Must-visit James Bond film locations

Shake up your vacation plans by visiting one of these incredible James Bond film locations.

James Bond movies have been filmed all around the world. Image credit: lucky-photographer/iStock
James Bond movies have been filmed all around the world. Image credit: lucky-photographer/iStock

It’s been half a century since James Bond, as immortalized by author Ian Fleming in his many popular novels, stepped onto the silver screen. The sweet-talking secret agent must be one of the most well-traveled movie protagonists of all time, having shot scenes in more than 50 countries, from Albania to Vietnam and beyond, throughout more than 20 feature-length films.

As filming commences for the franchise’s next installment, it’s clear that James Bond’s travels are far from over. Daniel Craig, the sandy-haired actor most recently cast to play the martini sipping, sweet-talking secret service agent, has started popping up at filming locations across the globe.

The new film is scheduled for release April 2020, and while the franchise is yet to decide upon an official title, they have revealed the storyline’s premise. The film will open with James Bond enjoying a tranquil and laid-back life in Jamaica after retreating from active service.

But the secret agent isn’t quite ready for retirement, as this behind-the-scenes teaser video, filmed on-set in Jamaica suggests.

And just a few weeks ago Daniel Craig was spotted in London, dressed as James Bond in a suave, slimline grey suit, shooting scenes in Whitehall with a classic Aston Martin V8, and at the Hyde Park barracks for a scene with the Household Cavalry. But London isn’t his final stop, with Norway and Italy also confirmed as shooting locations for the film. 

To celebrate the latest installment in one of the world’s most popular film franchises, we’ve taken a look back at some of the incredible filming locations from James Bond history that make excellent travel destinations today. 

Ocho Rios, Jamaica – Bond meets Honey Rider  in “Dr. No”, 1962

While the latest James Bond film may be set in Jamaica, it’s not the first time the secret agent has visited the Caribbean island. The picturesque Jamaican beach of Crab Key, located just west of Ocho Rios, was the filming location for the “Dr. No” scene in which James Bond, played by Sean Connery, encounters Bond girl Honey Rider. 

Rider, played by Swiss actor Ursula Andress, emerges bikini-clad from the ocean where she is spotted by Bond, humming the song “Underneath the Mango Tree”. While the exact beach on which the scene was filmed is now a private venue, the surrounding coastline is dotted with golden-sand coves, lush forests, and five-star luxury resorts, making it an unbeatable location for a bond-worthy tropical getaway.

Château d’Anet, France – Bond escapes with a Jetpack in “Thunderball”, 1965

We can thank this 1965 film for one of James Bond’s most surprising escape scenes. We’re used to seeing the secret agent making his escape by car, plane, and boat, but in this particular escape scene, the spy, as played by Connery, propels himself to freedom by way of a conveniently stowed jetpack.

The enchanting Château d’Anet, where the jetpack escape sequence was filmed, is just an hour and a half drive from Paris and can still be visited today. The building is a true French renaissance masterpiece, commissioned by King Henri II for his mistress in 1548, and designed by some of the era’s greatest artists including the architect Philibert de l’Orme.

Both the building and surrounding grounds are excellently maintained, making it the perfect spot for a day trip outside of the French capital.

Himeji Castle, Japan – Bond visits a ninja training camp in “You Only Live Twice”, 1967

In the 1967 film “You Only Live Twice”, James Bond, as played by Connery, visits a Japanese ninja training camp located within a magnificent hilltop palace. Luckily for Bond enthusiasts, the palace complex featured in the film is an exquisitely maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site, which can be visited today in Japan’s Hyōgo Prefecture.

Himeji Castle, with its white facade and wedding cake layers, is considered one of Japan’s most beautiful castles and is one of the few surviving examples of 17th-century Japanese imperial architecture. If you don’t mind crowds, then the best time to visit is early April, when the many cherry blossom trees dotted throughout the complex are in full bloom.

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy – Gondola escape scene from “Moonraker”, 1979

The 70s were renowned for producing some of the more lighthearted, cheesy James Bond films to date, and no scene encapsulates this era better than the gondola chase sequence, from the 1979 film “Moonraker”. James Bond, as played by Roger Moore, zooms through Venice’s canals on a motorized Gondola, hotly pursued by two gun-toting baddies, before making a surprising getaway through the Piazza San Marco.

