Explosions, car chases, martinis and beautiful women with amazing martial-arts abilities may be the trademarks of a typical James Bond film. But do you see what’s missing here? One of the most underrated trademarks of the franchise is the plethora of exotic filming locations, which just happen to be sightseeing hubs today. Without those exotic beaches and lush islands, the movies just wouldn’t be the same.
For instance, every Bond fan recalls that iconic moment where Ursula Andress emerged from the sea in that famous white bikini. Part of what makes that scene so memorable is the striking backdrop of clear blue waters and white sands. If it were all based in London, it just wouldn’t have the same vibes. What makes the movies so mesmerising is the variation of unique and exotic places, as well as the stark contrast between locations. Not all of them are so exotic! But they are nonetheless intriguing and the perfect locales for different scenes.
From 1962 to now, we’ve found the top 20 James Bond filming locations that you can actually visit. From Key West, Florida to Phang Nga Bay, Thailand, you’ll be comparing flight prices by the time you get to number three.
20 Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Dr No)
The opening scenes of Dr No are in Kingston, Jamaica. However, most of the action takes place in Ocho Rios. For instance, that iconic scene where actress Ursula Andress rises from the waves in that well-known white bikini is in Ocho Rios. You can see from the movie that the beach and the waterfalls are divine. There are few beaches comparable to those in Jamaica. With its clear waters and white sands, you won’t be able to take enough photos during your visit. You might even find yourself doing a little reenactment of the famous beach scene.
19 Miami Beach, Florida (Goldfinger)
Goldfinger was one of the most popular movies in the Bond franchise. Pussy Galore, the iconic Bond girl, could be the reason for its popularity. But there’s another thing that makes this movie so interesting – Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel. In the opening scene, Bond is seen getting a massage, poolside at this lavish hotel. For many US viewers, it was intriguing to see Miami featured in the movies. Some of the locations are so far-flung; it was nice to know that they could easily visit this location. Fontainebleau is still a luxurious hotel today so yes, you can visit it.
18 Ascot, UK (Bond Film #15)
Many of A View To A Kill’s scenes take place at Ascot Racecourse, England’s famous horse-racing track in Berkshire. This might not be one of the most exotic locations among the James Bond movies but it should definitely be mentioned.
Like we said, what make the movie settings so interesting are the stark contrasts in location. We can go from a remote little beach in Jamaica to a formal event like Ascot in the UK. You can visit the Ascot Racecourse yourself if you’re interested in seeing it. It takes around 50 minutes from London by car. You may even spot royalty if you attend the Royal Ascot.
17 Key West, Florida (License To...)
Another one from Florida. If you ever watched the 1989 movie, you might remember actor Timothy Dalton’s cameo in the franchise. He wasn’t the most popular of Bond portrayers but the Key West, Florida backdrop raised his profile quite a bit. One of the most notable scenes involves Bond running through The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. If you don’t remember it, you should watch it again because it’s definitely something worth visiting yourself.
For a general admission fee of $13, you are free to explore the Nobel Prize-winning author’s one-time home and current dwelling for 50 feline residents. Maybe you’ll remember the scene more vividly.
16 Giza, Egypt (The Spy Who Loved Me)
The Spy Who Loved Me was nominated for a number of Oscars back in 1977. While we’re sure most of it could be due to the storyline and its characters, we really need to give its exotic locations some credit.
At night, the Giza Plateau in Egypt – the site of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx – was filmed. If you’ve seen the movie before, you’ll know what we’re talking about it. The good news is; if you want to attend the Sound & Light show Bond did all those years back, you can. However, don’t expect to find 007 or yourself in a run-in with Jaws whilst you’re there.
15 Hyogo Prefecture, Japan (You Only Live Twice)
For Sean Connery’s fifth Bond movie, in 1967, he ventured to Japan. Then again, you can’t have exotic locations without including Japan, can you? The most memorable scenes occur at a ninja training school run by Tiger Tanaka, Bond’s secret service contact in Japan.
