real life locations from fantasy movies

Real-life Places from Fantasy Movies You Need to Visit: Top 3

By Kateryna Kirian

Your favorite movie gives you goosebumps? You are still guessing if these stunning locations are real-life places from fantasy movies? Well then, what about visiting a movie scene by yourself? It might be a great adventure to…


Lucky you! A lot of famous locations are real, and you can visit them right now. You don’t need to cast a magic spell or look for a spaceship for discovering those places. Just choose a movie, pack your backpack, follow the bucket list of top travel movie destinations we prepared for you and brace yourself for one of the most memorable journeys in a lifetime. If you still don’t get itchy feet, here are some great films to inspire your inner traveler. If you want to get to know more about fulfilling your travel dreams in times of the pandemic, check out our article about travel planning with a proper balance of wanderlust and safety.

I. Game of Thrones

If you haven’t watched Game of Thrones, at least you’ve heard of it. This TV show can be called the engine of the tourism industry. For 8 seasons, the film crew managed to feature a huge list of countries. The iconic places that appeared in the background of the series scenes instantly became popular and still attract tourists from all over the world.

Northern Ireland

This country has an immense concentration of amazing real-life places from fantasy movies that could be visited, among other tours, on a Game of Thrones tour from Dublin.

Tollymore Forest Park

The 630 hectares of Tollymore Park forest near the Morne Mountains is a great place to walk or even hike in Northern Ireland. The mountain rivers, caves, caverns and picturesque sea views attracted the film crew here. In the series, it’s a woodland where Nightwalkers are spotted and the Direwolf puppies are found.

The Dark Hedges, County Antrim

The Dark Hedges is perhaps the most beautiful beech alley in the world and one of the most photographed landmarks in Northern Ireland and on the Game of Thrones Map. The trees were planted in the 18th century to impress visitors of Dunluce Castle. The idea was so good that it outlived its creators and still impresses tourists. Luckily, Dark Hedges are currently free to visit, so you definitely must go there.

real-life place from the fantasy movie Game of Thrones
The Dark Hedges from Game of Thrones, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Castle Ward, County Down

Probably the most famous Game of Thrones filming location in Northern Ireland is Castle Ward, also known as Winterfell. Visitors can dress up in the costumes of the Game of Thrones’ characters and play around the castle learning archery. And now you can discover Winterfell for yourself! The National Trust has reopened its outdoor spaces after the lockdown. Don’t hesitate and book your visit there.


Croatia is the country where most of the famous episodes of the show have been filmed. Dubrovnik, as a city blessed with stunning landscapes, is proud to have not only the majority of Game of Thrones filming locations but also a lot of other real-life places from fantasy movies.

King’s Landing

King’s Landing is the capital of the fictional Seven Kingdoms – a city with truly astonishing views. This place has witnessed many events such as King Joffrey’s name day tournament. The location is known as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’ because of a unique old city overlooking the magnificent Dalmatian coast. By taking a tour in the old walled city of Dubrovnik you will be able to see and photograph the Black Water Bay and most of the areas which found their way into the series. The tour lasts approximately 3-4 hours, including climbing the stairs for a bird’s-eye view of the Bay.

real-life location from the fantasy movie Game of Thrones
King’s Landing from Game of Thrones, in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Source: Unsplash


If you plan to visit the amazing filming locations from Game of Thrones in Spain, like Girona Cathedral, Castle of Zafra, Bermeo or Almeria, we would recommend you to rent a car. Some locations can be reached by public transportation, but many do require driving by yourself, especially the more remote ones – which often happen to be the most incredible ones, too.


Gaztelugatxe is an islet with a small church called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, dating back to the 10th century. To make a wish, you can ring the bell by yourself three times. Although the island doesn’t have a giant castle or actual dragons, fans of the show are coming there from all around the world. Dragonstone Island features the scene where Daenerys Targaryen is planning the war against her enemies.

real-life location from the fantasy movie Game of Thrones
Dragonstone Island from Game of Thrones, also known as a Gaztelugatxe island in Spain
Source: Photo by Luismi Sánchez on  Unsplash

II. Harry Potter

Sadly for all Harry Potter fans, Hogwarts only exists in the pages of the book and on the TV screen. But there are also some real-life places that actually brought these fantasy movies to life. The majority of the amazing and yet real scenes of the movies were filmed in the U.K., and many of these locations are available on the walking routes. If you are really into it, you can find a Potter-themed walking tour or even take a Warner Bros. Studio Tour, where the magic was created:) Anyway, take a look at the list of the filming locations from Harry Potter that will make happy muggles and magicians. Lumos!

real-life location from the fantasy movie Harry Potter
Glenfinnan Viaduct from Harry Potter, in Inverness-shire, Scotland, UK
Source: Unsplash

1. King’s Cross Station in London

One of the most memorable scenes from the first movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when freshman Harry tried to board the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 ¾. Interesting fact, that at the time of shooting, platforms 4 and 5 were temporarily renumbered 9 and 10. There is still a Platform 9 ¾ on the station (unfortunately, you can’t board the Hogwarts Express). There is a chance to take a picture and visit the Harry Potter shop nearby where you can buy souvenirs from the books and films.

