The top TV and film locations to visit in 2020

Jenny Cahill-Jones

written by
Jenny Cahill-Jones

updated 15.01.2020

2020 awards season is in full swing! And what better way to celebrate than to look at some of the most beautiful filming locations gracing our screens this year. If you're still working on your travel plans for the year, read on for our pick of the top TV and Film locations to visit in 2020. Take inspiration from The Secret Garden and embark on a road trip to visit some of the most beautiful ornamental gardens in the UK or follow in the footsteps of Mulan and explore the wide-open landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island. All of the destinations on the list are just as spectacular in real life as they are on screen.


The spectacular Ahuri Valley in New Zealand is the backdrop to the new Mulan movie © Javrt/Shutterstock

1. New Zealand – Mulan

Telling the story of a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a male warrior to save the life of her father, Mulan is the latest Disney movie to get a live-action remake.

A lot of the movie scenes were filmed on location on New Zealand’s South Island – including the epic battle shown in the trailer which shows off the spectacular Ahuriri Valley. Other locations include Omarama's Clay Cliffs and Mt Hay.

The film is directed by NZ director Niki Caro who also directed the award-winning Whale Rider. Yifei Liu takes on the starring role of Mulan. Other filming locations in the Waitaki District reportedly include Omarama Clay Cliffs and Mount Hay. Mulan is set for worldwide release in March 2020.

What to do in the Waitaki District

The jagged cream-coloured pinnacles of the Omarama clay cliffs give the impression of being on another planet altogether. The eerie shapes were formed by the deposits of gravel and silt left by a glacier over a million years ago. Head to the nearby Omarama hot tubs to relax after your hike in full view of snow-covered mountains.

If you're thinking of visiting New Zealand, try our Tailor-Made Trips service. We can connect you with a local expert to plan and book and fully personalised itinerary.

Matera, Italy ©  Stefano_Valeri/Shutterstock

Matera's picturesque Sassi district, where several James Bond scenes were filmed © Stefano Valeri/Shutterstock

2. Matera, Italy – No Time to Die

Hot on the heels of serving as one of EU capitals of Culture in 2019, Matera is back in the spotlight in 2020. It features as a key location for the hotly anticipated 25th Bond movie, No Time to Die. The ancient city with its eerie cave dwellings forms the backdrop a hair-raising car chase revealed in the movie trailer.

The movie stars Daniel Craig in what many believe will be his last outing as Bond. Joining him is Lashana Lynch as the first black, female, 00 Agent. The film also stars Jeffrey Wright, playing Felix Leiter – Bond’s CIA ally last seen in Quantum of Solace, and Rami Malek as the villain Safin.

The production has been mired in controversy with shoot schedules overrunning and various writers attached to the project. In 2019 Fleabag writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought in to give the script some sparkle. No Time to Die is due for release in April.

What to do in Matera

Aside from filling up on delicious south Italian cuisine, make time to visit the Cripta del Peccato Originale (Crypt of the Original Sin) known as the “Sistine Chapel of cave churches”. The frescoes that line the walls date from the 8th century and are remarkably well preserved.

For trips to Matera, get in touch! Rough Guides Trips can help you plan your entire holiday.


Colourful Georgetown is featured in The Singapore Grip © Elena Ermakova/Shutterstock

3. Malaysia – The Singapore Grip

Filmed on location in Malaysia, The Singapore Grip is an adaptation of J.G. Farrell’s satirical 1978 novel. It's set to hit UK screens on ITV later this year, and worldwide after that. The story is set during World War II and focuses on a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion in 1942. The novel was adapted for the screen by Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton, who previously worked on Atonement among other hit movies. Luke Treadway and David Morrison take starring roles, along with Charles Dance and Jane Horrocks. Much of the series was filmed in Kuala Lumpur and the colourful colonial town of Georgetown on the Penang peninsula.

What to do in Georgetown, Penang

Bikes and pedestrians rule in the compact, charming city of Georgetown. The architecture is a fascinating blend of colonial British, Indian, Malay and Chinese, and the same goes for the culture. Visit the spectacular Kek Lok Si Buddhist temple, and the clan house of Khoo Kongsi, built by a wealthy Chinese family over 650 years ago. The intricately decorated roof is a must-see. Clan houses were built as a place for family members to worship their ancestors – and show off their wealth.

