Lights, camera, action! When it comes to filmmaking, locations play an important role in setting the scene and bringing stories to life. From iconic landmarks to the lesser-known backstreets, Europe has long been a captivating backdrop for global cinema. But where are the most cinematic cities in Europe?
In this data-led study, we analysed data from the world’s largest database of film and television information, IMDb, to unveil Europe’s most cinematic cities – of all time and the most ‘up-and-’coming’.
The Top 10 Most Cinematic Cities in Europe
London is crowned the most cinematic city in Europe.
With its thriving film industry, world class studios, and extensive network of talented professionals, the location has attracted a multitude of productions from various genres across the years.
According to records, the UK’s capital has hosted 72,744 productions, with the most common genres being drama, action and adventure. Productions include blockbuster franchises like James Bond, Paddington and Harry Potter, to the more recent Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton and the Apple TV+ hit, Ted Lasso.
In a surprise appearance England’s second largest city, Manchester, is labelled Europe’s 2nd most cinematic city.
The city has played host to a remarkable 21,886 productions, from gritty dramas to captivating comedies, Manchester’s streets and landmarks have provided the perfect backdrop for critically acclaimed productions such as Peaky Blinders, Shameless, and The Crown.
Securing the third spot is the vibrant capital of Spain, Madrid.
Records show that the city has welcomed an impressive 16,135 productions, with genres ranging from drama to comedy and everything in between. Spanning beloved Spanish productions to international blockbusters like Money Heist, Madrid’s awe-inspiring streets and historic landmarks have played a pivotal role in bringing captivating stories to life.
Renowned for its timeless elegance and romantic allure, Paris (4th) has provided the backdrop for countless cinematic masterpieces.
Records highlight an impressive 14,398 productions filmed within the city’s boundaries. With genres ranging from complex thrillers like Inception to stylish Tarantino war flicks like Inglorious Basterds, Paris continues to capture the hearts of filmmakers and viewers alike, with producers drawn to its iconic landmarks and charming streets.
Sweden’s capital takes the fifth spot on our list.
With its stunning archipelago and well-preserved historic architecture, Stockholm offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm. Data reveals the city has hosted 11,274 productions, ranging from gripping crime thrillers like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to emotionally powerful dramas like Fanny and Alexander.
The Rest of the Top 10
In 6th we find another UK city, Birmingham. The city’s gritty roots are embracing a now vibrant urban culture, used as a location in 10,955 cinematic productions. Both underworld crime dramas like Peaky Blinders and heartwarming family classics such as Nativity encapsulate the city’s unique and evolving character to attract filmmakers.
Germany’s capital, Berlin (7th) has housed 10,638 productions, including blockbuster franchises like Spiderman and The Hunger Games.
8th position belongs to the eternal city that is Rome. Renowned for its preserved ancient buildings and cobbled streets, the Italian city is a magnet for filmmakers around the world, from the all-time classic The Godfather Part III to the more recent The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Hamburg in Germany takes the 9th spot, with the city’s picturesque waterfront and stunning architecture providing the backdrop for 6,481 film and TV productions.
Rounding off the top 10, is Spain’s Barcelona in 10th place with 6,135 recorded productions. The city’s Mediterranean charm and gothic/modernist architecture has attracted producers working on some of the largest TV projects in recent years, including Game of Thrones and The Crown.
The Top 10 Most ‘Up-and-Coming’ Cinematic Cities in Europe
Our study also reveals which European cities have become more popular over time to find the most ‘up and coming’ cinematic locations, based on each city’s top 50 most popular productions.
Taking the top spot as Europe’s most up and coming cinematic city, Budapest’s most popular film and TV productions have an average release date of 2017.
Budapest in recent years has been coined the ‘Hollywood of Europe’, with producers around the world discovering the allure of its architecture, ambience and ability to stand in for other cities like Berlin in Atomic Blonde and Moscow in A Good Day to Die Hard. The city also hosted Ridley Scott’s epic Blade Runner 2049 which was almost exclusively filmed in Hungary.
Bulgaria’s dynamic capital can be found in 2nd place, with an average release date of 2016 for its top 50 most popular productions.
Sofia’s film industry offers competitive production costs and a supportive infrastructure, already becoming a hotspot for blockbuster action franchises like The Expendables, The Mechanic, and 300.
In 3rd place is Romania’s capital city, Bucharest, with an average release date of 2013.
Bucharest’s affordable production costs, skilled workforce, and commitment to supporting the film industry have resulted in successful tv shows like Wednesday and Killing Eve being filmed there.
Tirana, the capital city of Albania comes in 4th place, with an average release date of 2013.
Tirana’s unique blend of Ottoman, Italian, and communist-era architecture, coupled with its breathtaking natural landscapes, offers a visually striking canvas for both local and international productions.
Rounding off the top 5 most up-and-coming cinematic cities in Europe is Norway’s capital Oslo, with an average release date of 2012.
Oslo’s stunning natural beauty, including fjords, forests, and mountains, offers a unique cinematic experience. The location has recently housed blockbuster movie productions like No Time to Die and Tenet.
The Rest of the Top 10
Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, comes in 6th place with an average release date of 2012. The city recently hosted some of the production for the hit mystery Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
Claiming 7th position is Riga, the capital city of Latvia, with an average release date of 2012.
The city’s well-preserved medieval Old Town, Art Nouveau architecture, and scenic riverside locations can often be spotted in productions.
Istanbul in Turkey is in 8th spot, with an average release date of 2011. The city’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant atmosphere have attracted fast-paced action films likes of Skyfall, The Equalizer 2, and Hitman.
Making up the rest of the top 10 is Warsaw in 9th (2010) and Prague in 10th (2009).
- A seed list of European cities was created by identifying the largest cities in each country by population size.
- Next, each location was searched through the IMDb database and the number of titles (film & TV) which used each city as a filming location was recorded. This data point was used to rank the cities from 1 to 50.
- The 50 tv series / movies per city were then scraped from IMDb using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, for their audience rating, age rating, release date, and genre, and analysed.
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.