007 has introduced us to some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places. You only live twice, so visit them before you die another day. Scroll down below to learn about some of the most eye-popping locations on the planet as we span the globe for the most visually stunning James Bond destinations including Brazil, Greece, Thailand and Jamaica.
Goldeneye, Oracabessa Bay, Jamaica (Ian Fleming’s Estate, 1946-1964)
Don’t let that British rapier wit fool you: James Bond is Jamaican. Ian Fleming fell in love with the island in 1942 while visiting the country for a conference. Following the war, he bought 15 acres in Oracabessa, on the north coast, and built a three-bedroom beachfront villa, which he named after a WWII operation. When Fleming began writing Casino Royale here in 1952, Baby Bond was born, fully armed and licensed to kill. Fleming penned most of his novels at Goldeneye, which is now attached to a larger resort owned (not so coincidentally) by the location manager for Dr. No. For $5,500 a night, anyone can rent the villa and bond with the spirit of the great creator.
Laughing Waters Beach, Ocho Rios, Jamaica (Dr. No, 1962)
Just as the goddess Aphrodite was born from the sea, so was the first Bond Girl (and arguably the film franchise), when a bikini-clad Ursula Andress stepped onto Laughing Waters Beach and into the collective erotic consciousness of mankind. Ursula herself was mystified by the sensation the scene caused: “I was just standing there and doing nothing by the sea. I couldn’t believe that it appealed so much,” she later said, which somehow reinforces why she was so damn sexy in the first place. The beach is still there, along with the fairy-tale Dunn’s River Falls, which also feature prominently in Dr. No. These days, the tourist resorts surrounding Laughing Waters raise an age-old question: Did Fleming destroy the Jamaica he loved by immortalizing it?
Ocean Club, Bahamas (Casino Royale, 2006)
Casino‘s smoldering Bond reboot meant ensuring he remained true to his roots, and nowhere are those roots more firmly grounded than in The Bahamas. More than 20 films have been shot there. It’s no coincidence that the luxurious Ocean Club, where 007 stays during the early part of the film, dates back to 1962, the year Dr. No premiered.
Fontainebleau, Miami, USA (Goldfinger, 1964)
There was no hotel more luxurious in Miami Beach, and few in the world, when Goldfinger filmed there in 1964. Sitting in the heart of Millionaire’s Row and right on the beach, it quickly became a staple for movie stars and mobsters. It’s almost believable that both Bond and Goldfinger, his next assignment, would happen to be vacationing there at the same time. When Bond notices Goldy cheating during his poolside gin rummy games, he gets right back to business by barging his way into his room, seducing the sexy card-spotter on his balcony, and ordering him to start losing. Such provocation would become a 007 staple.
Maiden’s Tower, Istanbul, Turkey (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
The Cold War spy hive of Istanbul was a no-brainer setting for Fleming’s novels. And while the Hagia Sophia scenes in From Russia with Love are classics, the lesser-known Maiden’s Tower, which adorns an islet in the Bosphorus Strait, stays truer to the franchise’s creed of introducing audiences to new places. Named after a legend about a sultan who cloistered his daughter there, the tower becomes a prison for M, who shows plucky field skills by rigging a clock to a nuke locator card to transmit her coordinates.
Château de Chantilly, France (A View to a Kill, 1985)
During the French revolution,Château de Chantilly was destroyed. Luckily for Bond scouts, it was rebuilt in the 1870s, which later made it an ideal home for a villain who embodied the excessiveness of the mid-1980s.
The Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora, Greece (For Your Eyes Only, 1981)
The Monastery hosted the thrilling gravitational finale, in which we see Bond the mountaineer slapped against rock as he races to stop Kristatos’ guard from uprooting his last piton. Later, when Bond hurls the much sought-after ATAC device off the peak as the Russian General Gogol arrives to collect it, he delivers one of his best Cold War zingers: “That’s détente, comrade: You don’t have it, I don’t have it.”
Piz Gloria Revolving Restaurant, Schilthorn, Switzerland (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969)
So many locations in the world owe tourism dollars to Bond; Schilthorn stands alone as the one location literally built by the franchise. When producer Albert R. Broccoli decided to set Blofeld’s lair at the famous revolving restaurant, it was unfinished due to stalled financing. In exchange for using it, Broccoli put up the money to complete
it. To this day, it is named Piz Gloria — the same name Fleming used in his novel. Life imitates art!
