The best travel movies have the ability to shift our mindset, give us permission to dream bigger and inspire our wanderlust for adventure. For me, watching movies about travel is the next best thing to actually travelling.
Travel movies can do more than inspire, they can also inform. The best movies on travel open our eyes to different cultures, alternative life paths that challenge society’s accepted norms and status quo. I didn’t know the Camino de Santiago existed until I watched The Way (2010). Now it’s on my bucket list. Watching Brooklyn (2015) helped me understand that even though moving abroad is painful, the payoff is worth it.
I’m a cinephile and a travel lover and every week (literally) I watch new and favourite world travel movies. I know my stuff. These movies will inspire you to hike that mountain, kiss the beautiful French girl, jump on the Vespa… Whatever you want to do! No matter your age or social background, travel is for you. And sometimes we just need wanderlust-inspiring movies to show us how.
So, enjoy this travel movies list full of hiking, road-tripping, comedic, romantic and adventurous films set around the world. And then watch them!
Best Travel Movies That Will Make You WANT to Travel
1. 2 Days in Paris (2007)
Director: Julie Delpy Languages: English, French Run time: 101m 88% Rotten Tomatoes
Cultures clash in Julie Delpy’s exploration of a romantic relationship on the brink of ruin. American Jack and French Marion hope to solve their communication issues by returning to Marion’s hometown of Paris, France and visiting her parents for a weekend. Hence 2 Days in Paris. It’s an existential travel comedy that is less in-your-face, American-style comedy and more cocksure French comedy.
2. A Bigger Splash (2015)
Director: Luca Guadagnino Languages: English, Italian, French Run time: 124m 90% Rotten Tomatoes
Ever wondered what Tilda Swinton would look like as a David Bowie-esque performer? Wonder no more as that’s exactly what she stars as in Guadagnino’s erotic thriller A Bigger Splash. Pal Ralph Fiennes and estranged daughter Dakota Johnson crash her and her partner Mattias Schoenart’s respite on the island of Pantelleria, Sicily. The raw volcanic landscape and pool vibes would make this a dreamy holiday flick if it weren’t for the matter of murder…
3. A Good Year (2006)
Director: Ridley Scott Languages: English, French, Russian Run time: 118m 25% Rotten Tomatoes
So it’s not one of the best films, but it’s one of the best travel films if you love French countryside/chateaus and wine. And who doesn’t, right?! I love A Good Year regardless. Russell Crowe’s English financier is having a midlife crisis when he inherits a vineyard in Provence, France from a recently deceased relative. Now, where can I get me a rich elderly relative with a holiday home in Tuscany?
4. A United Kingdom (2016)
Director: Amma Asante Languages: English, Tswana Run time: 111m 84% Rotten Tomatoes
A lot of the top travel movies star primarily privileged white people. I’m not getting on my soapbox. Just take a quick look down this list and you’ll see, they generally all feature white people on an internal and physical journey. So, I love it when a travel movie breaks the mould! Based on a true story, Seretse Khama is the heir to the throne in Bechuanaland (later Botswana) who falls in love with a white English lady in London. A United Kingdom is a story of prejudice, identity and gorgeous Bostwana landscapes.
5. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Director: Stephan Elliot Language: English Run time: 103m 96% Rotten Tomatoes
One of the best LBGTQ+ travel movies, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is the story of three drag performers travelling from Sydney to Alice Springs in Australia for a show. Along the way, there are tensions with the locals, tensions between the travellers and tensions within themselves. There’s nothing like a physical journey to trigger an internal one! Plus, epic costumes with many, many feathers.
6. The Beach (2000)
Director: Danny Boyle Language: English Run time: 119m 20% Rotten Tomatoes
Read more: The Beach Filming Locations in Thailand
This is not one of the best travel movies, I’ll admit that, but it’s a fan favourite and one of my guilty pleasures. The Beach follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s American tourist in search of a secluded island in Thailand with promises of paradise. And when he finds that island, things are not as he thought they would be. Sometimes travel might not turn out as you expected, but there are still lessons to be learned from every experience.
7. Before Trilogy (1995, 2004 & 2013)
Director: Richard Linklater Language: English Run times: 101m, 80m, 109m 95-100% Rotten Tomatoes
Hands down, three of the best travelling movies. In my humble opinion. The Before trilogy consists of Before Sunrise (1995) set in Vienna, Austria, Before Sunset (2004) set in Paris, France and Before Midnight (2013) set in Greece. Each film documents how American Jesse and French Celine’s relationship develops in nine-year intervals. With beautiful European backdrops! The dialogue is incredibly articulate and relatable and there’s no way you won’t fantasise about falling in love with someone you meet on a train after watching these movies.
