From secret hideaways in the Swiss Alps to red-hot Italian escapes and action-packed treks in remotest Greece, check out our round-up of 007 approved breaks around Europe…
Remember the opening car chase in QOS? Daniel Craig, cool as a cucumber, absolutely tearing the guts out of an Aston Martin as he leaves the bad guys AND the cops eating his dust? Well, all that action was going on at Lake Garda, in the north of Italy.
You probably won’t encounter any high speed chases if you go there though – Lake Garda, Italy’s biggest lake, is actually blissfully tranquil. Its shores are dotted with romantic little towns and villages, and the scenery is among Italy’s most spectacular.
Spend your days by the lake exploring the surrounding countryside and spend your evenings in the lively bars and restaurants sampling the local food and wine.
Straight after that Lake Garda car chase, Daniel Craig and his chiselled jaw make their way in his Aston Martin to beautiful Siena, no doubt looking for a bit of peace and quiet. And a decent mechanic. That’s what you think, Mr Bond…
Escaped prisoners, interrogations, rooftop chases, underground chases and fistfights ensue, and all while Siena’s biggest event, the Palio de Siena is in full swing. The drama!
To be honest, the Palio de Siena is dramatic enough without any added spies and subterfuge, and it’s something everyone should try to experience at least once in their lives.
It’s the world’s most passionate horse race, a highly competitive one between Siena’s various ‘contrade’ or divided areas, and it all goes down right in the middle of the city.
For those days in July and August when the race is on, the city is bedlam, but it’s amazing. Put it on your bucket list.
Picture the scene… Bond (Craig again) standing beside his Aston Martin – a lonely figure, surrounded by the wild landscape of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.
There are no chases this time; this scene is a bit of an emotional one. M, played by the inimitable Dame Judi Dench, asks him about his childhood and parents. He tells her there’s a storm on the way. They drive away. End scene.
Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands is genuinely breath-taking in its beauty. It’s a vast wilderness of lochs, rivers and mountains, and it’s every bit as mysterious and atmospheric as it looks in the Skyfall scene – in fact, despite the great cinematography in the film, you probably won’t really appreciate the beauty of the place until you’re there. The A82 drive is perfect road trip stuff, so hire a car and hit the road.
In ‘For Your Eyes Only’ Bond finds himself scaling a treacherous cliff in Meteora, Greece – at the top of which is the famous Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
But this is no ordinary solo ascent of a 1,300 foot sheer rock face… there are bad guys to contend with too, and poor Roger Moore has to deal with Apostis (the villain) acting the absolute maggot.
Just as he’s about to kill Bond though, Bond throws a knife straight into his black heart, and he falls to his death. Unlucky, mate.
This may not sound like a relaxing holiday, but you’re not an international spy so it’s unlikely you will find yourself in such a situation. Besides that, you don’t have to climb anything anyway – the amazing Monastery is accessible by a huge staircase carved into the rock.
It’s a hefty 140 steps under a Grecian sun, so maybe don’t drink too much the night before – but it’s totally worth making the ascent. Definitely one of those ‘how the hell did they build this’ places, and the scenery will blow you away.
After a pleasant Parisian lunch Bond goes on a mission to kill May Day (Grace Jones), who poisoned one of Bond’s allies earlier in the film. The chase takes them both up the Eiffel tower, her superhuman strength giving Roger Moore a run for his money.
He tries his best, but he’s no match for her (obviously, this is Grace Jones we’re talking about), and she parachutes off the top of the Eiffel Tower, landing on a boat on the Seine to escape (again, this is I Grace Jones we’re talking about!)
The Eiffel Tower might be a ‘cliché’ Paris attraction, but that’s because it’s earned its status. We don’t recommend parachuting off the side of it, unless you are Grace Jones in which case you can do whatever the hell you like. By all means get a selfie though.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service sees Bond on a mission to track down Blofeld and the evil SPECTRE organisation who are holed up in an allergy clinic in the Swiss Alps.
In a bid to scupper their plans to hatch a deadly virus on the world, Bond goes undercover as Sir Hilary Bray from the Royal College of Heralds and infiltrates their dastardly plot.
Evil schemes aside, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is famous for being the film where James Bond does the unthinkable and falls in love and marries Contessa Teresa de Vincenzo (played by Diana Rigg).
Alas, there’s to be no happy ending. Blofeld kills Teresa at the end of the film, leaving Bond alone and devastated.
Many of the scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service were filmed at Piz Gloria, now a revolving restaurant that sits on top of the Schilthorn, the 2,970 metre high summit close to the Swiss ski resort of Interlaken.
Even if you don’t have lunch in the restaurant, Piz Gloria is still well worth visiting for its spectacular panoramic views over the Bernese Oberland. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of 007-themed attractions on site including a James Bond Bar where you can order a Martini, “shaken, not stirred”.
There’s even a small museum and a mini cinema where you can pull up a seat and watch Piz Gloria-based clips from the film.
Estoril has more than one Bond-related claim to fame. The most obvious is that James Bond is shown staying at Hotel Palácio in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Even more impressive is that Ian Fleming was a guest at the hotel during World War II and it’s thought the swanky location provided him with inspiration for his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.
Although the front of the hotel has changed a lot since the days of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the swimming pool is still in the same location. In the film, it can be seen when Bond enters the hotel for the first time and later on at night, when it reflects the Casino sign.
Estoril is located on the Lisbon coastline, just a short hop from the Portuguese capital. Its mild winters and hot summers make it the perfect destination for a beach break or golf holiday.
If you’re planning to go to town on the Bond theme, book a stay at the Hotel Palácio, play a round at the 18-hole Estoril Golf Course and try your luck in the famous Casino of Estoril.
Other 007 film locations in the area include the city of Setúbal where Bond and Teresa get married and drive off into the sunset through the Arrábida Natural Park.
No round-up of Bond destinations worth its salt would be complete without a mention of London. The city’s skyline has made an appearance in countless Bond Films, not least Skyfall, which sees Daniel Craig standing on top of the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
As the camera pans around, Big Ben and the Ministry of Defence put in scene-stealing performances. In Spectre, look out for iconic buildings in London’s South Bank, including City Hall which doubles up as the Centre for National Security. Lambeth Bridge, Westminster Bridge and the streets around Trafalgar Square, The Mall and Whitehall also make the cut.
For a Bond-inspired day in London, kick things off with a visit to The National Gallery. In Skyfall, the gallery’s Room 34 is where Daniel Craig first encounters Ben Whishaw’s Q.
Soak up the surroundings like 007 and check out Turner’s iconic painting The Fighting Temeraire.
Later, try a bit of what Bond is having – treat yourself to a very British (read game-y) meal in Rules. The restaurant is considered the oldest in London and provides the backdrop in Spectre when M, Q and Miss Moneypenny meet in its gilded surroundings to talk shop.
Round off your day with a stroll along where Moneypenny and Bond rendezvous in Spectre – Millennium Bridge. At night, the views are spectacular.
- Fiona Hilliard