Looking for flicks to inspire your wanderlust? You’re in the right place. From recounting epic journeys to bringing some of the most captivating destinations to life, the best travel movies make us want to pack our bags and take a long-haul flight.
Take a two-hour time out from the humdrum of local life and go on an escapist binge-watching spree — here are the best travel movies to watch, selected according to popularity, ratings, and their capability to give us itchy feet.
Table of Contents
1. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
From recovering powerful ancient artifacts at Angkor Wat to getting lost in the thick jungles of Tanzania, Lara Croft, the bold and limber heroine of the massively popular Tomb Raider franchise, has been to many places – and where ever she goes some sort of high-octane adventure ensues.
Here, we follow the stunning English aristocrat in a number of globe-trotting adventures against villainous forces, from the Cambodian temple complex at Siem Reap to freezing ‘Siberian’ locations and the deepest jungles of Tanzania. If you’re gathering up the courage to travel to exotic locations, any Tomb Raider movie will give you the nudge you need.
Cool destinations, larger-than-life action scenes, and daredevil stunts are what made the Tomb Raider series so addictive to watch!
While most animal documentaries treat their subjects as, well, animals, Kedi goes against the grain by giving a sense of humanity to Istanbul’s stray cats. The story has made seven stray felines the main characters, following them all throughout the streets of Istanbul from their points of view.
Stray cats are commonplace in Istanbul. They curl up on cafe benches, laze on doorways, sneak under tables at flea markets, and gather where scraps are aplenty. Film director Ceyda Torun focuses on specific cats, giving viewers a rundown of their distinct routine, personality, and life.
While the focus is on cats to the delight of feline lovers like me, Kedi is really a portrait of the Istanbul community, showcasing its beauty and diversity.
Night At the Museum offers plenty of fun, especially for families looking for an educational experience. The series tells the story of a divorced father who works as a night watchman at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History.
One night, he discovers that the exhibits have come to life, including a mischievous stuffed capuchin monkey, a T-rex skeleton with dog-like qualities, and several other African animals.
Travelers will find the showcase of different cultures a thrill to watch. Here, rival miniature civilizations also come to life, portraying Ancient Rome, Ancient Maya, and the Old West.
There’s Atilla the Hun, pyromaniacal Neanderthals, and an Easter Island Moai with a chewing gum obsession – loads of silly fun!
To take control of the chaotic exhibits, Larry the night watchman reads up on history using the local library and the Internet. What happens next is for you to find out!
See Related: Best Parks in New York
If you’re looking for one of the best travel movies of the 21st century, Home is a stunner you won’t regret ever watching. This documentary about Earth, nature, and humanity is pure eye candy.
Shot in 54 countries by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand with top-notch narration by Glenn Close, Home uses gorgeous aerial footage to show how humanity has shaped our world and exploited its resources, which has resulted in destruction, pollution, and climate change.
There are stunning shots of our world’s most gorgeous locations juxtaposed with visuals of the terrible damage we’ve caused.
While the movie alternates between the Earth’s natural beauties and our disastrous impact on it, the storytelling is made with total sensitivity to all sides of the issue.
Families looking for the best movies on travel will find plenty to learn about the effects of climate change (though I can’t help but think that this masterpiece is actually a well-delivered sermon veiled as a documentary).
Looking for one of the best Hollywood travel movies? Paddington will surely satisfy. This anthropomorphic bear needs no introduction. Catapulted to popularity by the best-selling Paddington series of children’s books, the movie tells the tale of a bear that migrates to the streets of London after an earthquake ravaged his family’s jungle home.
To the caniform’s delight, the Brown family takes him in after meeting him at the eponymous Paddington Station, only to discover that a taxidermist (played by Nicole Kidman) wants to add him to her collection.
It’s a warm, well-acted, gentle, and funny family-friendly film that showcases the quirks of London while also portraying it as an exciting wonderland filled with adventure, mystery, and excitement. If you’ve never been to London, this is one of the best travel movies to watch. Paddington’s London is definitely a place where those who need assistance are embraced — even if you’re a talking bear.
See Related: 17 Best Things To Do In London
Looking for the best travel adventure movies? The Adventures of Tintin is a computer-animated film based on Belgian cartoonist Herge’s eponymous comics. It follows a young reporter named Tintin and his dog Snowy. They both go through all sorts of misfortunes in their search for treasure from a long-lost ship.
This Steven-Spielberg film is one of the best travel movies on Netflix. You’ll be taken to far-flung corners of the world, including Morocco, France, and across the high seas. There’s lots of action here – from car chases to ship-to-ship battles and an incredible fight between construction cranes.
Let’s face it, nothing can ever compare to the magic of Herge’s comics, but this CGI adaptation offers stunning visual adventures that do not disappoint.
Narrated by Morgan Freeman and directed by French director Luc Jacquet, March of the Penguins is a documentary that is more than a decade old, but the story it tells is timeless. This nature documentary shot in the Antarctic shows the migration of emperor penguins from the South Pole and 70 miles into their next breeding grounds.
So popular is this documentary about penguins that it may have been solely responsible for making everyone, including filmmakers, obsessed about these aquatic flightless birds for the next few years.
The film offers stunning visuals of the Antarctic’s ethereal environment, while also offering an emotionally stimulating story that touches the heart. If you’re looking for one of the best travel movies that will introduce your kids to documentaries, this one’s a winner.
