The best bit about travelling starts long before you start packing – when you start planning, reading travel guides and looking at maps. The excitement begins when you do your research on the mysteries your chosen destination hides and start learning about its language and culture.
Whether you already have a destination in mind, or you are simply looking for some inspiration, here is a list of the best travel movies that will transport you to some of the most fascinating nations on earth. Let’s make our way from the East to the West, so you can really travel the world from your sofa.
Japan: “My neighbour Totoro”
Sisters Satsuke and Mei move out to the countryside along with their father. They soon discover the house and the surrounding forest is full of small – and not so small – friendly magical creatures.
As with other Ghibli studio movies, “My neighbour Totoro” offers incredible scenery as well as fascinating insights into Japan’s unique culture. An absolute must if you’re planning on travelling to Japan!
South Korea: “Parasite”
Gi Woo and his family live in a semi-basement apartment in Seoul. His life takes a 180-degree turn when he starts teaching English to Da-hye, a teenager from the city’s upper-class quarter. In 2020, “Parasite” was the first non-English language film to win an Oscar for Best Picture, along with three other awards. The movie also managed to get people from all over the world to take the same decision: to travel to Korea as soon as possible.
Another great movie to watch before going to Korea is “Okja”, which will take you on a trip around the country’s mountains and will give you a glimpse of Korea’s spectacular landscapes.
Italy: “The Great Beauty”
Jep Gambardella is a 65-year-old writer who has had enough of his luxurious and frivolous lifestyle. “The Great Beauty” narrates his thoughts and countless parties, while taking us around the most beautiful spots in Rome.
If you’re thinking of learning Italian and travelling to Italy, you may also want to consider “The talented Mr Ripley”, which was filmed in the stunning islands of Ischia and Procida, just off the coast of Naples; or “Call me by your name”, which is set in the Lombardy region. Get ready to discover some of the most beautiful locations in the South and the North of Italy!
United Kingdom: the Harry Potter saga
Harry Potter fans are in for a treat – watching the films is one of the best ways of discovering the UK without budging from your sofa! A large part of these movies was filmed in historical buildings such as Christ Church or the Divinity School in Oxford; but you will also see plenty of locations that are really common in Brits’ day-to-day, like King’s Cross station in London.
British countryside is also largely featured. The Hogwarts Express taken by Harry and his friends after crossing the 9 ¾s platform was actually inspired by a real train – The Jacobite. Both in the movie and in real life, this train goes through some of the most spectacular countryside in Scotland.
United States, East Coast: “Green book”
Jazz pianist Don Shirley and his chauffeur, Tony Vallelonga, start off a tour from New York that takes them through the South of the US. Green Book will take you on a road trip across different states, landscapes and the country’s enormous diversity. Other movies you should watch if you’re planning on going on a road trip around the US are “Thelma and Louise” or “Into the wild”.
If you travel to New York, make sure you visit cinema fans’ latest favourite location in the Bronx – the staircase where the famous “Joker” dancing scene was filmed.
United States, West Coast: “La la land”
“La la land” will take you deep into the city of Los Angeles, into a world where actors, musicians and other artists struggle to gain a foothold in the industry and reach fame. Through dancing and singing, the movie is an account of Mia and Sebastian’s story, an aspiring actress and a jazz pianist.
“La la land” is a fun and vibrant story in which the city of LA plays a central role – perfect for your next trip to the West Coast of the United States!
When Miguel accidentally enters the Land of the Dead, he takes the opportunity to look for his great-great-grandfather and find answers about his past. Through this voyage, “Coco” is a true description of Mexican culture and one of its most important traditions: the Day of the Dead. A heart-warming movie and a real must before travelling to Mexico.
Argentina: “The motorcycle diaries”
Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado begin a long expedition by motorcycle from Argentina, although their trip will also take them through Peru and Chile, and their breathtaking landscapes.
“The motorcycle diaries” is a great movie to discover more about Latin America’s geography, politics, society and history, and should definitely be on your list if your next destination is Argentina or any other South American country.
Fret not – your list of travel movies doesn’t end here. Whatever your destination may be, you’ll find one that will allow you to learn about its scenery and traditions long before you begin your journey. Remember to leave something to discover on your actual trip, though!