Movies have the ability to transport you to another world. They entertain you, they educate you, and they can even inspire you. I love it when a film shows me somewhere I’d never seen before, piquing my interest in actually visiting that place someday. Every travel blogger has his or her own “Top 10″ list of the best movies that motivate you to travel, so here’s mine. Of course, some of these are obvious choices and others may seem a little random. All I know is that when I watched each of these movies, I wanted to visit their locations myself. So, in no particular order, here are my favorites:
10. Under the Tuscan Sun - (Italy) Based on book of the same name, this film starring Diane Lane is set in the gorgeous pastoral region of Tuscany, in central Italy. After leaving her unfaithful husband, Lane’s character travels to Italy and spontaneously decides to purchase and refurbish a dilapidated villa. She’s hoping this project will help keep her mind occupied so she can forget about her problems. Of course, in the end she finds new romance. The movie does an amazing job showing off the spectacular scenery, rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany.
9. Lost In Translation – (Japan) Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson experience culture shock in this dramedy set in frenetic and flashy Tokyo. He plays a past-his-prime American film actor, and she’s the neglected young wife of a photographer on assignment in Japan. They become friends after meeting at their hotel’s bar and go off to experience the cultural and language differences of Japan for themselves.
8. Eat Pray Love – (Italy, India, Indonesia) Based on a best-selling memoir, this is the movie that launched a thousand travel blogs. Italy never looked so delicious, India so exotic, and Bali so romantic. The story follows Elizabeth (Julia Roberts) as she journeys through these countries in hopes of finding herself. The beautiful cinematography really makes you want to pack up and go!
7. Entrapment - (Malaysia, Scotland) This heist film helped catapult Catherine Zeta Jones to international stardom. It also prominently featured the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which were (at the time) the tallest buildings in the world. I’d never really thought much about Malaysia before, but after seeing this movie I knew that someday I’d want to visit there. Also starring Sean Connery, much of the movie also takes place at a castle in his native Scotland.
6. Vicky Christina Barcelona - (Spain) Set mostly in Barcelona, this Woody Allen film does a fantastic job of showcasing the beauty of my favorite city in Spain. The characters of Cristina (Scarlett Johannson) and Vicky (Rebecca Hall) are on holiday in Barcelona when they meet a Lothario named Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem. They also visit Oviedo, a picturesque town in the Asturias region of northern Spain. Penélope Cruz co-stars as his spurned ex-wife.
5. Summertime – (Italy) There are a million classic films I could have included on this list, but I chose Summertime, starring Katharine Hepburn. She plays a lonely school teacher who unexpectedly finds romance while on holiday in Venice, Italy. I remember seeing it years ago and being blown away of the beauty of Venice, before it became completely overrun by tourists. In one scene Katharine Hepburn actually falls into one of the canals! Can you imagine that happening nowadays? The movie is really charming and will make you long to visit one of the most romantic cities on earth.
4. Amélie – (France) Speaking of romantic cities, there’s definitely no place like Paris. I can’t think of a better film that captures the magic of the City of Light than Amélie. Known in France as Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (“The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain”) Audrey Tatou plays quirky Amélie, whose extremely active imagination allows her to escape from her dull world. She decides it’s her raison d’être to interfere in other people’s lives in order to make them happier, all the while ignoring the fact that she, herself, is lonely. The film’s beautiful cinematography and visual effects really bring out the splendor of Montmartre and feature many of the iconic sights of Paris.
3. The Beach- (Thailand) Shot mostly on remote Phi Phi Le Island in southern Thailand, this movie was a real eye-opener for many people who never imagined that country’s beautiful beaches. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an adventurous American backpacker who hears of a secret island that’s supposedly paradise. Although this isn’t the best movie by any means, it does a great job inspiring travelers to want to experience someplace exotic. I know I really want to go there someday!
2. The Talented Mr. Ripley – (Italy) Few many movies have made Italy look as fashionable and stunningly beautiful—from The Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) of Rome to the spectacular island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples. This psychological thriller, set in the 1960s, features an all-star cast including Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cate Blanchett.
1. National Lampoon’s European Vacation - (England, Germany, France, Italy) I used to watch this movie over and over again when I was a kid, memorizing the lines. In this sequel to Vacation, the Griswold family wins a trip to Europe on a game show and, of course, chaos ensues. Who could forget when their car gets stuck in the roundabout in London (“Look kids—Big Ben, Parliament!”) Or when they visit their long-lost German relatives, but mistakenly enter the wrong house. Or when they ask a Parisian stranger to take their photo and he tells them to get into a fountain…and then runs off with their camera. This movie is packed with laughs and makes me want to jet off to Europe right now.
So, what do you think of my list? What are your favorite travel-inspiring films? Feel free to comment in the section below. Also, all of these films are available for sale through amazon.com by clicking the “Store” link above too!
Michael Figueiredo is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not gallivanting around the world, he’s enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and perfect weather of Southern California. So far he’s visited forty countries and territories on five continents. His goal is to see at least one new country every year! . Read more from this author