Best-ever music video locations

BY Tamara Hinson

21st Aug 2018 Travel

Best-ever music video locations

Check out our favourite locations that singers have shot their music videos in

Beyoncé’s decision to shoot her latest music video at Paris’s Louvre has seen visitor numbers to the attraction rocket, and the museum’s even launched tours of the artworks which appeared in her musical masterpiece. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our favourite wanderlust-inducing music videos.


Iceland—Justin Bieber


Canada’s musical bad boy headed to Iceland to shoot the video for his chart-topping single I’ll Show You.

The video sees him bathing in the country’s thermal springs, looking pensive on a rock overhanging a fjord and swimming across an iceberg-filled lagoon.

Our favourite location is the Fjarðárgljúfur Canyon (try saying that after one too many glasses of Iceland’s legendary blackberry schnapps), which appears in the first scene.


The Louvre—Beyoncé

musÇe Louvre_Richelieu(c) 2017 musÇe du Louvre Olivier Ouadah

In hindsight, it’s hardly surprising that Beyoncé and Jay-Z chose the Louvre as the backdrop for their latest video, Apes**t—the musical masterminds have visited four times in the past 10 years.

Head honchos at Paris' top attraction said they allowed the couple to use it because “their synopsis showed a real attachment to the museum and its beloved artworks.”

The couple also used it as the setting for the photos they released on Instagram to announce that Beyonce was expecting twins. Apparently a Facebook announcement just doesn’t cut it these days.


Cape Town—Coldplay


The colourful Cape Town neighbourhood of Woodstock was the star of the show in Coldplay’s Paradise video, which included a wide range of other South African locations, including the Klein Karoo in the Western Cape as well as Johannesburg, where Chris Martin is shown walking past the Nelson Mandela Bridge and near the railway tracks in the suburb of Braamfontein.

Martin apparently fell in love with the country during filming, telling locals that “it’s sunnier and warmer than where we come from.” And we have to agree.


New York City—Alicia Keys


One of the most famous New York-based music videos, Empire State of Mind’s backdrop is the big apple’s tangle of skyscrapers, along with the Yankee Stadium, Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square.  

It was actually a second attempt—the first video, which was scrapped, featured supermodels miming the song’s lyrics while strutting around Manhattan.

Alicia Keys is one of thousands of pop stars to use New York City as a backdrop. Others include Michael Jackson, for his Bad video, and Sting, who headed here to film the video for Englishman in New York.



Credit: Michael Kundle

Utah’s weirdly-named Goblin Valley State Park is the setting for The Killers’ track Human, although Bryce Canyon National Park also had a starring role, as do (rather bizarrely), various tigers, eagles and cougars.

Goblin Valley State Park earned its name due to the weird and wonderful goblin-shaped rock formations, some of which are several metres high.


Rio—Michael Jackson


The Brazilian destinations of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia stole the show in Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us video.

Michael’s decision to focus on Rio’s favelas (in this case, Favela Dona Martha) was a controversial one—authorities were nervous about portraying the city in a bad light. Eventually they relented, although 1,500 policemen were drafted in to provide security.

Other musicians to film videos in the city include Ricky Martin and Natasha Bedingfield, who both used its beaches as a backdrop.


Budapest—Katy Perry


Hungary’s beautiful capital was given a major popularity boost when Katy Perry filmed her video for Firework here. The most spectacular scene comes at the end, when thousands of people gather in the courtyard of the city’s Buda Castle, before lighting up the sky with fireworks.

You can get to the hilltop castle, famous for its baroque architecture, via another location from the video—the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The structure spans the Danube and connects the city’s two halves, Buda and Pest.


St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London—The Spice Girls

St Pancras Renaissance Grand Staircase.jpg

Amazingly, our all-time favourite girl band video was a one-shot affair— presumably because staff at this London hotel didn’t want to annoy its wealthy guests, even if the Spice Girls were the reason behind the delay.

Most of the action centres around a grand staircase, although the girls also dance atop some priceless antique tables.

The hotel has been happy to capitalise on its starring role over the years, and recently hosted free screenings of Spice World The Movie to coincide with the music video’s twentieth anniversary.


Palace of Fontainebleau—Lana Del Rey

Cour de la Fontaine∏ Beatrice LÇcuyer-Bibal.jpg

Lana del Rey chose a truly regal location when it came to shooting her Born to Die video—France’s spectacular Palace of Fontainebleau.

The best bit? It’s open to the public, which means you too can flounce along the corridors and waltz across the breathtaking ballroom. If you visit, make sure you check out the 200-foot-long passage which starts at the front of the chateau.

It’s adorned with frescoes, life-size stucco figures and gold leaf detailing, and former resident King Francois I was said to be so fond of this particular part that he kept the key to the passageway around his neck.


If our musical round-up has inspired you to visit one of these breathtaking locations, why not take some inspiration from the locations used for these famous blockbusters, too?