James Bond fans know all about 007’s licence to kill, but his passport seems to get just as much use. Every Bond film is a glamorously globetrotting affair, after all, with the 25th instalment almost certain to continue the trend if it opens as scheduled in 2020.
In what could be mistaken for movie-length tourism ads, the suave spy snowmobiles, hang-glides and bungee-jumps his way across many of the world’s most spectacular cities and landscapes, with the following filming locations luring Bond wannabes, and Bond Girl wannabes, in droves.
Europe meets Asia – and Bond meets, shoots and seduces spies – in Turkey’s largest city. From Russia With Love (1963), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Skyfall (2012) were all shot here, with famous landmarks such as the picturesque Maiden’s Tower, the enormous and ornate Hagia Sophia Museum, and the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar often sharing the spotlight.
Istanbul is said to have been Bond creator Ian Fleming’s favourite city, and it seems the affection goes both ways: The mayor requested that a fountain used as a prop in Skyfall take up permanent residence in historic Eminonu Square, while Fleming was recently the focus of the annual Black Week literary festival.
James Bond makes the most of his sole trip to India in 1983’s Octopussy. Everyone in the film seems to have their very own palace: Bond books a room in the luxurious Shiv Niwas Palace, villain Kamal Khan calls the hilltop Monsoon Palace home, and comely cult leader Octopussy hosts her ladies-only hideaway in the Taj Lake Palace, which has since pampered celebrities such as Madonna, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
If you’re looking for Bond-calibre digs while on vacation, the first and last will do the trick, while the Monsoon Palace plays a major role in various Bond-themed guided tours of the area.
The warm waters, reefs and marine life surrounding this Atlantic archipelago appeared in Bond movies such as 1983’s Never Say Never Again, in which the legendary scuba instructor and stunt double Stuart Cove, now the owner of a thriving dive empire, worked with Sean Connery.
Once 007 towelled off, he gambled and sipped martinis in some of the Bahamas’ finest resorts, including The Ocean Club (in 2006’s Casino Royale) and the British Colonial Hilton Nassau (in 1965’s Thunderball).
Rio de Janeiro
Few Bond settings are as recognizable as Rio in 1979’s Moonraker. After arriving by Concorde (naturally), 007 evades his steel-toothed pursuer, Jaws, with the help of a Carnival parade. But not for long: He and love interest Dr. Holly Goodhead meet Jaws again high above Guanabara Bay on the cable car to the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain, where their struggle ends in smashing fashion (as Bond himself might say).
People gaped around the world when the original Bond Girl Honey Ryder sauntered up a Jamaican beach in a white bikini in 1962’s Dr. No. It’s fitting that much of the first Bond flick is set in Jamaica: Filming locations such as Dunn’s River Falls, where Bond and Ryder take a dip, are romantic, exotic and call for skimpy swimwear.
More importantly, Fleming penned most of his 007 novels in his bucolic namesake villa, which is now part of the GoldenEye luxury resort near Ocho Rios. And the beach Ms. Ryder made famous? It’s known as Laughing Waters and is on private property, so you’ll have to charter a yacht – or a Bond-style hovercraft, perhaps? – to get there.
Bond tends to flit between exotic locales, but 1967’s You Only Live Twice focuses mostly on Japan to spectacular effect. The villain’s lair, for example, is in a real volcano, Shinmoedake, that has since erupted. Bond’s ninja training academy is housed in the ornate Himeji Castle, where real samurai trained centuries ago. And Bond bathes with local beauties in the hot springs of Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park.
Jökulsárlón lagoon, Iceland
This glacial lake is surrounded by a surreal, snowy landscape, which Bond navigated by snowboard – while being shot at, of course – in 1985’s A View to a Kill. Seventeen years later, the frozen lagoon provided a uniquely icy venue for a car chase in Die Another Day, with Bond at the wheel of an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish that’s now among the dozens of vehicles on display at the London Film Museum.
In summer, tour boats ply the iceberg-studded waters, with LARC-V amphibious vehicles providing an option for visitors who want to explore in something a bit more 007-esque.
In 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond evades machine-gun-wielding bad guys by schussing down the cliff-strewn slopes of Switzerland’s Saas Fee ski resort. These days, expert skiers and snowboarders can trace Bond’s descent after fuelling up in the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant at the resort’s summit, which stood in for the villain’s hideout in the film.
Then there’s bungee jumping: It may not require quite as much skill – what with gravity doing most of the work – but it must have taken some nerve for Bond to leap off Switzerland’s Verzasca Dam, site of the world’s highest commercial bungee operation, in the opening scene of 1995’s GoldenEye. Then there’s 007 Elements, a new 1,300-square-metre Bond-themed attraction built into the summit of Austria’s Gaislachkogl Mountain, which focuses on 2015’s locally shot Spectre.
Where else could Bond practise the art of seduction in a gondola, as he does in From Russia With Love? Or partake in a gondola chase, as he does in Moonraker? Then there’s the sinking hotel scene in Casino Royale, which could only happen in Venice.
As a tourist town, Venice plays the role regally when Dr. Goodhead succumbs to Bond’s charms in the Hotel Danieli’s $700-a-night Doge Dandolo Royal Suite.