Movies are something that everyone has a connection to. They allow us to see the world and feel like we’re really experiencing it; all from the comfort of our own couches. But what if you had the opportunity to really see the world from a film perspective? In the UK in particular, hundreds of movies have been created that millions of people have viewed and loved. If you’re lucky enough to study abroad there or are just visiting for the weekend, why not take some time to live out your movie fantasies? So many cinematic works of art were filmed in the UK (and Ireland) that almost every tourist attraction was at one point used as part of a set. And because DIY tours are always less expensive than going on a guided tour, we’ve debunked the mystery behind some of the most popular movie locations for you.
An obvious fan-favorite is the Warner Bros Studio Tour, but if you’re looking to save some money, many of the Harry Potter film locations are free and easy to access (and it enables you to see even more of the UK instead of the inside of a building.)
Most HP sites in London are free to enter but a few are not open to the public. Free sites include: Millenium Bridge (attacked by Death Eaters), Leadenhall Market/42 Bull’s Head Passage (Diagon Alley/Leaky Cauldron), Lincoln’s Inn Fields near Sir John Soane’s Museum (12 Grimmauld Place), and King’s Cross Station (Platform 9 and ¾).
For a small fee, fans can also check out London Zoo’s Reptile House in Regent’s Park, where Harry first discovered he could speak Parseltongue. For those who are a bit more daring, check out the lobby or peek through the windows of the Australia House (Gringotts Bank), which is closed to the public, or head to the town of Bracknell to track down the neighborhood of Picket Post Close (Privet Drive).
Outside of London/British countryside
The most famous outdoor HP film location is Alnwick Castle, which was used as the main model for Hogwarts. Interior Hogwarts shots were filmed at Christ Church College, Bodleian Library, Duke Humfrey’s Library, and the New College cloister. Several shots of Hogwarts were also filmed at several locations near Bath, including Gloucester Palace and Lacock Abbey. The pivotal scene at Godric’s Hollow where Harry became “the boy who lived” was filmed in the medieval town of Lavenham.
Wales, Scotland, Ireland
Several scenes were filmed at Freshwater West beach in Wales, including shots of Shell Cottage, Bill and Fleur’s home. If you make it to Scotland, be sure to take the Jacobite Steam Train through Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Shiel to see where the Hogwarts Express ran, or check out Loch Shiel, Loch Eilt, and Loch Morar to experience Hogwarts Lake. The only location used in Ireland are the Cliffs of Moher, which is where the sea cave was that Harry and Dumbledore visited to find the Horcrux. The cave is not real, however, so don’t go scaling down the cliffs trying to find it!
The Princess Bride
We may be biased, but the general consensus here at The Abroad Guide is that this is the best movie ever. Not only does it have humor, romance, and killer swordfights (literally), but the film locations are also incredible.
The most prominent film site is Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, which was transformed into Prince Humperdink’s kingdom of Florin. This manor was also featured in Pride and Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl, Jane Eyre, and The Virgin Queen, among several other movies. Another estate used is Penshurst Place, which is where the swordfight between Montoya and Count Rugen was filmed. If you’re more into nature than castles and country homes, head to Derbyshire’s Peak District/Castleton, which is the beautiful countryside where Westley outwits Vizzini and Buttercup pushes Westley down the hill. Don’t forget about the fictitious shrieking eels, which can be found at Black Park Lake in Buckinghamshire.
Although most of the movie was filmed in England, the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland can easily be recognized as the “Cliffs of Insanity”. Feel free to reenact the sword fight between Westley and Inigo Montoya on top of the cliffs…apparently it happens a lot.
Despite popular belief, Braveheart was actually filmed mostly in Ireland and not Scotland (it’s ok, we feel lied to as well). The majority of the movie was filmed within an hour radius of Dublin, so if you need a break from pounding down the Guinness, head to the countryside!
There were really only three important sites used in Scotland: Glen Nevis Valley (the village of Lanark where William Wallace grows up), Edinburgh Council Chamber (Mornay’s castle), and the Mamores mountains (Wallace’s trek after killing Mornay). These ten mountains are linked by a narrow path, making it possible to walk across all ten in a day.
One of the most recognizable sites in Braveheart is Trim Castle, which was used as the English town of “York” and “London Square”. Five miles north is Bective Abbey (used as the courtyards and the dungeons of Longshanks’ castle). Also near Trim Castle is St. Nicholas Church in Dunsany Castle (“Westminster Abbey”, where Prince Fey and Isabella get married). Curragh Plains between Newbridge and Kildare was the location of the Battle of Stirling Bridge and featured as the horse breeding area. Dunsoghly Castle near Finglas was used as the stunt double for Edinburgh Castle, where Wallace is taken by the English.
Much of the scenery and exterior shots were filmed in the Wicklow County area, including the “English” stockade near Coronation Plantation and Blessington Lakes (Wallace’s escape on horseback from Mornay’s castle after killing him, Battle of Falkirk was staged nearby in Ballymore Eustace). Many other movies were filmed in Wicklow, including PS I Love You and Leap Year. There are many tours that go through Wicklow, making it easy to see most of these places. We recommend Wild Wicklow Tours, as they make it into a really fun adventure (and they give customers a shot of Jameson at each stop).
Pride and Prejudice
Although this Jane Austen novel has been made into several movies, we will be focusing on the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley, which was filmed in England. Many gorgeous estates were featured in this movie, including Groombridge Place in Kent (Longbourn, the Bennett family home), the Burghley House in Lincolnshire (Rosings, home of Lady Catherine de Bourg), and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire (Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s estate).
Other sites to make brief appearances include Haddon Hall (the inn at Lambton), Basildon Park in Berkshire (Netherfield Park, where the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy stay), St. George’s Square in Stamford (village of Meryton, where Elizabeth meets Mr. Wickham), the Temple of Apollo at Stourhead (where Mr. Darcy unsuccessfully proposes to Elizabeth in the rain), and Stanage Edge in the Peak District of Derbyshire (the rock outcrop that Elizabeth walks along).
Don’t stop at just these film locations, as there are an infinite number to explore in the UK, including the sites for The Da Vinci Code, Love Actually, The King’s Speech, and several James Bond movies. Enjoy roaming around these fantastic sites and don’t be afraid to act out your favorite scenes!