9 Travel Movies You Should Be Watching This Year

From enemy-dodging in Istanbul to the quaint romantic foibles that unfold in Paris, these movies will stir your soul and take you into worlds unknown.Read More

A view of modern Istanbul, showcased in the Bond movie, "From Russia with Love" (Source: Shutterstock / Seqoya)

Sometimes, the hassle (and expense) of travel is enough to keep us at home. But for a taste of travel without the danger, frustration, and cost, you can easily watch a movie that showcases the many glorious corners of the world. Everyone has their favorites, of course, but we’ve highlighted our top travel movies below – not only do the plots pull us in, but the locations are breathtaking. Ready for stirring cinema? Grab your popcorn and get comfy…

1: “Smoky and the Bandit”

Back in 1977, Smoky and his sidekick took the U.S. by storm with a just-left-of-crazy adventure all over the southern United States. A pair of bootleggers, Smoky and the Bandit are intent on getting big cash for a haul of Coors picked up in Texarkana (that’s at the border between Texas and Arkansas) that they aim to deliver in Atlanta. There’s a deadline, of course, so they race across the country in a hurry – while experiencing some unique Southern hospitality. If you’re a lover of the American South – and a bit of road action – this is one of those classic “travel movies” you have to see.

2: “The DaVinci Code”

More in the modern action film vein, “The DaVinci Code” is an epic recreation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel. Centered on professorial symbologist Robert Langdon, the movie uncovers a seldom-discussed alternative Christian history. Evidence of this leads Langdon and his cryptologist colleague, Sophie Neveu, on a whirlwind adventure around Paris and Britain as they seek to find the truth of Jesus and his family. For a kick of adrenaline and some beautiful shots of ancient monuments and museums, get yourself a copy of this recent action and travel movie.

Follow Robert Langdon to Westminster Abbey. (Source: Shutterstock / cowardlion)
Follow Robert Langdon to Westminster Abbey. (Source: Shutterstock / cowardlion)

3: “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”

This 1988 comedy blockbuster brought together some seriously big names – including famed British actor Michael Caine, director Frank Oz, and the inimitable funnyman Steve Martin. Few people know it’s a remake of a 1964 film titled “Bedtime Story,” but it can be convincingly argued that this rendition stands on its own. The premise? Oh, just your usual “two guys competing to swindle an heiress out of $50k” plotline. At some point, the swindlers – Caine and Martin – team up, while at other times, they’re in tense competition. And while these two elicit some serious guffaws, the setting of the French Riviera produces just as many jaw-dropping “wows.”

4: “Eat Pray Love”

Some say her work is overwrought, but we like a little Elizabeth Gilbert in our lives. This movie adaptation of the novelist’s best-selling book follows Gilbert on a trek across Italy (where food serves as a comfort), India (where prayer eases Gilbert’s soul), and Indonesia (where Gilbert ultimately finds true love). Sappy? Yep. But still, this is a feel-good travel movie that inspires with the influences and inspirations of countries in very different parts of the world.

5: “Lawrence of Arabia”

A classic if ever there was one, “Lawrence of Arabia” chronicles the somewhat-heroic exploits of British soldier T.E. Lawrence in the Ottoman Empire during WWI. Filled with tense confrontations with native tribes, riveting speeches by Lawrence himself (played by the eminent Peter O’Toole), and sweeping views of Syrian desserts, this beautifully directed, quasi-travel movie is not only a riveting history lesson but a trip to a part of the world few of us have ever experienced.

Bali, Indonesia – is that where true love is waiting? (Source: Shutterstock / Guitar photographer)
Bali, Indonesia – is that where true love is waiting? (Source: Shutterstock / Guitar photographer)

6: “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

There’s no movie with Judy Dench we don’t love, so little surprise that this recent list-topper is one of our picks. Filmed in 2011, “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” tracks several British retirees who decide, somewhat unusually, to retired to Jaipur, India – specifically, to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. What they discover is less than appealing, however; still, they try to make the most of it by exploring the city, the hotel, and themselves. It’s a comedy of errors, and one worthy of many belly laughs.

7: “Amélie”

This French star dominated headlines back in the early 2000s when it was released, and it still commands the love and attention of countless cinephiles. A romance at its core, “Amélie” tracks, well, Amélie as she responds to tragedy while helping others live out their fantasies and dreams. Love, however, is a struggle for Amélie; her eventual love interest, Nino, quickly becomes the subject of Amélie’s cat-and-mouse antics and various false identities designed to throw him off. Things take a turn at the end, but we won’t tell you what kind. Just enjoy the plot – and the luscious scenes of Paris.

"Amélie" captures cozy Parisian street scenes like this one. (Source: Shutterstock / Catarina Belova)
“Amélie” captures cozy Parisian street scenes like this one. (Source: Shutterstock / Catarina Belova)

8: “Lost in Translation”

You might say this late-career winner from Bill Murray is more a showcase of a hotel than a foreign city, but as the plot unfolds, we find Bill Murray’s character (Bob) making forays into the light-swept city of Tokyo – especially at night. This is one of those dramedies that tugs at your heartstrings, gets you excited about Tokyo, and makes you feel awkward, all at the same time. It’s brilliantly executed and masterfully shot – making it one of Murray’s greatest achievements.

9: “James Bond: From Russia with Love”

Sean Connery is the only legit James Bond, so if you’re keen on soaking in some of that Ian Fleming magic, we recommend the 1960s-era, Connery-only Bond flicks. While they all take you to fun, exciting new locales across the globe, “From Russia with Love” is an especially intriguing look into the cities of Istanbul, London – even Belgrade. Plus, Bond gets a stint onboard the famously luxurious Orient Express. Action, romance, and vistas for days – what’s not to like?

Do you have a favorite travel movie we didn’t list here? Send it to us at editor@wideworldoftravel.com and we’ll add it to the list!