Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust

My selection of best travel movies

Have you ever found yourself inspired to travel to one or the other location just because you saw it in a movie? It happens to me all the time! So today I decided to share some of my favourite travel movies, the ones that got me googling the filming location and planning a trip before the movie was even over. If you are looking for a good story or some travel inspiration then you’ll definitely find it in these films. These are one by one great travel movies that will get you out of the couch and booking a trip to discover new destinations. I will regularly update my list.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

1h53min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 2013 | IMDB 7.3 

  • Director Ben Stiller
  • Writer Steve Conrad
  • Cast Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Jon Daly
  • Locations Iceland, Aghanistan, Himalayas

This is a light-hearted story for a movie night with friends. The movie features some of the most incredible travel destinations. A lot of the scenes (even the ones from Himalaya and Afghanistan) are filmed in Iceland. The unbelievable adventures of Walter Mitty will leave you longing for an extraordinary adventure of your own.

STORY : When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

Lost In Translation

Lost In Translation

1h42min | Drama | 2003 | IMDB 7.8

  • Director Sofia Coppola
  • Writer Sofia Coppola
  • Cast Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
  • Filming Locations Shinjuku and Shibuya districts in central Tokyo, Kyoto

A beautiful film that shows the fun and unexpected side of traveling in a new country. Lost in Translation is about the many little random travel experiences that stay with you long after you return back home. The sights and the energy of Tokyo will get you planing a trip to Japan.

STORY : A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo.

The Fall

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : The Fall

1h57min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 2006 | IMDB 7.9

  • Director Tarsem Singh
  • Writer Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis, Tarsem Singh, Valeri Petrov
  • Cast Lee Pace, Catinca Untaru, Justine Waddell
  • Locations Virginia, Arizona, California, Oregon, South Dakota, Mexico, Colorado, Alaska


STORY : In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastic story of five mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality blurs as the tale advances.

Into The Wild

2h28min | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 2007 | IMDB 8.1

  • Director Sean Penn
  • Writer Sean Penn, Jon Krakauer (book)
  • Cast Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener
  • Locations Virginia, Arizona, California, Oregon, South Dakota, Mexico, Colorado, Alaska

This unbelievable true story of a top student and athlete Christopher McCandless who abandons everything he has and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness will probably stay with you forever. Inspiring story and incredible landscapes of Alaska. If you watch just one movie from this list, make it this one! Into the Wild is a beautiful ode to nature and, above all, to being true to oneself and seeing through the vanities and lies of modern civilisation. Shot all over the United States, the sceneries of Into the Wild are breathtaking, especially the ones in Alaska.

STORY : After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

The Motorcycle Diaries

2h06min | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 2004 | IMDB 7.8

  • Director Walter Salles
  • Writer Ernesto Guevara, Alberto Granado, Jose Rivera
  • Cast Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mía Maestro
  • Locations Argentina, Chile, Peru, Cuba

This awe-inspiring film, originally named “Diarios de Motocicleta”, that is based on the memoirs of Che Guevara will take you to the most beautiful places of South America. Beautiful story in an incredible setting.

STORY : The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life’s calling.

Vanishing Point

1h39min | Action, Crime, Thriller | 1971 | IMDB 7.3 

  • Director Richard C. Sarafian
  • Writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Malcolm Hart
  • Cast Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger
  • Locations Utah, Nevada, Colorado


STORY : During the 1970s, car delivery driver Kowalski delivers hot rods in record time but always runs into trouble with the highway cops.

Hell Or High Water

Hell Or High Water

1h42min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 2016 | IMDB 7.6

  • Director David Mackenzie
  • Writer Taylor Sheridan
  • Cast Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges
  • Locations West Texas, New Mexico (Albuquerque, Clovis, Portales, Tucumcari)


STORY : A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.

Wind River

Wind River

1h47min | Crime, Drama, Mysterie | 2017 | IMDB 7.8

  • Director Taylor Sheridan
  • Writer Taylor Sheridan
  • Cast Kelsey Asbille, Jeremy Renner, Julia Jones
  • Locations Wasatch Range (Western Rocky Mountains)


STORY : A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

1h34min | Comdey, Fantasy, Romance | 2011 | IMDB 7.7

  • Director Woody Allen
  • Writer Woody Allen
  • Cast Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates
  • Locations Paris

Midnight in Paris is probably not for everyone, but if you like Woody Allen, Paris and artists, then you’ll love this surreal story that takes you back to Paris of 1920’s.

