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Sound of Music
Photograph: 20th Century Fox

From ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘The Sound of Music’: 12 ace movie walking tours to take in 2023

Get your steps up following in the footsteps of Hollywood stars

Written by Nilgin Yusuf
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Before ‘immersive’ became a hot ticket for the latest movie encounter, guided tours have had always offered the thrilling opportunity to step inside the world of films and filmmakers’ creative landscapes. Whether you’re a hardened cinephile, a 007 fanatic or a devoted Harry Potter-head, there’s a wealth of easily accessible film studios and movie locations out there ready to be discovered. Plus, what better way to rack up the step count than following in the footsteps of movie legends. Here’s 12 of the best to factor into your 2023 travel plans.

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The Third Man tour
Photograph: © Vienna Walks & Talks

1. The Third Man tour

Location: Vienna, Austria

Best for… film noir fans

This two-hour walk plunges movie lovers into the Viennese shadows once haunted by Harry Lime in Carol Reed’s crime classic The Third Man (‘Der dritte Mann’ to locals). It offers a combination of film locations, fascinating background info on post-war Vienna and its real-life black market, and the city’s Third Man Museum. Around 80 percent of the movie’s sewer scenes were actually shot in London studios but there’s plenty left of Lime’s Vienna.

Did you know: Vienna’s Burg Kino has been screening the 1949 thriller classic two or three times a week for more than 30 years.

Tickets: €24 (free for under-tens)

A Wizard Day Out
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. A Wizard Day Out

Location: London

Best for… Finding the real-life Diagon Alley

London Blue Badge tourist guide Alex Lacey runs a four-hour Potter pilgrimage around the city, taking in Platform 9¾ (King’s Cross Station), the Ministry of Magic (Great Scotland Yard) and other key locations – with a magic potion mocktail and some wizard tricks thrown in. At £200, you’ll need to raid Gringotts to take the tour, but it does offer a more bespoke option.  For a more accessible option, London Walks do a weekly Harry Potter walk for a less punchy £15 and if you look online there are also free tours.

Did you know? Platform 9¾ was actually filmed between platforms 4 and 5 at King’s Cross.

Tickets: £200

www.alctoursandevents.com

Harry Potter London Tours: £15

https://www.walks.com

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Le Paris d’Agnès Varda, France
Photograph: © ciné-tamaris, https://ciné-tmaris.fr/

3. Le Paris d’Agnès Varda, France

Location: Paris

Best for… chin-stoking New Wave devotees

This Parisian Agnès Varda tour was launched in 2019 to mark International Women’s Rights Day. Three months later, the maverick auteur, feminist film and documentary maker died and it’s now a pilrimage for fans. Lasting two hours and 15 mins, it takes in familiar settings from her New Wave classics, including the 14th arrondissement where Varda lived for almost 70 years. There’s also a separate walk dedicated to the late, great, Jean-Luc Godard. 

Fun fact: Varda was fondly nicknamed ‘Dame Patate’ and fans still leave heart-shaped potatoes outside her old home.

Tickets: €15 euros 

The James Bond walking tour
Photograph: James Bond Walking Tour

4. The James Bond walking tour

Location: London

Best for… exploring 007’s hometown haunts

The world’s most iconic spy did lots of business in London and the city has been the location for many films. Spanning two and half hours and conducted by Bond geek Lewis Swan, the tour offers fun facts and insights for James Bond lover of all ages. There’s also a four-hour bus tour (£35 for adults, £21 for children) with film clips included.

Did you know: the entrance to the ‘new digs’ location in Skyfall is actually an NCP car park beneath Smithfield Market?

Price: £15 for adults, £10 children

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Maria’s Walking Tour
Photograph: G.Breitegger

5. Maria’s Walking Tour

Location: Salzburg, Austria

Best for… Seeing if the hills really are alive with the sound of music

As glorious as The Sound of Music’s Technicolor cinematography is, nothing beats breathing the same Alpine air as Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp kids. Which is why 300,000 fans descend annually on Austria’s baroque town of Salzburg for this bracing three-hour walk, taking in some of the film’s key locations. For party lovers, there’s also a singing tour – and a Sound of Music World museum to visit. 

Did you know? Christopher Plummer famously disliked the film and referred to it as ‘The Sound of Mucus’

Tickets: €38 for adults, €19 for children (two tours a day at 9.30am and 2.30pm)

The Italian Job tour 
Shutterstock

6. The Italian Job tour 

Location: Turin, Italy

Best for… Movie-loving petrolheads

Way before that dodgy Mark Wahlberg remake, the original Italian Job was burning rubber around the charming Italian city of Turin. The 1969 lad-core classic, starring Michael Caine as roguish crook Charlie Croker, made stars of the cars: an Aston Martin, Lamborghini Miura and most memorably, the Mini. This half-day tour combines two hours walking and a further two hours of driving to the Lingotto complex, the old Fiat factory, and moves through the key locations of the car chase. Happily, it doesn’t end with you teetering on an Alpine cliff.

