Avid James Bond fans know that Switzerland is a big part of the protagonist’s life. Not only is James Bond half-Swiss on his mother’s side, but the country is also heavily featured in several of the James Bond movies.
And if you want to know exactly what those movies are, you are definitely in the right place because this guide covers all the James Bond filming locations in Switzerland! We’ll also treat you to film clips of the most famous Bond scenes in Switzerland, so grab some snacks and make yourself comfortable while you read about all the different connections between James Bond and Switzerland!
Film locations in the Swiss Alps
The scenic landscapes of Switzerland were featured in at least five James Bond movies and possibly more. The Alps were featured in even more movies, but not all the filming locations were in the Swiss Alps.
Some James Bond movies were filmed in the French, Italian, and the Austrian Alps – and those beautiful landscapes can easily be mistaken for Switzerland.
It’s also worth noting that Switzerland was used as a filming location for scenes that supposedly take place in other countries as well. The most notable example of this is the scene from A View To A Kill that takes place in Siberia but was filmed in Switzerland and Canada.
Perhaps the most iconic Swiss location from this James Bond movie is Furka pass, the scenic Alpine road full of switchbacks and sharp turns. Played by Sean Connery, James Bond chases up this road in his Aston Martin DB5, providing viewers with glimpses of the spectacular Swiss landscapes in Goldfinger.
The iconic film scene has Bond chasing after Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce, only to be honked at by a white Ford driven by Tilly Masterson. Tilly is also trying to catch up with Goldfinger, seeking revenge for her sister. The interactions between these two characters take place at the bottom of the Furka Pass.
The best thing about this James Bond filming location is that anyone can visit it free of charge. Definitely do that if you want to travel to a famous location from the Bond movies and see some spectacular scenery. Keep your eyes open if you ever do go there – when you’re coming in from the Grimsel Pass, you’ll see a boulder with the inscription “Kil-47” on your right-hand side. This is the exact location where Bond was standing when Masterson tried to shoot Goldfinger, and instead nearly shot him (Bond) in the back.
Hotel Aurora in Andermatt is another Swiss filming location featured in this James Bond film. Following the encounter with Tilly Masterson on the Furka Pass in which he shredded her car tire, James Bond offers the woman help and takes her to the nearest gas station. This was the Aurora gas station in Andermatt, which unfortunately closed down on the 50th anniversary of the movie Goldfinger.
The Aurora hotel is still there and it’s the second-best place to visit in the area. Also, the gas station might be closed, but there are still remnants of the film set in the area – the original roofing and the flower box are still there! Try to visit ASAP, before those are removed as well.
Finally, the Pilatus Aircraft Factory in Stans, Switzerland was also featured in this iconic James Bond film. It was shown as the exterior of the Auric Enterprises building, but it’s worth noting that all shots inside the factory were filmed at the Pinewood studio buildings in the UK.
The factory is still in the same place today, but they’re not exactly open for tours. You might be able to get a glimpse of it from afar, but they usually only let people who work in aviation tour its grounds. That’s fine because there’s really nothing Bond-related in the factory – it was only used for shots of the exterior of Goldfinger’s building.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the movie with the most Switzerland locations in it. The film was mostly shot around Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald, but by far the most iconic location from this James Bond movie is Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn.
The revolving restaurant was only partly constructed when the movie production crew found it. They offered to financially contribute to the construction, and in return, they would get the exclusive right to feature the building in the film. This is exactly how things went down, and the restaurant even decided to keep the name it was given in the film – Piz Gloria.
The main reason why the production crew chose to finance the construction of this restaurant is that it perfectly fits the description in the novel. Blofeld’s clinic was described to be situated atop a mountain that could only be accessed by a helicopter or a cable car. As you can imagine, there aren’t too many such mountains in Switzerland, especially not ones with intricate buildings atop them.
In the 1969 James Bond movie, Piz Gloria is the mountain peak where Blofeld’s “allergy clinic” is situated. In the real world, Piz Gloria is a revolving restaurant that heavily pays homage to its James Bond connection. Some 46 years after the movie came out, the restaurant opened Bond World underneath its original construction.
This interactive exhibit is an absolute must for all lovers of James Bond films. You can see scenes from the movie that were filmed in the area, a replica of the helicopter in which George Lazenby rode in the role of James Bond, as well as Blofeld’s coat of Arms. Even the toilets feature Bond-inspired decorations, urging patrons to aim like James.
On top of that, the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria also offers a selection of Bond-inspired dishes. You can try the staple James Bond champagne breakfast, the spaghetti James Bond, or their staple 007 burgers. Head to their James Bond bar if you’ve got a craving for a martini – shaken, not stirred!
It’s worth noting that Piz Gloria is an easy-to-reach destination. The mountaintop can be accessed by cable car from Murren and Birg – if you pretend you’re in a helicopter and not a cable car, you can have an epic Bond moment!
Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Starring Roger Moore as the iconic James Bond, the Spy Who Loved Me is another film that was partially filmed in Switzerland. The word “partially” here is used very loosely – only the opening ski scene leading up to the jump was shot in Switzerland. The actual jump was filmed in Canada.
The opening sequence of this Bond movie sees the protagonist escaping from Soviet agents while rushing down the ski slopes. He manages to shoot one of them from his ski pole while skiing in reverse, which is just one of many reasons why this scene is widely regarded as one of the best James Bond opening scenes of all time.
The plot takes place somewhere in Austria, but the actual movie was filmed on the slopes of Piz Bernina, the tallest summit of the Eastern Alps. The jump was filmed at Asgard peak in Canada, which is located in the Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island.
If you pay attention to this scene, you can notice the exact moment when the landscape transitions from that of the Swiss Alps to the Canadian mountains in the Arctic. The shots in Switzerland feature many snow-capped peaks, but as soon as the switch to Canada happens, suddenly the mountains in the back become more barren and rugged.
It’s certainly not something most people will notice if they’re not looking for it, especially since the focus of the scene is the badass agent jumping from a ridiculously tall mountain.
A View To A Kill (1985)
A View To A Kill, which marked Roger Moore’s final appearance in the role of James Bond, is another film that featured scenes shot in Switzerland. To be more specific, only the opening shot of the movie was filmed in Switzerland, and not in its entirety.
The opening shot in which James Bond is seen recovering a microchip from a dead body while being chased by Soviet Agents was filmed at the Vadretta di Scerscen Inferiore Glacier in the Swiss Alps. Switzerland is featured up to the point where James Bond is being chased by Soviets on skis – once he manages to ditch them, the viewers become treated to fabulous views of an Iceland glacier.
If you pay attention during this scene, you can easily notice the change in scenery. When James Bond is rushing down the mountain slopes, you can see countless other peaks in the background. But as soon as he reaches the glacier lake you can’t see the surrounding peaks anymore – that’s because the rest of that scene was shot in Iceland and not in Switzerland.
Golden Eye (1995)
The film Golden Eye features the most iconic James Bond scene that was filmed in Switzerland. The opening scene of the movie sees James Bond jumping from the Val Verzasca dam to escape from some Soviet agents.
At the time, this was a defining moment for both the franchise and Pierce Brosnan’s future in the films. It was his first appearance as James Bond, after a 6-year-long break between the final James Bond film and Golden Eye. If this film hadn’t done well at the box office, it would have been the end of the franchise.
Luckily, the opening scene stunt was so thrilling that it got everyone hooked on the movie. Even today, more than 25 years after the film was released, it’s still argued that this is the best opening of any James Bond movie.
However, it’s worth noting that it’s not Pierce Brosnan who we see leaping off the dam. The jump was done by his stunt double, and the movie shot is the only take of the jump that exists. This was an extremely dangerous scene to film, but luckily for everyone involved, it all went according to plan.
The good news for all the James Bond fans is that you too can live like the iconic MI6 agent for a day. Head to the Verzasca Dam in Ticino, Switzerland, for an epic 220-meter bungee jump! This is considered one of the best and most exciting stunts in the world, so it’s definitely suitable for all fans who want to recreate an iconic moment and experience an adrenaline rush!
The jump is suitable even for first-timers, so you don’t have to have any previous bungee jumping experience to re-live this iconic James Bond moment.
In this section, you will find the answer to some of the most frequently asked questions about James Bond’s connection to Switzerland.
Is James Bond Swiss?
James Bond is half Swiss – his mother is actually from Canton Vaud, and this is a plausible explanation as to why the character speaks fluent French and why so many of his adventures take him to Switzerland.
The reality is that Ian Fleming, the author behind the James Bond novels, spent some time in the Canton of Vaud. He was enrolled in school in Geneva and he lived in Coppet town in Vaud from 1930 to 1931. During this time, Fleming was even engaged to a Swiss woman – Monique Panchaud de Bottens – who undoubtedly served as an inspiration for the character of James Bond’s mother.
The engagement ended at the behest of Fleming’s own mother, who didn’t approve of the relationship. She pulled some strings and managed to get her son a job as a reporter for Reuters, where he impressed his colleagues and superiors with his writing skills. Not too long after, Fleming started to write a novel about a highly skilled spy and the rest, as they say, is history.
Which country has James Bond visited the most?
The country that James Bond has visited the most time is the USA. It featured in at least 7 movies and the protagonist has traveled to multiple locations within the country. The states James Bond has traveled to in the USA are Kentucky, New York, California, Nevada, Louisiana, Maryland, and Florida.
