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The most travel-inspiring movies of 2008

Move over Oscar! We have our own thoughts about which movies won our hearts in 2008. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 10 most travel-inspiring movies—and how you, too, can have cinematic moments on your next trip.
James Bond (Daniel Craig) runs across rooftops in Siena, Italy in "Quantum of Solace".
James Bond (Daniel Craig) runs across rooftops in Siena, Italy in "Quantum of Solace".Susie Allnutt / Courtesy Columbia Pictures

1. "Australia"

Northern Territory and Western Australia
In director Baz Luhrmann's tribute to his native Australia, aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) takes an arduous journey across the country with a rough-and-tumble stockman named the Drover (Hugh Jackman) as World War II is about to break out.

Arriving in Oz
Sarah disembarks from a ship in Darwin, Australia, with so much baggage that she has to enlist four porters to help her off the vessel. The scene was shot in Bowen, a beach town in northeastern Queensland with excellent snorkeling and diving; local outfitter Aussie Reef Dive offers half- and full-day trips to several nearby dive sites (, from $37).

Beau of the ball
Sarah is surprised to see a rather dapper-looking Drover, whom she hired to help her drive cattle across Australia, at a high-society party one evening. The scene was filmed at Strickland House, an 1850s Italianate villa in Sydney, built for the city's first elected mayor, John Hosking. You can only tour the home once a year (the 2009 date is April 13), but visitors can stroll through the villa's manicured grounds year-round and eat a picnic lunch on a hill that overlooks Sydney Harbour (011-61/2-9337-5999, house tour $3).

In love in the Outback
Sparks fly between Sarah and the Drover as they traverse hundreds of miles across the Outback to a cattle station that Sarah has inherited in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. "The area has the most incredible sunsets and sunrises, and practically everything in the scene is authentic—the sunshine really burns, the dust is real," says James Fisher, one of the film's still photographers. You can explore this rugged countryside with Kununurra Scenic Bus Tours, which leads trips through the red-rock valley that surrounds the Ord River, with stops at an aboriginal art gallery and Ivanhoe Crossing, which has some of the best crocodile spotting in the region (011-61/437-058-673, , from $70).

2. "Mamma Mia!"

Based on the hit Broadway musical, "Mamma Mia!" tells the story of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who's on a quest to find out who her real dad is before she gets married. After narrowing the pool down to three men, she invites them all to her mom's hotel on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi. The result? Chaos, and a whole lot of Abba tunes.

Shipping out
Sophie's prospective fathers meet for the first time when Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) miss the last ferry to Kalokairi and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) offers to take them on his boat. The scene was filmed on Skiathos, an island in the Aegean Sea about 85 miles north of Athens. You can buy ferry tickets to Skiathos through Alkyon Travel (011-30/210-383-2545, , $95). The ferry anchors near Kabourelia Ouzeri, a restaurant known for its platters of fresh octopus with ouzo (011-30/242-702-1112, $4).

Boatloads of fun
When the men learn that Sophie's mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), doesn't want them at her daughter's wedding, they make a hasty retreat back to the mainland on Bill's boat. Determined to stop them, Sophie swims out to her could-be dads, and the group sings a playful rendition of "Our Last Summer." A peninsula off Glysteri beach, on the island of Skopelos, served as the scene's backdrop. You can charter a boat from Thalpos Holidays to explore the peninsula, along with the isle's many beaches and coves (011-30/242-402-9036, , from $87 per day for a four-person vessel, no license needed).

Going to the chapel
The wedding takes place in a tiny church built on a steep rock formation overlooking the Aegean Sea. Before Donna climbs up to the chapel, she pours her heart out to Sam, singing "The Winner Takes It All." The scene was filmed at the rustic Agios Ioannis sto Kastri on Skopelos Island, where you can scale the 100-plus stairs to the top of the dramatic cliff.

3. "Quantum Of Solace"

Italy, Austria, England
The highly anticipated sequel to Casino Royale marks the return of 007 (Daniel Craig). Bent on avenging the death of his lost love, James Bond outwits the British government and the CIA on a covert mission that takes him around the globe.

