Whatever the reason you are staying at home, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to travel – in fact, you can travel to places you might only dream about through movies, documentaries and TV programmes!
We will all be armchair travellers at some point in our lives. Whether that’s because we want to get travel inspiration, we are saving up for our next adventure or after a skiing accident means you can’t walk for three months (yep, that happened to me).
In this guide I have compiled some must see travel movies for every type of traveller. So fire up your Netflix, Amazon Prime or DVD player (if you still have one!) and start travelling from the comfort of your living room (glass of wine and popcorn recommended!)
1) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (India)
I had to begin this list with the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel because quite frankly it’s not just one of my favourite travel movies, but it’s one of my favourite movies of all time! This lighthearted story of retired British couples heading to India for what they anticipate to be a luxurious holiday find themselves in a rundown hotel run by Dev Patel.
The movie has a great cast including Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Judi Dench. This is such a feel-good movie about finding yourself and happiness at any age and in any place.
2) Casablanca (Morocco)
Despite spending over three months in Morocco over the years, and hosting several of our women’s group trips in the country, I somehow have missed out on visiting Casablanca, the setting for one of the most famous travel movies of all time.
Casablanca is set in WWII and tells the story of a nightclub owner, played by Humphrey Bogart, in Casablanca who agrees to help his former lover and her husband to get out of the country. A must watch love story for any travel fanatic!
3) The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (Iceland and USA)
Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, is a bored employee at Life magazine whose job is to develop photos for the publication. In order to escape his boredom, Walter creates daydreams in which he is the hero, until one day he finally gets the opportunity to go on a real adventure when the magazine’s new owners send him to find the perfect photo for the final print issue.
In this movie, you will get to go on an adventure with Walter to Iceland where he longboards his way around. If reading is more your style, you can also read the book and then compare it to the movie adaptation!
4) Eat Pray Love (Bali, Italy, India)
Don’t hate me, but I am not the biggest fan of this movie or the book, but I do appreciate that many other people absolutely love this story from Elizabeth Gilbert! Newly divorced she sets out on a path of self-discovery that sees her travel three countries Bali, India and Italy to find herself.
5) Wild (California)
Based on a true story, Wild is the story of Cheryl Strayed played by Reese Witherspoon who recently lost her mother and her marriage. After falling into a downward spiral she decides to put her life back together again and embarks on a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the country’s longest and toughest through-trails.
With no prior experience and a heavy backpack, this is a powerful story of one woman’s grit and determination which will leave you feeling inspired.
6) Seven Years In Tibet (Tibet)
Brad Pitt. Need I say more? Seriously, it’s about travel and it has Brad Pitt in it – do you really need me to provide a synopsis for this one?! But really, this is actually a serious movie and is based on the true story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountaineer on a trip in the Himalayan mountains.
Set at the beginning of World War 2 (1939), the group gets arrested by Indian forces and put in a prisoner of war camp and the movie shares their escape and subsequent travel across Tibet. If you haven’t seen this one you need to add it to your list today!
7) Out Of Africa (Kenya)
Out of Africa is a 1985 American epic romantic film directed by Sydney Pollack. The movie stars Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and is loosely based on the autobiographical book by Isak Dinesen.
The story is of an aristocratic woman moves to Africa with her husband, after discovering his infidelity she forms a friendship and feelings for a big game hunter. Filmed partly on location in Kenya you will be transported to the African plains as you follow this love story.
8) Lost In Translation (Japan)
This one didn’t do it for me and was quite literally ‘lost in translation’, but it launched the career of Scarlett Johansson and became a cult classic. If you love Sophia Coppola then you will likely enjoy this movie, which tells the story of a friendship formed between two Americans in Tokyo.
Set against a neon backdrop of this bustling city you will enjoy travelling with this pair as they make their way around the city.
9) The Beach (Thailand)
Released in 2000, The Beach was a cult film based on the book by Alex Garland. I read this book at university and immediately saw the movie when it made the big screen.