STORY : While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s everyday at midnight.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

1h36min | Drama, Romance | 2008 | IMDB 7.1

  • Director Woody Allen
  • Writer Woody Allen
  • Cast Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem
  • Locations Barcelona, Ovieda and Aviles

Woody Allen’s comedy-drama about two American female friends’ entanglement with an artist and his unstable ex-wife takes the characters to some of the prettiest spots in Barcelona and in the countryside near Oviedo. It shows beautiful views of the Catalonian capital, from the old rooftops in the Gothic quarter and Antoni Gaudi’s whimsical Güell Park with its gingerbread-like houses.

STORY : Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

To Rome with Love

1h52min | Comedy, Romance | 2012 | IMDB 6.3

  • Director Woody Allen
  • Writer Woody Allen
  • Cast Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg , Roberto Benigni
  • Locations Rome


STORY : The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.

Stand By Me

Stand By Me

1h29min | Adventure, Drama | 1986 | IMDB 8.1

  • Director Rob Reiner
  • Writer Stephen King, Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans
  • Cast Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland
  • Locations Brownsville (Oregon),  California


STORY : After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.

127 Hours

127 Hours

1h34min | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 2010 | IMDB 7.6

  • Director Danny Boyle
  • Writer Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, Aron Ralston
  • Cast James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
  • Locations Bluejohn Canyon (Canyonlands National Park, Utah)

Let’s forget for a second that he had to lose a hand to tell us his story. Aron Ralston has everything an adventurer needs – he’s daring, he’s crazy, and he’s curious. And despite what would have been a very traumatic experience to most, Ralston hasn’t stopped exploring.

STORY : An adventurous mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.

In Bruges

In Bruges

1h47min | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 2008 | IMDB 7.9

  • Director Martin McDonagh
  • Writer Martin McDonagh
  • Cast Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ciarán Hinds
  • Locations Bruges (Belgium)

In Bruges is very different from all the rest, but I just had to include this movie in the top-20 of the best travel movies because it’s filmed in Belgium. It’s a hilarious dark comedy and a great performance by all three main characters, in the most fantastic setting. If you haven’t been to Bruges, you’ll definitely want to visit it after watching this movie!

STORY : Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.

The Beach

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : The Beach

1h59min | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 2000 | IMDB 6.6

  • Director Danny Boyle
  • Writer John Hodge, Alex Garland (novel)
  • Cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel York, Patcharawan Patarakijjanon
  • Locations Hat Maya Beack (Phi Phi Leh, Thailand)

This movie from the 90’s has a little bit of everything: good story, beautiful music and amazing scenery from Thailand. Oh, and the young Leonardo DiCaprio, who once again proves that he deserves the Oscar he finally got this year.

STORY : Vicenarian Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss. Excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.

Slumdog Millionaire

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : Slumdog Millionaire

2h00min | Drama | 2008 | IMDB 8.0

  • Director Danny Boyle
  • Writer Simon Beaufoy, Vikas Swarup (novel)
  • Cast Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla
  • Locations Mumbai, Agra, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station (India)

Many of the rich cities are modern, but when traveling through rural India and the poorer areas, this is what it’s like. It’s heartbreaking, raw, and sometimes uncomfortable. But the people are welcoming and wonderful and you can feel the love in their hearts, just like the love in the heart of Jamal, the lead character of Slumdog Millionaire.

STORY : A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amélie)

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

1h 53min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 2001 | IMDB 8.3 

  • Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Writer Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Cast Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus
  • Locations Montmartre (Paris, France)

If you haven’t been to Paris yet, you will definitely want to plan a trip after watching this movie. If you have, you’ll want to return. A beautiful example of French cinema, Amélie will take you to the most inspiring locations in Paris.

STORY : Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

The Bucket List

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : The Bucket List

1h37min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 2007 | IMDB 7.4

  • Director Rob Reiner
  • Writer Justin Zackham
  • Cast Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Sean Hayes
  • Locations Chevre d’or (Eze, France), Taj Mahal (Agra, India), Great Wall of China,  Lion safari (Tanzania), Mt. Everest base camp (Nepal), Great Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)

The Bucket List is sentimental, predictable and yet a very heart-warming story that will inspire you to tick off your bucket list sooner rather than later. Filmed in various locations in India, China, Egypt, Tanzania, France and the U.S., this movie will definitely give you some new ideas for the next trips.