Those school grounds can actually be visited. They are located on the Himeji Castle, a real-life tourist spot dating back to 1333. So if you feel like going back in time and reliving some Bond moments in your head, a visit to Himeji Castle will be unforgettable. It looks like a fascinating place and perfect for Bond enthusiasts.
14 Meteora, Greece (For Your Eyes Only)
For the franchise’s first movie of the 1980s, a sequence features Bond scaling a steep rocky cliff in a bid to reach the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. This Greek beauty is absolutely breathtaking, like many areas and places in Greece.
Fortunately, you don’t have to scale a cliff face to get to it. It is also accessible via a 140-step staircase which is at the side of the cliff. If you are more athletic and not scared of heights, you will love this trip up to the monastery. The views are spectacular and it would be a real shame to miss it.
13 Istanbul, Turkey (From Russia With Love)
There’s no denying From Russia With Love had some of the finest locations. When Bond and Ali Kerim Bay – the Istanbul Station head – make a secret getaway, they both go paddle boating through the Basilica Cistern. These 336 marble columns are simply stunning.
Then again, Istanbul isn’t short of stunning sights. The city is brimming with beautiful buildings. Although you cannot float through the Basilica Cistern today, you can tour its perimeter. We know it’s not going to be the most genuine experience, but it’s the closest you’re going to get.
12 Udaipur, India (Octopussy)
The filming of Octopussy, the 13th Bond film, took place in Udaipur, India at two hotels: Jagmandir Island Palace and Taj Lake Palace. Both of these hotels stand in for Bond’s floating palace hideout.
Without a doubt, it is stunning here. However, unless you have a budget like Bond, you might have to save a while before you can afford to come here. The Jagmandir will set you back by $200 a day, while the Taj Palace will cost $600 - $700 per night. Then again, when you see just how incredible it looks, you can kind of see why people pay these prices. It is total luxury.
11 Phang Nga Bay, Thailand (The Man With The Golden Gun)
Most of the filming for The Man With The Golden Gun, James Bond’s ninth movie, took place in Thailand. Tapu Island is part of the Ao Phang Nga Bay National Park. Today is sometimes known as James Bond’s Island. It is here, in the movie, that Bond duels with Scaramanga.
You will be happy to hear that you can indeed visit the beach yourself if you want to go down memory lane for a while. Visitors can also go on cave tours if they want to take in the island’s amazing views. There is no doubt about it, you will have a blast in this mesmerizing place.
10 Murren, Switzerland (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
In this 1969 thriller, one-time Bond actor George Lazenby hits the Swiss Alps. However, most of the action happens at Piz Gloria. This 360-degree rotating restaurant contains an observation deck and just happens to be etched into Mount Schilthorn.
If you fancy wining and dining there yourself, you can. The restaurant still serves guests today and includes a Bond World exhibition as well as a small movie theatre which features clips from the movie. So if you are looking to step into Bond’s shoes for a while, the Piz Gloria is the place to be. This rotating restaurant will blow your mind.
9 Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro (Moonraker)
The scene on Sugar Loaf Mountain involves Bond battling with Jaws atop two cable-cars. Not long after we see Bond sliding down the cable with Bond girl Holly Goodhead. This is definitely what one would call an interesting scene. But it wasn’t just the action part that we caught. We couldn’t miss the spectacular views from up there.
Want to go there yourself? While we do not advise sliding down cable-car cables at all, the Fasano hotel offers lush interiors and rooftop pool overlooking the beach. You will be able to reminisce over the 1979 movie while riding on a cable-car.
8 Paradise Island, the Bahamas (Thunderball)
When you think about it, Bond is one lucky guy. Sure, he’s a hard-working guy and all, but he certainly gets paid well for it. It can't exactly be tough spending all your time on those dazzling beaches.
In Thunderball, Bond once again finds himself on a picturesque island known as Paradise Island in the Bahamas. This island is the locale for a poker game and underwater battle between Bond and Largo’s men. Actually, the Bahamas has appeared several times throughout the Bond franchise. If you want to stay in the same hotel Daniel Craig stayed in while filming, it’s called One & Only Ocean Club.