Set in Thailand, this is a story of a backpacker Richard (a young Leonardo DiCaprio) who finds his way to a secret island using a map given to him by a man who kills himself at his hostel. Richard recruits a French couple and together they adventure to the island in search of paradise – which they find in the shape of the famous Kho Phi Phi Leh which formed the backdrop for this movie.
Recently the beach itself and lagoon have closed to travellers due to the damage from over-tourism, so watching this movie is the only way to truly experience the magic of this beautiful part of Thailand.
10) Into The Wild (Alaska)
Perfect for adventurous souls who are dreaming of mountainscapes, this movie is set in the Alaskan wilderness recounting the true story of Christopher “Alexander Supertramp” McCandless’s disappearance and demise.
Christopher is the son of wealthy parents, a graduate of Emory University and expected to move onto a prestigious and profitable career, but instead, he decided to give away all his possessions and set out on a journey of discovery in Alaska.
11) Catch Me If You Can (The World)
A must-see for any travel lover, Catch Me If You Can portrays the incredible true story of Frank Abagnale played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a teenage con artist who famously impersonated a Pan Am pilot.
The movie trails Abagnale as he pulls off elaborate schemes to evade the feds. Expect plenty of vintage air travel, an excellent performance by DiCaprio and edge of the seat action as he tries to shake off FBI Agent Carl Hanratty played by Tom Hanks.
12) The Bucket List (The World)
I would watch anything that paired these two actors! Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman come together to play strangers that meet in the hospital.
One a billionaire and one a car mechanic, their lives are completely opposite but they have some things in common – one of them being a desire to complete their bucket lists before they die. Against medical advice, they leave the hospital to embark on the adventure of a lifetime ticking off all those things to do before you die!
13) Midnight In Paris (France)
Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender screenwriter and aspiring novelist who is vacationing in Paris with his fiance. One night he decides to tour the city, and on one of the evenings happens across a group of revelers who take him along with them, apparently back in time.
Pender finds himself amongst some of the icons of the Jazz Age and cannot resist going back for more the next evening. The more time he spends in the past, the more dissatisfied he becomes with the present.
14) Under The Tuscan Sun (Italy)
The story of a woman who after discovering her husband is cheating on her decides to pack up and take a trip to Italy. Taken in by the romance of Italy, she purchases a villa in Tuscany. The story follows as she renovates the building and adventures along the Amalfi coast showing us why this part of Italy is so popular with tourists!
Set at the time the world is on the brink of World War II, Australia sees Lady Sarah Ashley (played by Nicole Kidman) travel from Britain to Australia to inspect a cattle ranch she has inherited. Here she meets a rugged Hugh Jackman who plays Drover and they set out together on a cattle drive across hundreds of miles of the Australian outback to save her ranch.
By the time they reach Darwin they are met by the same Japanese bombers that just bombed Pearl Harbor. This movie is an epic love story portrayed in the harsh wild of Australia and a masterpiece by Baz Luhrmann.
16) Madagascar (Africa)
This counts right? The story of a group of zoo animals who are the main attraction in New York central park zoo.
Not content life in the zoo, Marty the zebra decides to escape with the help of some penguins. His friends follow him and try to encourage him to come back following him to Grand Central Station. Of course, at this point, the human’s step in a tranquilize them before sending them off to Africa to be released under pressure from animal rights groups.
Along the way, things go wrong and the group ends up in Madagascar and from here they find themselves sharing the island with a group of lemurs, and most famously King Julian. This is a movie for all ages and a hilarious way to see Madagascar from the comfort of your home!
17) Moulin Rouge (Paris, France)
One of my favourite movies of all time and a classic love story, Moulin Rouge is set in Paris in 1899. The heroines are played by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, and whilst the director Baz Luhrmann includes some fantasy into this movie you truly feel transported back in time to a golden era of the Moulin Rouge.
