The best travel movies can transport us to the other side of the world. And the worst can make us never want to leave! Here's a timely collection of the best travel movies on Netflix and beyond. Bookmark for your armchair travel expedition.
When it comes to the best travel movies, which should make the cut? Should the focus linger on the traveller, as in Eat, Pray, Love or Into the Wild? Or should it focus on the destination, like the dreamy vision of Japan found in Lost in Translation?
Should travel form the backdrop to an exhilarating plot, a la James Bond movies, or should we look at people living lives in places different to our own?
Or is the answer, as usual, all of the above?
The Best Travel Movies on Netflix
Here is the complete list of the best travel movies of all time on Netflix, plus a section you can buy on Amazon (if you do, I'll earn a few pence at no cost to you so cheers for that.)
And then, for fun, you'll find the worst travel movies too. So, polish up your bucket list, plan your next road trip, glean travel tips and get ready for your next adventure. All from the comfort of your sofa.
THE BEST TRAVEL MOVIES ON NETFLIX Right Now
Lost in Translation - Japan
This film set in Japan captures the sense of disorientation of travel beautifully, as it follows two lost Americans try to find their place in the world.
The shops above the Shinjuku crossing in Tokyo now have lines of tourists queuing to try to get the same shot. And who doesn't want to sing karaoke in a pink wig?!
Eat, Pray Love
Much ink has been (digitally) spilled about Eat, Pray, Love - the true story of an American woman who decided to leave her job and travel the world. It's a sweet, surface level film that stars Julia Roberts but it also opened my eyes... to even more cultural differences between the US and Europe. In Europe, such plans are commonplace. In this film, it seems as though it's revolutionary.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
We move away from young, beautiful Americans into a silver Brit crowd who mix love and mayhem in India. It's fun, if a little predictable, and good to see more of India on screen. Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel provides some youth, as well as ace acting, as ever.
Rent or buy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel here.
I tend to enjoy Reese Witherspoon movies but still haven't found time for this one, the true story of an American woman who heads out into the wild. Perhaps, it's because I was so underwhelmed by Into the Wild and this sounds like the female version.
Anyway, it's on everyone's best travel movies list so perhaps I should carve out a spot someday. How about you?
The Best Travel Movies Not on Netflix But Still Worth a Watch
Volver - Spain
This curious exploration of women's lives in and around Madrid opens with an unpromising start: the cleaning of graveyards while the wind whips around. However, its colourful, kooky and characterful depiction of village life away from the tourist sites brings a deeper perspective to travel in Spain.
Quantum of Solace - Austria
Yes, OK, so the film itself isn't the strongest of the Bond offerings...
But it does highlight the amazing floating opera festival in Bregenz, Austria, as Daniel Craig dangles over an iris in the open air.
Bregenz itself prides itself on its arts scene and natural scenery (it sits on the edge of the 63 km long Lake Constance or Bodensee) yet is still rather unappreciated by the world at large. This film goes some way towards fixing that.
The Painted Veil, China
Based on the novel of the same name by Somerset Maugham, this beautifully directed film takes us to Shanghai in the old days and then on into rural China. Naomi Watts and Edward Norton are captivating and the puzzle stayed with me for months.
Part heartwarming, part heartbreaking, Slumdog Millionaire takes viewers to the slums of Delhi and on to the magnificent scenery the trains chew up and the call centres hem in. Performances are mesmerising and the plot has a thankfully upbeat finish.
Here, we have another tale of a rich American heading away from the supposed dream and into the wild instead. This movie takes place within the United States and the cinematography is absolutely staggering. It could also be called "the movie about National Parks." It's a true reminder of just how wild and varied the US is. Just don't follow the travel side of it...
The Worst Travel Movies - A Case of Unfair Representation
Trainspotting - Edinburgh
Never has Scotland looked more unwelcoming. Brutal, ugly, terrifying. But surprisingly warm.
Ignore, ignore, ignore and travel there anyway! There are plenty of other things to do in Edinburgh.
Deliverance - Rural USA
Yikes! Kids, if you haven't seen this classic, make sure you have not a single outdoor plan afoot for at least a year. And stay away from banjos.
While the film isn't perfect, it's a chilling classic and certainly worth the few hours of your time.
The Constant Gardener, Kenya
John Le Carré's Constant Gardener brought to the screen is a beauty. A thriller that forces viewers to reexamine beliefs about all kinds of things. Kenya looks beautiful. London looks cold. Neither come out well from a travel point of view. But for movie watching? Don't miss this one.
Hope you enjoyed this collection of the best travel movies on Netflix. Any other suggestions? I'm all ears!
What do you think? Which are the best travel movies of all time? And which are, well, the worst?!