Best Movies Set in Cities Around the World
Does watching "Roman Holiday" make you pine for your own getaway to Italy's historic capital? When you watch "Notting Hill," are you as charmed by the neighborhood it's set in as you are by Hugh Grant? Did "Lost in Translation" have you seriously considering a long trip to Tokyo?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're not alone. Many great films feature not only an involving storyline, but a stunning, memorable backdrop.
We've rounded up the best movies ever made in which a destination plays a starring role. For all movie-lovers who are inspired to visit a place because they saw it in a movie, this is for you.
Monaco: "To Catch a Thief"
Grace Kelly and Cary Grant were the beautiful couple in this cat-and-mouse romantic comedy that starred Monaco as much as it did the famed actors. Kelly met her husband, the then-prince, while filming the movie, eventually becoming the country's princess and mother to today's ruler of the principality.
You probably won't become a member of the royal family if you visit, but you almost certainly will fall in love with Monaco like Kelly did.
Key filming site to check out: Follow the drive of Kelly and Grant along the Grande Corniche, winding above Monte Carlo.
Miami: "The Birdcage"
Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest and Hank Azaria (hysterical as the maid) star in this over-the-top comedy about a gay South Beach couple who own a drag club.
Miami Beach, Art Deco, swimming pools, drag queens — everything we love about SoBe is featured in this classic remake of the French "La Cage aux Folles."
Key filming site to check out: The Carlyle on Ocean Drive and 13th Street, which served as the home of the Birdcage Club, features condos you can rent.
New Delhi: "Eat Pray Love"
The movie (and book) that inspired women to travel solo around the world to find themselves had Julia Roberts' character (author Elizabeth Gilbert) living in Italy (eating), India (praying) and Bali (loving).
While in India, Gilbert is thrown into the chaos of New Delhi, where horns blare, color flows and spice is in the air. Will we learn to meditate in New Delhi like our protagonist? Perhaps not, but our senses will be awoken in this whirlwind of a city. (Her time in Rome and Bali are equally inspiring.)
Key filming site to check out: Travel about two hours outside of New Delhi to visit the 25-acre Hari Mandir Ashram, which was used as the ashram in the movie.
New York City: "When Harry Met Sally"
Watching Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) fall in love is easy to do when we are just as busy falling in love with New York City. Director Rob Reiner's ode to Manhattan is obvious, as he takes the couple through the city season by season, making stops at some of its most iconic locations, including The Boathouse in Central Park, the Met and Katz's Deli for the now-infamous "faking it" scene.
Key filming site to check out: When Harry asks Sally out for the first time, they are standing in the Egyptian Room of The Met — practice saying "pecan piiieeee" while you're there.
Salzburg: "The Sound of Music"
Generations of Americans have grown up watching Julie Andrews play governess of the real-life Von Trapp family of children in Salzburg, just as World War II was beginning. As she sang her way around the Austrian Alps, Mirabell Gardens and St. Peter's, she showed us the baroque city's allure. It's difficult not to sing "Do Re Mi" when walking through the gardens here.
Key filming site to check out: Splash in the same fountain as Maria did while gaining her confidence at the Residenz Fountain in Old Town's Residenzplatz.
Tokyo: "Lost in Translation"
Comedic ham Bill Murray surprised us all when he played a quiet, lonely character stuck in Tokyo for work in the 2003 film "Lost in Translation."
In the movie, his character meets Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) and the two form a friendship and explore Tokyo's nightlife — there's definitely a karaoke bar scene — in a sweet story that showcases Japan's capital city brilliantly.
Key filming site to check out: Bob and Charlotte meet and stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo before they have fun in Shinjuku and Shibuya districts.
Rome: "Roman Holiday"
Gregory Peck woos Audrey Hepburn all around Rome in an attempt to write a story about her, a princess in hiding. Of course, he ends up falling in love with her, and as he does so, we fall in love with Rome.
Attempting to drive a scooter around Rome's city streets, passing by iconic sites like the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps, is the epitome of a vacation — although, with Rome's traffic, it might be wiser to tour by foot instead.
Key filming site to check out: Tempt fate at the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita) by placing your arm inside the stone face that, legend has it, takes off the hands of liars.
Prague: "Mission: Impossible"
The opening scene of Tom Cruise's very first "Mission: Impossible" film in 1996 was, for many, their first introduction to the seductive city of Prague.
The film was one of the first to be shot in the city, which didn't break from its Communist Iron Curtain grip until 1989. The movie used its setting to memorable effect, with Cruise's Ethan Hunt character and his band of spies running along Old Town streets and the Charles Bridge.
There are now a total of six "Mission: Impossible" films starring Cruise. Meanwhile, tourism to the Czech city has skyrocketed.
Key filming site to check out: Take the same double staircase Ethan Hunt rushes down on the Charles Bridge at the northern end.
Los Angeles: "La La Land"
In this Academy Award-winning film (though, famously, it didn't actually win Best Picture), Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing and dance their way around Los Angeles and Hollywood in a throwback to old-fashioned musicals. Seeing the couple dance with the City of Angels in lights behind them really did send us to La La Land.
Key filming site to check out: Cathy's Corner in Griffith Park, off Mt. Hollywood Drive, is where the couple dances in the film's most iconic scene.
