Lonely Planet Writer

Lights! Camera! Discover the most popular filming locations around the world

Whether it’s seeing Spider-man swinging over a sea of yellow taxis in Times Square or watching Death Eaters descend on London’s Trafalgar Square in pursuit of Harry Potter and friends, the inclusion of real-life locations in a film can make for particularly iconic and unforgettable scenes, grounding the fantastical and dramatic in reality.

While countless scenes are shot in studios every day, filming on location can make a huge difference to a production, and now, a new list has been created that outlines the top 20 most filmed locations on earth over the past 20 years, as well as the top countries and areas.

New York City Skyline (59th Street) seen from Central Park, New York, USA
Central Park proved to be the most popular filming location of the past 20 years. Image by Ozgur Donmaz

Created by GoCompare, the list looks at more than 340,000 films that were shot on location in places all over the world, using data compiled from IMDb to reveal the most frequently featured. Central Park in New York City claimed the top spot, being featured in films 231 times in the past twenty years, including The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Men in Black II (2002), Superman Returns (2006) and Spider-Man 3 (2007).

London's impressive Canary Wharf skyline at night.
London’s Canary Wharf featured on the list as being used 50 times. Image by Getty

The US dominated the top 20 list, with 14 locations across the country (nine of which are in New York) being included. Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California came in second, being featured 161 times, including The Big Lebowski (1998), American Pie (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), while the New York neighbourhoods of Greenwich Village, Astoria and Williamsburg were in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

The University of British Columbia in Vancouver was featured 91 times.
The University of British Columbia in Vancouver was featured 91 times. Image by Decaseconds / CC BY 2.0

Outside of the US, London proved to be the next big contender, with Canary Wharf, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and South Bank all making the top 20 list. Completing the selection was the University of British Columbia coming in ninth position with 91 features that include X-Men 2 (2003), Fantastic Four (2005) and Fifty Shades of Grey (2015). The list also ranked countries by the number of times they have been featured, with the US raking in 139,506 films, followed by the UK (25,768), Canada (21,088), Germany (12,567), France (10,338), Spain (10,333), Mexico (9053), Australia (8860) Italy (8004) and India (5994).

The full list of popular film locations is available now at the official GoCompare website, including a filter that allows users to browse location by the genre of films.