Rough Guides Trips can plan and book your Malaysia holiday - find out more today!


A house just like that featured in Little Women in Concord, Massachusetts © Tim Grafft/MOTT

4. Massachusetts – Little Women

Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet are just a few of the award-winning actors getting rave reviews in Little Women. Laura Dern also joins this cast as the girl’s mother, Marmee. It’s the 7th time Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel has been adapted to the screen – this time with Greta Gerwig in the director’s chair.

The story follows the lives of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy as they grow up in Massachusetts after the American Civil War. Filming took place in Boston, around Harvard and in the charming town of Concord – where Alcott herself lived and worked.

What to do in Concord, Massachusetts

Alcott is not the only famous connected to Concord – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau also called the town home. Start your literary pilgrimage at Orchard House – where Alcott wrote Little Women in 1868. Next up is Bush, where Emerson wrote some of his most famous essays. Finish with a visit to a recreation of Thoreau’s famous cottage on Walden Pond. Find out why Massachusetts made our list of the Best Places to Visit in 2020 here.


The streets of Rione Luzzatti are the inspiration behind The Neighbourhood in My Brilliant Friend © Ilolab/Shutterstock

5. Naples, Italy – My Brilliant Friend

Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend novels have developed a cult following. The same can be said for the recent HBO adaptation, the second series of which is due to be released later this year. The novels are set in an area of Naples known only as The Neighbourhood – identified by keen viewers as Rione Luzzatti. The working-class area in behind Naples’ central station has since been thronged with fans.

What to do in Naples

Set out for a stroll in Rione Luzzatti. A mural at the neighbourhood public library – created by the TV show’s photographer Eduardo Castaldo – features key characters including Elena Greco, her friend Lila Cerullo and librarian Maestro Ferraro. You also even walk through the tunnel at the edge of the neighbourhood that is often referenced in the books. With group bus tours of the area starting to appear, this is one location to visit sooner rather than later.

Rough Guides Trips can organise holidays in Naples and across Italy.


Cephalonia's idyllic surroundings are featured in The Trip to Greece © Calin Stan/Shutterstock

6. Greece – The Trip to Greece

After eating their way through the UK, Spain and Italy, comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have set their sights on Greece. A new series The Trip to Greece is set to premiere on Sky One in the UK this May. It will be shown elsewhere later in summer 2020. The duo spends time in some of Greece’s most beautiful locations, including Cephalonia, Hydra and of course Athens. Heaven for foodies, the series is to sure to inspire copycat gastronomic trips around the country this summer.

For your own foodie adventure in Greece, get in touch.

What to do in Hydra

The pleasure of a trip to Greece is the chance to island-hop around the Agean, and you could do worse than starting in Hydra. In recent years this island close to the mainland has been attracting a growing crowd of well-heeled visitors. Despite this it still retains a sleepy charm. Start your visit by sailing into the harbour with its terracotta-tiled buildings, and stop for a good strong coffee before you head to a quiet rocky cove to dive into the crystal clear water.


Bodnant Gardens, Wales, one of the filming locations for The Secret Garden © Gail Johnson/Shutterstock

7. North Yorkshire, U.K. – The Secret Garden

Starring Colin Firth and Judy Dench, a new adaptation of Francis Hodgson Burnett’s classic story The Secret Garden is slated for release in April 2020. The story is set in North Yorkshire, with Duncombe Park on the edge of the North York moors used as one of the main movie locations.

In addition to Duncombe Park, the garden scenes were filmed all around the UK. Locations include Trebah Gardens in Cornwall and Bodnant Garden in North Wales. What better excuse to enjoy the Great British summer than to tick off all the beautiful gardens in the film. The movie trailer offers a tantalising glimpse of what you can expect.

What to do in North Yorkshire

Located in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, Duncombe Park has been home to the Duncombe family since the 1690s. The current house on the estate was built in 1713 and remodelled by Charles Barry in the 1840s. The house is surrounded by 300 acres of parkland – including 30 acres of gardens open to the public during the summer.

Top image: Matera's Sassi district © Stefano Valeri/Shutterstock

Jenny Cahill-Jones

written by
Jenny Cahill-Jones

updated 15.01.2020

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