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) & The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
Director: John Madden Language: English Run times: 124m, 122m 65-78% Rotten Tomatoes
I love travel films that prove that you can travel and find adventure at any age! The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and it’s sequel follow a group of Brits that plan to retire in Ravla Khempur near Udaipur in India where there is a low cost of living. They think they’ve found an amazing deal, but once the oldies arrive at the hotel it’s a little worse for wear. Featuring some of the best British actors, the OAPs in this movie make lemonade out of life’s lemons.
9. Brooklyn (2015)
Director: John Crowley Language: English Run time: 112m 97% Rotten Tomatoes
Armed with everything she owns in one suitcase, sweet Eilis boards a ferry to Brooklyn, New York leaving her hometown of Enniscorthy in Ireland behind. Brooklyn faithfully interprets the feeling and challenges of belonging to two places. There’s the place where you grew up, where your friends and family are and your culture, and the second place where you find belonging and purpose. Just an incredibly beautiful film and surely one of the best travel movies of all time.
10. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Director: Luca Guadagnino Languages: English, Italian, French Run time: 132m 94% Rotten Tomatoes
One of my favourite travel romance movies, actually one of my favourite movies of all time, is Call Me By Your Name. It follows the summer romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Grad student Oliver who joins Elio’s academic family at their villa in Lombardy, Italy. You can feel the tepid water of their daily swims on your skin, taste the juicy apricots that grow in the garden and hear the upbeat 1980s pop music. Is there anything more idyllic than an endless summer?
11. Chalet Girl (2011)
Director: Phil Traill Languages: English, German Run time: 96m 77% Rotten Tomatoes
If you’ve ever thought about seasonal work abroad, Chalet Girl is one of the best travel movies for you! Felicity Jones plays Kim, a former skateboarding star who works a ski season at a luxury ski resort in Tyrol, Austria where she discovers her knack for snowboarding. For a teen-focused, light-hearted drama, Chalet Girl is surprisingly watchable and very wanderlust inspiring, especially if you’re a winter-lover.
12. Chasing Liberty (2004)
Director: Andy Kadiff Language: English Run time: 111m 18% Rotten Tomatoes
Speaking of teen-focused, light-hearted dramas… Here’s another one for you! As a woman around the age of 30, I loved the Mary-Kate and Ashely travel movies and Chasing Liberty is of the same ilk. Mandy Moore plays an 18-year-old President’s daughter who gives her security detail the slip while travelling in Prague, Czechia. She then travels onto Venice, Italy and Berlin, Germany with a cute British boy who isn’t all he seems.
13. Cites of Love Series (2006 – 2019)
Creator: Emmanuel Benbihy Languages: Various Run times: 93-120m 8-86% Rotten Tomatoes
The Cities of Love series includes Paris, Je T’aime (2006), New York, I Love You (2008), Tbilisi, I Love You (2014), Rio, I Love You (2014) and Berlin, I Love You (2019). Upcoming cities include Shanghai, Jerusalem, Venice, Delhi, Marseille and New Orleans. These travel inspiring movies are cinematic love letters to each focus city, with wild variations in the quality. Each film is built up of vignettes with different casts and directors for each section, and they’re a must-watch if you’re visiting any of the cities in the series listed so far!
14. Copenhagen (2014)
Director: Mark Raso Languages: English, Danish Run time: 98m 88% Rotten Tomatoes
In this movie, a twenty-something Canadian takes a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark (who’d have thunk with a film title like Copenhagen, right?) to track down his Danish Grandfather. He meets a young waitress who essentially becomes his guide and friend. And while the huge age difference between our two leads is unnecessarily gross, it’s a great travel movie that successfully intertwines internal and external journeys.
15. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Director: John M. Chu Language: English Run time: 121m 91% Rotten Tomatoes
Getting rich and moving to Singapore never looked so appealing. When working-class student Rachel is invited to a wedding with her Singaporean boyfriend back in his home country, she learns he is crazy rich as well as being crazy gorgeous. Crazy Rich Asians is one of my favourite comedy travel movies and I have a very strong urge to watch it right now.
16. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Director: Wes Anderson Language: English Run time: 98m 69% Rotten Tomatoes
The Darjeeling Limited is one of the best travel films set on a train and it’s steeped in travel-related irony. After the death of their father, three estranged brothers travel through Jodhpur, India to visit their mother who is now a Nun. Owen Wilson’s brother is so obsessed with the brothers having a “spiritual” and “healing” journey so much so that he has meticulously planned every detail so that can happen. Like I said: the irony.
17. The Da Vinci Code / Robert Langdon Series (2006, 2009 & 2016)
Director: Ron Howard Language: English Run times: 149m, 138m, 121m 23-37% Rotten Tomatoes
Now, these are guilty-pleasure travel movies. The Da Vinci Code (2006), Angels and Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016) all make up the Robert Langdon series. They star Tom Hanks as everyone’s favourite symbologist thrown into the deep end of religious conspiracy theories taking everything way too seriously. The Da Vinci Code primarily takes place in Paris, France as well as London and Edinburgh, Angels and Demons is set almost entirely in Rome and Inferno hops around Florence, Venice and Istanbul.
