On Screen Locations to Inspire Your Next Breakaway
Let film and TV inspire your next breakaway
Protected by vast stone walls, studded with baroque buildings and hugged by the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is arguably Croatia’s most desirable destination – and a must-visit for all Game of Thrones fans
Dubrovnik’s city walls hold the memories of the hugely popular fantasy series Game of Thrones and the show lives on in the form of walking tours (of which there are many), souvenir shops and countless photo opportunities. Begin at the King’s Landing Harbour. It’s a stunning view from Pile Harbour (just outside the Old Town Walls of Dubrovnik, close to Pile Gate). Nearby, Blackwater Bay (Dubrovnik West Harbour) is where Jon Snow said his last farewell to Bran, Arya and Sansa. Fort Lovrijenac is unmissable and instantly recognisable as the Red Keep in King’s Landing.
Tourists can head inside to experience the setting for Cersei Lannister’s confrontations and it’s also been used to stage various performances of Shakespeare plays. From here (after a fairly steep climb), you can also get the best view of the 15th century Fort Bokar, which forms part of the Dubrovnik City Walls, and was used in many of the sea wall shots for King’s Landing.
Take a stroll around the city walls, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 – but visit early because the crowds flock here even on quieter days. At the highest point in Dubrovnik, get your camera ready to capture Minceta Tower, which featured as the House of the Undying in Qarth where Daenerys searches for the entrance in the walls. If you’re seeking the perfect photo for Instagram, head straight to The Jesuit Stairs – the site for Cersei Lannister’s infamous walk of shame, which is maybe the most famous scene from the series – and certainly one of the most expensive scenes. The street is scattered with cafés and bars and HBO had to pay a large amount for them all to close for a whole day of filming.
While you’re here, don’t miss the first and only Christmas shop in Croatia, visit the large Onofrio’s fountain which was built to celebrate the completion of Dubrovnik’s waterworks (where you can refill your water), or get a bird’s eye view of it all from the Dubrovnik cable car. One more must-see before you leave – the original Iron Throne was gifted by HBO to the city of Dubrovnik, and you can find it inside the Visitor’s Centre on Lokrum Island (just 600 metres from the city). For good food, Gradska Kavana Arsenal near Dubrovnik’s main square is just the place, with breathtaking views both harbour- and city-side.
Where to Stay
Where better to understand the history of Dubrovnik than in a palace that’s more than 500 years old? Located in the heart of Dubrovnik Old Town, Prijeko Palace has eight quirky characterful rooms and an impressive restaurant with a wine cellar boasting around 2,000 bottles. Or is a villa more to your taste? Lopud 1483 is a restored 15th century monastery offering accommodation in a secluded location for up to 10 guests. For a beachfront base Sun Gardens Dubrovnik has everything you need, including three outdoor pools, spa and sports centre. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a day exploring, where you can refuel on traditional Dalmatian dishes.
Mamma Mia! Mykonos, Corfu, Santorini and Crete might attract more tourists but take a chance on the smaller Greek island of Skopelos and you’ll fall in love with its crystal clear waters and golden sands
Skopelos is one of various islands which make up the Northern Sporades and became a more popular destination when it was used as a filming location for the 2008 musical movie Mamma Mia. In fact it’s now to referred to as ‘the Mamma Mia island’ by many (including some of the locals). Look out for photos of cast members in the bars and restaurants where they dined during filming. To reach the island, catch a flight to Skiathos, then take a ferry to the port in Skopelos Town – check the times so you don’t find yourself in Sam and Harry’s situation when they missed the ferry to Kalokairi at the old port of Skiathos. The scene where Donna picks up Tanya and Rosie to head to Villa Donna, was filmed amongst the olive groves above Glysteri beach on the north side of the unspoiled island. It was at this beach that Sophie and her three fathers jumped off the rocks. Despite being a rather secluded beach, there’s a buzzy café and sun loungers for tourists to spend a hot afternoon here, and the clear water calls for snorkelling. Sophie and Sky sing Lay All Your Love on Me at Kastani Beach. Granted it’s not easy to access without a car, but it’s worth it for water sport opportunities. Just south of the fishing village of Agnontas, hidden-cove swimming at the picturesque Cape Amarandos is a must. In the film, Sophie sings Honey, Honey while reading Donna’s diary here.
