What is the best travel movie of all time?

Tuesday, 23 April 2024

As we sink into our seats, eager to detach from reality and explore distant realms, movies have the ability to possess a unique power to transport us to faraway lands and immerse us in unfamiliar cultures. Beyond mere entertainment, they spark inspiration, prompting us to embrace new perspectives, pursue uncharted passions, and awaken the dormant wanderlust within.

Join us as we go on a cinematic journey to uncover the world’s favourite travel movies of all time, with masterpieces that leave us wanting to pack our bags and head out on a trip of a lifetime.

An infographic by Ambassador Cruise Line showing the top ten travel movies of all time

The Best Movies About Travel

  1. Lost in Translation (2003)
  2. Roman Holiday (1953)
  3. Amélie (2001)
  4. Y Tu Mama También (2001)
  5. Midnight in Paris (2011)
  6. Into the Wild (2007)
  7. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
  8. In Bruges (2008)
  9. Thelma and Louise (1991)
  10. Before Sunrise (1995)

1. Lost in Translation (2003)

Will make you want to visit Tokyo, Japan

Get your popcorn at the ready for Lost in Translation, the best movie for travel lovers!

For over twenty years, Lost in Translation has captured hearts and inspired wanderlust. It stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson and shines a light on Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Failing film star Bob Harris meets Charlotte, a recent college graduate, in the hotel where they both stay.

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola (known also for The Virgin Suicides and Priscilla), the film was inspired by her own visit to Tokyo. As well as looking to share the modern beauty of the city, the film explores the feeling of disconnection and cultural displacement people can feel while travelling.

The film stood head and shoulders above the others we reviewed, with the highest Metascore, the most award nominations and the most award wins. At the 76th Academy Awards, the film received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor and won Best Original Screenplay.

No wonder it inspired many to add Japan to their travel bucket list!

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

2. Roman Holiday (1953)

Will make you want to visit Rome, Italy

Coming in as the second-best travel film of all time is Roman Holiday. The oldest film in the top ten, this 1953 hit is still as beloved today as it was in the fifties. Starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday is often referred to as one of the most romantic films in history and shows an idyllic depiction of falling in love.

Shot on location around Rome, we follow Crown Princess Ann as she looks to explore Europe for herself and meets reporter Joe Bradley. From the Spanish Steps to the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon and, of course, filled with iconic Vespa-back exploration, this film shows the Eternal City in all its beauty.

Roman Holiday was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn, Best Story and Best Costume Design (Black-and-White) at the 26th ceremony. It also boasts an IMDB score of eight, a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Score of 95% and a Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score of 93%.

If you are looking to visit Rome, our cruises to the Mediterranean will take you to the stunning Italian capital via Civitavecchia, perfect for a day of exploration. In addition to Rome, you’ll be able to enjoy ports in countries such as Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Egypt.

READ MORE: Hidden Gems to Explore on a Mediterranean Cruise

Golden Hour over the Seine in Paris

3. Amélie (2001)

Will make you want to visit Paris, France

A French-language film that’s beloved globally, Amélie is a romantic comedy that will make you fall in love with both the main character and Parisian life. Amélie dedicates her life to making others happy, and in her quest to do so, we explore the streets of Montmartre and see the beauty of the French capital.

Amélie has the highest Rotten Tomatoes Audience score of the films reviewed, with 95%. Despite not winning, it was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Sound. It also boasts an IMDB score of 8.3, the second-highest of the top ten.

For those who want to follow in Amelie’s footsteps, you can enjoy a cruise to France. With a vast range of cruises across the channel available, you’ll be able to enjoy the French essence highlighted so beautifully in this movie.

4. Y Tu Mama También (2001)

Will make you want to visit Mexico

A coming-of-age story taking viewers across Mexico along with the three main characters, Y Tu Mama También is as much about relationships and navigating love and lust as it is about travel.

This Spanish-language film has been well received by casual viewers and critics alike, with high scores across the board and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, with a French flag

5. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Will make you want to visit Paris, France

Midnight in Paris is a cinematic masterpiece that effortlessly transports viewers to the enchanting streets of Paris, evoking a sense of wonder and nostalgia that lingers long after the credits roll. We see protagonist Gil Pender be transported back to 1920 Paris every evening and experience iconic figures from history, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso.

The film performed well across the board, being featured in five travel movie lists and excelling with a total of 103 award nominations, including one Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay.

6. Into the Wild (2007)

Will make you want to visit the United States of America

Into the Wild is a poignant and captivating film that chronicles the real-life journey of Christopher McCandless as he embarks on a soul-searching adventure into the untamed wilderness of Alaska. Against the backdrop of stunning natural landscapes and breathtaking vistas, the film immerses viewers in the raw beauty and rugged majesty of the Alaskan wilderness, igniting a profound longing to embark on a similar odyssey of exploration and introspection.

Featured on all nine of the travel movie lists that inspired the piece, this cinematic masterpiece resonates deeply with audiences worldwide, drawing them into McCandless's transformative quest for freedom, self-discovery, and meaning.

READ MORE: How to Create a Travel Wishlist

7. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Will make you want to visit South America

The Motorcycle Diaries is a captivating Spanish language film that offers a mesmerising glimpse into the formative years of the iconic revolutionary figure Che Guevara. Based on the early life of Che Guevara, this cinematic gem traces his transformative journey across South America alongside his friend Alberto Granado. From the windswept plains of Argentina to the lush jungles of the Amazon, it captures the spirit of exploration and discovery, inspiring viewers to embark on their own epic quests for meaning and enlightenment.

The film featured in six travel movie lists and boasts a Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score of 92%, The Motorcycle Diaries is a classic travel film that deserves its place in the top ten.

