Ah wanderlust! My familiar friend that spurs on my travel flames and sends me seeking inspiration. The Sunday Specials that I post are one way to find travel inspiration. Another way is through movies set in various distant locales, fanning those flames of wanderlust — even more so during this pandemic. As I watch (and re-watch) movies either about travel or set in world places my mind drifts to those faraway places. Some even inspire future travels (once it’s safe to do so, of course).
I have always loved watching movies, both at the theatre and at home. Below is a list of 50 films/film series that I have watched at one time or another (okay, it’s more then 50 with the series but the Internet likes numbers in titles :p ). These have scenery that has either taken me to a place I have not yet experienced or reminded me of my travels to a particular spot. Some of these are favourite films of mine, while the remainder are on a varying scale of enjoyment (or lack thereof). I still include them as they show off world destinations in some form, regardless of story line. Maybe you’ll like (or hate) them too.
*Movies that are part of a series have been listed together as one entry. Photos from IMDb.
The Way (2010)
Director: Emilio Estevez Stars: Martin Sheen, James Nesbitt
After his son dies on the Camino de Santiago, Tom completes the pilgrimage his son began. Along the way he meets people who help him deal with his loss – whether he wants their help or not. It was filmed in Spain along the historic Camino Frances pilgrim path (the same one I completed in 2019)
The Beach (2000)
Director: Danny Boyle Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio
Based on Alex Garland‘s novel of the same name, it tells of young backpacker Richard during his travels to Thailand. In Bangkok he learns of an island that is a haven for those wanting to escape everyday life, should one ever find it. What he finds is not exactly as it first appeared.
Director: Simon Hunter Stars: Sheila Hannock. Kevin Guthrie
Edie decides to fulfill a lifelong dream and climb Scotland’s Mount Suilven despite the fact that she is 83 years old and has not hiked in years. The stunning views of Scotland’s highlands may inspire you to hike there yourself.
On The Road (2012)
Director: Walter Salles Stars: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund
Based on Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel, which has elements of his own travels across America, the movie follows Sal and his experiences after meeting Dean and Marylou. They travel together in the southwest of the USA during the postwar years and the budding counterculture.
One Week (2008)
Director: Michael McGowan Stars: Joshua Jackson
After learning he has stage 4 cancer, Ben embarks on a one-week motorcycle trip from Toronto to Vancouver Island, upsetting his finance and family in the process. Ben seeks for meaning and understanding while visiting much of Canada’s roadside attractions as part of an escape before facing treatment.
Director: Ben Stiller Stars: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig
Walter is a daydreamer with a vivid imagination, often escaping into his mind where he is a daring and exciting person. When his job at a magazine is at stake he makes a bold move to find one photograph by photographer Sean O’Connell. With incredible views of Iceland, Greenland, and more, this film is an homage to all the dreamers out there.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Director: Ryan Murphy Stars: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem
Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best selling book. Liz ends her unhappy marriage and visits Italy, India, and Indonesia over a year in search of herself . The film wonderfully showcases each destination.
Into the Wild (2007)
Director: Sean Penn Stars: Emile Hirsch
This movie delves into the events surrounding Christopher McCandless’ decision to abandon everything and live in the wilds of Alaska. A beautiful cinematically filmed movie, though the book by John Krakauer gives more insight into this compelling story.
The Motorcycle Diaries
Director: Walter Salles Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna
Chronicles the motorcycle trip that a young Che Guevara took around South America and how it influenced his life. Based on his own memoir regarding the trip, it shows much of South America.
Seven Years in Tibet
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud Stars: Brad Pitt
A true story of Austrian Heinrich Harrer who befriends the Dalai Lama during the time of China’s takeover of Tibet. Based on Harrer’s book of the same name.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Director: Audrey Wells Stars: Diane Lane, Sandra Oh
Loosely based on the memoir by Frances Mayes, we see Frances’ marriage dissolve. At her friend’s urging, she goes to Italy on a tour. In the process she buys a villa in Italy’s stunning Tuscan countryside and starts life anew.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée Stars: Reese Witherspoon
Chronicles Cheryl Strayed’s through-hike along the Pacific Crest Trail after several life-changing events. Based on Strayed’s memoir of the same name, the film shows the natural beauty of Pacific USA.
A United Kingdom (2016)
Director: Amma Asante Stars: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike
Based on actual events and the book Colour Bar by Susan Williams, this film tells of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland and future president of Botswana and his love and marriage to Ruth Williams, a white Brit. Their relationship causes political and social implications during the 1940s.
That Good Night (2017)
Director: Eric Styles Stars: John Hurt
Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region is where former playwright Ralph, who is terminally ill, wishes to reconcile with his son Michael before his life ends. The film is based on the play by NJ Crisp.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Director: Woody Allen Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall
Barcelona is the setting for this story of two friends on holiday who both are smitten by the same man… and then it becomes complicated.