18. Easy Rider (1969)
Director: Dennis Hopper Language: English Run time: 96m 83% Rotten Tomatoes
The quintessential American road trip movie. Two hippies successfully complete a drug deal and take their new wealth on the back roads (including the historic Route 66) in search of meaning and truth. In Easy Rider, the pair meet several colourful characters along their journey as they ride through smalltown America to New Orleans, Lousiana.
19. Eat Pray Love (2010)
Director: Ryan Murphy Languages: English, Italian, Portuguese Run time: 133m 36% Rotten Tomatoes
If Easy Rider was the quintessential American road movie, Eay Pray Love is the quintessential “find yourself” movie. Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, she escapes her post-breakup messy New York life for four months in Rome, Italy in pursuit of pleasure, four months at an Ashram in India in pursuit of devotion and four months in Bali, Indonesia pursuing balance.
20. The English Patient (1996)
Director: Anthony Minghella Languages: English, German, Italian, Arabic Run time: 162m 85% Rotten Tomatoes
On the surface, The English Patient doesn’t appear to be one of the best wanderlust movies out there. However, it’s still a story of adventure, loss and heartache that spans continents so it still seems fitting. Primarily told in flashbacks, this WWII Oscar-winning drama takes place in a monastery in Tuscany, Italy and the Sahara Desert in Africa.
21. Edie (2017)
Director: Simon Hunter Language: English Run time: 102m 62% Rotten Tomatoes
Another film demonstrating that you’re never too old, Edie stars Sheila Hancock as the titular character. After her controlling husband passes on, Edie finds her old hiking backpack in the attic which reignites her dream of climbing Suilven, a mountain in Scotland. She ignores her naysaying daughters and finds help in a young guide, proving that listening to your gut and seeking help when you need it is the best way to live.
22. EuroTrip (2004)
Director: Jeff Schaffer Language: English Run time: 92m 47% Rotten Tomatoes
Admit it, who else watched the American Pie movies growing up? EuroTrip is a slightly watered down American Pie that’s set in Europe. Four teens take a trip around Europe the summer before college to see the sights and so one of them can meet up with his attractive German pen pal. They travel to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Bratislava, Berlin and Rome. If you’re planning a European interrail trip, this is one of the best travel inspiration movies you could watch.
23. Falling Inn Love (2019)
Director: Roger Kumble Language: English Run time: 98m 65% Rotten Tomatoes
This is one of the best travelling movies on Netflix, for sure! Though if you loath Hallmark-style movies, then Falling Inn Love may not be your cup of tea. Christina Milian plays a high-powered San Francisco career woman who unexpectantly wins an Inn somewhere in the countryside outside of Auckland, New Zealand. She, of course, meets a cute local who helps her renovate her dilapidated B&B. One of the best travel movies on Netflix to melt your cold, northern hemisphere heart.
24. Forrest Gump (1994)
Director: Robert Zemeckis Language: English Run time: 142m 71% Rotten Tomatoes
The unbelievable life of Forrest Gump has become one of the best adventure travel movies without meaning to be. Forrest (played by Tom Hanks) didn’t have a lot going for him as a youngster, but his heart of gold and lack of shame got him far in life. Literally. The most wanderlust-inspiring part of this Oscar-winning epic is Forrest’s multi-year run around the USA from Alabama, through Mississippi, to Santa Monica Pier in California and even Monument Valley. Want to travel more? If we’ve learnt anything from the great Sage Forrest Gump, just go!
25. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Director: Wes Anderson Language: English Run time: 100m 92% Rotten Tomatoes
This is the first film on this best travel movies list set in a fictional location, and it won’t be the last. And doesn’t mean it’s any less wanderlust-inspiring. The titular ski resort in The Grand Budapest Hotel is located in Zubrowka where the concierge Gustav H. is framed for murdering one of his guests. It’s the 1930s and a turbulent time, so he befriends the new lobby boy to help clear his name. One of the best adventure travel movies if you like swanky hotels and pastel-coloured European architecture. Oh, and most of the film was shot in Görlitz, Germany if you want to visit the real place.
26. Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
Director: Peter Chelsom Language: English Run time: 120m 37% Rotten Tomatoes
Though quite a contrived, simplistic film which doesn’t offer a profound solution, Hector and the Search for Happiness might just be the catalyst you need to put yourself first and find what makes you happy. Starring Simon Pegg as a psychiatrist, he leaves his girlfriend behind to travel the world and find happiness. He visits Tibet, Shanghai, South Africa and California.
