If you’re looking for travel inspiration, the movies featured here will make you want to drop everything and hop on a plane tomorrow.
We sit down (or lie down) and turn on a film. We have drinks and snacks on hand, and we’re as comfortable as be. But something in the film we pick makes us restless. Maybe it’s a shot of a gorgeous mountain vista, a bustling neon city, or an ocean calm at sunrise. Whatever it is, we find ourselves dreaming of travel; perhaps we even pause the movie and begin to search the web for plane tickets. It is rare that a film prompts such a response, but they are out there. And they make us wish we were “out there” too – in the wide world, that is. Here are six lovely films that inspire wanderlust in the audience, and make us want to travel like never before.
6 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Based on a short story by James Thurber, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the quintessential travel movie. What, the film asks, might our lives look like if we left everything behind and went out to see the fullness of the world with our own eyes? We follow Life magazine employee Walter Mitty as he does just this, in what begins as a journey to find the famed photojournalist Sean O’Connell. In trying to find Sean, Mitty finds himself, and explores many of the world’s most beautiful locales in the process. The rugged vistas of Iceland and the Afghan Himalayas are the highlights here.
5 Lost in Translation (2003)
Japan – with its teeming metropolis of Tokyo and its beautiful natural environments – has long been a popular travel destination, but you may find yourself drawn to it in a whole new way after watching Lost in Translation. A film by Sofia Coppola, this quirky, effervescent romance brilliantly captures the nightlife of Tokyo: its karaoke bars and clubs and endless sparkling lights. The anchor of the movie may be the charming connection between Bob (an aging actor) and Charlotte (a young graduate student), but the city is just as easy to love. Far Out Magazine even put together a guide to Tokyo based on the places featured in the film.
4 Before Sunrise (1995)
If you’ve ever found yourself dreaming of a whirlwind European romance, Before Sunrise is the movie for you. This 1995 romance classic from director Richard Linklater has three main characters: Jesse, an American man traveling around Europe; Céline, a French university student; and Vienna, the illustrious capital of Austria. It’s one of those films where the place is just as important as the people. At its core, Before Sunrise is a love letter to those moments of ephemeral happiness that pass quickly and yet can never be forgotten. And what better place to share such moments than in beautiful Vienna, the birthplace of so much music and culture?
3 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lawrence of Arabia is a long, dramatic, and frequently violent picture, but it captures the desert like no other piece of media has ever done. There is hardly another film so rich in wide, gorgeous landscape shots, or so grand in scale. It’s a historical drama, set during the First World War, that chronicles the life and achievements of T.E. Lawrence, a British military officer who aids Arabic forces in their battle against Turkish occupation. But the film’s desert settings are as much the star of the show as Lawrence is. Somehow, across its hulking 227-minute runtime, we never grow tired of sand. Instead, we want to be there, astride a camel as we trek our way across the dunes.
2 The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
If the foggy green climes of Ireland weren’t high on your list of travel destinations, The Banshees of Inisherin is sure to change that. Now, it may not be a happy film, but it is undeniably a beautiful one. Set on the fictional isle of Inisherin (but shot primarily at the real world Achill Island), it tells the story of the falling out of a long-time friendship (via Time Out). Because this is a Martin McDonagh project, you can except healthy doses of black comedy and absurdism throughout. But sometimes, you’ll just want to tune all of that out and focus on the immense natural beauty of its blue hills and rock-strewn shores. Never has a rustic pub or a plain house on the coast looked so appealing.
1 Roman Holiday (1953)
You can think of William Wyler’s Roman Holiday as the precursor to Before Sunrise and every other film like it. It’s a dazzling romantic comedy set in the great ancient metropolis of Rome – which, of course, the title gives away. But what it doesn’t give away is just how magical Rome looks in Wyler’s directorial eye. Maybe it’s the fact that we follow Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck through its winding, busy streets. Or maybe it’s that some things simply look better in black and white. Either way, you’ll be planning a Roman holiday of your own by the time this one is over (if you aren’t already packing your bags).