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
Director: Ken Kwapis Stars: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte
Loosely based on Bill Bryson’s book, Bryson and his friend decide to walk the Appalachian Trail in the Eastern USA. Nolte’s performance gives much humour to this lighthearted film.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
Director: John Madden Stars: Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith
Several British retirees make the journey to India to stay at a recently restored hotel only to find that it’s not completely finished. It’s then that the adventures truly begin. Based on the book by Deborah Moggach. The second film continues on with showcasing India and displaying the tales of the hotel residents.
The Bucket List (2007)
Director: Rob Reiner Stars: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman
Edward and Carter meet at the hospital and become friends. They soon decide to stop their treatments and start an adventure around the world to tick off their “bucket list” before they die.
The Climb (L’ascension) (2017)
Director: Ludovic Bernard Stars: Ahmed Sylla
In an effort to impress his long time crush, Samy decides to climb Nepal’s Mount Everest even though he has never done any climbing or hiking. He soon becomes a bit of a media sensation. Based on the French-Algerian Nadir Dendoune‘s own (in)experiences in climbing Everest, as chronicled in his book.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Director: Wes Anderson Stars: Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Own Wilson
The year following their father’s untimely death, three brothers head to India to bond. Of course, nothing goes as planned. A classic Wes Anderson film that takes place through India.
Director: Jeff Schaffer Stars: Scott Mechlowicz, Michelle Tractenberg, Jacob Pitts
After high school graduation Scott is dumped by his girlfriend. As a result he decides to go to Europe with several friends for the summer, where he hopes to meet his pen pal — a beautiful German girl names Mieke.
In Bruges (2008)
Director: Martin McDonagh Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell
After botching their last job, hitmen Ken and Ray are ordered by their boss to lay low in Bruges, Belgium and await further orders. Sightseeing is the last thing on their mind.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Director: Woody Allen Stars: Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams
This whimsical film shows off Paris beautifully as it follows Gil during a trip to the City of Lights and Bridges with his fiancé, where he somehow is transported to 1920s Paris each evening.
Director: Vikas Bahl Stars: Kangana Ranaut
After Rani’s fiancé cancels their wedding only days before it is set to happen, she decides to leave Delhi and go on her European honeymoon on her own. The experiences and friends she makes on her journey are humorous and heartwarming.
Romantic Comedies/ Romance:
Director: Emily Ting Stars: Jamie Chung, Bryan Greenberg
When they meet, the connection between Ruby & Josh is obvious, yet her trip is coming to an end. As they get to know one another they have a decision to make. The additional star in this romance film is Hong Kong itself.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Before Sunset (2004)
Before Midnight (2013)
Director: Richard Linklater Stars: Julie Delphy, Ethan Hawke
This series chronicles the meetings of Celine and Jesse, who meet on a train while travelling Europe and their ensuing relationship to each other. Each film takes place in a separate European destination.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Director: Jon M. Chu Stars: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina
Based on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel, the story tells of Rachel and Nick’s relationship when he takes her home to Singapore and she meets his family.
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan Stars: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs
Successful business woman Stella take a well-deserved vacation to beautiful Jamaica where she meets a much younger Winston who is very taken with her. Through their time together Stella reflects on finding balance in her life.
Last Holiday (2006)
Director: Wayne Wang Stars: Queen Latifah, LL Cool J
Georgia has always been practical yet when she learns she has only 3 weeks to live she decides to head to Central Europe and spend her last days living her life in a posh setting while getting the most out of her time left.
Leap Year (2010)
Director: Anand Tucker Stars: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode
Anna is set to ask her boyfriend Jeremy to marry her on February 29th during their trip to Ireland, as this is an Irish tradition. However, everything goes terribly wrong.
Letters to Juliet (2010)
Director: Gary Winick Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan, Gael García Bernal
When Sophie is visiting Verona, Italy with her boyfriend she comes across the Secretaries of Juliet and helps them answer letters written to Shakespeare’s “Juliet”. One 50-year old letter compels her to find the author and reunite her with her old flame.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
Director: Phyllida Lloyd Stars: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Lily James
This is film version of the hit musical set to music by pop band ABBA. Set on a Greek island, Sophie learns of three men who could be the father she never met so she decides to invite them to her wedding while keeping it from her mother. In the second film Sophie has moved to Greece and learns more of ther mother’s past.
Paris Can Wait (2016)
Director: Eleanor Coppola Stars: Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard
While in the south of France with her producer husband, Anne ends up driving with her husband’s business partner Jacque to Paris, however the trip becomes a road trip through the countryside and has Anne thinking of her life.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008)
Director: Ken Kwapis (2005), Sanaa Hamri (2008)
Stars: Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Amber Tamblin, Alexis Bledel
Four lifelong friends find a pair of jeans that somehow fit all of them. They decide to share the jeans during their first summer apart (and beyond), believing the pants will keep them connected. A young-adult tale of friendship and growing up, it is based on the book series by Ann Brashares.
