private tour around London to explore as much as you can in a day.

Brick Lane Spitalfields Market, London

18. Brick Lane, London

The final LCF fashion show for first-year students takes place in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, a highlight destination for fashion week exhibitions over at East End. The area is peppered with countless places to kick back and plenty of street food stalls that are easy on the pocket, making it an ideal neighborhood for walking food tours. If culture is your cup of tea, learn all about East End’s Georgian townhouses on a private guided tour with a local.

Nomadland

Nomadland, the awards darling of 2021, paints an introspective portrait of a widowed nomad who travels the United States in a van after the Great Recession. Seemingly documentarian in its storytelling, the film’s ever-changing surroundings play as much of a role in Fern’s journey as the offbeat characters she meets. Nevada stars as the hometown from which Fern sets out, while South Dakota and California make appearances as brief stays on the road.

Black Rock Desert, Nevada

19. Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Fern’s hometown of Empire is an abandoned mining town situated in the heart of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The desolate townscape reflects loneliness and isolation on an otherworldly stretch of flat sand plains and red-banded cliffs, a familiar backdrop to the annual Burning Man festival. While you tour neighboring deserts like the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, set up camp for a few nights at nearby Las Vegas, an ideal base for day-long desert adventures.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

20. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Later in her journey, Fern lingers in the Badlands of South Dakota where she works as a campground host before waitressing at the iconic Wall Drug truckstop known for its towering brontosaurus statue. Take a private day tour from Black Hills Tour Company to stop by for lunch and visit the historic Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, with views of grazing bison and desert sunscapes along the way.

Point Arena, California

21. Point Arena, California

Towards the end of the film, Fern arrives at the coast to visit a fellow traveler’s family home in Point Arena, a coastal city in the lush Mendocino County. Explore Point Arena Museum and Lighthouse, one of the area’s top attractions—a great picnic spot with gorgeous pelican sightings. Drive along the Mendocino Coastline for spectacular viewpoints of the North Pacific ocean roaring against cliffs, with the Travelers’ Choice Mendocino Coast Botanic Gardens just an hour away by car.


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