27. Hideous Kinky (1998)
Director: Gillies MacKinnon Languages: English, French, Arabic Run time: 98m 65% Rotten Tomatoes
Hideous Kinky is something of a hidden gem, and there was another film released in 1998 starring Kate Winslet which overshadowed this one slightly. She plays a recently divorced young mother with two children living in Marrakech, Morocco. Though they are struggling to make ends meet, the kindness of their community helps them pull through.
28. The Holiday (2003)
Director: Nancy Meyers Language: English Run time: 136m 50% Rotten Tomatoes
One of the best travel movies to watch around Christmastime, The Holiday stars Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz as unhappy single women who seek a change of scenery for the holidays. After listing their homes in Surrey, England and Los Angeles on a Home Exchange website, they swap houses and lives for the holidays. Now for a serious question. Would you rather live in a quaint cottage in Surrey or a mega-mansion in LA?
29. Holiday In The Wild (2019)
Director: Ernie Barbarash Language: English Run time: 86m 38% Rotten Tomatoes
Looking for Christmas/holiday-themed travel movies on Netflix? Luckily, there is one that fits the bill! Holiday in the Wild follows a recently-divorced, middle-aged woman who travels to South Africa on Safari. There, she succeeds in rescuing a baby elephant and falls in love with her new lifestyle. That’s the dream, right? To travel somewhere that you love so much and aligns with your values so well that you never want to leave!
30. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Director: Taika Waititi Language: English Run time: 101m 97% Rotten Tomatoes
Trees. Birds. Rivers. Sky. Running with my Uncle Hec. Living forever. The haiku that Ricky Baker wrote in Hunt for the Wilderpeople basically sums up the whole film in those three lines. 13-year-old Ricky and his foster father (played by Sam Neill) accidentally become the targets of a manhunt in the Central Plateau and Waitākere Ranges in New Zealand. It’s hilarious, one of the best travel comedy movies and adventure films. I LOVE unlikely pairings. I’d recommend it to anyone.
31. In Bruges (2008)
Director: Martin McDonagh Language: English Run time: 107m 84% Rotten Tomatoes
This highly quotable, black comedy is set in the very unlikely medieval city of Bruges, Belgium. Two Irish hitmen are sent to hide out and enjoy the sights after a job gone wrong. One is happy for the break, the other is not effing happy at all. In Bruges is one part-travelogue and one part-crime film. It’s unlike any other movie I’ve ever seen. If you don’t like romantic, wistful travel movies, this film is for you.
32. If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)
Director: Mel Stuart Language: 99m Run time: 99m 60% Rotten Tomatoes
COMING SOON: Films set in Belgium to Inspire you to Visit
Isn’t it so weird to think that this is how many Americans used to take a trip around Europe? Travelling by bus to five main cities then flying back home? Wild! If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium creates a comedy out of the type of characters you’d expect on a coach trip like that. And their charming, scammy tour guide, of course. The group visits London, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brussels and Bastogne in Belgium, a boat trip from Koblenz to Wiesbaden, Germany and finally Venice and Rome, Italy.
33. The Inbetweeners Movie (2011) & The Inbetweeners 2 (2014)
Directors: Ben Palmer, Damon Beesley, Iain Morris Language: English Run times: 97m, 96m 53-68% Rotten Tomatoes
The Inbetweeners TV show was a HUGE hit in the UK, it’s no wonder that two equally-successful films followed. The Inbetweeners Movie is the lesser of the two, following the four lads as they head to Crete on a typical lads package holiday. But The Inbetweeners 2 is my personal favourite, as Simon, Neil and Will travel to Australia to surprise Jay on his working holiday there. Hilarious, entertaining and brilliant at poking fun at gap year stereotypes.
34. Indiana Jones Series (1981, 1984, 1989 & 2008)
Director: Steven Spielberg Languages: English, German Run times: 115-128m 78-95% Rotten Tomatoes
You knew this entry was coming. These are the best travel adventure movies, hands down. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (2008) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) make up one heck of a film series. Harrison Ford plays the titular whip-cracking archaeologist as his vocation takes him to Peru, India, Venice, Berlin and so many other places in the USA and around the world.
35. Into The Wild (2007)
Director: Sean Penn Language: English Run time: 83m 83% Rotten Tomatoes
Into The Wild is a travel movie based on a true story of Christopher McCandless. He was a well-off college graduate who decided to leave his cushy life behind without telling his family. He donates and burns his money to live on the road and off the land throughout the USA and Mexico with his sights set on Alaska. The film asks viewers to reach their own conclusions regarding Chris’ actions. Was he a selfish, arrogant man with no care for his family or others less fortunate, or was he a courageous free-thinker who dared to challenge the status quo?
