For 50 years the cinematic adventures of James Bond have been a gateway to an exotic world filled with equal parts beauty and danger. And on those thrilling adventures, Bond films have showcased some of the world’s most stunning locales – along with the usual array of automobiles, glamorous ladies and a not inconsiderable amount of product placement. So for this feature we’ve decided to focus on 007 of the best Bond locations to visit in Europe.
If you’d like to join us as we follow in the footsteps of Britain’s favourite spy, we’ve also added a quick link to search results from cottages4you near each location. It may be a slightly less technically advanced travel option than a jet-pack in a suitcase, but we’re sure it offers a far more relaxing experience.
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001: Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland – The World is Not Enough
During this Pierce Brosnan Bond adventure, the villains destroyed MI6 headquarters on the South bank of the Thames. However, as luck would have it the world’s most secret spy agency had a standby office in what is inarguably one of Scotland’s most beautiful locations: the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. So stunning is this location that we can quite understand why MI6 didn’t just decide to up-sticks from the Capital and use this office instead – aside from the opportunity to showcase the Millennium Dome and a number of London’s iconic attractions in the explosive opening sequence.
Eilean Donan Castle stands on a small island looking over the tranquil waters of Loch Duich and is reached by a beautiful stone walkway from the village of Dornie. It’s no stranger to attention from James Bond, either, having also featured in Highlander and Entrapment – both of which starred Sir Sean Connery.
002: Lake Como, Italy – Casino Royale
There were several memorable moments in 2006’s re-tooling of Bond that were uncomfortable for male members of the audience. For starters, there was the awkward moment when James Bond appeared from Caribbean waters wearing the world’s skimpiest pair of swimming trunks, immediately making most men in the audience mourn the passing of their midriffs. Then there was THAT sequence towards the end where the villainous Le Chifre helped scratch Bond’s itch in a distinctly unsubtle fashion.
While most of us can’t – and wouldn’t want to – emulate Bond in these situations, we can at least share the place he used to recuperate afterwards. These scenes were filmed in the gardens of the Villa del Balbianello on the western shore of the southwest part of Como. Now owned by the FAI (Italy’s National Trust) the villa and its gardens are open to the public from March until November.
003: Canale Grande, Venice – Various
Our customers generally fall into two different categories: some like to sample somewhere new each holiday while others return to their favourite properties each year. It seems Mr. Bond falls somewhere in between. While he’s probably been chased through every beautiful location in and around Earth, it seems there’s something about being chased through the historic canals of Venice that he can’t resist. And who can blame him? Not only do the tranquil waterways and historic backdrop of the ‘City of Water’ make for fantastic eye-candy but they also provide the opportunity for plenty of memorable action sequences, offering jet powered gondolas, floating houses and more.
As far as we’re aware, James Bond first visited as Sean Connery in From Russia with Love. He later returned after several years as Roger Moore in Moonraker before finally returning as Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. But whatever changed between his visits, the beautiful waterways, ornate architecture and romantic ambience of Venice remained reassuringly consistent.
004: The Eiffel Tower – A View to a Kill
We can’t think of anyone but James Bond who could get away with tarnishing one of France’s most beloved cultural icons by chasing someone off the top and getting tangled up in a fishing rod en-route. Roger Moore’s 007 swansong may have been one of the lesser Bond films, but the sequence involving him chasing a parachuting Grace Jones was incredibly memorable – as only an incident involving Grace Jones, Roger Moore, the Eiffel Tower and a parachute could be.
As millions of tourists will surely attest, most visits to the Eiffel Tower involve far less danger – though far more queuing – than Bond’s appearance in the mid 1980s. Still, it’s not a bad trade off to admire the best views of beautiful Paris.
005: Stonor House, Oxfordshire – Licence to Kill
James Bond and stately homes: both resolutely British but they tend to go together like chalk and cheese. Traditional homes may be the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon, but they’re not the sorts of places that get the pulse pounding. So it’s no wonder that it took the makers of the Bond films so long to destroy one (with exploding milk bottles, no less). As with Eilean Donan Castle, Stonor House and Gardens in Oxfordshire acted as another of MI6’s safe-houses that was attacked by villains, proving that not only are MI6’s safe locations not actually that safe, but also that cinema’s most secretive spy agency is probably slightly over-funded.
One of Britain’s oldest manor houses, Stonor House has remained in the same family’s possession for over 850 years. A visit allows you the opportunity to appreciate a host of treasures including old Master Drawings, European Bronzes, an early 19th century wallpaper of Paris and contemporary ceramics from around the world.
006: Siena, Italy – Quantum of Solace
History is all but inescapable in Siena; it’s deeply ingrained in the very ground you walk on. As you admire the ornamental architecture of the cathedral, or stroll round the wonderful Palazzo Comunale, you can’t help but feel that in some way you’re experiencing a semblance of what life was like hundreds of years ago. History is evidenced in one of Siena’s biggest attractions too: the bi-annual Palio horse race. Familiar to viewers of Quantum of Solace, it was during this event that Bond took part in a foot chase over the slate roofs of the town before descending for a showdown at street level.
The Palio is such an impressive display of Tuscan heritage that no special effects are required to convey the scale, drama and sheer majesty of this historic event. It only take place twice a year but there’s enough to stunning sights to see and things to enjoy in Siena to make a visit worthwhile at any time of year.
007: Romazzino Beach, Sardinia – The Spy Who Loved Me
At cottages4you, we can never agree on Bond’s greatest gadget, but we’d have to say a sports car that turns into a submarine must be pretty high up on the list. It’s certainly one of the most memorable. During The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond gets chased along the coast of Sardinia by a helicopter. After diving/driving into the water, he emerges shaken but not stirred onto the golden sands of the beautiful Romazzino Beach, prompting much bemusement and, of course, a double-take from someone enjoying a bottle of beer.
Like the best Bond locations, Romazzino Beach – and Sardinia itself – requires little work to convey the exotic beauty for which 007’s adventures are famed. With long white coastlines, sparkling emerald green waters, that famed Mediterranean climate and an abundance of heritage, it’s also one of the finest European holiday destinations you could wish to enjoy – even without a Lotus submarine.
What’s your favourite Bond film and location? Let us know in the comments below.