Majesty’s Secret Service is a film of extremes. Its scenery contrasts the
crashing waves of Portugal’s Estoril Coast with the dramatic mountains of the
Swiss Alps. Its shocking surprise ending portrays James Bond in a vulnerable light
never previously seen. And to this day, the 1969 adaptation of the Ian Fleming
novel of the same name remains one of the most contentious Bond movies ever
and critics have long been sharply divided over the film. At the time of its
release, some viewers were offended at the notion of actor Sean Connery being
replaced by a male model with little acting experience, George Lazenby, while others
were enchanted by the performance of veteran actress Diana Rigg in the role of Countess
Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, arguably the first Bond girl with any substance.
all viewers can agree on, however, is that the filming locations for many of the
now iconic scenes made for stunningly beautiful backdrops worth visiting.
For the snow-coated lair of
super villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond’s arch nemesis and leader
of the global terrorist organization SPECTRE, the film’s location scouts chose a
revolving restaurant on top of the 2,970m white-capped mountain of Schilthorn.
Located within the Bernese Alps, Piz Gloria was still
under construction when it took on its starring role as the allergy research
institute used by Blofeld to brainwash a group of beautiful women from around
the world. Today, the restaurant is
one of the most famous in Europe. Although it is only accessible via cable car,
Piz Gloria’s unrivalled views of
the Bernese Alps -- including the summits of Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch -- make
it worth the trip.
were also where some of the movie’s big-ticket action sequences were shot. In
addition to more than one ski chase scene, a particularly intense car chase involves
di Vicenzo and Bond intercepting a professional stock car race in the Canton Bern
town of Lauterbrunnen in an effort to evade
Blofeld’s henchmen. Lauterbrunnen is an incredibly scenic place to visit,
with gushing waterfalls, glacial formations, impressive mountain peaks and plentiful
opportunities for skiing, hiking and camping. The Lauterbrunnen tourism board provides
detailed information on how to get there and how to get
night of exhilarating car racing, Bond and di Vicenzo share an intimate moment
in a secluded barn nearby, filmed in Winteregg, also in the canton of Bern. It
is here that Bond asks di Vicenzo to marry him, confessing that for her, he
could leave behind his life of espionage. Winteregg is a station on the
Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen-Mürren railway, the trip along which offers fantastic
panoramas of the surrounding mountains.
beginning of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond first spots di Vicenzo on the
Estorial Coast of Portugal. A vision in the distance, she leaves her red
convertible on a seaside road and walks straight into the tide. Realizing that
the beautiful stranger is attempting to commit suicide, 007 rushes to her
rescue, only to be ambushed by bandits with knives and guns. “This never
happened to the other fellow,” Lazenby’s Bond quips.
pre-credits scene was filmed on the picturesque Guincho Beach in Cascais, just
west of Lisbon. The gnarly waves at this Atlantic beach are popular
with surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers, and the Moana Surf School offers surfing classes for beginners, as well
as board and wetsuit rentals for those who already know how to surf.
time Bond encounters the mysterious di Vicenzo is at the casino at the Hotel Palácio
Estoril. No Bond movie would be complete without a gorgeous hotel dripping
with extravagance, and the palatial resort, which dates back to the 1930s,
maintains that lavish aesthetic today. Golfers will enjoy the hotel’s 18-hole Estoril
Golf Course, one of the oldest courses in Portugal, complete with a
clubhouse featuring a pool, two bars and a restaurant.
an hour away from Palácio is the city of Setúbal, where Bond and di Vicenzo get
married at the estate of her father, a mob boss named Draco. Afterwards, the
happy couple drives off into the sunset along a mountain road in Arrábida Natural Park, thinking that they “have all the
time in the world”. But alas, long-term happiness is simply not meant to be,
and the dismal end that befalls the couple takes place in one of the prettiest
places in Portugal.
hills of this protected area, covered with diverse species of Mediterranean
flora, peak with the Serra da Arrábida, a 500m-high mountain that offers incredible
views of the Atlantic Ocean below. On this mountain sits a 16th-century
Franciscan monastery, a beautiful work of architecture nestled within a
landscape of greenery. Whether you choose to drive, trek or bike around Arrábida
Natural Park, make sure you give yourself enough time to take a breather at the
lovely Portinho Arrábida Beach. Lie out on the pristine white sand or go for a
leisurely swim in the calm waters, protected from harsh winds by the adjacent Serra
da Arrábida. It is the perfect hideaway for a secret agent trying to get away
from it all, both physically and mentally.