36. Italian For Beginners (2000)
Director: Lone Scherfig Languages: Danish, Italian, English Run time: 118m 88% Rotten Tomatoes
Italian For Beginners proves that you don’t have to leave your hometown to experience another culture and meet interesting, like-minded people. Six people living in Copenhagen, all at personal crossroads, sign up for Italian lessons to fill the void in their unhappy lives. They each take steps to work out their issues and take a group trip to Venice, Italy to try out their new language skills.
37. Julie and Julia (2009)
Director: Nora Ephron Language: English Run time: 123m 77% Rotten Tomatoes
The film Julie and Julia tells the story of two women living in two separate eras and two separate countries. The first is famous chef and cookbook writer Julia Childs (played by Meryl Streep) as she attempts to bring French cooking to the American masses from her kitchen in Paris, France. Julie is a stuck-in-a-rut New Yorker who starts a blog to document on her personal challenge to cook everything in Julia’s seminal cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” A wanderlust movie about travelling through your tastebuds!
38. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Director: David Lean Language: English Run time: 227m 97% Rotten Tomatoes
Though the eye-wateringly long run time would put some people off, Lawrence of Arabia is a classic film that documents a long, perilous journey and a clash of cultures. Based on a memoir, the film follows an army lieutenant tasked with communicating with the Bedouin tribes in North Africa so they can join forces in their fights against the Turks. Cinematic, intrepid and impressive.
39. Last Holiday (2006)
Director: Wayne Wang Language: English Run time: 112m 56% Rotten Tomatoes
What would you do if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had weeks to live? Georgia Byrd in Last Holiday had to answer this question. She decides to spend every last cent she has on a luxury trip to Europe, specifically a lavish hotel in Karlovy Vary, Czechia. It’s an endearing, light-hearted film (given the subject matter) about not delaying your life until it’s too late.
40. Letters to Juliet (2010)
Director: Gary Winick Languages: English, Italian Run time: 105m 42% Rotten Tomatoes
Letters to Juliet is about a wannabe writer who takes a pre-wedding trip with her fiancé to Verona, Italy. After finding a 50-year-old love letter, she helps reunite an English woman with her Italian boyfriend that she loved when they were teenagers in Tuscany. This is one of the best travel movies for you soppy romantic types out there. And did you know you can actually volunteer to be a secretary of Juliet for a week or so? Yup, it’s a real thing!
41. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris Language: English Run time: 102m 91% Rotten Tomatoes
Are you a winner? You’d have to be if you’re part of the Hoover family where losing is not an option. When young Olive is accepted into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant in Redondo Beach, California, the whole dysfunctional family packs up their beat-up yellow VW van in Albuquerque, New Mexico and hits the road. One of the best trip movies where you’ll learn that being yourself and losing is much better than fitting in and winning.
42. Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (2013)
Directors: David Trueba Language: Spanish Run time: 105m 94% Rotten Tomatoes
America seems to get all the best road movies, but Living is Easy with Eyes Closed proves Spain ain’t a bad country for a road trip, either. Set in the 1960s, an unremarkable teacher decides to travel from Madrid to Almería so he can meet his hero, John Lennon. Of course, we know that half the fun is getting there and the journey is often more important than the destination.
43. The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
Director: Jim Fall Languages: English, Italian Run time: 94m 41% Rotten Tomatoes
Joining a school trip to Rome, meeting a cute Italian pop star and performing live on stage? This is what dreams are made of. And it’s also exactly what happens to Lizzie in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, the film based on the hit Disney Channel TV show. You might not love this travel movie if you weren’t 10-years-old in 2003, but I love all the nostalgia feels.
44. The Lord of the Rings Series (2001, 2002 & 2003)
Director: Peter Jackson Language: English Run time: 178m, 179m, 201m 91-95% Rotten Tomatoes
C’mon, we all know and love this film series. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) are modern classics and brilliant adventure movies. Set all around Middle Earth and filmed in New Zealand, throwing the ring into the fires of Mount Doom may have saved man (or hobbit)kind, but the journey changed the young hobbits for the better. We can only hope travel does the same for us!
45. Lost in Translation (2003)
Director: Sofia Coppola Language: English Run time: 102m 95% Rotten Tomatoes
A sell-out, ageing movie star and an unhappily married 20-something form an unlikely friendship whilst staying in the same hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Lost in Translation eases the pain that any solo traveller knows all too well of finding friendship or simply someone to talk to on the road. All it takes is one kind smile and suddenly you’re running around Tokyo performing karaoke, eating sushi and drinking cheap whisky.
46. Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Director: Mira Nair Languages: Hindi, English Run time: 113m 95% Rotten Tomatoes
Monsoon Wedding might not be a travel movie in the strictest sense, but it’s about the clashing of cultures and traditional values wrestling with modern sensibilities. Set in New Delhi, India during monsoon season, Aditi is promised to a young man whose family live in Texas. It’s their arranged marriage and lavish wedding that forms the main setting for the film.
