What makes for great travel movies? We feel it is when the destination becomes the star. A movie that showcases beautiful cities, landscapes, and culture is a movie that inspires us to visit a destination or relive our time there when we get home.
Dave and I love movies. We worked in the film business in our previous careers and lived for the cinema. So when we chose our list of the best travel movies, we took it seriously.
The Best Travel Movies
Table of Contents
Our choices for the best travel movies are probably very different than yours, so leave a comment and let us know what you think the best travel movies are.–We are always looking for new films to ignite our wanderlust.
To rent or buy a movie to inspire you to travel right now, check out Amazon Instant Video
1. In Bruges
This is by far the best travel movie. One of the characters actually carries around a guide book! We recently rewatched in Bruges and it holds up! If you love a good caper set in an exotic location, you’ll love In Bruges.
When Colin Farrell’s character constantly complained of hating Bruges in Belgium as he and Brendan Gleeson took the gondola through the canals, I thought it was excellent writing and direction. The more Colin Farrell’s character complained, the more you took in the surroundings of Bruges and noticed just how picturesque Bruges is.
As Brendan Gleeson took in the history and read the guidebooks admiring the city, Colin Farrell just kept talking about how much he hated Bruges, which made me love it more.
2. One Week
One of our favorite travel movies of all time. And not because it is set in Canada (And we live in Canada). One Week follows a young man driving a motorcycle across Canada after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. No movie has made me want to explore a country more than One Week. We wrote an entire review about it here. It truly is the ultimate Canadian road trip movie.
I didn’t want to see this movie because of its morbid subject, but it ended up being an uplifting and enlightening film. One Week is a love letter to Canada and a tribute to being alive. We have been to many of the stops on this road trip movie, and it is wonderful to see things like The Big Nickel and The Terry Fox monument on the big screen.
It’s at the top of our best travel movies pics for a reason. Read our list of best motorcycle movies
3. Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I had to watch this movie twice before deciding I liked The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. At first I thought it was silly, but then after a second and now a third and fourth, I can understand why it is at the top of most lists of best travel movies.
The first time around I was annoyed with all the long drawn out fantasy sequences that happen in Walter Mitty’s head. But once he gets to Iceland and Greenland, it really becomes a fun adventure.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty shows how taking a risk and getting out of your comfort zone can lead to great things. The ending was my favourite, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Rent it now to see what you think of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
4. Before Sunrise Trilogy
I love these movies that showcase each destination they are in. They were filmed 10 years apart and they take place in three different locations around Europe – Vienna, Paris, and Greece.
The Before Sunrise trilogies capture the essence of each destination. And here’s a cool fact – Dave and I stayed at Costa Navarino in Greece where After Midnight took place!
- Before Sunrise: Before going to Vienna, be sure to watch Before Sunrise, they showcase the entire city.
- Before Sunset: And After Midnight captures the energy of Paris beautifully. They visit locations such as Pont Neuf, Quai Henri-IV, Shakespeare & Company Bookstore.
- Before Midnight: As our heroes age, this is a fitting title. Now with kids and in their forties, it’s a relaxing getaway to Kalamata, Greece where they navigate middle age in the beauty of Costa Navarino. They visit the Ancient city of Messini, The Kardamali Pier, and the Westin Resort where we actually had the privilege of spending four glorious nights.
It is probably the best of all romantic travel movies out there that literally spans three decades. (they film a movie every 10 years) I read an interview with Ethan Hawk that they are going to continue doing installments every 10 years. I can’t wait for the next one.
5. Planes Trains and Automobiles
Anyone who has ever driven cross country can relate to some of the shenanigans. Have you stayed in a cheap motel? You can relate. Have you ever sat beside someone that has made you incredibly uncomfortable? You can relate!
This is considered one of the great comedy travel movies, but I look at it as a drama. John Candy’s character breaks my heart.
If you’re in the mood for a good heartfelt comedy, rent it today.
6. Julie and Julia
Not only does Julie and Julia star the great Meryl Streep and one of the most versatile actresses around, but this movie is also about travel and blogging. It’s like it was made for us! I was surprised by how much I loved this movie. I didn’t go in expecting much.
It follows the life of Julia Child during her time in Paris and cuts throughout to the present day in New York. Meryl Streep’s Julia loved Paris so much that she made you believe that it was the most desirable place on earth.
It makes you crave French cuisine and a life of decadence in France. When it comes to choosing a favorite travel movie this one is right up there. Besides, Meryl Streep can do no wrong.
Rent it now on Amazon Instant Video!
