As Lockdown 2.0 looms over the cold winter months, audiences across the UK can still travel the world from the warmth of their homes and screens with the help of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.
From You’ve Got Mail filmed in New York City (available on Netflix) to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides filmed in Puerto Rico (available on Disney+), these streaming services offer films and TV shows which bring destinations to life, inspiring viewers to dream of their next escape.
New York City at its Autumnal Best - You’ve Got MailFrom Friends with Benefits to Hitch, there’s hardly an inch of New York City which hasn’t featured in an iconic rom-com scene. However, no movie has embodied the city more lovingly than the 1998 hit You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in an online romance. Taking viewers all over NYC as their paths (almost) cross throughout the movie, some of the Upper East Side’s most magical spots are revealed including iconic brownstone apartments lined by crisp autumn leaves, Kathleen’s Shop Around The Corner located at 106 West 69th Street, now a family-run laundrette, and Cafe Lalo, where the two protagonists meet for the first time. When travellers are able to see the sights in person, On Location Tours offers a guided You’ve Got Mail tour of NYC, transforming the film into real life. Available on Netflix. www.nycgo.com
Swashbuckling Adventure in Puerto Rico - Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger TidesAudiences can escape to the rugged shorelines of Puerto Rico with Johnny Depp’s charismatic character Jack Sparrow and high profile co-stars including Penelope Cruz and Keith Richards. Sparrow encounters mermaids, zombies and countless tribulations in his quest to find the Fountain of Youth, whilst showcasing Puerto Rico’s natural beauty on his adventures. Viewers will spot Fort San Cristobal, located in Old San Juan, as well as the idyllic desert island on which Cruz’s character stranded at the end of the film, which is actually a small cay about four miles off the coast of Puerto Rico’s eastern tip.
The film offers a true taste of adventure, and a chance to experience the wilder side of Puerto Rico. Available on Disney+. www.discoverpuertorico.com
Quiet Bahamas Beaches and Idyllic Waterways - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black PearlAnother suggestion for fans of the well-loved Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is the remote Castaway Cay owned by The Walt Disney Company, which can be discovered through various Captain Jack Sparrow adventures. It’s rumoured that real-life pirates lived on the island in the early 1700’s with hidden coves providing great hiding spots to wait for passing ships, making it the perfect filming destination for the film series. During The Curse of the Black Pearl, viewers can explore the island's quiet beaches, hidden waterways and wild coastlines as they watch Sparrow in action – whether he’s fighting out at sea for the Black Pearl or finally rescuing Elizabeth Swann. True fans of the Disney favourite can join Disney Cruise Line’s Bahamian Cruise to discover the island’s true glory for themselves as they spend two days sunbathing on the beach, snorkeling, water sliding or trying out the monkey bar course over the warm water. Departing on 7 March 2022 from Orlando, Planet Cruise is offering this four-night cruise from just £915 per person including flights, flexible booking terms and full board cuisine. Available on Disney+. www.planetcruise.com
Scenic Views and Cosy Ontario Neighbourhoods - Schitt’s CreekGarnering a huge following since its launch on Netflix in 2017, Schitt’s Creek offers an escape to the Canadian province of Ontario. Whilst Schitt's Creek is a fictional town, viewers who chose to journey with the Rose family will experience some of Ontario's undiscovered towns including Goodwood, Orangeville and Stouffville. Located one hour away from Toronto's centre, a former motel-turned-residence in Hockley Valley doubles up as The Rosebud Motel, the endearing family’s new home, whilst Ted’s Veterinary Clinic is actually an animal hospital in Whitchurch called Thicketwood. Lovers of David’s character will be glad to know that scenes from the Rose Apothecary were filmed in a local shop which sells similar products in real life. Schitt’s Creek is a great choice for those dreaming of quiet Canadian towns and scenic views this lockdown. Available on Netflix. www.ontariotravel.net
Vienna, the Home of Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud - FreudVienna, Austria’s grand capital city, is famously known as the home of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis whose seminal work ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2020. The Netflix series Freud pairs elements of Freud’s real life with a fictional crime-solving storyline and plenty of thrills. With Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Museum now reopened after a 14-month renovation and expansion, the series reinstates Vienna as the centre of intellectual life in Europe. A future visit to Sigmund Freud Museum - where Freud practised and lived with his family for 47 years - offers an immersive experience which, since August 2020, provides access to all of the Freud family's private rooms. Available on Netflix. www.vienna.info
High Octane Action in Abu Dhabi - Underground 6Underground 6 is a big-budget Netflix original directed by the award-winning Michael Bay. A must-see for any adrenaline junkie looking for a fix of classic cinematic action to keep them occupied in lockdown, the film stars Ryan Reynolds and follows a group of off-the-map vigilantes who aim to take down the criminals that governments steer clear of. Much of the filming took place in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, which doubles for a number of cities and countries including Las Vegas, California, Hong Kong, Nigeria and the fictional country of Turgistan. Viewers will be taken on an high-octane journey as the characters face the desert of Al Ain, wander past world-famous artwork at Louvre Abu Dhabi and battle atop Aldar Headquarters building, which is the first circular building of its kind standing over 100 metres tall.