STORY : Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.


Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : Wild

1h55min | Adventure, Biography, Drama | 2014 | IMDB 7.1

  • Director Jean-Marc Vallée
  • Writer Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed (memoir)
  • Cast Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann
  • Locations Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert, to the Oregon-Washington border (USA)

Based on a true story of a young woman who sets on a journey of over a 1,000 miles hoping to recover after the death of her mother. Wild is full of beautiful scenes throughout the Pacific Northwest in the U.S.

STORY : A chronicle of one woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.

Roman Holiday

Movies That Will Inspire Your Wanderlust : Roman Holiday

1h58min | Comedy, Romance | 1953 | IMDB 8.1

  • Director William Wyler
  • Writer Ian McLellan Hunter, John Dighton, Dalton Trumbo
  • Cast Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert
  • Locations Rome (Italy)

In this famous romantic comedy, Audrey Hepburn plays a European princess tired of her regimented existence who goes on an incognito scooter tour of 1950 Rome with a handsome and discreet American reporter (Gregory Peck). Their adventures – which take in the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, and other must-visit sites – is, of course, the backdrop to their falling in love.

STORY : A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome.

The Mission

2h05min | Adventure, Drama, History | 1986 | IMDB 7.5

  • Director Roland Joffé
  • Writer Robert Bolt
  • Cast Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Ray McAnally
  • Locations Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Fort Amherst (Kent, UK)


STORY : Eighteenth century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

1h39min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 2014 | IMDB 8.1

  • Director Wes Anderson
  • Writer Stefan Zweig, Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
  • Cast Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric
  • Locations Gorlitz, Dresden (Germany)


STORY : The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom

1h58min | Action, Adventure | 1984 | IMDB 7.6

  • Director Steven Spielberg
  • Writer Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, George Lucas, Philip Kaufman
  • Cast Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan
  • Locations California, Sri Lanka (India scenes), China (Hong Kong)


STORY : After arriving in India, Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone. He agrees, and stumbles upon a secret cult plotting a terrible plan in the catacombs of an ancient palace.

The Jungle Book

1h46min | Adventure, Drama, Family | 2016 | IMDB 7.5

  • Director Jon Favreau
  • Writer Justin Marks, Rudyard Kipling (books)
  • Cast Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
  • Locations Los Angeles Center Studios in Los Angeles, California


STORY : After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free spirited bear, Baloo.

Kon Tiki

1h58min | Adventure, History | 2012 | IMDB 7.2

  • Director Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
  • Writer Petter Skavlan
  • Cast Pål Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård
  • Locations London (UK), Malta

The “Kon-Tiki” was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, and “Kon-Tiki” is an old name for this god. Heyerdahl filmed the expedition, which later became the Academy Award winning documentary in 1951, and he wrote a book about the expedition that was translated into 70 languages and sold more than 50 millions copies around the world. Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times, although most anthropologists now believe they did not…

STORY : Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947, in an effort to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

The Blue Lagoon

1h44min | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 1980 | IMDB 5.7

  • Director Randal Kleiser
  • Writer Henry De Vere Stacpoole (novel), Douglas Day Stewart
  • Cast Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins, Leo McKern
  • Locations Jamaica, Turtle Island (Fiji)

Funny to know: as it turned out, the iguanas filmed on Fiji were a species unknown to science at this time, and this was noted by the herpetologist John Gibbons when he watched the film. After traveling to the island, he described the Fiji Crested Iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) in 1981.

STORY : In the Victorian period, two children are shipwrecked on a tropical island in the South Pacific. With no adults to guide them, the two make a simple life together, unaware that sexual maturity will eventually intervene.