This classic film ignites the senses with colour, music, and tragedy and is a must watch from me!
18) Tracks (Western Australia)
Set in the 1970’s, Tracks tells the story of Mia Wasikowska who is craving for solitude and decides to embark on a solo trip across the Australian desert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, spanning 1700 miles with 4 camels and her dog.
Along the way she is visited by a national geographic photographer who is tasked with photographing the journey and an indigenous Australian elder. The stunning nature, imagery and portrayal of the Australian desert will have you ready to book a flight down under – although perhaps not to partake in such an epic solo journey!
19) The English Patient (Italy and Egypt)
The English Patient is an adaptation of the booker prize-winning novel by Michael Ondaatje’s. The story is of four patients who are being cared for in an Italian villa and is set in pre-war Egypt and post-war Italy and showcases both countries throughout.
The storyline that emerges is from an English patient who was badly burned falling from a plane into the desert telling his tale to one of the nurses at the villa.
20) The Grand Budapest Hotel (Hungary)
Set in the 1930’s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a beautiful ski resort and the setting for this tale. The story follows the manager of the hotel Gustave H. played by Ralph Fiennes who prides himself on the impeccable service he offers guests, including satisfying the sexual needs of some of the women who are staying at the hotel.
The story becomes a tale of mystery and murder when one of Gustave’s lovers dies mysteriously and inherits a priceless painting landing him as the chief suspect in her murder.
21) The Terminal (JFK Airport)
A story about travel without arriving at the destination.
Eastern European tourist Viktor Navorski (played by Tom Hanks) arrives in JFK airport just as a war breaks out in his country. Caught up in international politics Navorski is not allowed to enter the United States or leave, and has to wait at the airport terminal – indefinitely.
During his time at the terminal, he makes acquaintance with a pretty air stewardess who he falls for and the tale turns into a love story.
22) The Motorcycle Diaries (South America)
The Motorcycle Diaries is a biopic about the journey and the written memoir of medical student 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara, known internationally several years later as Marxist guerrilla leader and revolutionary Che Guevara.
The story is about Guevara’s 8 month journey from Brazil to Peru by motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado, and is a tale of friendship, finding yourself and the people you encounter along the journey all set against the backdrop of beautiful South America.
23) The Darjeeling Limited (India)
Shot mainly in Rajasthan but with a story that takes you through the Himalayas, this tale is about three brothers on a scenic train ride through India.
Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman play the three men who have not spoken to one another in over a year since their father passed away. A beautiful, humorous story of brothers reunited and bonding set against the stunning backdrop of India.
24) Murder on the Orient Express (Europe)
The Orient Express conjures images of luxury train rides, romantic evenings in a private cabin and afternoon tea served overlooking the stunning landscapes the train is traveling through. But in this travel movie, murder is on the cards and the world’s greatest detective Hercule Poirot must uncover the truth.
The original movie was released in 1974 and based the 1934 book by Agatha Christie and was remade in 2017 with director Kenneth Branagh and producers including Ridley Scott.
25) The Talented Mr. Ripley (Italy)
A dramatic thriller starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Matt Damon set against a stunning Italian backdrop. Whilst the film is a little disturbing, the portrayal of Italy in the 1950’s is simply magical.
The storyline takes you from the beautiful beaches of Lazio to opulent hotels in Venice. Positano and various villages around the islands of Ischia and Procida were used to portray the fictional town of Mongibello.
That’s a wrap! I hope that you found this list of movies that will transport you to destinations far and wide inspiring for your own armchair travels.
There are many more films shot in locations around the world so we will keep adding to this list as we watch them, be sure to check back for new movies.
We hope that this article has helped discover your next travel movie to watch. Please share your favourites in the comments below.
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Read More Travel Inspiration and Staycation Ideas
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We Are Travel Girls Founder Becky van Dijk of BeckyvanDijk.com
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