If you’re not prone to television addiction and its consequent nerd-geek-fandom, look away now. Otherwise, prepare to make fiction come to life.
1. True Detective – Vermillion Parish, South Louisiana, USA
Immerse yourself in the mesmerising patchwork of flatland invaded by water, desolate roads of industrial obsolescence, and a dark history: True Detective swept through 2014’s TV landscape like a rip tide. Beyond the horrors played out in the series, there’s a rich and relatively unvisited part of the world to see: ecotourism, festivals, Cajun cuisine – all bathed in a special southern glow. To connect with your inner Rust Cohle try Palmetto Island State Park. A canoe trek through the ponds might give just a touch of that existential madness…
Visit palmettoisland.wordpress.com for more information on cabins and activities in the deep dark South.
2. Game of Thrones – Northern Ireland, Iceland & Morocco
It’s dominated television viewing for a few years, why not put it on your travel itinerary? Northern Ireland is the series’ home base and will give you plenty of fuel for your fantastical tourism dreams – try Tollymore State Forest where a number of outdoor scenes were filmed. But Iceland’s Lake Mývatn provides the icy setting for the Night’s Watch men, and the town of Ouarzazate on the edge of the desert in southern Morocco will bring the dragons to life as you relive the Khaleesi’s trek with the Dothraki.
A number of driving routes are suggested at causewaycoastandglens.com/Game-of-Thrones-Itinerary.T1163.aspx.
3. Girls – New York City, USA
Hipster alert! But you knew that, so whatever, right? Lena Dunham’s self-reflective, acerbic take on millennial coming-of-age trials and tribulations puts NYC back on the map (OK, it never left the map, but whatever). From Greenpoint’s Café Grumpy where you’d find sanity in Ray, to the warehouses of Bushwick for the party scenes you’re craving, it’s Brooklyn, Williamsburg and the surrounds that’ll give you a feel for the show. Expose your tattoos, cobble together a found-object outfit and hit the streets. You won’t look back.
For your food, drink and partying needs while on the Girls trail, try bushwickdaily.com.
4. Braquo – Paris, France
Not for the faint-hearted, Braquo is a dark, whirlwind car chase through the gritty streets (who knew?!) of Paris, where crime and violence are unexpectedly on tap. City of Light be damned! Head to Hauts-de-Seine, the inner-western suburbs of Paris, and wander around this off-the-tourist-trail area. But do it at night for the full, gloomy effect. The area is actually a wealthy one, and you needn’t look past Parc de Saint-Cloud for evidence, some 450 hectares of forests and gardens, and beautiful views of Paris.
La Défense is the cold corporate heart of Hauts-de-Seine, home to hotels, restaurants and a superb open-air museum on Parvis de la Défense.
5. The Killing – Copenhagen, Denmark
First, visit the Pentecost Woods at Amager outside of Copenhagen, and witness the scene of the crime, the brutal murder that kicked off this chilling Danish crime series. Then back to the city, where you’ll have to dodge the charm of the streets, the famous restaurants and the friendly people if you want to maintain a semblance of dark moodiness. Try a Peter and Ping Literary Walk for a guided view of Copenhagen through The Killing lens.
Peter and Ping also offer walks for other television shows, see them all at peter-og-ping.dk/default_uk.asp.
6. Deadwood – Deadwood, USA
It’s been a few years but the cussin’ and fightin’ of Deadwood still feels fresh – and a visit to the eponymous town in South Dakota will have you hankering for a whiskey before you can say ‘****sucker!’ The show explored the origins of civilisations through the travails of a pioneering gold-digging community in the Black Hills, bringing America’s violent and intrepid history into focus. You can relive it all here – a sign at 622 Main St announces the location of Wild Bill Hickok’s shooting and a trip to Mount Moriah Cemetery will show some familiar names alongside Wild Bill, including Seth Bullock and Calamity Jane.
Get a glimpse into the pioneering life of a gold miner at Black Hills Mining Museum in nearby Lead (blackhillsminingmuseum.com).
7. Downton Abbey – Hampshire, England
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to resist upstairs/downstairs machinations when they’re so beautifully repressed and dressed. The focus is of course the stunning home to them all, Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey), and you can tour this stately abode and its surrounding gardens and woods at your leisure. Then it’s off to Bampton, which plays the part of Downton itself. Visiting in spring means a chance to witness Morris Dancing Day. Unforgettable.
Don’t miss the class-equalising dancing: traditionalbamptonmorris.org.uk.
8. Breaking Bad – Albuquerque, USA
It may be all over for Walt and Jesse, but the comic-like intensity of the series means it still echoes in the hearts and minds of fans with a vengeance. The meth-making and -selling high jinks and never-ending violence takes place in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Blue, blue skies, eternal deserts and empty suburban streets; the eerie calm of the location was a counterpoint to all the action. Relive scenes in Gus Fring’s Pollos Hermanos (actually a burger and burrito restaurant called Twisters), or perhaps visit The Grove for a soy chamomile tea – you might want to hold the stevia though…
See our online guide for a rundown on your options.
9. Sherlock – London, England
Before the TV show, there was of course the book, and London has a rich Sherlock itinerary for those of us still not sure if he was actually real or not. The TV show has somehow made the story’s fictitious nature more evident, but the sheer fact of London still makes it hard to let the belief go. So, with Sherlock as your guide… perhaps start at 187 North Gower St – the front door used as the entrance to Sherlock’s abode, despite the actual address being 221B Baker St (where you’ll find the Sherlock Holmes Museum now). But for a true origin experience, visit St Bart’s hospital, where Sherlock and Watson meet for the first time.
For a two-hour guided tour try britmovietours.com/bookings/sherlock-holmes-london-tour.
10. Portlandia – Portland, USA
What do you do when a place becomes so cool, so ridiculously liveable, so eminently desirable, that lampooning it becomes a cult TV sensation? Well, you should probably just go there anyway. When you’re there you’ll recognise the locales where Fred and Carrie carry out their brilliant satire of Portland hipster-middle-class life. But it won’t faze you, instead the surrounding hiking and biking trails will beckon, the local produce and eating scene will inspire you and its famous craft brewing options will keep you refreshed.
The website travelportland.com/collection/portlandia provides an episode-by-episode overview of where fiction and reality meet on the streets of the city.