Memoirs of a Geisha

2h25min | Drama, Romance | 2005 | IMDB 7.4

  • Director Rob Marshall
  • Writer Robin Swicord, Arthur Golden (book)
  • Cast Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh
  • Locations USA, Fushimi-Inari Taisha, Kyoto, Kiyomizudera temple (Japan)


STORY : Nitta Sayuri reveals how she transcended her fishing-village roots and became one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

Kong: Skull Island

1h58min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy | 2017 | IMDB 6.7

  • Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts
  • Writer Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins
  • Cast Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
  • Locations Oahu (Hawai, USA), Queensland (Australia), Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)


STORY : A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

The Revenant

2h36min | Adventure, Drama, History | 2015 | IMDB 8.0

  • Director Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • Writer Mark L. Smith, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Punke
  • Cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
  • Locations Kananaskis Country (near Calgary in Alberta, Canada), Argentina


STORY : A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Midnight Express

2h01min | Biography, Crime, Drama | 1978 | IMDB 7.6

  • Director Alan Parker
  • Writer Oliver Stone, Billy Hayes, William Hoffer
  • Cast Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins
  • Locations Sagmalcilar Prison in Fort St Elmo (Valletta, Malta)


STORY : Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

True Romance

2h00min | Crime, Drama, Romance | 1993 | IMDB 7.9

  • Director Tony Scott
  • Writer Quentin Tarantino
  • Cast Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper
  • Locations Los Angeles, California, Detroit (Michigan)


STORY : In Detroit, a lonely pop culture geek marries a call girl, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood. Meanwhile, the owners of the cocaine – the Mob – track them down in an attempt to reclaim it.

Kon Tiki

1h58min | Adventure, History | 2012 | IMDB 7.2

  • Director Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
  • Writer Petter Skavlan
  • Cast Pål Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård
  • Locations Malta


STORY : Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in 1947, in an effort to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.


I probably forgot many films that inspired you to travel. So feel free to let me know below in the comments. Maybe I will have a look at them, add them to my list above. Or maybe it will even make me travel new destinations …

Dolf Van Sprengel

chief executive wanderer

Dolf Van Sprengel is born and raised in Antwerp, and loves to travel to discover new cultures. Dolf loves nature and religion, amongst many other things. Since 2017 Dolf is the administrator of WANDERLUSTVLOG.

  1. Dank je voor dit toffe artikel!!!
    Hier kan ik af en toe nog eens een filmpje uit kiezen… Leuk voor op een koude winteravond.
    En dan kan ik al eens dromen over een volgend reisje hé!

  2. Stand by me is my favourite film ever!!. I agree that Slumdog inspires travel as after watching it a few years ago it made me want to visit India and i finally got there this year. I havent seen any of the other films so looks like i will be spending the next few weeks watching them…. its a hard life but all in the name of research so i guess i can do it with the help of some popcorn!!!

    1. Stand By Me is one of my favourites too, I just loved it when I was younger! I Love to see movies recorded in specific countries, just to get an idea of the atmosphere there. I saw Slumdog Millionaire as well before going to India 🙂

  3. I have to confess that it is AGES ago that I have watched a movie, be it in a cinema or on TV. We are full-time overlanders and travel bloggers, so a TV is actually out of our reach. And I must say I haven’t missed it!
    But there a few classics in your list I have seen in the past, like ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Do you really believe that the latter inspires travel to India?

    1. Thanx for your comment Juergen! I am not sure if watching movies is inspiring everybody to travel, but what I always do before going to a country, is to watch a few movies before that are actually recorded in that specific country. It’s kind of my preparation 🙂 I saw Slumdog Millionaire before visiting Mumbai!

  4. Dang, this is an awesome list! I saw several of these movies and have traveled to so many of these places including Phi Phi Leh, Thailand. I especially love how you mixed it up with so many places like the movie: The Mission! What an amazing far my favorite of all time.

    Kind of shocked you didnt add “The Way” by Emilio Estevez for Spain, “Leap Year” for Irelend, or UP! for well just to get out there and Travel!!

  5. What a great list of travel movies to inspire wanderlust. I’ve seen quite a few of these movies. However, I particularly liked: Into The Wild, In Bruges and The Beach.

  6. Great list! I LOVED Secret Life of Walter Mitty! My other travel inspiration film isn’t listed here: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – stupid story but AMAZING footage of Santorini. It’s why I went to see Santorini!

  7. Wow that’s a really comprehensive list of movies and I have to say – I haven’t seen MANY of them! I’m not much of a movie buff but if there’s any related to travel or showcases lovely places, I’m all for it. Thanks for this list, I will bookmark it and begin watching them one by one! Its going to keep me busy for a while 🙂

    1. Hey Medha, I tried to be selective, and some of them really have some nice footage of places around the world! Movies like this make me dream about far away places during the cold winter here 😉 Thanx for your comment!

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