San Francisco: "Mrs. Doubtfire"
In this beloved comedy, the late, great Robin Williams — who lived in nearby Marin County until his death — shares the charms of the area he loved. The city's SF sights, from its Victorian homes to its cable cars scaling steep streets, are hard to miss, even with Williams' larger-than-life character regularly stealing the show.
Key filming site to check out: See Mrs. Doubtfire's home (exterior only) at 2640 Steiner Street in Pacific Heights.
Singapore: "Crazy Rich Asians"
"Crazy Rich Asians," based on the book of the same name, was a runaway hit in 2018, giving the Western world a peek into the wealthy and crazy-rich lifestyle of Asians in Singapore. We are just as wide-eyed as American-born Rachel (Constance Wu) when she arrives, wishing we could experience a taste of the high life that she and her beau Nick (Henry Golding) enjoy.
Key filming site to check out: The magical setting for Colin and Araminta's over-the-top wedding is the Gardens By the Bay waterfront garden/art exhibit.
London: "Notting Hill"
She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her in Notting Hill, an artists neighborhood in London.
In the film, we follow Hugh Grant's character, William Thacker, as he fumbles about his neighborhood, his flat and his travel bookstore, and falls in love with the American movie star Anna Scott, played by Julia Roberts.
Spoiler alert: This one has a happy ending.
Key filming site to check out: Follow in the footsteps of Grant by taking a stroll through Portobello Road Market, the world's largest antiques market.
Venice: "The Tourist"
The movie starring two of the world's biggest stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, bombed at the box office but remains in TBS rotation. Perhaps that's because we love watching the chase scene across the Grand Canal of Venice, and all the glimpses we get of Italy's gorgeous island city.
Key filming site to check out: The Hotel Daniel in the film is actually Palazzo Pisani Moretta's entrance, and you can stay in the boutique property located right on the Grand Canal.
The movie that made Ewan McGregor a star (way before he was Obi-Wan) is a black comedy about drug-chasing kids from Edinburgh.
While we get a glimpse at the seedy underbelly of Scotland's capital, we also get to see its beautiful and historic buildings and sites as backdrops to the wild film.
Interestingly, many scenes were actually shot in nearby Glasgow, so if you're a fan of the film, add that to the itinerary as well.
Key filming site to check out: John Menzies bookshop is where McGregor's character and friends go in the opening scene.
Paris: "Midnight in Paris"
Director and screenwriter Woody Allen wrote a love story about Paris, literally, in this sweet film that shows us the City of Lights in the present day, the Jazz Age and Belle Epoque.
As Gil Pender (Owen Wilson playing a writer) wishes he could see Paris in its "best" light, we are reminded that "Paris is always a good idea." Throughout the film, you follow Gil as explores sites likes Monet's Garden, Rodin Museum and the Chateau of Versailles.
Key filming site to check out: When Gil is first picked up and brought back into the 1920s, he meets and drinks with Ernest Hemingway in Le Polidor, then later does the same with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in the 1890s at Maxim's de Paris. You can grab a drink in both historic restaurants today.
Bruges: "In Bruges"
Two bumbling hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) have to hide out in Bruges, Belgium in this darkly comic crime flick.
In the movie, one character hates the city while the other loves it. Meanwhile, we get to go along for a tour of its cobblestone streets winding along canals and its town square, where the Belfry of Bruges stands — make it to the top on your visit and you'll have done better than the film's Irish duo.
Key filming site to check out: The duo stays in the boutique Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel, and you can too.
Dublin: "The Commitments"
In the 1990s, a movie about an Irish band out of Dublin playing American R&B ruled the movie screen and radios. As the members of the band come together and learn how to sing R&B, we follow along on the streets of Ireland's bustling capital. This one will make you thirsty for a pint!
Key filming site to check out: Archbishop Byrne Hall (also known as St Kevin’s Hall) is where the group plays its first gig.
Copenhagen: "The Danish Girl"
"The Danish Girl" is the story of one of the world's first patients of gender-reassignment surgery, artist Einar Wegener, played by Academy Award-winning Eddie Redmayne. The city's charms serve as memorable backdrop to the film.
Key filming site to check out: Copenhagen City Hall, which stands in for the movie's hospital, is a must-visit whether you've seen the film or not.
St. Petersburg: "Anna Karenina"
The 2012 movie adaptation of the world-famous best-selling novel "Anna Karenina" starred Keira Knightley as the title character. Following along with her high society, we see St. Petersburg at the height of its fashionable 19th-century glamour. It's oh-so-romantic, even if all doesn't end well for our heroine.
Key filming site to check out: Visit Catherine the Great’s lavish Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum, which are only a couple of the on-site locations not filmed on a soundstage.
Vienna: "Before Sunrise"
When two young students traveling across Europe meet on a train, they decide to spend one night in Vienna together, before their connections take them in different directions. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy get to know one another as they stroll around the city, and we feel as if we are right beside them, discovering the Austrian capital ourselves.
The movie did so well, it spawned two sequels that united the couple in Paris and Greece.
Key filming site to check out: Take a ride on the Riesenrad, the giant Ferris wheel where "Jesse" and "Celine" share a kiss.