Horsing around In the fast-paced opening scene, Bond chases a spy through a warren of medieval aqueducts in Siena, Italy. In the summer, you can take a tour of the subterranean cisterns through La Diana Association (011-39/366-358-8181, $13). Bond eventually pops up through a manhole in Piazza del Campo—directly into the path of the Palio horse race. During the competition, which has been held in Siena since 1310, riders must complete three laps around the piazza, avoiding spectators along the way (July 2 and Aug. 16, free).

Opera on the water
Bond tracks down villain Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) at the Bregenz Festival House, a 7,000-seat concert hall with a floating stage on the banks of Lake Constance in Austria. The 2009 festival season runs from July 22 to August 23 and features Verdi's tragic opera Aida (011-43/5574-4076, , from $40).

Sky's the limit
Bond uncovers Greene's plot to overthrow the Bolivian government and take control of its water supply. While en route to Bolivia, 007's plane is shot down, and he has to share a parachute with his latest paramour, Camille (Olga Kurylenko). The scene was actually filmed in Bedford, England, at Bodyflight, a skydiving center with a wind tunnel that simulates free-falling at 120 mph (, from $70). "There aren't any cables holding you down in the wind tunnel," says director Marc Forster. "You're literally floating."

4. "The Other Boleyn Girl"

Sibling rivalry really heats up when sisters Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) catch a glimpse of a young Henry VIII (Eric Bana)—and his spectacular palace. The movie is based on Philippa Gregory's best seller, which took its inspiration from English history.

Grassy knole
Henry VIII's home, Whitehall Palace, burned down in 1698, so production designer John-Paul Kelly turned to Knole, the king's country manor in Sevenoaks. Kelly was struck by the house's massive scale: "It looks more like a small town than a building!" The estate has 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances, and 7 courtyards. From mid-March to early November, you can tour the rooms—complete with opulent Jacobean-era furnishings—as well as the Japanese sika deer park that surrounds the 1,000-acre property (011-44/1732-462-100, , $18).

Get thee to the nunnery
Queen Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) gives the Boleyn girls a rough welcome to court, forcing a timid Mary to sing for the queen's ladies-in-waiting in Lacock Abbey. Today, visitors to Wiltshire can explore Lacock's main hall, octagonal tower, botanic gardens, and medieval cloisters—which also had a cameo in two Harry Potter films (011-44/1249-730-884, , $18).

Redemption song
London's St. Bartholomew the Great church serves as the backdrop for Anne's bleak wedding to Henry—and her fateful trial. Every Sunday at 6:30 p.m., the choir performs a moving evensong service. The tradition was established after Henry VIII broke from the Catholic church and formed the Anglican church in order to marry Anne (011-44/20-7606-5171, ).

5. "The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian"

New Zealand, Poland, and Slovenia
The Pevensie clan—Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell)—returns to Narnia only to find its creatures have been forced into hiding by the Telmarines. So the children set out to help Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) reclaim his throne—a spectacular journey that was filmed in four countries.

Tunnel vision
One minute the kids are in a London Tube station, and the next they're emerging from a rock arch onto a white-sand beach in Narnia. The arch is part of Cathedral Cove, a marine reserve on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula. Local outfitter Mercury Bay Seafaris offers boat tours to the reserve, along with the other North Island film location (011-64/7-866-3910, , from $44).

Rock on
As the foursome sets off in search of the Narnians, Peter leads the group through a lush forest dotted with jagged rock formations, refusing to admit that he's lost. Fittingly, the scene was shot at Lost Rocks, in Poland's Góry Stolowe National Park (011-48/74-86-61-436, , $2). "It looks like the Grand Canyon, but full of greenery," says executive producer Perry Moore of the park's sandstone passageways. "The truth is that some of the best magic in the Narnia movies is grounded in reality."

Watershed moment
The movie's epic battle between the Narnians and the Telmarines culminates in a showdown along the banks of Slovenia's Soca River. "It was a complicated location to scout," says producer Phil Steuer. "We needed access to a river and permission to build a bridge." Wedged amid the Julian Alps, the Soca River valley is an adventure-sports haven for hikers, rafters, bikers, kayakers, and paragliders. If you want to hit the rapids, the Bovec Rafting Team arranges white-water trips (011-386/5-388-61-28, half-day tours from $50).