47. Mamma Mia! (2008) & Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
Directors: Phyllida Lloyd, Ol Parker Language: English Run times: 108m, 114m 55-79% Rotten Tomatoes
Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) are two of the most joyous films I have ever seen and the world would be a brighter place if they were compulsory viewing. The first film stars Meryl Streep as Donna, a single mother running a rundown B&B in Greece trying to plan her 20-year-old daughter’s wedding. Little does she know Sophie has invited her three possible fathers to the nuptials… The sequel is half present-day in Greece, half flashback to Donna’s carefree days in Paris, France and Greece. I mentioned they were ABBA musical comedy films too, yes?
48. Midnight in Paris (2011)
Director: Woody Allen Language: English Run time: 94m 93% Rotten Tomatoes
Read next: Midnight in Paris Filming Locations in Paris
Many people would choose 1920s Paris if a time machine allowed them to live in any time period in any city. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. But Owen Wilson’s screenwriter Gil gets to do just that at the stroke of midnight while enjoying a city break in Paris, France. He meets Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein reviews his work-in-progress novel. Midnight in Paris teaches us to live with what we can’t control and change what we can.
49.The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Director: Walter Salles Languages: Spanish, Quechua Run time: 126m 83% Rotten Tomatoes
This biographical film is definitely one of the best travel movies out there. It combines amazing South American locations, a physical and internal journey and using your knowledge/experience/travels for good. The Motorcycle Diaries documents the journey Che Guevara took before his last semester of medical school, one that would ultimately change his viewpoint forever. He travels from Brazil to Peru on a motorcycle, also visiting Argentina and Chile.
50. National Lampoon’s Vacation Film Series (1983, 1985, 1989, 1997 & 2015)
Directors: Various Language: English Run time: 93-99m 13-93% Rotten Tomatoes
Off the back of a first successful film, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) was followed by National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), Vegas Vacation (1997) and Vacation (2015). The movies all follow this basic premise: family embarks on a trip, things go awry. And it’s comedy gold! Most of the films are set across the USA, but European Vacation is set in London, Stonehenge, Paris and Rome. Though they vary in quality, these are some of the best travel comedy movies. And are ideal if you want to watch family travel movies!
51. Night Train to Lisbon (2013)
Director: Bille August Language: English Run time: 111m 41% Rotten Tomatoes
Though it can feel like you’re watching a long, drawn-out obituary, Night Train to Lisbon does have some good qualities if you’re looking for an intellectual film set almost entirely in Lisbon. A teacher from Bern, Switzerland spontaneously hops on a train to Lisbon, Portugal (funny that) after a chance encounter with a woman on a bridge and a book he finds in her coat pocket. His curiosity leads him to have the most meaningful experience he’s had in his entire life. It never hurts to escape the humdrum every now and again.
52. Out Of Africa (1985)
Director: Sydney Pollack Languages: English, Swahili Run time: 161m 59% Rotten Tomatoes
Another sweeping travel romance drama in the same vein as The English Patient. But instead of Italy and the Sahara, the two countries that feature in Out Of Africa are Denmark and Kenya. Meryl Streep plays a wealthy, upper-class Dane in the 1910s who marries for convenience. She moves to Kenya to run a coffee plantation and there she falls in love with a hunter who enjoys the simple things.
53. Paris Can Wait (2016)
Director: Eleanor Coppola Language: English Run time: 92m 47% Rotten Tomatoes
Paris receives a lot of love in English-language travel films but anywhere else rarely gets a look in. Paris Can Wait highlights how gorgeous the French countryside is featuring Cannes, Vienna, Lyon, Vezelay as well as Paris, France. Diane Lane stars as a woman abandoned in Cannes by her inattentive movie producer husband and is forced to travel with his business partner up to Paris. What should be a 7-hour road trip takes two days as the pair stop to smell the roses, picnic next to lakes and sample local wineries.
54. P.S. I Love You (2007)
Director: Richard LaGravenese Language: English Run time: 125m 25% Rotten Tomatoes
Read more: P.S. I Love You Filming Locations in Ireland
While I don’t understand why people love this film so much, they really, really do. So it had to be featured on the best travel movies list. P.S. I Love You is about a young widow who attempts to rebuild her life with the help of some letters that her late Irish husband left for her. Though the film is primarily set in New York, the young woman visits Ireland both in the present day and via flashback.
55. Roman Holiday (1953)
Director: William Wyler Languages: English, Italian Run time: 118m 97% Rotten Tomatoes
Roman Holiday was one of the first, real wanderlust movies. It featured a charming storyline, an amazing cast and dreamy real-life filming locations all around the eternal city. Hollywood movies were largely studio-based before then. Audrey Hepburn stars as a European princess who escapes her palace to experience the “real” Rome, Italy. Gregory Peck is her willing tour guide who is secretly an American journalist hoping for an exclusive. An utterly delightful, timeless classic film proving it’s possible to have a lot of fun in Rome with just one day.
56. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Director: Ben Stiller Language: English Run time: 114m 51% Rotten Tomatoes
Sometimes you need a push to seek adventure, like Walter Mitty, but it’s always worth it when you do. In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a search for a lost file negative takes the titular protagonist on a quest through Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas. It’s one of the best adventure travel movies from recent years, and anyone who has worked in an office can relate to Walter’s proclivity for daydreaming.
57. Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud Languages: English, German, Nepali & More Run time: 136m 60% Rotten Tomatoes
Brad Pitt’s dodgy accent aside, Seven Years in Tibet is a story of perseverance and resistance in the face of adversity. Before China occupied Tibet, an Austrian climber began ascending a mountain in the Himalayas only to be interrupted by WWII. His displacement in Tibet allowed him to meet the Dalai Lama and gain perspective by being immersed in another culture for so long.
58. Sideways (2004)
Director: Alexander Payne Language: English Run time: 127m 97% Rotten Tomatoes
Who says you need to travel abroad to satiate your wanderlust? A quick trip across the country is sometimes all the respite you need! In Sideways, a writer takes his engaged best friend on a trip to California’s wine country for a pre-wedding getaway. There, they drink lots of good wine, see some incredible scenery and get into trouble with women.
59. The Spanish Apartment (2003)
Director: Cédric Klapisch Languages: French, Spanish, English & More Run time: 122m 76% Rotten Tomatoes
A truly international film, and a must-watch for any exchange student studying abroad. The Spanish Apartment focuses on a flat full of international students studying in Barcelona, Spain. Being away from home gives the students mental space to think about what they really want from life and whether certain partners/relationships are right for them.
60. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Director: Jon Watts Language: English Run time: 129m 91% Rotten Tomatoes
National Lampoon’s European Vacation has already made an appearance on this list, but this is essentially Spider-Man’s European Vacation. Peter Parker gets around a bit in this MCU sequel! Actually titled Spider-Man: Far From Home, our friendly neighbourhood arachnid travels with his classmates to Venice, Austria, Prague, Berlin, Netherlands and finally London on a field trip that’s hijacked by a mysterious, vengeful villain.
61. Summertime (1955)
Director: David Lean Language: English Run time: 100m 88% Rotten Tomatoes
It’s interesting how many “women travel to Italy to escape their desperately lonely lives” films there are. Summertime, starring Katherine Hepburn, is one. She appears as an unmarried secretary from Ohio who embarks on her dream trip to Venice, Italy. She proves that it’s never too late to cross items off your bucket list, even if you wish you’d done it earlier. The past is the past.
62. The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)
Director: Anthony Minghella Language: English Run time: 139m 83% Rotten Tomatoes
There aren’t many wanderlust-inspiring thrillers out there. Probably because the words “wanderlust” and “murder” don’t pair too well together. But they do in The Talented Mr Ripley where Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley cons and lies his way around the Italian islands, Rome and Venice. This is the third film in a row that mentions Venice! Best book a trip there sharpish. I hear it’s sinking, too.
63. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Director: Ridley Scott Language: English Run time: 129m 84% Rotten Tomatoes
Thelma & Louise is a badass road trip film filled with such badassery that it practically invented the word. This film shows us just how awesome (and dangerous) it is to travel with our best gal pals. Starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, the pair head off on an innocent fishing trip until one bad night in a bar turns them into wanted women. Suddenly, they’re on the run driving between Arkansas and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA with their sights set on Mexico.
64. To Catch A Thief (1955)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock Languages: English, French Run time: 106m 96% Rotten Tomatoes
Cary Grant and the incomparable Grace Kelly star in Alfred Hitchcock’s crime film about a retired cat burglar who has to clear his name when a copycat starts operating in the area. The film is set in the glamourous South of France, particularly Nice, Monaco and Cannes. To Catch a Thief shows us that… Actually, I’m not sure. That there’s always time for sightseeing even when you’re trying to thwart a thief? Maybe?
65. To Rome With Love (2012)
Director: Woody Allen Languages: English, Italian Run time: 112m 46% Rotten Tomatoes
Read more: To Rome With Love Filming Locations in Rome
Granted, To Rome With Love is not an amazing travel movie, nor is it even the best movie set in Rome, Italy. But it might be the most prolific, featuring hundreds of streets, monuments and fountains in less than two hours. It comprises of four separate narratives featuring characters either living or visiting Rome and their connection with the city.
