13 Beautiful Films That Make Us Want to Travel
Whether you’re looking for travel inspiration for your next adventure or simply aiming to take a journey of the mind, we’ve rounded up our very favorite moments in cinema to get the ball rolling. Get carried away by the likes of Cary Grant sunbathing on the Riviera and Russell Crowe throwing caution and stock portfolio to the wind in favor of tending to a vineyard. These impeccably crafted films are so rife with wanderlust-worthy locations and festooned vacation looks that we’re wont to steal their every move on our next trip. Keep scrolling for a list of our favorites.
Alfred Hitchcock notoriously lured Cary Grant out of retirement with the one-two punch of shooting on location in the French Riviera and co-starring with Grace Kelly. To Catch a Thief is arguably the chicest film ever made. The plot features masquerade balls, jewel heists, and the word’s most infamous cat burglar, John “The Cat” Robie (Grant), bent on clearing his name for a crime he didn’t commit. Kelly’s iconic wardrobe alone is enough to inspire an escape.
As sociopaths go, Tom Ripley remains among the most cringingly charismatic performances in celluloid history. Directed by Anthony Minghella, The Talented Mr. Ripley gives us the gift of Gwyneth Paltrow in espadrilles, Jude Law on Vespas, and Matt Damon scatting jazz. In all its 1950s nostalgia, it follows a millionaire playboy and a Manhattan charlatan as they revel about the Amalfi Coast. Identity theft has never been so stylish, and did we mention Cate Blanchett slays in her turn as a flighty heiress?
Directed by Ridley Scott, A Good Year is the ultimate quit-your-day-job fantasy romp. Russell Crowe stars a motorcycle-riding investment broker who uproots his big city life and relocates to France after inheriting the vineyard in Provence where he spent his youth. Crowe’s arch from wound-up shark to freewheeling Frenchman, together with a swoony romance with Marion Cotillard, is enough to inspire us to pack our bags and briefcases for an extended sojourn.
The true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., Catch Me If You Can stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the real-life teen con artist who successfully passed millions of dollars in fake checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, legal prosecutor, and doctor. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film features Tom Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty, Christopher Walken (who has a memorable metaphor to offer involving mice and butter) as Frank Abagnale Sr., and a stellar original score from John Williams. It’s an instant classic for any jet-setter.
Yes, we are fully advocating a Leo double feature night to satisfy your wanderlust. Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Alex Garland’s stunning novel The Beach follows a trio of young backpackers as they discover a clandestine island paradise off the coast of Thailand. The film deals with the fundamental themes of humanity, love, violence, and the true cost of utopia. The screenplay maintains much of Garland’s narrative prose, making for a beautiful adaptation. The novel itself will take you even further down the rabbit hole.
Anyone who has ever traveled with siblings will find empathy and solace in Wes Anderson’s tale of three brothers adrift in India on a quest to bring their estranged mother home after their father’s death. Wry, witty, and sublimely heartfelt, The Darjeeling Limited brings Anderson’s signature aesthetic across vibrant Indian landscapes. A soundtrack filled with needle drops from The Stones to The Kinks; Angelica Houston in an ashram (looking even more goddess-like than usual); and Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman bickering to the point of being maced in the face make this one of our fave bonding rituals to date.
Based on historical events surrounding the train-robbing Hole in the Wall Gang, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stars the dreamiest of all onscreen pairs: Paul Newman and Robert Redford. On the run after a robbery gone south, Butch is all brains where Sundance is all skill. A classic tale of daring friendship set against the Wild West frontier, it will inspire you to pack some hats and head out to the wilderness on a vision quest—or go on the lam in Bolivia (Butch’s idea).
Easy Rider is the quintessential counterculture road trip movie. Directed by and starring Dennis Hopper alongside Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, the 1969 classic is a scenic biker flick that trails from Los Angeles to New Orleans with a truly killer soundtrack. If you’re looking to free your mind via the open road and a carefully curated mixtape, herein lies your deliverance.
The film to first mix feminism and Brad Pitt’s abdominals is at the top of our must list for travel inspiration. Ridley Scott’s masterful 1991 tale of two best friends on the run, Thelma & Louise features Susan Sarandon and Gena Davis as small-town Arkansas BFFs on the run in a ’66 Thunderbird after defending their honor. Fair warning: This film may inspire your next girls’ night in to relocate to Mexico.
We’re unclear as to what part of Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona makes us pine after the coastal European city most. The Spanish guitar in the streets, fiery Latin lovers, and exquisite Gaudí set pieces are among the film’s finest trappings. Scored with Allen’s signature whimsical tunes and featuring painstakingly brilliant turns from an ensemble cast of Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, and Penélope Cruz, it is not to be missed. Also, we dare you to watch it and not take your next summer holiday to Spain.
“I had a farm in Africa” is the opening line of this epic, true saga starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Set in 20th-century colonial Kenya and directed by Sydney Pollack, the Academy Award–winning film follows the romance between a Danish baroness and a free-spirited big-game hunter. Redford’s Dennis can’t be tamed, not even by the most dynamic, passionate, and independent woman in the world. With its sweeping landscapes and boldly drawn real-life characters, Out of Africa is the ultimate love affair for those wild at heart.
Shot in Hawaii, The Descendants follows the story of a land baron (played by George Clooney) as he struggles to find his way back into the good graces of his two estranged daughters after a family tragedy. Peppered with rich Hawaiian history and Alexander Payne’s signature blend of comedy and drama, the film walks an enchanting line of laugh-out-loud moments and raw, devastating tension. Masterfully crafted and beautifully composed, it features a breakout performance from Shailene Woodley and a crazy-endearing Clooney in a cornucopia of Hawaiian-print shirts.
A must-see for any foodie, the uproariously funny The Trip blurs reality and fiction as comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play heightened versions of themselves on a tasting tour of the finest restaurants in North England. The movie experience is akin to eavesdropping on the funniest dinner repartée imaginable. One viewing is not enough. It has us coming back for seconds.
Have a favorite travel film? Tell us in the comments below.