7 Venice, Italy (Casino Royale)
How can we talk about stunning locations without mentioning Italy? Unsurprisingly, Bonds finds himself here too. In Casino Royale, Venice is the destination in which most of the action occurs. Throughout Venice and at the Hotel Cipriani, we see Bond on a chase with Vespa into the waters of Venice. But generally, many parts of the movie are set here in Venice, which is all part of the intrigue.
Best of all, you can stay at the Hotel Cipriani which is located on an island in the lagoon and you’ll be overlooking St Mark’s Square. The views are incomparable but be prepared to pay the price for them.
6 Nevada, USA (Diamonds Are Forever)
Many of the Bond locations, aside from Florida, have been outside the states. So it’s great to see another one appearing on the list. This time it’s in Nevada. Or, to be more specific, the Black Rock Desert.
If you don’t remember the scene, allow us to fill you in. It’s the moon buggy escape scene in Diamonds Are Forever. Anyway, the scenery in this Nevada desert is really beautiful. We’re not surprised producers decided to place Bond in this location. What’s more, you can, of course, give this place a visit if you want to see it in real life.
5 Nunavut, Canada (The Spy Who Loved Me)
In the opening scene of the 1977 movie The Spy Who Loved Me, you will see Bond (played by Roger Moore) in Nunavut, Canada. You will see him skiing and then parachuting off the mountain. It’s a pretty cool scene if you remember. Then again, aren’t all of them?
If you head to Mount Asgard yourself, you will see that it actually has two flat-topped peaks. There’s also a saddle between these two peaks. It is situated in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island. There’s something quite special about coming here and remembering that iconic opening scene which happened so long ago.
4 Höfn, Iceland (Bond Film #15)
A View To A Kill is another Roger Moore film, and has another opening scene that is filmed in Höfn, Iceland. And it’s another scene involving skiing. See, it appears that Bond enjoys skiing.
This time, it’s a chase at the glacier lagoon and yes, it’s on skis. Only someone like Bond could tackle something like that! Fortunately, you can visit this film setting yourself if you want to relive the moment in your head. It will set you back a few bucks, but Bond fans will definitely appreciate the incredible views.
This is only a small town but the views are pretty spectacular and you could have a go at skiing yourself.
3 Lake Garda, Italy (Quantum of Solace)
During the opening of 2008’s Quantum of Solace starring Daniel Craig, we see Bond being chased by bad guys. Look beyond the car chase and you’ll discover that the camera was on Lake Garda. The start of the movie was filmed in the northeastern part of the lake.
Anybody who knows Italy should know that Lake Garda is a big deal in terms of landmarks. And the stunning views of the lake in this movie should not be missed. Lake Garda is actually a common vacation area, so if you want to see what it’s like, it’s not a made up place. You can visit it and see it in the flesh.
2 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic (Casino Royale)
In Casino Royale, you might remember Bond spending some time in Hotel Splendide. It was a pretty cool hotel if you remember correctly. Well, in real life, it’s a real hotel. However, it has a different name.
If you visit, you’ll have to look for the Grand Hotel Pupp – that’s its real name. Casino Royale didn’t have as many exotic filming locations as other Bond films. However, in addition to this place, it was also filmed in Italy, the UK and the Bahamas. To be honest, you are never going to come across a shabby James Bond movie.
1 Scotland, UK (The World is Not Enough)
Some people may not consider Scotland an exotic location when we have the likes of Jamaica and the Bahamas on here. Still, it should be featured because, although it may not boast the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, Scotland has its own unique sense of charm.
Scotland is a stunning place with incredible views and it’s certainly exotic in its own right. It made the perfect setting for Pierce Brosnan to play Bond in the 1999 film, The World Is Not Enough. Go see it for yourself and you will see what all the fuss is about. It’s a truly magnificent setting.
References: movie-locations.com, Canadacool.com, bondlocations.wordpress.com