Even though Londoners travel through the city every day, who doesn’t get a kick out of seeing the capital captured on the big screen?
Sometimes it takes seeing London on film to remember just how many extraordinary buildings and landmarks there are – all within a quick tube ride.
From Kings Cross in Harry Potter, to Big Ben in The Thirty Nine Steps, these are 15 iconic London locations in film you can visit today.
Kings Cross station
Platform 9 ¾ became the world’s most famous railway destination when it first appeared in the Harry Potter novels. It was wonderfully brought to life in the movies and the ‘vanishing’ trolley remains a popular tourist destination today.
Euston Road, N1 9AL, kingscross.co.uk
St Paul's Cathedral
Mary Poppins presents a chocolate-box view of Edwardian London, showing off a number of landmarks and the city’s skyline in the unforgettable rooftop scenes. But it’s Poppins’ rendition of Feed the Birds that focuses on a woman selling seeds for “Tuppence a bag” at the foot of St Paul’s Cathedral that proves one of the film’s most moving sequences. The landmark is opens for sightseeing throughout the week.
St. Paul's Churchyard, EC4M 8AD, stpauls.co.uk
Woody Allen’s Match Point didn’t win over every critic in 2005, but it did provide audiences with plenty of lovely London locations. The film notably sees Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson reunited briefly in the Tate Modern, one of the capital’s most iconic art spots. It also appears as the headquarters of the shadowy Ark of the Arts organisation in Children of Men. The gallery is open every day of the week.
Bankside, SE1 9TG, tate.org.uk
Danny Boyle’s apocalyptic thriller 28 Days Later sees Cillian Murphy walk dazed down a deserted Westminster Bridge after waking up alone in hospital. It’s one of the eeriest sequences of the city ever captured on film. Boyle achieved this by shooting at 4am on summer mornings to avoid the bridge’s usual crowds. The climactic scene of Blofeld's helicopter crash in the 2015 Bond film Spectre was also filmed here.
Westminster Bridge, SE1 7GL
The finale of 1999’s Sleepy Hollow sees protagonist Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) return to New York following his altercation with a murderous headless horseman. Fans might not know though that the scene was in fact filmed outside London’s Somerset House on the Strand. The famous setting has also been featured in the James Bond film GoldenEye, where the building’s courtyard was transformed into St Petersburg square. Admission is free, while the venue also puts on exhibitions, events and concerts throughout the year.
Strand, WC2R 1LA, somersethouse.org.uk
The Bridget Jones movies take us to a number of locations across the city, but it’s her digs in Borough Market that remain the most memorable. The Globe Tavern pub, which is still there, provided the external shots during filming. And though the idea that a jobbing reporter could afford a huge flat in Borough Market was a touch unrealistic, we were more than happy to be transported to Bridget’s version of London by the 2001 film. Today, the market is closed on Mondays, but remains open throughout the rest of the week.
8 Southwark St, SE1 1TL, boroughmarket.org.uk
Trafalgar Square has provided the setting for crowd scenes in a variety of films over the years. VE Day celebrations for Captain America: The First Avenger were shot here but it’s the mob scenes at the climax of V For Vendetta that remain the most vivid sequence set in the iconic London landmark: the masked crowd march through the square before proceeding to destroy the Houses of Parliament in the 2005 drama.
Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN, london.gov.uk
The Millennium Bridge is famously destroyed by the Dementors in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Thankfully though, it’s still intact in real life and its use in the film has helped make it a recognisable location around the world. It was also featured in Taylor Swift’s music video for her Ed Sheeran collab-track, End Game, in 2018.
Thames Embankment, SE1 9JE
Sure, it’s not a specific location per se, but the tube has been featured in dozens of films throughout the years. Skyfall and the Bourne Ultimatum both included tense sequences on the Underground and it played an integral role in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sliding Doors too. However, Thor: Dark World caused the biggest stir among London’s commuters when it falsely claimed that Greenwich was only three stops away from Charing Cross during one scene. We only wish the tube was that speedy.
10 Downing Street
Hugh Grant might have been the least convincing movie Prime Minister of all time in Love Actually, but the film did give us a glimpse of the famous 10 Downing Street on film. When he’s not dad dancing his way around the famous address, PM Grant is threatening the UK’s diplomatic ties with the US by stitching up the President during a live press conference. But, he still manages to pull it all off with bumbling charm. Although you can’t actually visit the inside of Number 10, you can stand at the gates, look down the famous street, and imagine that Grant is still having fun behind the shiny black door.
10 Downing St, Westminster, SW1A 2AA, gov.uk
The explosive opening sequence of the 1999 Bond movie The World is Not Enough took us to the top of the then brand-new Millennium Dome. But pretty soon after launching, the venue faced extraordinarily high maintenance costs and struggled to find its true purpose. As a result, in 2007 it was turned into the O2. Today, it remains one of city’s most recognisable locations and hosts some of London’s biggest live events throughout the week.
Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX, theo2.co.uk
One of London’s most celebrated hotels, the Savoy, makes an appearance in Helen Mirren and Bob Hoskins’ excellent 1980 crime drama The Long Good Friday. Hoskin’s character confronts the American mafia at the venue in one of the film’s pivotal scenes. It’s also for the setting for the press conference given by Julia Roberts’ character in Notting Hill. Home to the legendary American Bar, and with a starry clientele over the years that has included Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren, it’s well worth swinging by for a drink to soak in all the history and old-school glamour.
Strand, WC2R 0EZ, fairmont.com
Big Ben returned to regular service last November after five years of maintenance work, meaning Londoners living and working in the area once again have their days punctuated by the clock’s famous chimes. Big Ben played a key part in the 1978 film version of The 39 Steps: the film’s most famous sequence sees Robert Powell’s Richard Hannay cling to the clock face high above the streets of Westminster while Londoners agonisingly watch on below.
Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, parliament.uk
Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Ian McKellen all head to Westminster Abbey to search for clues next to Isaac Newton’s grave in the 2006 thriller The Da Vinci Code. The film, like the Dan Brown novel, plays with historical facts and falsely claims that Alexander Pope delivered the eulogy at Newton’s funeral. But it doesn’t really matter: a London icon is always worth revisiting. The venue itself is open to visitors throughout the week, while it’s open to worshippers only on Sundays and religious holidays.
20 Deans Yd, Westminster, SW1P 3PA, westminster-abbey.org
Portobello Road Market
Hugh Grant strolls amiably through Portobello Road Market in the 1999 romcom Notting Hill, taking in the W10 setting in all its splendour. Punters can visit the market throughout the week from 9am, although the main market shuts on Sundays. Meanwhile, the location used for Grant's character’s house with the famous blue door is just around the corner at 280 Westbourne Park Road. Owners of the house painted the doors black for years in a bid to stop tourists posing for photos. They did however repaint the doors blue in 2013 and fans of the film still flock to take selfies today. Grant was, of course, in Paddington 2 - and fans of the bear from Peru should also swing by to nod to the location of Mr Gruber’s shop.
306 Portobello Rd, W10 5TA, portobelloroad.co.uk