By far the most recognisable Mamma Mia film location is the tiny chapel of Agios Ioannis perched on top of a rock (where it’s believed a castle once stood) with unbeatable views to the coasts of Skopelos and Alonissos. Sturdy walking boots are a necessity (around 110 stone steps lead to the top of the rock), and it’s recommended you head there early to avoid the crowds. Sophie’s wedding scene was filmed at the church, but its tiny size means scenes from inside the church were filmed in a studio. The rocks beneath the church are where Donna sang The Winner Takes It All. Tours of the church and other filming sites start from Skopelos Town, but it’s a good idea to rent a car to experience Mamma Mia life at your own pace.
Where to Stay
Sadly Villa Donna (which in the film was located on the cliffs above Glysteri Beach) doesn’t actually exist, but there are many villas and small hotels that have a similar vibe. Ysyhia is a pretty cottage with its own pool nestled in the countryside on Skopelos, with sensational views across the sea towards the mountains of Evvia. Villa Kentavros, one of three villas in their own grounds on the hillside above Skopelos Town, is perfect for a romantic getaway. Just a stone’s throw from the harbour, Skopelos Village Hotel offers a choice of a home-from-home or luxurious hotel suites, and the Adrina Resort & Spa is a beachfront beauty with 22 villas and 16 rooms.
The hills are very much alive in the Austrian city of Salzburg, where historic architecture and cultural delights are sure to become your favourite things
One of the most famous musical films we never grow tired of is The Sound of Music, and that’s proven by the unrivalled popularity of the themed tours that take place across Salzburg. Showcasing the beauty of this Austrian city and its scenic surroundings, the opening aerial shots of the film are of Salzburg’s glorious Lake District, and the mountain where Maria and the Von Trapp children have a picnic and learn the iconic song Do Ri Me is Gschwandtanger Wiesn (now fondly referred to as The Picnic Meadow or the Do Ri Me Meadow). The Sound of Music Trail that leads you there can be followed from the centre of Werfen on foot. A must-see for all fans of the musical is Nonnberg Abbey, the oldest existing nunnery in the German-speaking region, founded between 712 and 715. This is where the real Maria became a novice nun and got married to Georg von Trapp, but in the film you see the abbey when the nuns sing Maria in the courtyard, when the children visit, and when the Nazis are hunting the Von Trapps. Today Nonnberg Abbey houses an important collection of medieval manuscripts, gothic sculptures and paintings, and the nuns sing Gregorian chants every morning at 6.45am in the abbey church. Salzburg’s oldest Christian cemetery, St. Peter’s cemetery and its catacombs are a popular tourist attraction in Salzburg, and were the inspiration for the cemetery in the scene where the Von Trapps hide from the Nazis behind the tombs.
The most picturesque of the filming locations is arguably Mirabell Palace and Gardens, the baroque pleasure gardens in the heart of the city, and it’s where many couples opt to wed. In the film, Maria and the Von Trapp children dance around the Pegasus Fountain (which was installed in 1913) singing Do Re Mi, before standing on the steps in front of the Rose Hill with the outstanding view of Hohensalzburg Fortress. On the other side of the river Salzach, Felsenreitschule is one of Salzburg’s most important concert venues but was initially built to be a cathedral and later became a riding school. This is where the real Von Trapp family won the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936, but fans of the film will recognise it from the unforgettable scene where Captain Von Trapp sings Edelweiss and his family then join him on stage to sing So Long, Farewell. Just outside the city, Hellbrunn Palace (which will reopen in March) is where you’ll find the Sound of Music Pavillion, where Liesl gets her first kiss while singing 16 Going On 17, and where the Captain and Maria sing Something Good. If you’d rather skip the romance, head to the Trick Fountains and discover mystical grottos and dodge jets of water in this unique amusement park that’s been bringing joy to visitors since 1615.
Where to Stay
Schloss Leopoldskron is a key place to stop on many of the guided tours of the city, and was the primary filming location for all the lake terrace scenes at the Von Trapp family home – so where better to rest your head? Guests are spoilt for choice with 55 rooms in the Meierhof, 12 suites in the historic palace and two townhouses. There are 17 acres of manicured grounds in which to stretch your legs and the views of the mountains and the Hohensalzburg Fortress are simply beautiful.