Based on the popular 1888 children’s book titled Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess is a 1995 film about the powers of faith and imagination.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, this family-friendly film tells the story of Sarah, a young girl who was orphaned after her father dies in World War I. The film switches back and forth between her bleak situation at boarding school, run by the nasty Miss Minchin, and flashbacks of her vibrant life in pre-war India.
A Little Princess is a heartwarming story about the power of imagination and self-respect. After learning of her father’s death, Sarah resorts to fantasy as escapism, venturing to amazing places without having to leave her room.
Some of the best travel movies are about food, and there’s no better way to discover Japan’s reverence for culinary craftsmanship more than watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This 2011 documentary is about 85-year old sushi master Jiro Ono and his unrelenting passion for bettering his craft.
Jiro’s ten-seat Tokyo sushi bar, located in a Tokyo subway station, is a Michelin three-star restaurant with a tasting menu of 20 courses. Though old and frail, he lives, breathes, and eats sushi – but perfection is not his goal. The only plan Jiro has is to be better than his previous self.
Sushi is a simple dish, but how it’s made is incredibly complex. To make a great dining experience, sushi must be eaten immediately, ingredients must be thoroughly selected, and one must relentlessly practice – these, along with several other rules make Jiro one of the most successful sushi chefs in Tokyo.
See Related: Here Are The Top 10 Reasons to Visit Japan
The in-depth exploration of Indian relationships and stellar performances by Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone has made Tamisha one of the best travel movies in India. Bringing to life the beautiful city of Corsica, each frame in the movie looks like a picture-perfect postcard.
The movie tells the story of two young lovers, Ved and Tara, who met on holiday on the scenic French isle. Both agreed to have fun without commitments, but years later when Tara tracks down Ved in Delhi, she is taken aback by finding a different person – one who loathes his life and weighed down by his dad’s heavy expectations.
Tara steps in to teach Ved how to live again, but this time on his own terms. The heartwarming plot has made Tamasha one of the best travel romance movies in India.
Tamasha is one of the best Bollywood travel movies that explore the troubles faced by middle-class Indian men, with warm performances and dreamy tunes by Oscar-winner AR Rahman.
See Related: Your Ultimate Guide to The Golden Triangle in India
The Eagle Huntress is an ode to girl power, with plenty of inspirational moments for the entire family. The documentary follows Aisholpan, a 13-year old girl who is training to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family.
This century-old tradition is usually handed down from father to son, and while many eagle hunters boldly reject the idea of a woman taking part in the tradition, Aisholpan isn’t fazed.
Awe-inspiring cinematography captures the bedazzling expanse of the Mongolian steppe, into frigid mountains and the harsh 40 below zero conditions. Brilliantly shot with a captivating story, this is one of the best travel movies that will make you believe that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.
See Related: 20 Reasons to Visit Mongolia
Dreadfully unhappy with his mundane life, magazine proofreader Walter Mitty finds a chance to turn his life around after being tasked to find a missing photo that could save his company from being downsized.
The photo in question was taken by a mysterious independent photographer who Mitty believes is in Greenland – and an unbelievable adventure begins. Problem is, Mitty is utterly unadventurous, so he must step out of his comfort zone and venture into the unknown if he wishes to save his reputation. Warm and inspirational, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of the best movies to watch while traveling.
If you’re planning to visit Iceland, this film is a good introduction. Portions of the film set in Greenland were actually shot in Stykkisholmur, a charming, picturesque town in Iceland with brightly colored buildings from the late 19th century.
One of the best travel quotes from movies is here: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
13. Mamma Mia!
If you’re an ABBA fan, Mamma Mia is one of the best travel movies that you will undoubtedly enjoy. Based on the eponymous Broadway Musical, Mamma Mia is a campy and nostalgic musical-slash-movie with over two dozen ABBA songs and a slew of award-winning performers.
The storyline is remarkably simple. Sophie, who is betrothed to Sky, lives on a picturesque Greek island with her single mother, Donna. Knowing nothing about her father, she discovers that there are three men who may actually fill the role. She then invites all three to her nuptials, and they show up to the occasion.
You won’t see any gimmicky cinematography here. Most of the film’s charm relies on the inherent beauty of the Greek islands – and it’s a joy to see!
You can categorize Alpha as one of those “boy with a dog” stories, but with a few adjustments.
Here, the dog is a wolf and the setting is twenty-thousand years ago. The story follows young Keda, who tries his best to survive in the wilderness alone after being left for dead after his first hunt with his fellow Cro-Magnon tribemates.
He makes an unexpected alliance with a lone wolf abandoned by its pack. With danger lurking everywhere, Keda and his wolf must traverse the unforgiving landscape to make it home before the chill of winter arrives.
The most remarkable feature of Alpha is its stunning imagery made by a brilliant visual effects team.
It makes anyone watching want to trek through the wilderness and discover the unknown!
When it comes to the best travel movies that highlight a destination’s culture, Disney is a force to be reckoned with. Moana is a breath of fresh air as it goes against the grain of princess fairy tales.
Here, the heroine is a strong Polynesian princess named Moana – the strong-willed daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village.
Moana was chosen by the ocean to bring a mystical relic to the goddess Te Fiti. If you’re raring to visit the Pacific Islands, this will be a joy to watch!