The UK’s characteristic locales have provided the backdrops for countless films over the years, from stunning scenes in spectacular Scottish Highlands, to getaways in quaint coastal villages, and entire movies filmed in the busy streets of London. For those of us watching from across the pond, British films have the power to transport us overseas and provide inspiration for future travels. For movie fans, there is no better feeling than walking in a favorite character’s footsteps. Use this guide to discover the real-life locations of some of the most popular movies filmed in the UK.
Looking for more big-screen-inspired adventures? Check out our film location guides to West Hollywood, the USA, and Jordan. We even have guides to filming locations of Netflix series based In Los Angeles and NYC!
James Bond: Various Locations
British cinema is full of iconic characters, but perhaps none have stood the test of time as well as Agent 007. With 24 films released across six decades, the James Bond franchise has filmed in awe-inspiring locations around the world, from Italy to Istanbul and Iceland. But the UK also provided the backdrop for some of 007’s most famous scenes.
Fans of Skyfall (2012) can take a trip to the Scottish Highlands, an area which featured prominently in the film starring Daniel Craig. Ian Fleming, James Bond’s creator, gave Bond some Scottish heritage after he was impressed with Sean Connery’s portrayal of the character in Dr. No (1962). The highlands location of Glen Coe is home to Bond’s family estate in Skyfall. Fans can follow the same road Bond drove in his classic Aston Martin, with views of the striking peaks of Buachaille, Etive Mor, and Buachaille Etive Beag.
The Scottish Highlands are also featured in The World is Not Enough (1999) during Pierce Brosnan’s stint as 007. Eilean Donan Castle features in this film as the Scottish headquarters of MI6. In The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Roger Moore’s Bond visits Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, which is located in Argyll on the shore of Gare Loch.
Harry Potter: Various Locations
Since the first film premiered in 2001, the Harry Potter franchise has been inspiring fans from around the world to visit the UK. If you’re traveling through London, there’s a good chance you’ll take a train or tube from King’s Cross Station, which serves an important role in the films. Fans can take a photo at Platform 9 and ¾ and visit the Harry Potter Shop for all kinds of wizarding world memorabilia. Also located in London, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour allows fans to go behind the scenes and explore sets, props, and visual effects that made magic happen on-screen.
Fans will also recognize Millennium Bridge, which was destroyed by Death Eaters at the beginning of the sixth film. London’s Borough Market and Leadenhall Market were also used to represent The Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
A few hours north of London, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland served as the model for Hogwarts. The second-largest inhabited castle in the country, these grounds were where Harry learned how to ride a broomstick, and young fans can even take broomstick-riding lessons while visiting the castle.
Further north in Scotland, fans can visit the real-life Hogwarts Express: the Jacobite Steam Train across the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Take in spectacular views of the Scottish Highlands and don’t forget your camera: use our handy guide to photograph the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Pride and Prejudice: Derbyshire
Romance fans also have plenty of Jane Austen-inspired filming locations to explore. In particular, Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice has been adapted for the big screen many times. The 2005 film starring Keira Knightly showcased some of England’s most extravagant homes. Perhaps the most iconic is Chatsworth House, which represented Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley in the film. Located in the heart of the Peak District in Derbyshire, this impressive estate is home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Chatsworth House is open for tours: visitors can explore over 30 rooms, including the Painted Hall and Sculpture Gallery, and stroll through acres of beautiful gardens and footpaths.
London Rom-Com Tour: Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary
For fans of more contemporary British rom-coms, London is the place to be. Wander through the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in West London to discover the colorful homes and quaint shops of Notting Hill, made famous in the 1999 film of the same name. Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, helped put this area on the map. Fans have transformed The Notting Hill Book Shop from a modest nook for travelogues into a major tourist destination, thanks to the movie’s success — it’s also essential to take a photo in front of Grant’s character’s famous blue-doored flat.
After checking these famed Notting Hill landmarks off your list, take a British rom-com-inspired tour of London. Visit Selfridges’ in Marylebone to see where Rowan Atkinson’s character wrapped a present for Harry (Alan Rickman) in Love Actually. Or check out the chapel of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, which hosted one of four weddings in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The college has hosted plenty of other movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) and Les Misérables (2012).
Visit London hotspot Borough Market for great food and local produce — and check off another movie location while you’re at it. Bridget from Bridget Jones’s Diary lived in a flat near the market, above The Globe pub on Bedale Street.
The Theory of Everything: Cambridge University
This biopic of world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde tugged moviegoers’ heartstrings when it premiered in 2014. Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything was filmed at Cambridge University, where Hawking studied for his PhD. Fans of the film can explore St. John’s College, one of the university’s most beautiful campuses, which featured prominently in the film. Filmmakers recreated certain locations to reflect the time period in which Hawking spent at Cambridge. The Hawking family, including Stephen and his two children, even visited the set during the shooting of the key May Ball scene.
Far from the Madding Crowd, Dunkirk, and On Chesil Beach: Dorset
Located in the south of England on the English Channel, Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is famous for its breathtaking cliffs and sandy beaches. English poet and novelist Thomas Hardy often used Dorset as the backdrop for his tales, and the Dorset coast has been used to capture adaptations of some of his most famous works, including Far from the Madding Crowd (2015). Mapperton House, a Jacobean manor house in the Dorset countryside, was transformed into Bathsheba’s (played by Carey Mulligan) farm for the film.
Ian McEwan’s novella On Chesil Beach was also set on Dorset’s coast. The 2017 film adaptation starring Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle took place on the 18-mile stretch that makes up Chesil Beach. Christopher Nolan’s epic film Dunkirk, featuring Harry Styles and Tom Hardy, was also filmed in Dorset in Weymouth, displaying the Old Harbor’s colorful architecture, and Swanage Rail Station.
The Favourite: Hatfield House
This estate in Hertfordshire has been used for many films over the years, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Crown, and Batman. It was also the key location in the 2018 historical drama, The Favourite. The estate was built by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury in the early 1600s, and has remained in the Cecil family for 400 years. Approximately 85 percent of the Jacobean mansion was used to film The Favourite, though additional secret passages and doorways were added to the layout for the film. While Hatfield House and the surrounding gardens are closed until 2021, the estate’s park and woodland areas are open for walks each weekend in December.
The recent Netflix adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic classic was also filmed at Hatfield House. In the 2020 production starring Armie Hammer and Lily James, Du Maurier’s famous Manderley was represented with a number of stunning English homes: much of the interior shots were done at Hatfield House, while most of the exterior shots of the home were filmed at Cranborne Manor in Dorset. Mapperton House in Dorset – particularly the manor’s extensive gardens – were used to recreate the infamous mansion. And though Rebecca is set in Cornwall, the brooding beach scenes were filmed in Hartland Quay, Devon: an outstanding stretch of coastline with dramatic cliffs and crashing waves.
Have you ever visited one or more of these famous filming locations? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!