Our new personalised love book, Partner, I Love You, has a very cinematic aesthetic to its artwork. That got us thinking about the best romantic movies to watch on Valentine’s Day. So we’ve pulled together 10 absolute classics, along with some of the filming locations you can visit. We’ve made sure none of them will have you arrested for trespassing or leave you staring at an apartment block where an epic location used to be.
Romantic movies filmed in the UK
1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
It’s the classic Jane Austen tale, adapted for the big screen with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr Darcy. The costumes, the locations, the love story – so many things make it endlessly rewatchable.
Where to visit: If you want to visit the iconic Pemberley, you can head to the Derbyshire stately home of Chatsworth House. They still even have the bust of Mr Darcy from the movie.
Quick note: if you’re more of a fan of the 1995 BBC adaptation of P&P, then Chatsworth House won’t be your Pemberley. In the BBC version, the scene of Colin Firth’s one-man wet t-shirt contest was Lyme Park in Cheshire, which you can also visit.
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2. Notting Hill (1999)
Julia Roberts as the big-time movie star – Hugh Grant as the disarmingly befuddled bookseller. But for all the glamour of her life and the humbleness of his, she’s just “a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”.
Where to visit: The bookshop run by Hugh Grant’s character is at 142 Portobello Road. But in real life it’s a gift shop, with plenty of merch from the movie. The actual bookshop scenes were shot in a studio. The filmmakers’ inspiration for the interior was The Notting Hill Bookshop, at 13 Blenheim Crescent. This very much is a bookshop and it’s only a short walk from Portobello Road – so you can easily visit both locations on the same day.
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3. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
A quintessentially British love story, with (again) a charmingly hesitant Hugh Grant in the leading role. And there’s also a whole host of quirky, soulful characters who inject a surprising amount of depth and emotion into the story.
Where to visit: The classic ‘skulking’ scene between Grant and Andie MacDowell was filmed at The Crown Inn, in Amersham, just outside London. If you choose The Crown for a romantic getaway, you can stay in that exact room, with the same four-poster bed that Grant and MacDowell flirted around. (But you might have to book way in advance for that exact room.)
Romantic movies filmed in the US
4. Dirty Dancing (1987)
You’ve almost certainly seen Dirty Dancing. But if you haven’t, it’s a coming-of-age movie at heart, but with lots of sexy dancing and some astute social commentary. There are laughs too though. Not many, but they’re in there.
Where to visit: Pretty much the entire movie takes place at the fictional Kellerman Resort in the Catskills of New York State. But the real filming location was Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia. If you want to visit, they’ve absolutely got you covered – hosting Dirty Dancing fans is their bread and butter.
5. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
It’s a tale as old as time: woman rescues unconscious man from train tracks, man’s family mistakenly think woman is his fiancée, woman falls in love with man’s brother. Classic fare. While You Were Sleeping is the epitome of the 90s rom-com.
Where to visit: The whole movie is something of a love letter to Chicago. So if you’re visiting the windy city, you’ll have plenty of chances to see spots where the movie was shot. Latlong.net even has a nice little guide you can follow.
6. The Notebook (2004)
Ask anyone to name a few romantic movies, and this one will probably come up. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams act up a storm in a 1940s tale of forbidden love over time.
Where to visit: Allie and Noah’s idyllic boating trip is one of the most loved moments in the movie. If you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of geese, then whoa boy, are you in for a treat. The location for this scene was Cypress Gardens in Berkeley, South Carolina, where you can take a romantic boat trip just like in the movie.
Romantic movies filmed elsewhere in the world
7. Brokeback mountain (2005)
“Wait, what?” we hear you say. “Brokeback Mountain is an American movie. Surely the heart-rendingly rocky romance between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s conflicted cowboys was set in rural Wyoming.” Well, yes. It was set there. But almost all of it was filmed in the Canadian Rockies in Southern Alberta.
Where to visit: If you’re a very outdoorsy type, you can absolutely visit the setting for the famous “I wish I knew how to quit you” scene. It was filmed near the eastern tip of Upper Kananaskis Lake, in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Wear some comfy boots though – a full walk around the lake is an almost-ten-mile hike that typically takes about four hours.
8. Chocolat (2000)
A movie so unapologetically French that you could easily forget it’s not French at all. Juliette Binoche is the cheeky chocolatier whose confectionary reawakens the passions of her repressed and depressed neighbours. It’s romantic, sexy and sensual, but if you have a sweet tooth it’ll make you very peckish.
Where to visit: While the residents of the movie’s quaint French village all speak English (strangely), the setting itself is very French. Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is a hilltop town in Burgundy, roughly 30 miles northwest of Dijon. Its winding streets and medieval architecture are just as they appear in the movie – the only thing the production crew added was a statue of the former mayor.
9. Love Actually (2003)
An unabashedly British movie, though not shot entirely in Britain. Love Actually is an intertwining anthology of love stories that checks all the rom-com boxes. There’s forbidden romance, love across language barriers, a last-minute dash to the airport and lots of laughs. So pretty much the ultimate Valentine’s Day movie.
Where to visit: You could book a romantic dinner for two at the restaurant where Jamie (Colin Firth) declares his love, in patchy Portuguese, for his former housekeeper, Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz). If you want to check out this particular Portuguese restaurant, you’ll need to head to…France. The scene was filmed at Le Bar de la Marine in Marseille. It still has the mezzanine Aurélia stood at when she gave Jamie the magic “yes”. (Spoiler alert.)
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10. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Baz Luhrmann’s reimagining of Romeo and Juliet is…a lot. The combination of Shakespearian script and modern-day American setting probably shouldn’t have worked, but it does.
Where to visit: This movie is nothing if not a feast for the eyes, so there are plenty of gorgeous locales on offer. Our pick would be the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in the Benito Juarez region of Mexico City – the venue for Romeo and Juliet’s secret wedding. (Though not so secret they couldn’t have a choir on hand to sing Everybody’s Free, in a scene so cheesy it really shouldn’t give us the feels, but so does.)