Do you ever read a book, play a game, or watch a movie and think: I wish I could just step into this world?

A lot of us do. It’s almost like we forget that the creators of those worlds had to draw inspiration from somewhere, and unless any of them had a secret portal – we’re looking at you, Tolkien – many of those worlds actually exist in the world we’re living in. You just haven’t visited them yet.

In 2024, however, it’s time for you to change this. If you’re a true fantasy nut, then this should be the year you finally jet off to your favourite fantasy destinations, and to help you find them, we’ve listed out the most popular below.

Here are 5 destinations that not only capture the landscape of fantasy worlds but were the inspiration behind those fantasy worlds in the first place.

New Zealand for Middle Earth Fans

We may as well get this one out of the way first. Middle Earth is, without a doubt, the most popular and well-known fantasy world of all time. While the books were most likely inspired by the landscapes of England, the movies firmly relocated The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, with Rotorua, Tongariro and Matamata being prime filming destinations. 

Even if you’re not into Lord of the Rings, these landscapes capture the magic of numerous fantasy worlds, including Narnia, Neverland, and Asgard. Heck, even games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim or maps like Teleria in Raid: Shadow Legends have a lot to thank New Zealand for. So if you’re into RPGs, get your family together, assign everyone elf names, and immerse yourself in the home of fantasy itself!

Scotland for Harry Potter Enthusiasts

Now technically, this isn’t a fantasy world. The story of Harry Potter very much takes place in our own backyard, but who can say the world doesn’t transform into the fantastical as soon as they step off the Hogwarts Express? Whether it’s locations like Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, or the Burrow, JK Rowling did a great job of placing a new fantasy world inside our own. And it was all inspired by the rolling hills of bonnie Scotland.

Scotland in itself is a perfect holiday destination, especially for those who love their history and myths. But for Harry Potter lovers who want to step inside that fantasy world, it cannot be beaten. Locations like Edinburgh, Loch Shiel, Glen Coe, and Rannoch Moor were all drawn from to create the world we all know and love, and while they can get pretty cold this time of year – it’s -4 degrees in Edinburgh at the time of writing! – they’re unmissable destinations that offer too much to miss.

Iceland for Westeros Nuts

Speaking of cold, the last most popular tourist destination for fantasy nuts is Iceland. These white, icy landscapes have inspired a lot of stories, but did you know they were also the filming destination for Game of Thrones? Every scene beyond the wall was shot here, which not only makes us feel sorry for the actors – think about how freezing they would have been! – but also a little jealous that they got paid to experience such a magical place.

Because Iceland is magical. Complete with regular Aurora Borealis appearances, incredible glaciers and even volcanos, there is so much in Iceland to soak up – and because it’s an island, you can experience most of the main highlights within a single week. Just be careful not to run into any White Walkers. Rumour has it, they don’t take kindly to tourists!