When you think of picture-postcard filming locations, Switzerland must come to most people’s minds. They’re not the only ones because there are scores of films which have used locations in Switzerland. If you’re planning a visit to Switzerland, consider including some of these tantalizing places on your itinerary. If there were an Oscars for landscapes, they’d be in the running.
The sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby, featured spectacular scenes shot at the Schilthorn. This dramatic mountain had a cableway and a revolving restaurant with 360 panoramic views at the mountain’s summit (2,970 m). This restaurant (now dubbed Piz-Gloria) would become the secret headquarters of the film’s villain Blofeld and his organization Spectre.
Fans of the film will remember the dramatic scenes when helicopters attack the base. In addition, there are lots of James Bond-themed features and activities you can do while in the area.
Even if you’re not a James Bond fan, then the summit of the Schilthorn is well worth a visit for the spectacular views. You can take the 40-minute ride up to the summit in a cable car and enjoy a meal at the revolving restaurant. Also, look out for the peaks of nearby iconic Swiss mountains such as the Eiger. Active people can also consider hiking back down from the summit. Just make sure to start early in the day, so there’s plenty of time for the hike down.
In the recent Point Break film from 2015 (not the Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves one from 1991), the most dangerous stunt of the film took place at Hinterrugg peak located close to the town of Walenstadt. In the North East of Switzerland, the town and lake are well-known among BASE jumping communities, but less so to the outside world. However, the area is often referred to as ‘Heidiland’ because it was the setting for the famous Heidi novel.
The dramatic grey cliffs of Hinterrugg peak fall away to bright green grassy slopes, and then you see the turquoise Lake Walen (Walensee) nestled at the foot of the mountains next to the town.
If you’re not a BASE jumper, you can visit the area to enjoy the lake and even a moderate/easy hike to the summit of the Hinterrugg peak. The views from the top are spectacular and quite breathtaking to imagine jumping off head-first!
It’s not a coincidence that many of the filming locations in Switzerland happen to be in the Bernese Oberland. The dramatic landscapes make for the perfect backdrop for transporting film scenes.
In Star Wars Episode 111: Revenge of the Sith, the mountains around Grindelwald become Princess Leia’s home planet Alderaan. Don’t worry, though. Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) did not destroy the real thing when he destroyed Alderaan.
You can still visit Grindelwald and the mountain giants of the area, such as Jungfraujoch and the Eiger. Furthermore, you don’t have to be a hardcore outdoor pursuits participant to explore the area. Switzerland caters to every kind of traveler providing cable cars and easy access to summits for anyone not ready to go it alone.
Okay, okay. I know this isn’t a film, but rather, a Korean Drama series. Nevertheless, a lot of iconic scenes took place in Switzerland. So I feel the drama deserves mention.
In the village of Iseltwald, on the southern end of Lake Brienz, a minimalist landing stage was the setting for beautiful scenes in the drama. The protagonist, Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), plays his piano on the landing stage as he prepares to return to North Korea after the death of his brother. We later discover, unseen in the mists of the lake on a boat, the other protagonist, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin), his South Korean forbidden love interest, felt profoundly moved as she heard him playing.
Glittering lakes surrounded by beautiful mountains nowhere does it better than Switzerland.
Other Swiss locations featured in the series are Panorama Bridge Sigriswil, Kleine Scheidegg at the Jungfraujoch, Lake Lungern, the Münsterbrücke, and the Lindenhof, both in Zurich.
In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, protagonist Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) stays at the Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich. Lisbeth stays in the luxurious Masina Suite with a current daily rate of CHF – 6,500. The suite has a butler to serve guests and 170 square meters of space, designed with a 1950’s glamour theme. There are beautiful views across Lake Zurich from the bedrooms and living room.
As you can tell, you will need some serious pocket money to stay overnight at this filming location. However, if you have some cash to splash, you could consider a day spa experience at the hotel, starting at CHF – 260.
Touching the Void is a harrowing true story of survival and the terrible choices faced by two climbers as they attempted to descend Siula Grande in the Andes.
They filmed the long-distance shots on location at Siula Grande and the close-up stunt shots in Switzerland.
One of the most memorable and harrowing scenes occurs when Yates attempts to make it down the mountain by lowering his companion Simpson in stages. First, Simpson had broken his leg and was unable to climb down without assistance. Then, Yates made a critical error and mistakenly lowered Simpson over a cliff. Stuck, Yates doesn’t have the strength to pull Simpson back up, and after two hours, begins to lose footing himself. Faced with a terrible choice, both fall to certain death or cut the rope and save one. Yates cuts the rope. And this is the excruciating scene which they filmed on the Jungfraujoch.
You can now reach the Jungfraujoch summit by cable car, so you can enjoy the views without going near any voids. At 3,454 meters above sea level, the views across an icy, snowy landscape are show-stopping.
Over 200 Bollywood films have scenes filmed in Switzerland. But one iconic film in particular – Dilwale Dulhania, has put Switzerland on the map for Bollywood fans. Much of the film takes place in Switzerland, but one pivotal moment occurs at Zweisimmen train station. Here the two protagonists miss their very punctual train getting separated from their separate group of friends. As a result, they continue their journey together as they try to catch up with their friends and luggage. Along the way, they fall in love.
Zweisimmen is a typical pretty Swiss village. Wooden houses with tiled roofs, surrounded by green meadows, coniferous forests, and a backdrop of snowy mountains. This village is also the gateway to the famous Gstaad region, where you can ski in winter and walk in spring, summer, and autumn.
The film industry has found Switzerland an inspiring and wonderful landscape to film in. All you need to do now is plan your itinerary, and don’t forget to include some film locations along the way.
You might not see any red carpets, but you might feel like a star as you enjoy the drama of the mountains, lakes, and the attractive architecture of towns and villages.
Book by: Sep 30th 2021
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