Nothing inspires wanderlust like a movie where a destination plays the starring role. Some films are required viewing before visiting certain cities, while others spur the desire to travel anywhere and everywhere. Check out our list of the best travel movies to arouse the travel bug inside you.
European Road Trip: Two for the Road
Travel through Southern France—and time—with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney as they relive pivotal moments in their relationship: upon meeting, as newlyweds, as new parents and in the midst of marital strife. Each trip along the picturesque shores and winding roads of Provence represents a change in perspective, as the two embark on similar journeys at different life stages.
Family Train Trek: The Darjeeling Limited
Rural India is the backdrop in this film about three brothers on a family bonding adventure. The eponymous mode of transportation is an overnight train that takes the brothers —played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman—to Hindu temples nestled throughout the countryside. True to director Wes Anderson’s twee style, the movie is a feast for the eyes, and the whimsical journey instills a longing to call your siblings and book a trip.
Backpacker’s Paradise: The Beach
Part of the allure of travel is the potential for discovering something hidden from the rest of the world. This fantasy plays out for a young Leonardo Dicaprio on the serene shores of Thailand’s Ko Phi Phi Le island in The Beach. The movie transports its main characters from a disappointing and overcrowded Bangkok to a hidden, self-sustaining expat utopia. Despite the drama that ensues, the movie’s white sand, blue water setting will have you searching for flights to the Southeastern Pacific.
Old-World Excursion: Midnight in Paris
Paris is the setting for another travel movie that marries the physical and metaphysical in France. Woody Allen’s tale of nostalgia, love and dissatisfaction finds Owen Wilson traveling through time to rub shoulders with the writers and artists of the Lost Generation. The cinematography paints an authentic portrait of greater Paris, with scenes in the Musée Rodin, Musée de l’Orangerie, Monet’s Garden, Versailles and the enchanting cobblestone streets along the Seine.
Ancient Civilization Reimagined: Gladiator
Largely intact compared to the capitals of other fallen civilizations, Rome is a history buff’s mecca. Gladiator brings this former world power to life through a mix of cinematography, CGI and meticulous historical accuracy. Visiting the city after seeing this movie, it’s impossible not to picture Ancient Rome as it was depicted in the film.
Romantic Semester Abroad: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Where better to throw away your inhibitions and go with the flow than carefree Spain? This film evokes fantasies of traveling somewhere exotic, falling in love with a local and never coming back. Woody Allen once again casts the location as a character, as scenes take place in Barcelona—and Gaudi’s—Park Güell, Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia. The city’s charm is seamlessly infused into the narrative, resulting in both an entertaining love triangle and an inadvertent advertisement for the city.
Life-Changing Solo Travel: Lost in Translation
If you’re looking for the inspiration to break free from the monotony of your routine, look no further than a solo trip to Japan. Lost in Translation captures what it’s like to be a fish out of water in a foreign land, as Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson forge an unlikely friendship far from home. Watching the pair experience the madness of the Shibuya crossing and the unadulterated fun of Japanese Karaoke puts Tokyo on any traveler’s bucket list. Scarlett Johansson’s character also rides a bullet train past Mount Fuji en route to the Heian Shrine and Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto—a few more ideas for your itinerary.
What are your favorite travel movies? Let us know in the comments!