7. The Big Year
I resisted watching this movie for many years. But it finally came up on one of my many streaming service subscriptions so I sat down to watch it.
The Big Year follows Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin travel around the United States with hopes of becoming the number 1 bird watcher in the world.
They are obsessed with spotting more species of birds than another other person in 365 days.
I related to this movie because it is more about the journey and how having a great adventure can change a life. It doesn’t matter what your interest is, just get out and explore!
9. Into the Wild
The real-life true story chronicles the jorney of Christopher McCandless who went on a road trip through the US ended up in Alaska. I read Into the Wild years ago and was mesmerized trying to figure out how someone could give up everything to go and live off the grid. John Krakauer dug into the psyche of McCandless and what motivates people to take risks.
What possesses a person to cut all ties with their family, hitchhike across the country, and then finally cut themselves entirely off from society? Things don’t turn out as he hoped, and it is a lesson learned for would be adventurers. But it truly is a fascinating read and I love Krakauers writing style.
It took me a while to watch Wild with Reese Witherspoon. I wasn’t really a fan of hers before.
But then I watched Big Little Lies (another great series for travel lovers. It showcases Monterrey and Carmel by the Sea in California and really shows off the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Coast Highway.
I gained a new respect for her acting abilities and now I’m a full-blown fan. I’m hooked on the morning show now too.
Wilds is an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s travel memoir about trekking the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a journey about putting a life back together after it all falls apart.
A struggle and journey can change a life.
Dave and I have been fascinated with Mount Everest Since the 1990s and I have read nearly every book written about it. The most famous is “Everest” by John Krakauer. The true story of what happened on Everest in 1996. It’s a first hand account by Krakauer who was on Everest at the time.
Dave and I trekked to Everest Base Camp in 2010 and couldn’t believe we were standing where legends had been. But we were happy we didn’t continue on to summit the mountain. That is a deadly task. They stopped at a monastery just like we did in the book and stayed in tea houses. It was all so familiar.
We didn’t go above base camp, but this film takes a dark turn as the events in 1996 was one of the worst disasters in Everest history.
I actually really enjoyed Tracks. It’s a film about a woman who walks across Australia with four camels and her pet dog. What’s more amazing is that it is based on a true story.
What I really liked is how the lead character Robyn Davidson learns the skills needed to survive. She is visited by a photographer from National Geographic who shared her story and was led through the sacred lands of the Outback by an Aboriginal elder.
13. World’s Fastest Indian
From New Zealand to America, Anthony Hopkins takes his Indian Motorcycle to the salt flats to see how far he can go.
The World’s Fastest Indian is one of my favorite performances by Hopkins. He is vulnerable, lovable and inspiring. He goes on a fun road trip along the way until he reaches the Salt Flats of California and that is when you really start routing for him to win!
This movie wants to make you follow your dream and proves you are never too old to make it happen. That’s pretty much our motto!
14. Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert
While we are in the Oceana par of the world, let’s talk about a fun road trip through the Australian outback. Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert follows a group of drag queens in a van named “Pricilla” from Sydney to Alice Springs where they are going to perform their drag show. They meet a lot of characters along the way and this film introduced us to superstars Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce who joined the already established Terrence Stamp.
Dave and I saw Pricilla Queen of the Desert at the movies in the 1990s and it was a hoot. I actually think it was way ahead of its time and it holds up better today than it did then. Fun fact, I (Deb) worked for La Cage Au Folles in the 1990s as a Madonna Impersonator on a cruise ship and learned how to do my make up from a professional drag queen in Miami!
15. Motorcycle Diaries
After traveling to Cuba I want to watch this again. I remember seeing it when it first came out and it gave me that sense of wanderlust. I’ve wanted to do a road trip through South America ever since. (PS. I’m still dreaming of that road trip one day)
Che Guevara is fascinating and this movie starring a young Gael García Bernal follows his journey on a motorcycle trip through South America before he became a part of the revolution.
Travel can change a person. I believe it was traveling through South America that Che saw what people were going through and that is what sparked him to take action in his own way.
16. The Way
Dave and I have always wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This movie is a bittersweet tribute to the epic hike.
Acting legend Martin Sheen walks the trail to honor his son Emilio Estevez (also director) who died on the walk. Sheen’s character finishes what his son started helping him connect and understand his son while examining his own life.
17. Lawrence of Arabia
Dave and I saw Lawrence of Arabia on IMAX when it was re-released years ago, and it made us dream of the Arabian desert. I would say that this is often considered one of the best travel movies of all time. It’s the original for sure and it really does capture the majesty of the Arabian Desert.