Under the Eiffel Tower (2018)
Director: Archie Borders Stars: Matt Walsh, Judith Godrèche
After losing his job and then embarrassing himself in front of his friends in Paris, Stuart heads to the French countryside with his new Scottish friend he met that day. Then they meet Louise, a French winery owner.
When In Rome (2010)
Director: Mark Steven Johnson Stars: Kristen Bell
Unlucky in love but highly successful Beth feels she is destined to be alone forever. In her desperation, she steals some coins from a fabled love fountain when she is in Rome for a wedding. Upon her return to New York she is pursued by those who tossed the coins into the fountain.
Food & Drink
A Good Year (2006)
Director: Ridley Scott Stars: Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard
High-powered banker Max inherits his uncle’s vineyard and chateau in the Provence region of France. While trying to sell the property he reminisces about his childhood memories in France and what his uncle meant to him. Based on the novel by Peter Mayle.
Director: Lasse Hallström Stars: Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp
Vianne and her young daughter move to a sleepy and conservative French town and open a chocolate shop yet receives a cold welcome. Nonetheless Vianne perseveres and the townsfolk come around, well most of them. Based on the novel by Joanne Harris.
From the Vine (2019)
Director: Sean Cisterna Stars: Joe Pantoliano
Questioning the actions his career may pose Marco flies to his childhood home in southern Italy to revive his grandfather’s vineyard. There he finds new purpose but can he save his family life at the same time? Based on the novel Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara.
The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)
Director: Lasse Hallström Stars: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri
When the Kadam family open up a restaurant across the street from a Michelin-starred restaurant in a French town, the rivalry is bound to heat up. Can they both make amends and work together? Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais.
Director: Prentice Penny Stars: Mamoudou Athie, Courtney B. Vance
Elijah’s passion is wine and he desires to train as a master sommelier in Paris, yet he has mounting pressure from his father to take over the family’s Memphis BBQ restaurant. The growing tensions in their relationship are exacerbated when tragedy strikes the family.
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Director: Frank Coraci Stars: Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan
Based on Jules Verne‘s classic novel, the film follows Phileas Fogg and his adventuresome valet Passepartout on a world tour to win a bet. Set in a time well before air travel, the prospect of seeing the world in 80 days seems downright quick to them.
Finding ‘Ohana (2021)
Director: Jude Weng Stars: Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono
Unexpectedly having to spend a summer in beautiful Hawaii, two siblings from New York find themselves on an a hunt for a legendary treasure and rediscovering their Hawaiian heritage and what family truly means.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Director: Robert Wise Stars: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer
This classic musical shows off 1930s Austria where struggling nun Maria is hired by widow Von Trapp to act as governess to his large family. The unhappy family is renewed by the arrival of Maria, in more ways than one.
Directors: Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson Stars: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai
Not a typical travel film though this animated feature takes crotchety senior Carl and young adventurous Russell to South America in Carl’s house by way of thousands of balloons. Adventures, friendships, and talking dogs abound.
Thriller/Action Movies Around the World:
*Dan Brown series
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Director: Ron Howard Stars: Tom Hanks
Based on the Dan Brown novels, the films follow noted symbologist Robert Langdon as he races to uncover cryptic clues to solve murders, prevent terror attacks and to stay alive. The unrelated storylines (except for Langdon), take place in various European countries.
James Bond (1962 – 2021)
Directors: Various As James Bond: Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig
From the start, Ian Fleming‘s gentleman spy has travelled worldwide in his covert pursuits of espionage. The James Bond franchise films will take you to pristine beaches to posh casinos to Day of the Dead festivals and more. With 26 films and counting, you can expect more exotic locales to seek out action. The most recent movie is due out later this year (2021).
Jason Bourne (2002 – 2016)
Directors: Doug Liman (1), Paul Greengrass (2,3,5), Tony Gilroy (4)
Stars: Matt Damon (1 – 3, 5), Jeremy Renner (4)
This 5 film series, based on Robert Ludlum‘s books focus on CIA operative Jason Bourne and those seeking to harm him. These are action packed films set in world destinations.
The Old Guard (2020)
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood Stars: Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne
Based on the graphic novel, a team of immortal mercenaries encounter a dangerous situation when their existence may be exposed. Taking place in Africa and Europe, the action is non-stop.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Director: Jon Watts Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal
Peter Parker just wants to go on his class trip to Europe yet Nick Fury needs his help in stopping another threat to the world. Peter wonders if he is up for the task.
There you have it. A list of movies of the world. As I watch more films I will update this list periodically.
Amazing how different my list would be—-shares some similarities with yours, but minimal
Sound of Music and Mamma Mia are in that list- along with tons of other musical movies. Love Disney.
Yes, we all have such different tastes. It’s great that there are so many genres for us to choose from.