The Orient Express, The Balkans (From Russia With Love, 1963)
About a decade before 1974’s classic Murder on the Orient Express, Bond and Co. were offing one another in style on this unrivaled moving location. From the moment Grant follows Bond and Tatiana aboard in Istanbul with lethal intentions, the train — steaming ever closer to its destination — becomes a vehicle of tension for their inevitable confrontation.
MI6 Headquarters, London (Brosnan’s Films, 1995-2002; Skyfall, 2012)
No Bond tour is complete without a visit to the imposing building where 007 gets his marching orders. Technically called the SIS Building, ungrateful lefty Londoners refer to it as Legoland or Babylon-on-Thames. Bond has always called it HQ, and it features bomb- and bulletproof walls, triple-glazed glass to prevent electronic warfare, and two moats. For all the times we’ve seen Bond rile Moneypenny’s knickers before striding into M’s office, only the Pierce Brosnan films feature scenes shot at the real MI6 headquarters.
Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (Moonraker, 1979)
Director Lewis Gilbert’s use of the empty space around Rio’s most iconic geographical feature instantly made the Sugarloaf confrontation between Bond, Holly Goodhead and Jaws one of the most imaginative fight sequences in 007 history. Once Jaws (don’t be fooled; he’s clever) bites off the cable to our protagonists’ gondola and immobilizes them, old Metal Mouth sallies in on the opposite car and starts thumping. Yeah, that chain inside 007’s gondola is too convenient, but it’s still fun watching him improvise a zip line and whisk Holly away to safety.
The Residencia, Cerro Paranal, Chile (Quantun of Solace, 2008)
To capture the emotional desolation that Bond feels throughout Quantum, director Marc Forster set the final scene in one of the most severe places on Earth: Chile’s Atacama Desert. Perfectly punctuating the harsh environment is the magnificently austere Residencia, where Bond confronts Greene. Built to comfortably house astronomers who work at the nearby European Southern Observatory, the Residencia contains an oasis complete with palm trees and a swimming pool. For the crew, it was just like Hollywood!
Iguazu Falls, Paraná, Brazil (Moonraker, 1979)
Less well known than the great falls of Niagara and Victoria, Brazil’s Iguazu Falls are every bit as spectacular. Almost two miles wide and reaching as high as 300 feet, they roar: “boat chase ends here.” When 007, pursued by Jaws, races straight for the falls, we witness one of the most elegant vehicular transformations ever, as his boat spawns glider wings, allowing him to escape while Jaws plummets over the edge. Cue up the violins as we’re then treated to an enchanting tableau of Iguazu’s beauty as Bond soars on in search of Drax’s secret base.
Taj Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur, India (Octopussy, 1983)
A masterpiece of white marble built by a maharana in 1743, the Lake Palace served as the perfect location for Octopussy’s “floating palace” — which Bond comically infiltrates in a boat disguised as a crocodile. The palace, which is actually built atop a four-acre rock, is now a luxury hotel where anyone can stay, as the shooting crew did in 1982. “It was the shortest travelling time to any location I’ve ever been on,” said five-time Bond director John Glen. “We rolled out of bed, and you were on the set.”
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand (The Man With the Golden Gun, 1974)
Limestone islands and pillars, covered in emerald forests, rise from the pale green waters of the Andaman Sea. Millions never would have learned such earthly beauty existed if Bond hadn’t flown his Republic RC-3 Seabee over the bay on his way to a duel with Scaramanga. Spiritually, at least, it was also the first time we saw Hervé Villechaize, who plays Scaramanga’s henchmen Nick Nack, all but proclaim, “The plane, the plane” as 007 arrives. (Unlike Mr. Roarke, Scaramanga explodes the plane with his secret solar weapon.) Because of that film, millions have visited since; but Phang Nga still remains largely pristine, thanks to the national park that was established in 1981.
Himeji Castle, Himeji, Japan (You Only Live Twice, 1967)
When a Bond film scores an epic location, count on a languorous, aerial approach. We first see Himeji Castle through 007’s eyes, as he choppers in to rendezvous with his Japanese counterpart, Tiger Tanaka. And what a sight it is. Rising like an intricate, multitier wedding cake above its eponymous city, Himeji — also known as the “White Egret Castle” — is the best surviving example of classical Japanese castle architecture. Dating back to 1609, it has miraculously endured centuries of war, both feudal and global. After Bond lands, we’re then treated to the unusual sight of seeing him go back to school — ninja school. Final exam: killing an assassin who has infiltrated the campus.
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