10 must-see destinations inspired by books or movies

On March 23rd, 2016

Have you ever read a book that transported you to a new destination? Where the words infused the story’s setting and brought it to life so vividly that you were this close to booking a cheap ticket there?

I’ve had this happen many times. My must-visit list of destinations grows in leaps from watching movies or reading books.

Here’s a list of 10 must-see destinations inspired by books or movies to plot your next trip.

Photo credit: beautifulplacestovisit.com

Photo credit: beautifulplacestovisit.com


  1. Florence, Italy — The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi 
    In 2000, author Douglas Preston moves his family to Florence — realizing a long-time dream of living in Italy — to research and write a book. Little does he know the olive grove in front of his rented 14th century farmhouse was the spot of one of the most famous double-murders in Italian history. This murder was committed by the Monster of Florence: a serial killer who still roamed free decades after the crime. Soon Preston’s embroiled personally in the investigative hunt. Think: travel memoir mixed with real life detective/thriller novel.
  2. Charleston, South Carolina — Beach Music by Pat Conroy 
    Food writer, Jack McCall, has sworn he’d never return to his home town, Charleston, South Carolina. Yet when his mother is diagnosed with cancer, he is pulled across the ocean from Rome to face the demons he left behind in Charleston. Pat Conroy’s spell-binding, poetic writing captures the slow majesty of Charleston’s beach beauty and Southern charm. The city’s rich history is a powerfully mute character as Jack returns to his town where, decades earlier, he and his friends committed a serious crime for which his best friend is still on the run.  I wanted to rescue turtle babies on the beaches and fish for crawdads in Charleston’s rivers after reading this fictional book.
  3. Lost city of Troy (Hissarlik) — The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone
    In 1871, Heinrich Schliemann began excavations on what he believed was the lost city of Troy. At his side was Sophia, a 17 year old who later became his second wife and greatest ally. This historical novel chronicles how Heinrich methodically researched Troy, pinpointed its exact spot, and his journey to free it from earth’s clutches. His work gave credibility to the idea that Homer’s Iliad reflects historical events. More than that, it’s a true Indiana-Jones adventure story complete with golden treasures, buried cities, and a historical significance that made me want to cross the Aegean Sea to visit Troy’s ruins.
  4. Venice, Italy — The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
    In 1996, an enormous fire destroyed Venice’s famed Opera House. Berendt — in this non-fiction that reads like captivating fiction — tells the story of what actually happened the day of the fire… and what the loss of this beloved Opera House did to the citizen of Venice. He captures the mystery and gilded decadence of Venice. And it will inspire you — like it did me — to visit the Bride of the Sea to soak in her charms.
  5. Chicago, Illinois — Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    It’s 1893. Chicago, in its heyday, is gearing up to host the famous World’s Fair. This gripping non-fiction book tells the story of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction and H.H. Holmes, a doctor with a penchant for killing. You won’t be able to put this book down. And later, you’ll find yourself yearning to visit the white marble ruins of Chicago’s World’s Fair.
Photo credit: travelpast50.com

Photo credit: travelpast50.com


  1. Bruges, Belgium — In Bruges 
    Two assassins (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are ordered to lay low in the medieval town of Bruges. It’s a quiet town, sliced by a slow-moving river, and dotted with stone-bricked houses. Ray, the assassin played by Colin Farrell, hates the town. He can’t wait to get back to work. Brooding, tense and dramatic, this movie made me want to wander Bruges’ cobblestone streets and feel its peacefulness that was shattered in this crime drama.
  2. Boston, Massachusetts — The Departed 
    Glimpse into South Boston’s seedy underbelly with this mob drama directed by Martin Scorsese that’ll keep you guessing until the end. Leo DiCaprio plays an undercover cop who infiltrates Jack Nicholson’s top-dog mob. This dark drama showcases Boston’s working class and mob history interspersed with beautifully shot images of the glittering city it’s become. A star-studded cast, stellar script and twists you’ll never see coming — after watching this movie, you’ll want to visit Boston just to see if these men do exist.
  3. New Zealand — Lord of the Rings trilogy
    Stunning vistas that seem ripped from a calendar. Impossibly green hills studded with rocky clefs that were born for sweeping panoramics. This is New Zealand: the land made famous by The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. I’ve wanted to see New Zealand since The Fellowship of the Ring came out. And you will, too, after watching an elf, man and dwarf run fearlessly over mountain spines chasing orcs.
  4. Dubrovnik, Croatia — Game of Thrones series
    This city hosts the political crimes orchestrated in HBO’s Game of Thrones series (modeled after the book series of the same name) for the fantasy country’s capital. Welcome to the medieval walled old city of Dubrovnik off the Adriatic Sea. You couldn’t ask for a more fantasy-inspired city: fortress on the hill, dark tunnels, stoned bridges, a river splitting the town, and a storied background dating back to the 7th century to satiate any history buff.
  5. Rome, Italy — Gladiator
    The Colosseum was built for these days. Sweat, blood, shouts mixed in the air of this white-marble topped open-air cathedral. The stands teemed with Rome’s citizens, hungry for a good fight. Inside the ring, two men circled, swinging their weapons.  This is the movie Gladiator. When you visit this ruined architectural beauty of the first stadium, you’ll still hear the cries of the crowd, clang of weapons, and grunts of dying men. Prepare to fight for your life.

Laura Lopuch is a copywriter, incurable traveler, and blogs at Waiting To Be Read where she helps you find your next great book to read because life’s too short to read crummy books.

Photo credit: socialventurepartners.org