66. Tracks (2013)
Director: John Curran Language: English Run time: 113m 82% Rotten Tomatoes
Some want to run marathons, others want to sail huge oceans and many of us want to undertake a multi-day hike. I’m in the latter category, but I could never do anything so gruelling as what Robyn Davidson accomplishes in Tracks. Based on a popular memoir, the movie follows Robyn as she treks four camels and one dog across the unforgiving Australian outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean in Western Australia.
67. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Director: Audrey Wells Language: English Run time: 113m 62% Rotten Tomatoes
Though the movie version of Under the Tuscan Sun is very different from the best-selling book, there’s a lot to love about this travel film. It’s about a newly-divorced American writer who goes on a trip to Italy and spontaneously buys a rundown villa in Tuscany. She has to navigate hiring workers, managing her finances and a new relationship with a handsome Italian man. It highlights the reality (and the huge benefits) of buying property abroad.
68. Up (2009)
Director: Pete Docter Language: English Run time: 96m 98% Rotten Tomatoes
This is the only animation on this list of best travel movies! But a worthy selection. Up is the universally-loved Pixar film about a retired man who finally fulfils a lifelong dream of travelling to South America by tying hundreds of balloons to his house and taking flight in it. Yet another film that insists it’s never too late to travel. Adventure is out there!
69. Up in the Air (2009)
Director: Jason Reitman Language: English Run time: 109m 91% Rotten Tomatoes
One area of travel that doesn’t get a lot of love: business travel. But so many of us have to do it, so why not embrace it and make travelling for work as enjoyable as possible? In Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a “downsizer”, meaning he travels around to different companies firing employees. Some of the places he travels to include Omaha in Nevada, Detroit, Miami, Las Vegas and Wisconsin. The film also tackles the impersonal nature of technology and how face-to-face connections are infinitely better than technological ones.
70. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Director: Woody Allen Languages: English, Spanish Run time: 97m 81% Rotten Tomatoes
Everyone needs rich family friends with a nice house in Barcelona, Spain like Vicky and Cristina. The two women spend a summer in the Catalan capital tasting the local wine, admiring the local art and sampling the local men. With the arrival of Juan Antonio, their summer in Spain suddenly gets a lot more interesting. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a fantastic demonstration of how your holiday-self is unleashed while you’re abroad and caged when you return.
71. The Way (2010)
Director: Emilio Estevez Language: English Run time: 123m 83% Rotten Tomatoes
The title of the film, The Way, refers to The Way of St James or the Camino de Santiago. It’s a pilgrimage through the north of Spain to a city called Santiago de Compostela. Martin Sheen plays an ophthalmologist who learns his son (played by his real-life son Emilio Estevez) died while hiking over the Pyrenees on the Camino, and travels to France to collect his ashes and belongings. He spontaneously decides to walk the Camino in his place. As I said at the top of the post, this film has encouraged me to walk the Camino and all the best travel movies teach you something about the world you didn’t already know!
72. Wild (2014)
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée Language: English Run time: 115m 88% Rotten Tomatoes
Speaking of hiking for a purpose, Wild is a film based on the best selling memoir about a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail from the bottom of California to the top of Washington state. Cheryl Strayed is a newly divorced, ex-junkie who is triggered to hike after the devastating death of her mother. It’s a super encouraging film for solo female travellers and anyone who wants to start over.
73. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Director: Victor Fleming Language: English Run time: 101m 98% Rotten Tomatoes
Wait, The Wizard of Oz?! But it’s not set in a real place and all Dorothy wants to do is go home! How is this one of the best travel movies? Well, it makes sense if you think about it. Dorothy’s end destination might be home, but she goes on quite the adventure to get back there. She meets the locals, learns how to assert herself and acclimatises well in Munchkinland and Emerald City. She’s a traveller through and through and we could all learn something from Dorothy.
74. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón Language: Spanish Run time: 106m 92% Rotten Tomatoes
If you want a travel movie to help you reminisce about your carefree teenage years, Y Tu Mamá También is the perfect film for you. Julio and Tenoch are friends with different socio-economic backgrounds. While attending a family wedding, they manage to convince an older woman to join them on a road trip from Mexico City to a beach in Oaxaca. It’s a trip that changes all three of them forever.
75. Youth (2015)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino Language: English Run time: 124m 71% Rotten Tomatoes
Fred (played by Michael Caine), a retired composer, and Mick (played by Harvey Keitel), an almost-retired screenplay writer, convalesce at a luxury Alpine spa resort in Switzerland. They are best friends who are unable to feel hopeful about their futures as they deal with grief, family dramas and the inevitable indignity of ageing. Youth is a picturesque, quiet film which teaches us that it doesn’t matter where you physically are, your internal problems will follow.
And those are the best travel movies and the best movies to watch while travelling! Have you seen any of these good travel movies? Have they inspired you to visit somewhere? Let me know in the comments below!