I guess it could be argued that any movie with nice scenes and backgrounds could make you think about travel, but the movies to inspire travel and really make you want to pack your bags and head to somewhere specific are a special breed. They don’t go so far as making you look at the scenery instead of concentrating on the plot (although in some cases the views are better than the story), but they leave a lasting impression of a place that makes you want to put it on your vacation wishlist. Here are some of my favorite movies to inspire travel.
1. Lord of the Rings – New Zealand
Lord of the Rings is a movie franchise like no other. The entire trilogy consists of movies to inspire travel. Visit Middle Earth, or New Zealand as the locals like to call it. This rugged landscape is completely natural and unspoiled by human hands. The volcanic Mt Ruapehu is reminiscent of the Frodo’s journey towards Mordor and the hills of Matamata are like the plains of Rohan. Alternatively, you can follow director Peter Jackson’s journey where he first read the books on a train from Wellington to Auckland. The movies aren’t bad either!
2. The Third Man – Austria
The Third Man is a 1949 movie which depicts an unemployed novelist visiting Austria to see his friend. The character soon finds himself in a murder mystery when his friend is found dead. It’s a movie to inspire travel mainly because of some of the iconic scenes of Vienna. Who can forget the shot of Wiener Riesenrad riding the city’s famous Ferris wheel?
3. Romancing the Stone/Jewel of the Nile – Colombia
Novelist Joan visits Colombia to save one of her friends and hooks up with Jack, a soldier of fortune; then in the sequel, the pair are now a couple and the action takes place in a fictional kingdom of the Middle East. Visit the wilds of Colombia, or visit where the movies were shot in Mexico, Morocco, and France. Although many of the sights won’t seem familiar, you can have fun walking in the footsteps of the characters.
4. Amelie – France
Amelie is is a charming romantic comedy set in the city of love – Paris. This surreal and strange depiction of Parisian society is a hotbed of gorgeous Paris scenery and particularly the region around Montmartre. Whilst it gained criticism for how it portrayed French society, it’s definitely one of the movies to inspire you to travel to France.
5. When Harry Met Sally – USA
This New York romantic comedy is a classic and one of the movies to make you want to take a road trip. The back and forth relationship between Harry and Sally is played out across some of New York’s most famous scenes. For example, the fake orgasm scene with Sally was shot in Manhattan’s East Village in Katz’s Delicatessen, now an item on many tourists’ NYC itinerary. Other scenes include Washington Square Park and Coney Island, as well as all the other nearby attractions.
6. The African Queen – German East Africa
German East Africa is hardly at the top of most people’s travel lists, but it’s one of the hidden gems of the tourism world. The African Queen was shot in the modern day countries of Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. The movie itself portrays a missionary named Rose who discovers World War I has started and she needs to get home. This 1951 classic can take you around many of the famous sights and sounds of the region, including to vast Lake Victoria, the plains of the Serengeti and the monuments to the Rwandan genocide.
7. My Life in Ruins – Greece
My Life in Ruins is one of those little gems of a movie that will inspire travel as it is a showcase of Greece. Tour guide Georgia becomes romantically involved with a tour bus driver and their story takes them around locations like Epidaurus, Olympia, and Delphi. Furthermore, they were the first-ever film studio allowed to make movies actually on the famous Acropolis. This is a movie which can take you beneath the traditional Greek tourist sites.
8. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – China
Set in China during the Qing dynasty, the acrobatic fighting scenes take you all around the Chinese countryside. Whilst the Great Wall and the modern city of Beijing are always reasons to visit China, few visitors explore the rural landscape. It’s an inspirational travel movie simply because it unearths a side of China which so often remains hidden.
9. The Story of the Weeping Camel – Mongolia
This is one of those movies about travel you have probably never heard of. A baby camel is rejected by its mother. The nomadic shepherds continue to travel whilst making attempts at reconciliation. It’s shot primarily in parts of Inner Mongolia, but it also takes the action to the Gobi desert. Such an inner look at the rituals of a nomadic life is what draws so many people to Mongolia after watching this movie.
10. Room with a View – Italy
This sumptuous costume drama plays out in the remarkable renaissance streets and plazas of Florence, and the gorgeous Tuscan countryside (and you get a nice slice of rural England thrown in too). Join demure Lucy Honeychurch on her journey to find where her heart truly lies and just drink in the magnificent views.
Which are your favorite movies to make you want to travel?