2. Leadenhall Market, London

It’s London’s most beautiful Victorian covered market and a popular filming location for other movies like Hereafter, Brannigan and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. That is a place where Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron Pub (42 Bull’s Head Passage, in real life). Now you know the perfect place for drinking a mug of butterbeer:)

3. Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester

Gloucester Cathedral looks as a perfect shooting location, indeed! Its glass windows dating back to 1350, however, its history dates back even further with origins being recording around 678 or 679. The cathedral doubled as the inside of Hogwarts on multiple scenes, including the one when Harry and Ron spot an enormous troll down a long hallway. You can get there by car or train and come inside for free.

A part of Hogwarts from the movie Harry Potter
A part of Hogwarts from Harry Potter, in Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, England, UK

4. Oxford

Oxford is a place where the true fans of magic movies can find a lot of real-life Harry Potter filming locations. One of them is Duke Humfrey’s Library (the Hogwarts Library) where Hermione loves to read and where Harry takes out a book from a restricted section. Another one is Divinity School where Ron recovers after being poisoned in the episode about The Half-Blood Prince. Those who are not indifferent to the filthy tricks of Draco Malfoy will definitely remember the moment, when Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody transforms him into a ferret. This scene was filmed in the courtyard of New College Cloisters. Fortunately, Oxford is easily accessible by a train or a car. New College is a 1-mile walk away from the Oxford train station. 

real-life location from the fantasy movie Harry Potter
A part of Hogwarts from Harry Potter, in the courtyard of New College Cloisters, Oxford, England, UK

III. The Lord of the Rings

If you call yourself a fan of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series, you should visit some real-life places that contributed to the creation of such wonderful and magic fantasy movies. Moreover, if you adore J. R. R. Tolkien’s writing, you will enjoy visiting the places which played a significant role in the making of the famous movie and the books. Majestic mountain ranges, fairy forests, ethereal lakes and crystal rivers shown in the movies probably made you think there is no chance they are real! But thanks to New Zealand’s spectacular locations, some of The Lord of the Ring’s most iconic scenes look even more incredible in the real world than they do on the screen.

1. The Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata

For sure, it’s one of the favorite places of the fans of The Lord of the Rings. Indeed, it’s a colorful city where visitors can feel the spirit of the magic world belonging to hobbits. The Hobbiton Movie Set was restored after the filming of The Hobbit, so fans are free to come. These are the real sets and locations that brought Hobbiton and the Shire to life. You can walk in the footsteps of Gandalf, Bilbo and Frodo, explore Hobbit holes, visit Green Dragon Inn and the double arch stone bridge near the mill on the riverbank.

The Shire the fantasy movie The Lord of the Rings
The Shire from The Lord of the Rings, in Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand
Source: Photo by Nikhil Prasad on Unsplash

2. Snowdon Forest, Te Anau Downs

nowdon Forest is the location for Fangorn Forest. This is where Gandalf whistles for his majestic horse, and Aragorn tracks the hobbits’ trail into the forest. What’s more, it’s the home of the Ents, living trees who traverse along the glens of Fangorn Forest. And you can see the home of these magic creatures by yourself! Explore the hiking trails as long as you wish, taking in the beauty of the lush forest.

3. The Putangirua Pinnacles, Wellington

Without any doubts, the Pinnacles are one of the most striking Lord of the Rings locations to see. These otherworldly rock landscapes were used for scenes in The Return of the King, when Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn sought assistance of the Army of the Undead along the Dimholt Road. The Pinnacles constitute the unique geological site that gives off the horrific atmosphere. And it’s quite close to Wellington:)

real-life place from the fantasy movie The Lord of the Rings
The habitat of the Army of the Undead from The Lord of the Rings, the Putangirua Pinnacles, Wellington, New Zealand

4. Port Waikato, North Island

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the group of hobbits is left on the lonely peak. Among the ruins, Weathertop remains a safe vantage point from the dark riders. It’s one of the most memorable moments in the series with an immediately identifiable location. Port Waikato itself is a somewhat untouched slice of the New Zealand coastline, with fewer crowds and more space to discover. Fishing enthusiasts can delight in surf fishing and river fishing, while food lovers can visit the town of Pokeno nearby, well-known for its giant ice-creams and organic bacon.

5. Mount  Ngauruhoe, North Island

One of the most iconic scenes is Mount Doom of Mordor (in reality Mount Ngauruhoe), the final destination on Frodo’s way to destroy the Ring. If you walk to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, you’ll see the active volcano rising from the earth. To see it closer, you can take a hike to the peak of Mount Ngauruhoe. It’s a steep walk up to an ancient volcanic area. Those who make it to the top will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Red Crater and Emerald Lakes.

location from The Lord of the Rings
Mordor from The Lord of the Rings, Mount Ngauruhoe, National Park, New Zealand
Source: Photo by Matthew Buchanan on Unsplash

We hope we managed to spark your interest at least a little. The rest is up to you – pack your backpack and let the adventure begin!