When we got the chance to visit Jordan and walk in the footsteps of the real Lawrence of Arabia, we couldn’t believe we were living a movie. We felt downright giddy when our guides pointed out where the real Lawrence of Arabia stood.
This will make you want to go on an adventure and spend the night in a Bedouin tent.
18. Out of Africa
If you want another Meryl Streep vehicle that is often considered one of the best travel movies, you should try Out of Africa. Out of Africa takes place in a different time, but it captures the heart of Africa beautifully.
Meryl Streep is a married baroness in love with big game hunter Robert Redford. Their chemistry is unmistakable. She falls in love with Africa and you will fall in love with it too. The cinematography is outstanding.
It won 7 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Cinematography.
Rent Out of Africa on Amazon now.
19. Romancing the Stone
Who didn’t fantasize about an adventure in Colombia after watching Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone? As a kid I always thought about the line “I need to get to Cartagena” and while I had no idea where Cartagena was, I knew it was exciting.
Kathleen Turner transformed from a scared writer who merely writes about adventure, to a woman encountering an adventure and meeting a rugged mysterious man in exotic Columbia.
Watch Romancing the Stone today
20. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I love the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. We always preach that you are never too old to try something new and you are never too old for travel. It’s chock full of great legendary actors including Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of retirees who travel to India to live out their days at a crumbling retirement hotel. All mayhem and madness ensue as things can only in India. There’s romance, tragedy, and hope.
21. The Bucket List
With two of my favorite actors and a message to live life to the fullest, the Bucket List is one amazing movie. The phrase has been overused in recent years, but the message never gets old. The Bucket List is the original “live your dreams now” travel movie.
Get out there and live your life. Be happy and make sure you leave this earth with no regrets. It feels amazing to check off a bucket list, trust me!
So, I liked this movie, but I didn’t love it.
Most people say that Amelie is one of the best travel movies of all time. So I felt that I should include it because this list wouldn’t complete without it. I did love the views of Paris and the every day life showcased in Montmartre.
I also enjoyed the uplifting message of quiet Amelie helping the people around her in the lovely district of Montmartre in Paris. If you want to watch sweeping scenes through Paris streets and if you love Paris, you can’t help but like Amelie.
23. Lost in Translation
Tokyo is a bit strange. It is unlike anywhere else on earth and Lost in Translation showcases the culture shock that one feels when staying in a different city.
There are different customs in Japan and the culture is much different than anywhere else and this movie captures that odd feeling you get when traveling there. Lost in Translation highlights some of the best spots in Tokyo.
The hotel where the movie takes place still has one of the best views in the city! And who doesn’t love Bill Murray, he is priceless and it’s one of Scarlett Johanson’s best performance.
24. Roman Holiday
This did not age well in our opinion. We watched it recently and it is just downright bad. Many people will probably disagree.
But it is fun to see Rome and to revisit our Vespa Tour that we did a few years ago there. They should remake Roman Holiday, it would be fun. But then again, maybe the Hallmark Channel already did. There’s an awful lot of Princess meeting regular Joes on that channel at Christmas.
I admit it, after this movie came out, I didn’t drink Merlot for years! Sideways takes us on a road trip through California wine country and it really is filled with amazing performances.
Last year we were in Santa Maria, California. The same places that Sideways was set and all I could think about was Paul Giamatti’s snobbery when it came to Pinot Grigio. It’s a fun dramedy that was perfect for the 1990s. A superb cast with Sandra Oh, Virginia Madsen and Thomas Hayden Church.
26. Up in the Air
Up in the Air makes you love the idea of travel but it shows the emptiness that the life of a vagabond can lead to if you don’t stay grounded with your family and friends.
I cannot go through airport security anymore without thinking of George Clooney and realize just how disorganized I am. His character has the art of travel down to a science. Ah, to be cool like George. Life would be good.
This movie also has a great message that Dave and I can relate to. We all become so consumed with our careers and our lives that we forget about what is important.
Rent or buy it on Amazon Instant Video
27. The Beach
The Beach is the original backpacker slacker travel film. I was really excited when this came out because we had just been to Thailand for the first time. The Beach captures what Thailand was like before tourists started flocking to it en masse. At one time, it was an off the beaten path backpacker destination.
We enjoyed the book more, but you can never go wrong with Leo.
28. Slumdog Millionaire
I loved this movie. We traveled to India in 2010 and it seemed to capture the true slums of India.
Many of the rich cities are modern, but when traveling through rural India and the poorer areas, this is what it’s like. It’s heartbreaking, raw, and sometimes uncomfortable.