8. In Bruges (2008)

Will make you want to visit Bruges, Belgium

This dark comedy-drama will make you want to journey over the Channel to Belgium. With a range of brilliant chases and action scenes set against the beautiful backdrop of Bruges, this film is as exhilarating as it is beautiful, and viewers are in for a treat as they follow the trials and tribulations of the hitmen protagonists.

In Bruges is the newest film to make the top ten list, having been released in 2008. It just goes to show a film doesn’t have to be from the history books of cinema to be well-loved!

READ MORE: Why You Should Book a Mini Cruise

9. Thelma and Louise (1991)

Will make you want to visit the United States of America

Thelma and Louise is a cult classic and a must-see for many travellers. Focusing on female friendship, rebellion and empowerment, the climax of this film is one of the most iconic movie conclusions in history. Directed by Ridley Scott and featuring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in lead roles, the high calibre of those involved in this movie should give those who haven’t seen it before an idea of what they can expect.

Thelma and Louise performed well across the board, with impressive reviews from both critics and the audience alike. It received six Academy Awards nominations and took home the prize for Best Original Screenplay on the day.

10. Before Sunrise (1995)

Will make you want to visit Vienna, Austria

A romantic drama that is the best regarded and first in its trilogy, Before Sunrise follows Jesse and Celine, who meet on a train whilst travelling Europe. They choose to spend a spontaneous night and day together in Vienna, and the film follows the connection they form.

Just sneaking into the top 10, Before Sunrise still has some points to boast about. With the highest IMDb score of all the films reviewed and the highest Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score, it’s well-regarded by audiences around the world.

An infographic by Ambassador Cruise Line showing honourable mentions regarding the best travel films: Tracks, Lord of the Rings, Out of Africa and Up

Honourable Mention: Tracks (2013)

Will make you want to visit Australia

An inspiring tale of perseverance, Tracks is based on the true tale of Robyn Davidson and was adapted from her memoir. It follows her voyage across the Australian desert with her dog and four camels, joined by a National Geographic photographer along the way.

Alongside Into the Wild, Tracks is the only film featured on all nine movie lists. Although the film wasn’t picked up by the Academy Awards, it has received strong critic and audience reviews, and for those looking to explore Down Under, it is worth adding to your “to watch” list.

Honourable Mention: Out of Africa (1985)

Will make you want to visit Kenya, Africa

Despite not making the top ten, Out of Africa was the most critically acclaimed film on our list, with seven Oscar wins from eleven total nominations. Missing out on awards for Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Klaus Maria Brandauer), Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing, the film took home Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (based on material from another medium), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Sound.

For those looking for critically acclaimed travel films, Out of Africa is a must. Loosely based on a true story, we are taken to 20th-century colonial Kenya, where a Danish Baroness falls in love with a big-game hunter.

A winding trail through the New Zealand

Honourable Mention: Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring) (2001)

Will make you want to visit Middle-earth (New Zealand)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is an epic cinematic masterpiece that transports viewers to the enchanting world of Middle-earth, captivating audiences with its immersive storytelling and breathtaking visuals. Using more than 150 locations on New Zealand’s North and South Islands, it is no surprise that the sets make for a truly unforgettable masterpiece.

Considering films featured on any number of movie ranking lists, this timeless classic boasts the highest IMDb rating and would have undoubtedly topped the rankings thanks to its plentiful award nominations, wins and reviews.

Honourable Mention: Up (2009)

Will make you want to visit Venezuela

Like Lord of the Rings, if we were to consider any film that was mentioned on the moving ranking lists, then the beloved Disney Pixar animation Up would have come in second place. Depicting the formation of an unlikely friendship between a widower and a boy scout, we see Carl Fredriksen opt to fly his house to Paradise Falls (based on Agel Falls, Venezuela) in order to fulfil a promise to his late wife.

Although animated, the film perfectly captures the beauty and excitement travel can offer, and the heartbreaking opening scenes are an iconic visualisation of a lifetime of love built around a passion for adventure.

Why enjoy travel movies?

We spoke to Jenny from TraveLynn Family, who wrote one of the lists that inspired the article. We asked Jenny why she believes films are such a good way to inspire wanderlust: “Films bring the world into your living room, giving you inspiration to plan your next trip or a glimpse of a destination you'd never see otherwise. For places we've been before, it reminds us of our travels without needing to jump on a plane. For instance, those opening scenes of The Beach will always bring memories flooding back of Bangkok especially.”


To start, we collated the top nine lists that appeared for the search “best travel movies” in Google at the time of research. These lists were:

From this list of 139 unique films, we then reduced the list further by only including films that appeared on three or more ranking lists. This generated a shortlist of 31 travel films to compare.

For each movie, we sourced their IMDb rating, Metascore (provided by IMDb), Award wins and nominations (provided by IMDb), Oscar wins and nominations and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score and Audience score.

We gave each film a score based on how it performed in the above eight categories, which then were compared to generate the final ranking.

View the full data set, including all 139 films and their scores in each area.

Please note: Readers should always check the film certification before watching to ensure the content is suitable for them. Many of the films on this list have higher certification ratings due to mature themes.

Sunset from the deck of the Ambition cruise ship in Alesund, Norway

Enjoy the trip of a lifetime with Ambassador Cruise Line

Ready for the trip of a lifetime after reading about the best movies for travel lovers? With our wide selection of cruise ship holidays, you’ll be able to explore exciting destinations around the world. We specialise in no-fly cruises, meaning that you’ll be able to depart from your choice of eight regional ports around the UK.

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READ MORE: Which Country’s Cuisine is the Most Popular?

If you are looking to further inspire your wanderlust, we have plenty more travel articles that are ready to motivate you on our blog.