Have you ever been inspired to visit a new place just because you saw it in a movie? Movies have a way of bringing the world to our TV sets. They can be inspiring, they can be motivational, and they can make us want to go out and explore the world. Here are 20 of the best travel movies to inspire your wanderlust.
Best Travel Movies
1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I am going to start with our favorite movie on this list. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is brilliant in so many ways.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty | Best Travel Movies
Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) works at Life magazine and his uneventful days are filled with daydreams of heroism and adventure. When a film negative goes missing, Walter has to step outside of his comfort zone and travel to remote locations in search of the negative. His adventure takes him to Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan. This marvelous journey is a life changing experience for Walter, who ends up becoming a more confident person who abandons the daydreams for real-life adventures.
The movie is inspiring, lighthearted, and comedic at times. This performance is one of Ben Stiller’s best, the cinematography is stunning, and the soundtrack is amazing.
2. Into the Wild
Into the Wild is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless. In 1992, McCandless, who just graduated from college, donates his $25,000 in savings to a charity and steps out into the wild. He backpacks his way around the US and ends up in Alaska. Four months after starting this journey, his remains are discovered in Alaska.
Into the Wild | Best Travel Movies
Even though it has a tragic ending, this is an inspiring, thought-provoking story. This is a story about giving up a cushy lifestyle and stepping out into the unknown and being self-reliant.
3. Under the Tuscan Sun
Have you ever traveled to a place and liked it so much you wanted to live there forever? Well, for Frances Mayes (Diane Lane), that is exactly what happens. While on a 10-day trip to Tuscany, Frances impulsively purchases an abandoned villa.
This movie is filled with humor, romance, and plenty of gorgeous vistas of Tuscany. Under the Tuscan Sun will have you packing your bags for Italy.
Under the Tuscan Sun | Best Travel Movies
4. Midnight in Paris
Not only does this movie whisk you away to Paris, but it also travels back in time.
Gil (played by Owen Wilson) is visiting Paris with his fiancée (played by Rachel McAdams) and her parents. He is in the midst of a dilemma about ending his career as a film writer in order to put more time into writing his novel, when, at midnight, he is transported into Paris in the 1920’s. He meets Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gil finds himself at home during this golden age and returns to 1920’s Paris on a nightly basis and this reshapes what he thinks about his marriage and his future.
In Midnight in Paris, be transported back and forth from modern Paris and 1920’s Paris. The cast and the acting is superb and this is a uplifting, entertaining movie.
Midnight in Paris | Best Travel Movies
The first part of the movie, from Kathmandu through the trek to Everest Base Camp, is our favorite part. The actual trail to Base Camp was used in the filming of the movie.
Everest | Best Travel Movies
Lion is an amazing true story about a young Indian boy who gets lost in Calcutta, far from home. He ends up being adopted by a couple in Australia. As an adult, he sets out on a mission to find his family, which is challenging, since he has very few memories of his original home.
This movie takes place in India and Australia. Dev Patel plays Saroo/Sunny Pawar and Nicole Kidman plays the adoptive mother.
It is a miraculous story, from Saroo surviving on the streets of India as a young boy, moving to a very different set of circumstances in Australia, and then finding and reuniting with his family in India.
Lion is one of the best travel movies on this list.
Lion | Best Travel Movies
7. Touching the Void
Touching the Void is a real-life adventure story that takes place in the mountains of Peru. Joe Simpson and Simon Yates are the first people to successfully climb Siula Grande. During their descent, disaster strikes. Simpson falls a short distance, breaking his leg. This is an amazing story of survival and the dangers that go with mountaineering.
Touching the Void | Best Travel Movies
8. The Way
The Way is another one of our favorites on this list. It is a heartwarming, inspiring story that just may have you dreaming of walking the Camino de Santiago.
Tom (Martin Sheen) travels to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the body of his son (Emilio Estevez), who was recently killed in a mountain storm. To honor his son, Tom decides to walk the entire Camino de Santiago. Along the way, he becomes friends with three other travelers, each on this pilgrimage for their own personal reasons.
This is a movie about camaraderie and the self-transformation of travel. For those who are dreaming about walking the Camino de Santiago, this movie is a must-see.
The Way | Best Travel Movies
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Directed by Wes Anderson and starring a long list of big name actors (Jeff Goldblum, William Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, and Edward Norton, just to name a few), The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place inside a famous European hotel between WWI and WWII.
The Grand Budapest Hotel | Best Travel Movies
This comedy has many outrageous plot twists and mysteries. The cinematography is excellet, the cast and acting are top notch, and this is a wonderful, quirky movie.
The town of Görlitz in Saxony, Germany was a filming location for this movie.
10. I Dreamed of Africa
The first time I saw I Dreamed of Africa I was overcome with an overwhelming desire to visit Africa. The cinematography is gorgeous, filled with the amazing landscapes and wildlife of Africa.
Kuki Gallman (Kim Basinger) leaves her luxurious life in Italy for a rugged existence in Kenya. She lives on a ranch with her husband and son, braving storms, poachers, and wild animals. Hers is a story of adventure, beauty, and personal loss. This is a tragic story, one that will leave you heartbroken in the end, but it is one that is filled with the dangers and the beauty of Africa.