29. Vicky, Cristina Barcelona
Admit it, we all want to go to Spain and run into beautiful people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Barden. The cities in Spain are just as beautiful as the people!
The Spanish are so much more in touch with their emotions. They live life with a passion that the rest of us don’t have. At least, that is what Vicky Cristina Barcelona makes us think.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona definitely is an inspiring travel movie and one of the best travel films out there. It really captures the energy and passion of Spain.
30. Under the Tuscan Sun
For the romantics out there, this is one of the best travel movies. Wouldn’t you just love to buy a villa in Tuscany and fall in love with a stranger?
Diane Lane shows that getting away from it all and relocating to another country can fix everything. I’m not sure if that is true, but I do love the premise and everyone lives happily ever after.
And Guess What, you can download it on Amazon!
31. A Good Year
A Good Year made me want to go to Provence and live a simple life…on a multi-million dollar vineyard estate. That’s reasonable, right?
A Good Year makes life in Provence look like the garden of Eden and I want a piece of it. Everyone is beautiful, everyone is a wine connoisseur, and everyone is pure and good. Who wouldn’t want to go to the south of France after seeing A Good Year?
32. Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris captures the golden years of Paris as Owen Wilson walks through the streets at night in search of that romantic nostalgia of the city.
He ends up meeting the famous patrons of the 1920s including Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and more! This movie makes me want to hop on a flight to Paris every time!
This movie was crucified by the critics, but I loved it. Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman take her cattle across the Outback.
It also touches on the injustices of how Australia treated the Aboriginal People, reminding me of what Canada did with residential schools to our own indigenous communities.
It’s beautifully shot and is a love letter to Australia. I think it deserved more love than it got.
This is a fun movie. I am not much of a Will Farrell fan, but this movie is one of his best. The movie kicks off (after a brief flashback) in Iceland showcasing its beautiful landscapes and waterfalls with sweeping drone shots of the stars performing.
It has all the stereotypes and cliches of the country, but it is done with heart and fun. It really is a love letter to Iceland. Follow Lars and Sigrit as they try to fulfill their dream of competing in Eurovision in Edinburgh.
The movie gives a nice showcase of that city too! And explains to North Americans exactly what Eurovision is.
It is free on Netflix or you can rent it on Amazon
35. Darjeeling Limited
This movie takes Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrian Brody across India starting on the Darjeeling Express train.
It’s strange, heartbreaking, hilarious and pure Wes Anderson.
When they visit their mother in an Ashram, it makes me think of the strange people that run away to India to find themselves. Oh yeah, he gets it.
36. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
This is such a fun movie, set in the very real Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu.
The movie stars Jason Seigel as a Hollywood Writer who goes to Hawaii to heal his wounds after getting dumped by his girlfriend Kristen bell. It turns out, she is there on vacation with her new boyfriend and shenanigans ensue.
This movie makes you want to book a plane to Hawaii and have your own stay at Turtle Bay which has now become very popular.
37. Last Holiday
If you are searching for comedy travel movies, this should be at the top of your list. This is the ultimate fairytale on how travel can change a life.
Queen Latifa is priceless as a woman who is diagnosed with a terminal disease, so she takes her life savings to enjoy her final holiday at a luxurious resort.
She does everything from base jumping to snowboarding and indulging in decadent French cuisine. If everyone took a holiday like this, we’d all live happier lives.
38. French Kiss
Meg Ryan plays a woman named Kate who is afraid to travel. When her fiance falls for another woman in France, she vows to win him back and travels there despite being terrified.
Hilarity ensues when she meets con man Kevin Kline and the venture across the country together.
My favorite scene is when she is indulging in cheese on the train. It’s that French moment that made me daydream about traveling by train across the French countryside.
39. My Life in Ruins
While not as good as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Life in Ruins is a nice comeback for Nia Vardalos. She plays a tour leader taking stereotypical tourists through the sites of Greece. It’s fun, it’s romantic and the setting is beautiful.
It’s not going to win any Academy Awards, but for a fun Saturday afternoon movie, this will transport you to Greece.
40. The Hangover 2
The First Hangover was far better and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching. It too is a travel movie taking you to Vegas, but this one is a lot of fun taking us through Bangkok. It captures the crazy energy of the city.
My favorite scene is when Bradly Cooper has to go to the hospital and comes out with an absurdly low hospital bill.
Dave and I have been to the hospital in Thailand and can attest. When you walk out, you feel as if you have just robbed them for their time and service.
41. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker & The Last Jedi
One wouldn’t think of a movie based in outer space to be a travel movie that inspires wanderlust, but the last Star Wars Trilogy featured one of our favorite destinations on earth.
It was teased at the end of the Force Awakens and highlighted in the Last Jedi, but the Rise of Skywalker truly showcased the amazing Skellig Michael of Ireland.
This 6th-century monastery was a star unto itself as Luke trained Rey the ways of the Force. It has now inspired many travelers and film buffs to take the hair-raising boat ride out to these rocky islands 12 km off the coast of Ireland.
42. Mama Mia
We actually learned where Mama Mia takes place while visiting the location where it was filmed, Pelion, Greece. The Greek islands are paradise, and Mama Mia follows the story of Meryl Streep who runs a hotel on the coast.
When her daughter becomes engaged, she invites three men who might be her father. It’s a rip-roaring good time of music, fun and beautiful scenery.
The Santorini blue and white houses, the crystal clear blue sea and the music of Abba become those who watch to travel to Greece!
43. Once Upon a Time in Mexico Trilogy
How sexy are Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayak together? You must watch the entire trilogy to really appreciate this series by Robert Rodrigues.
Once Upon A Time In Mexico ends the trilogy with Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and Cheech Marin. El Mariachi started it all starring Carlos Gallardo. My favorite of the 3 is Desperado, but they are all entertaining.
Once Upon A Time In Mexico is a fantasy and it is a stereotype of Mexico, but it makes you want to go to Mexico and have a great adventure. The scenery is gorgeous, the film is filled with cool style, and the music is fabulous.
44. The Legend of Tarzan
The $180 million dollar budget makes sure to showcase the beauty of the African Savannah, the dense jungles, and the majestic wildlife.
You feel as if you have entered the heart of Africa. Seriously, rent it, you’re going to like it a lot more than you think!
45. The Tourist
It’s a little indulgent, and Angelina Jolie is a bit annoying with how amazing she thinks she is in this, but it does capture traveling in Europe beautifully.
It makes you want to have a romantic tryst in Venice. It makes you want to ride a train and have a mysterious encounter. It gives you a glimpse into how the rich live and travel the world.
46. The Thing
Recently we had someone write to us with a list of their favorite movies about travel. He mentioned the first Alien vs. Predator took place in Antarctica and I remember that being a pretty entertaining film.
Then I thought about the classic Kurt Russel movie, The Thing.
This thriller takes place at a scientific base camp in the Antarctic and really lets you feel how claustrophobic and isolated researches must feel when spending the winter at the bottom of the world.
47. Grand Budapest Hotel
I can’t help it, I love Wes Anderson movies. He is offbeat and quirky. Grand Budapest hotel is one of the best travel movies that isn’t set in any real place. This is all in a fictional setting.
I like this for a travel movie because it reminds me of the grand old hotels from another era. Well, it should because it is set in another era. The hotel is fictional, but it does take you away to another world.
48. Black Panther
Wakanda may be a fictional place in Africa, but this movie captures the spirit of East and South Africa. It embraces the Africa culture and many of the movie’s scenes were filmed in Africa.
We have been to Africa numerous times and this movie transported us there again.
If you haven’t seen it, watch it now!
49. Lord of the Rings and Hobbit
They may be set in Middle Earth, but the Lord of the Rings movies are a love letter to New Zealand. Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Movies make us want to go to New Zealand and these films capture its beauty perfectly.
Rent the trilogy on Amazon today
50. Eat Pray Love
Another boring adaptation. Eat Pray Love wasn’t my favorite at all. But The book was okay but the movie starring Julia Roberts is dreadful. If you liked it, let me know. Maybe I’ll give it another watch in case I missed something.
Bourne, James Bond, Mission Impossible & Indiana Jones
The Bourne movies, James Bond, Indian Jones, and Mission Impossible take us around the world with each movie. They could be considered travel movies, but they are more about the adventure, action and fantasy. However, I wanted to include them because if you are looking for some beautiful scenes from Europe and the Middle East, theses travel films fit the bill. They are so good at taking you away to exotic places.
We’ll be updating this list regularly and we love finding new travel movies to watch.
So, if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to give them a watch!
Tell me what you think are the best travel movies and we will compare notes.
You May Enjoy these other inspiring posts:
- 44 of the Best Road Trip Songs
- Best Travel Songs Playlist
- Best Travel Books to Inspire Travel
- 60 of the Best Road Trip Songs to Rock the Long Drive
- 101 Best Travel Quotes in the World with Pictures
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