As one of the world’s most famous holiday destinations, Venice needs little introduction. It’s hard to think of a better way to pay homage to James Bond than by spending a few magical days in this stylish and romantic Italian city.

Udaipur, India – Tuk-tuk car chase in “Octopussy”, 1983

One of the major filming locations for the 1983 film “Octopussy” was the Indian city of Udaipur, an enduringly popular travel destination thanks to its many opulent palaces, lush gardens, and picturesque lakes. The city’s Lake Garden Palace was used as the set for Octopussy’s residence, and the breathtaking hilltop Monsoon Palace played home to the fictional Afghan Prince, Kamal Khan.

While the palace scenes are glorious, one of the films most enjoyable sequences takes place within the bustling streets of Udaipur city. James Bond, as played by Moore, makes his getaway by tuk-tuk from three assailants in a car, flying humorously over markets stalls, narrowly avoiding elephants and a wedding procession.

Verzasca Dam, Switzerland – Bond’s death-defying jump in “Goldeneye”, 1995

Pierce Brosnan couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to James Bond audiences than by playing the secret agent in the 1995 film “Goldeneye”. The movie opens with Bond bungee-jumping off the edge of the dizzyingly high Verzasca Dam, which is located in the southern, Italian-speaking Tocino region of Switzerland.

The Swiss countryside and mountain ranges are breathtakingly beautiful, and a pilgrimage to the Verzasca Dam is an excellent excuse to enjoy them on a road trip with family or friends. The scenic drive from Zurich takes just over three hours, or you can catch a high-speed train from Zurich to the town of Lugano, which is located just 20 minutes by car from the dam.

Jökulsárlón, Iceland – Ice-field car chase from “Die Another Day”, 2002

Four Aston Martins and four Jaguars were reportedly used (and subsequently wrecked) during the making of this particular car chase scene, from the 2002 film “Die Another Day” featuring Brosnan as Bond, opposite Hale Berry, who plays NSA operative and Bond Girl Jinx. 

The sequence is shot upon the breathtakingly vast and beautiful ice fields of Jökulsárlón National Park, on Iceland’s southeastern coast. Considering how wild and remote the area appears in the film, it is surprisingly accessible, located just off the main highway. The journey there takes about five hours by car from the nation’s capital, Reykjavik, and is popular with roadtrippers as it follows the island’s scenic ring road, with incredible views of Iceland’s rugged coastline.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey – High-speed rooftop motorbike chase from “Skyfall”, 2012

In the opening scene of the 2002 film “Skyfall”, James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, drives a motorbike at high speeds through the narrow winding streets and rooftop of Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar. 

Istanbul is a large and vibrant city of approximately 15 million people, and at the city’s heart is the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Bond fan or not, anyone traveling to the Turkish city must put a day aside to hunt for souvenirs within the bazaars 3000+ market stalls and shops. You’ll find everything from spices, Turkish tea, and Turkish delight, to kilim rugs and intricately painted hookah pipes.

Zócalo Square, Mexico City – Day of the Dead sniper scene from “Spectre”, 2015

The Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is central to the opening sequence of the 2015 film “Spectre”, in which James Bond, played by Craig, hunts down an enemy in the midst of a massive parade. Festivities are in full swing, with spookily dressed festival-goers raising skeleton sculptures high in the air, singing and dancing as they make their way to the center of Zócalo.

The Mexican holiday is traditionally celebrated with family and friends at intimate gatherings, however, the fictionalized parade as immortalized in “Spectre” was such a boon for local tourism, the city decided to host a large public parade on an ongoing basis.

While many consider the city’s Dia de los Muertos parade to be nothing but a stunt to attract more holidaymakers, Mexico City, with its fascinating mix of Spanish colonial buildings and ancient Mexica temples, is a more than worthy holiday destination. It’s also a great place for foodies, with a rich and varied gastronomy that can be sampled throughout the cities food markets and new wave restaurants.


Grace Catherine

Grace is a freelance writer and digital project manager from New Zealand currently based in Mexico City. She is an avid traveler who loves destinations with an eclectic history, a bike-sharing scheme, and plenty of cool animals.