I Dreamed of Africa | Best Travel Movies
11. 7 Years in Tibet
This movie is based on the memoir of Austrian alpinist Heinrich Harrer.
In 1939, after a failed attempt to climb Nanda Parbat in the Himalayas, Heinrich (played by Brad Pitt) is taken prisoner at a British detention center. Heinrich escapes and goes on a trek through the Kingdom of Tibet. He ends up in Lhasa where the Tibetans welcome him. Heinrich meets the Dalai Lama, renounces Nazism, and begins to practice Buddhism.
7 Years in Tibet is a movie about a beautiful country and the radical transformation of Heinrich Harrer.
7 Years in Tibet | Best Travel Movies
12. Paris Je T’Aime
Paris Je T’Aime is a collection of 18 short movies that take place in the different arrondissements of Paris. There is an American woman on her first international trip, a young backpacker who falls in love with a vampire, and a tourist who gets involved in a conflict with a young couple in the Tuileries metro station. Some stories are better than others, some are in English, and some are in French with subtitles.
If you have a love affair with Paris like me, you will love this movie.
Paris Je T’aime | Best Travel Movies
13. The Motorcycle Diaries
The Motorcycle Diaries is a true story based on the life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Ernesto and his friend, Alberto Granado, hop on a motorcycle for a road trip through South America.
Filled with mishaps and adventures, it is a life-changing journey as they travel across the continent. As they encounter the social problems and inequalities of South America, Che grows from a naïve young man to the iconic revolutionary we know today.
The Motorcycle Diaries | Best Travel Movies
14. The Bucket List
The Bucket List is about Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) and Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson), two men recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. They meet and become friends while sharing a hospital room. Over the next three months, Carter and Edward share bucket list adventures around the world, including an African safari, trekking to Everest Base Camp, and flying over the North Pole.
The Bucket List | Best Travel Movies
15. The Darjeeling Limited
Directed by Wes Anderson, The Darjeeling Limited is a story about three brothers who are traveling by train through India to find their mother. It’s funny, it’s sad, and it is a beautiful movie with an excellent soundtrack.
Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody are the lead actors and Bill Murray makes a brief appearance.
The Darjeeling Limited | Best Travel Movies
16. National Lampoon’s Vacation
Vacation is the hilarious tale of the Griswold’s road trip across the US. Filled with mishaps and what not to do while on vacation, this movie will have you laughing out loud.
Almost as good is European Vacation, the sequel to Vacation. The Griswold’s win a trip to Europe and leave a trail of destruction through London, Paris, Bavaria, and Rome.
17. A Map for Saturday
What would it be like to travel the world for a year? A Map for Saturday answers this question.
“A Map for Saturday” is a documentary about around the world travel. It is filled with interviews from other backpackers during their journey. From all stages of the trip, from first leaving your home country, to what it is like to backpack across the globe, to what it is like to finally return home, this movie covers it all.
For those with dreams of traveling around the world, this movie is a must-see. “A Map for Saturday” does a great job accurately portraying what it is really like to travel around the world, mirroring our personal experience.
18. Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit Trilogy
To see the gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand, put any of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy or the Hobbit Trilogy movies on your list. With an epic storyline and breathtaking landscapes, the Hobbit Trilogy and the Lord of the Rings each make a great series for movie marathons.
19. Mission: Impossible Series
The Mission: Impossible collection is a series of six movies which star Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. In each movie, Hunt and his team stop an enemy force to prevent a global disaster.
This movie series is filmed in locations around the world, from famous cities to more off the beaten path places.
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol takes place in Budapest, Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Mumbai, India (although Prague and Vancouver were used as the actual filming locations for Moscow and Budapest).
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation takes place in London, Vienna, and Morocco.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 was released in July 2023 and has scenes filmed in Rome, Venice, Abu Dhabi, England, and Norway (the motorcycle stunt was filmed at Helsetkopen Mountain, not far from Geiranger and Ålesund).
20. Planet Earth
Planet Earth is a masterpiece. Witness the amazing diversity of this planet, from the deepest oceans to the highest mountains to the driest deserts. It’s gorgeous, it’s educational, and it’s perfect for all ages.
The Planet Earth Collection | Best Travel Movies
More Great Travel Movies
Here are several more great travel movies that take place around the world.
The Big Year is a funny, inspiring movie about birdwatchers competing to spot the most species of birds in one year. This lighthearted movie stars Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin.
The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, is about an American man on vacation in Venice who meets a mysterious woman and gets tied up in a web of deceit. In this movie, Venice is the main character.
Nomadland is a movie about Fern (Frances McDormand) who leaves conventional life behind, living out of her van as she moves from job to job and place to place across the American Southwest. Badlands National Park, Wall Drug Store, Custer State Park, and Scottsbluff all make appearances in this movie.
Wild is based on a true story about a young woman who walks the Pacific Crest Trail after recovering from a personal tragedy. It is funny, uplifting, and very inspiring. The book is even better than the movie.
Did we miss anything? What do you think are the best travel movies? Comment below!
More Travel Inspiration
TRAVEL BOOKS: Here are 30 great travel books to feed your wanderlust.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
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