Did you know? Michael Caine’s role in the movie was originally earmarked for Robert Redford.

Tickets: $331 for a four-hour tour for two people

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Ingmar Bergman bike safari
Photograph: Alejo Maria Corsiglia

7. Ingmar Bergman bike safari

Location: Fårö, Sweden

Best for… Arthouse aficionados 

‘I am Ingmar Bergman. You may or may not know my films,’ sang Sparks in their album ‘The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman’. If you want more Bergman, get yourself to Fårö, the magical island in the Baltic Sea that he first visited in 1960. The Bergman Centre will set you up with a bike safari to a variety of filming locations, before settling in to watch some of the great auteur’s work on his own cinema screen at 3pm – as was Bergman’s daily habit. If you prefer to find locations independently, the Bergman Centre will provide a map (NB the centre is closed from October 2-June 1).

Did you know? The Fårö bike safari features prominently in Mia Hansen-Løve’s 2021 relationship drama Bergman Island.

Tickets: A personal Bergman guide will cost 125kr/hour (£10), while the Bergman bus safari lasts two hours and costs 325kr (£26). All tours can be organised via the Bergman Centre

The Tabernas Desert Loop
Photograph: spanishhighs.com

8. The Tabernas Desert Loop

Location: Almeria, Spain

Best for... Western lovers keen to recreate an iconic shootout

The only thing craggier than Clint Eastwood’s jawline, the desolate Sierra Nevada is where The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars and other classic Spaghetti westerns were filmed. So this five-hour, 12km tour is a bucket list trip for Western lovers. Local guides will shepherd you through the breathtaking desertscapes of Almeria as you scour the dirt for one of Lee Van Cleef’s spent bullet cases.

Did you know? Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeLawrence of ArabiaCleopatra, and Conan the Barbarian were all shot in the Tabernas desert.

Tickets: €65/person for a group of four

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Game of Thrones Tour
Photograph: britmovietours.com

9. Game of Thrones Tour

Location: Northern Ireland 

Best for… Nostalgic Thronies 

Sex. Power. Violence. Betrayal. Drinks breaks. Just another day on the Game of Thrones tour bus. You’ll see seven iconic sights from the HBO epic on this day-long road trip, including Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, scene of Balon Greyjoy’s fall. Expect a GoT quiz on the tour bus, as well as costumes and props for Insta-likes-gleaning photo opps along the way.

Did you know? The official Game of Thrones studio tour is now up and running at Northern Ireland’s Linen Mill Studios.

Tickets: £46 (adults only)

London Film Walk
Photograph: Brit Movie Tours

10. London Film Walk

Location: London

Best for… Mary Poppins devotees 

London’s Square Mile has an incredibly rich film history and what better time to appreciate it than at the weekend when the streets clear? This two-hour walk is led by the knowledgeable actor and historian Richard Burnip and takes in locations from classic London films like Mary Poppins and Paddington 2. It only runs two or three times a year, so get on the list asap.

Did you know? Don’t bother looking for the London street from Carol Reed’s classic musical Oliver Twist! – it was all built at Shepperton Studios.

Tickets: £15 for adults/£5 kids

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Superheroes of New York
Photograph: Superheroes of New York

11. Superheroes of New York

Location: New York

Best for… Marvel and DC superfans 

Our first impressions of the Big Apple often come from TV, films and comics, and our first encounter with New York can often feel like déjà vu. Step inside your own memories and some heroic moments by taking a ‘Superheroes of New York’ tour where fans visit the locations of swooping caped crusaders including Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building, while for comic-book lovers the highlight is The Daily News building, aka setting for Superman’s The Daily Planet.

Did you know? Muhammad Ali was on the shortlist to play Superman in the 1978 film.

Tickets$35/person for group tours, $70/person for private tours

Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco
Photograph: Paramount Pictures

12. Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco

Location: San Francisco

Best for… Hitchcock completists 

When Sight and Sound made Vertigo its greatest film of all time in 2012, San Francisco’s free two-hour Hitchcock tour was one of the beneficiaries. Hitchcock fans pack it out every Sunday, starting outside Huntington Park on Nob Hill, taking in the Brocklebank Apartments (pictured) where Scottie waited for Madeleine in Vertigo, and finishing at Union Square, a key location in both Vertigo and The Birds. For some handy prep, pick up a copy of ‘Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco’ en route.

 

Did you know? You can visit Hitchcock’s old 200-acre estate – now a vineyard two hours drive from San Francisco.

Tickets: Free but donations welcome ($20 is recommended)

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