The second-most visited country in the films is Italy. James Bond has traveled to Italy in at least six films, plus it’s worth noting that many of the film scenes were shot in the Italian Alps. In fact, Italy is tied with the United Kingdom for this spot, since 007 visits the UK in six movies as well.
Interestingly enough, Switzerland is somewhere at the bottom of this list. James Bond officially visits Switzerland in just two movies – Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – even though more film scenes were actually shot in the European country.
Where was Spectre filmed in Switzerland?
It wasn’t! Spectre was filmed at various locations in Italy, Austria, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. None of the movie scenes were shot in Switzerland, and most of the snow and ski scenes were shot in Sölden, Austria.
All the scenes that prominently feature the Alps were filmed in either Italy or Austria, so even though the scenery looks like it could be somewhere in Switzerland, it isn’t.
What James Bond was filmed at the Schilthorn?
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the James Bond movie that was filmed on the Schilthorn. The revolving restaurant of Piz Gloria atop Schilthorn is featured in the movie as Blofeld’s “allergy clinic”.
The restaurant kept its name after the film and it’s still known as Piz Gloria. It’s a very popular place with James Bond fans – not only can you re-live scenes from the iconic movies, but you also get to see an interactive James Bond-themed exhibit.
See a few Bond film clips, get a Bond-themed dinner, and experience a simulation of his helicopter ride to Piz Bernina – sounds like heaven on Earth for all James Bond fans!
Where was Goldfinger filmed in Switzerland?
Goldfinger was filmed in several locations in Switzerland, but the Furka Pass is by far the most notable one. The iconic chase scene in which Bond is chasing Goldfinger and encounters a white Ford driven by Tilly Masterson features spectacular views of the Furka Pass in Switzerland.
This is definitely one of those places that avid James Bond fans should visit, and not only for the film connection. This is one of the most beautiful driving roads in the world, with 360° views of mesmerizing landscapes. Plus, you get to see exactly where the iconic Aston Martin DB5 passed, and you can even see inscriptions on boulders that refer to famous James Bond scenes.
The Aurora gas station was also featured in this movie and it’s located very close to the Furka Pass. This is where Bond takes Masterson to call for help after he sabotaged her car’s tires. Additionally, shots of the Pilatus Aircraft Factory in Stans, Switzerland were used for the exterior of Goldfinger’s Auric Enterprises building. It only appears briefly in the film, and all the shots of James Bond inside were filmed at the UK studio.
Where Did Sean Connery Live In Switzerland?
During the filming of Goldfinger in 1964, Sean Connery stayed in the hotel Bergidyll in Andermatt. The famous actor isn’t the only one who stayed at this hotel – the entire film crew also stayed here during the filming. And there are photos on display at the hotel that prove this!
You can even sit at the same table where Connery once sat, which is reason enough to start packing your bags immediately. If you’re considering doing a mini Bond-themed road trip in Switzerland, definitely drive down the Furka pass and when you reach Andermatt, check into this hotel.
It’s worth noting that Bergidyll hotel is within walking distance of Hotel Aurora, which still features some remnants of the gas station that Bond and Masterson visit in Goldfinger.
Were Any Of The Bond Girls Swiss?
Yes! Honey Ryder is a character from the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. She first appears on the screen emerging from the ocean in a white bikini, which pretty much established her as a sex symbol immediately.
What’s interesting about the character is that she was portrayed by Ursula Andress – a Swiss actress from the canton of Bern. Andress had such a heavy Swiss accent that she had to be dubbed in the movie by Nikki van der Zyl.
Honey Ryder wasn’t the first character James Bond had an intimate connection with, but she is widely regarded as the original Bond girl. Because of the actress’ native heritage, we can say that the original Bond girl was Swiss. It’s worth noting that no other Swiss actresses were cast in the elusive role of the “Bond girl”.
Are There Any Other Connections Between James Bond And Switzerland?
Yes, there are. So the main character was never portrayed by a Swiss actor, but one of the film directors was in fact a Swiss. It was Marc Forster who directed the film Quantum of Solace. His job was made even more difficult by the Writers Guild of America strike in 2007/2008, but the director was allowed to employ his own staff, which ultimately allowed him to finish the movie.
What’s interesting about this film is that one of the antagonists was also a Swiss actor. It was Anatole Taubman in the role of Elvis, and during one scene he even speaks the Swiss-German dialect on screen. Speaking German was the director’s idea, and it’s just interesting how two Swiss men managed to create a moment that’s so iconic in the Bond universe.
There’s another, more subtle connection between James Bond and Switzerland – his watches. In the original books, James Bond wears a Rolex watch because Ian Fleming himself wore a Rolex Explorer. But in the movies, James Bond always wears an OMEGA watch, at least since 1995. Both are Swiss brands, so ultimately, it’s obvious that 007 agrees that Swiss-made watches are the absolute best on the market.