Though it may be a time of minimal to nonexistent travel, that doesn’t mean that we have to stop dreaming about our future travels. While they may not be in the near future, there’s no reason not to indulge in some wanderlust through media! Most recently I created a post of my book suggestions for travelers who love to read. While books are my favorite way to immerse myself in learning about and partaking in the stories of places far away, film is also a beautiful medium for stoking wanderlust, as we all know the feeling that blooms in us when a film shows us a sweeping Irish landscape, a villa in Italy, or some other landscape or cityscape that takes our breath away.
Here are some of my favorite travel related films and TV shows. Thankfully, most of my favorite films are either foreign language films, set abroad, or have some element of travel, so this list wasn’t very difficult to put together! I also include some that may not be favorites of mine, but might just capture the beauty of their setting or put me in a traveling mood. And it should be no surprise that some of the films or shows on this list may overlap with my book suggestions, as some of those books have been made into beautiful films.
The Secret of Roan Inish:
Set in Ireland, this film tells the story of a young girl who solves a family mystery while staying with her grandparents near the tiny island of Roan Inish. It involves Irish mythology and it has been one of my all time favorite films since I was a small child. (The first country I ever visited outside of America was Ireland, and this film is part of what started that desire!)
Call Me By Your Name:
This movie is the most beautiful film I have ever seen and I am madly in love with it and the book that it is based on. It’s a story of love, summer, family, and loss. I cannot recommend it enough! Also, it’s set in a villa in Italy, so how could I not love it?
Under The Tuscan Sun:
I don’t think it’s possible to watch this film and not feel inspired and in desperate need of a visit to Italy. A woman leaves the ruins of her life behind and buys a villa in Italy— the dream!— where she learns to love herself, redefine home, and heals from her previous life. This film is nearly perfect in every way.
Set in Paris, this film tells the story of a painfully shy woman who wants to spread happiness to those around her through small, secret acts of kindness. This film is difficult to describe other than to say that it is visually stunning, the protagonist is lovely, and that it will make you want to go to France. It’s one of my favorite films and always puts me in a good mood.
This film is directed by Guillermo del Toro, and is originally in Spanish (though subtitles in English are available). This film is a cross between a fairytale and an adult drama and is set in 1940s Spain. While it is a rather dark and intense film, it is— in my opinion— a cinematic masterpiece both in technicality and the storyline. But be aware, it will likely make you cry.
Midnight In Paris:
It is a difficult decision for me to decide if I should include this film in this list or not, given the very serious allegations held against the director. While I feel that is worth mentioning, the film itself is magical and makes you feel like you really are in Paris. For a history lover like me, it is especially magical and I can’t help but to feel good after I watch it.
A musical set on a small Greek island that celebrates friendship, family, and love. It’s not possible for me not to feel good after watching this film.
The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Wes Anderson makes films that are sweet eye candy. This is a film set in the Grand Budapest Hotel in the 1930s, and is a story of love, friendship, mystery, and an attempt to avoid the imprisonment of an innocent man. It will make you laugh and awww, and it’s a bit quirky like all of this director’s films.
This film is based on the best selling novel, and while they are not quite the same story, I enjoyed both the book and the film. If you like strong female characters, magic, and food, (as well as Johnny Depp), you’ll enjoy this film.
The Phantom of the Opera:
I am referring to the 2004 version of this film, which was the first musical that ever truly caught my interest. Mainly set in Paris in the late 1800s, there is a magical feeling to this film that always makes me want to visit The City of Lights.
Any of the Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films:
Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are masters at world building and creating animation that is beautiful and inspiring. Most of the films harken to Japan, while others seem to be set in a parallel world between Japan and Europe. Some of my favorite films are The Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service— though Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and others are also worth watching.
Other Films by Genre
Cartoons, Children’s, Young Adult
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Princess Diaries
Pride & Prejudice
Bridget Jones’ Diary
The Last Holiday
Murder on the Orient Express
Eat Pray Love
The Da Vinci Code
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown:
This show focuses on the crossroads between food, culture, and travel, and I suggest it to everyone. I feel that many travel shows do not have the heart and conviction of this show and I have to say that it is by far my favorite travel or food related show.
I have a tendency to find the macabre or unusual particularly interesting when I travel, and this is a fun show to watch if you want to learn about interesting and often undiscussed sights around the world.
Those are a few films and shows that have inspired my travels or that I just enjoy watching between one adventure and another. If you have a favorite travel related film I would love to hear about it!
I hope that you are all staying safe, healthy, and entertained during these difficult times.