Fans of the film will feel like royalty with a stay at the five-star Emirates Palace hotel, which acts as the mansion for the film’s villain, the Turgistan dictator Rovach Alimo. The film showcases the emirate’s modernity, spectacular architecture and breathtaking desert landscape at its best. Available on Netflix. www.visitabudhabi.ae/en-gb
Vibrant 1960s Neighbourhoods in Baltimore - Hairspray Viewers who tune into the feel-good, smash-hit musical Hairspray will be transported to the colourful and diverse city of Baltimore. Set in the 1960s, the film tells the story of quirky teenager Tracy Turnblad who has one dream – to dance on national television. The singalong musical, which features songs such as ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ and ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’, brings a taste of Charm City’s vibrant neighbourhoods and quirky characters to the screen. It Baltimore’s authentic local charm which inspired director and producer, John Waters, of the original Hairspray film. Available on Amazon Prime. www.baltimore.org
The Sounds of Nashville - It All Begins With a Song: The Story of the Nashville SongwriterThose missing the sound of Music City and the ambience of live country music will jump at the chance to escape to Nashville via Amazon Prime. The inspiring documentary titled It All Begins With A Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter captures the struggles, successes and creative processes of Nashville songwriters, who are the hugely talented but largely unknown masterminds behind some of the world’s most successful hits. The documentary captures the moving stories behind the tracks and the fascinating way that music fills the city of Nashville and its history. As well as giving viewers a taste of Tennessee’s creative capital city, the film will have people reaching for their acoustic guitars during lockdown. Available on Amazon Prime. www.visitmusiccity.com/itallbeginswithasong
Escaping a Time Loop in Illinois - Groundhog DayFor years, Illinois has been front and centre of a handful of epic movies without audiences even realising. Those who are experiencing déjà vu as the UK enters a second lockdown can escape with Groundhog Day. As a replacement for Pennsylvania during winter, the Illinois town of Woodstock served as the backdrop for Bill Murray’s unshakeable time loop as a weatherman. From the Woodstock Opera House acting as the exterior of Rita’s hotel and the Old Courthouse as Connor’s favourite spot to while away his repetitive evenings, most of the film’s key scenes were filmed in this small town. When travel resumes, fanatics of the classic can even stay at The Cherry Tree Inn Bed & Breakfast to follow in Bill’s footsteps each morning. Available on Netflix. www.enjoyillinois.com
British Broadcasting History in Rwanda - Sir David Attenborough’s Life on EarthAside from the big hitters Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney+, BBC iPlayer’s archive is a treasure trove for a taste of travel, particularly Sir David Attenborough’s heralded 1979 series Life on Earth. The 12th episode in the series, titled ‘Life in the Trees’, features David’s now-legendary encounter with gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in a chance piece of filming that was almost never aired. Upon the forest-clad slopes of Rwanda’s Virunga Volcanoes, the crew attempt to film David with baby gorillas in the background before the gorillas clamber on his lap, nestle up to him and try to take his shoes off in a moment that Sir David has since described as ‘bliss’. The charming footage makes Rwanda’s wild and untamed parks and primates seem closer than ever before. Available on BBC iPlayer. www.visitrwanda.com