We’re all going on a big-screen holiday
Choose your destination, fasten your seats and get ready for take off. Here are 30 films, set in exotic locations that are almost as good as a holiday.
Dig out your passport, pull your bikini from the back of the wardrobe, and mix up a jug of Sangria. No, you haven’t missed a Government announcement telling you Brits are welcome abroad – so head off to a wonderfully exotic location via these 30 wanderlust films. Choose your destination, fasten your seatbelt, and ready for take-off.
Ahh, gay Paris, the home of bohemian arty types who permanently sit in a cloud of cigarette smoke drinking coffee, absinthe or both. Midnight In Paris is essentially a time travel movie starring Owen Wilson as screenwriter and aspiring novelist Gil Pender. Like many tourists, he retraces the steps of past Parisian creatives past… then he’s swept back in time to the 1920s. Sounds bonkers but is actually a very wanderlust-inspiring comedy.
Travel inspo, you say? We can’t leave out Chevvy Chase’s National Lampoon’s European Vacation. After winning an all-expenses Euro vaycay on a game show, the Griswald family head over the pond to see the sights – Stonehenge, London, Paris, Rome and Bavaria. The Hills are alive with the sound of the Griswalds. Lap it up, folks, it’s a classic.
You’ll usually find Woody Allen shuffling around NYC with his camera, but he switched geographical gears for Vicky Cristina Barcelona – a story about two women spending the summer in Barcelona who hook up with the same handsome *ahem* married painter. Despite a glittering cast – hello Scarlett Johannsson, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Crux and Javier Bardem – the city is a scene-stealer. Grab a glass of rojca and drink it in.
A movie for these times. If you have learnt one thing about lockdown life it’s that slowing down is a good thing, wine helps and urbanites are embracing the countryside. A Good Year is all these things and more as powerful businessman Russell Crowe becomes a vineyard owner and realises great wine, sunshine and pretty backdrop make life infinitely better. Crack open that Bordeaux and drool.
Luxury city break anyone? Wes Anderson will whisk you off to one of the most extraordinary cinematic hotels in the world. The Grand Budapest Hotel a hyper-stylized creation, with its pink facade and retro glamour – it’s one of the most influential hotels in terms of design and yet doesn’t exist. Anderson used various Eastern European towns and cities in Germany as the backdrops for the fictional Zubrowka. However, most of the key scenes were specifically filmed in Görlitz. The plot? The film centres around Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave, the most dedicated concierge whether he’s fighting off murderous armies or providing ‘room service’ for the ancient female guests. Great cast, mind-blowing interior design and a longing for a Euro jaunt.
Greece in glorious technicolour. It is without question a grand fromage fest with an impressive celebrity cast and ABBA’s greatest hits. But the real star of the show is the Greek Islands, in particular Skopelos– a paradise of white traditional homes draped in fuchsia flowers, clear blue sea and a comeback for dungarees. Thank you, Meryl Streep. The sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was actually filmed in Croatia on the island of Vis.
If you’re dreaming of your next travel adventure Walter Mitty is a film that literally takes that concept and runs with it. Starring Ben Stiller, Walter Mitty –a daydreaming Life magazine employee – embarks on a journey beyond his TUI holiday brochure as he travels to Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas in search of an elusive piece of camera film.
The Talented Mr Ripley is super-creepy and super-stylish in equal measure. For this film, director Anthony Minghella found himself a beautiful cast – Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon – and some lust-worthy locations. From Venice’s opulent hotels to the walls of Ponte Ischia and the beach of Bagno Antonio it’s got holiday goals throughout with the added bonus of Jude Law and Matt Damon in 50s highwaisters.
Audrey Hepburn, George Peck and Rome – the ingredients for a Hollywood classic. It’s a quirky, comical love story between a reluctant royal wanting to experience Rome like everyone else and a journo chasing the scoop of his career. Their tour of Rome proves the perfect catalyst for their budding romance and our love affair with the Italian capital.
Mykonos is not hard up for beautiful beaches but Will Russell’s 1989 film Shirley Valentine chose Agios Ioannis as the setting for Liverpudlian housewife Shirley’s (Pauline Collins) holiday romance with a Greek waiter (Tom Conti) and boldly avoiding egg and chips (a dish chosen by unadventurous Brits back in the 80s) in the local tavernas. An ‘at home’ holiday fling with Greece should start here.
Steven Spielberg’s cat and mouse a caper starring Leonardo Dicaprio. Based on the life and scams of notorious teenage con artist Frank Abagnale (DiCaprio), you see more airports in the film than anywhere else. But pop quizzers can do their best to spot the 147 locations as the faux Pan Am pilot travels the world. Plenty of vintage air travel eye candy to lust after – a time when ‘budget airline’ wasn’t even in our vocabulary.
AUSTRALIA & THE PACIFIC
Wiiiiiiiiiilson! Any film that includes a plane crash isn’t going to settle nervous fliers, but at least Tom Hanks finds paradise and has a best mate in volleyball Wilson. Cast Away washes up on a deserted Pacific island and realizes that help isn’t on its way, Chuck is forced to learn how to survive on his own. If you’re a lover of long haul, the Cast Away island is Monuriki, one of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. It’s a 24-hr flight IRL so you might prefer 2hr 23 mins in front of the TV.
A group of fellas who don’t the meaning of packing light. Refreshing! But these ain’t no ordinary fellas – they are drag queens. More specifically we have Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving, bathed in sequins lip-sinking and leg kicking to pop classics across New South Wales, Southern Australia and the Northern Territories. It’s as Camp as Christmas and utterly fabulous.
Dream of seeing the real Australia? Yes, there is life beyond the Sydney Opera House and Byron Bay. From the producers of The King’s Speech, Tracks tells the true story of Robyn Davidson – an extraordinary woman who trekked across the Australian outback with just four camels and a dog, defying illness and dehydration. Why? To develop a deeper understanding of her home country. It’s beautifully shot. All 2,000 miles. Australian actress Mia Wasikowska plays Robyn, with Adam Driver as National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, with guest appearances from Flinders Ranges and Coffin Bay in South Australia and Uluru and Kings Creek Station in the Northern Territory.
Director Wes Anderson is a Marmite movie maker. The eccentricity and often weirdness of his films (The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic) leave viewers scratching their heads. But Anderson’s comedy-drama The Darjeeling Limited, starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman is about three bickering brothers try to reconcile on a train ride in India. If you’ve ever been on the Tube in rush hour you’ll feel the claustrophobia of Indian rail travel and long for the vast open spaces of Rajasthan. Largely shot in Jodhpur, the vibrancy of India will get under your skin.
How young does Leonardo Dicaprio look? He’s a baby. So refrain from inappropriate lusting. Save it for Thailand’s lush Maya Beach, possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world. But, of course, paradise is like catnip to travellers, and fans trashed the filming location, forcing its closure until 2021. It should be open by the time we can fly again. Dig our your combat trousers, stream All Saints and head for the paradise.
Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation is a visual banquet, set in Japan. Take two lonely Americans (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson), resigned to being friends in a foreign land, throw in a ton of neon, a swanky hotel, a karaoke bar and you’ve got one super stylish tourism ad for Tokyo. Ultimately it’s about loneliness and that we all crave friendship and human contact wherever we are in the world. Lockdown life lesson 101.
Filmed on location in Kenya, Out Of Africa is a big-screen epic with dramatic backdrops aplenty. Starring Hollywood’s finest Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, this is a tragic love story about a married baroness who falls for a big game hunter. It’s not action-packed, but you’ll enjoy the geographical eye candy, big cats, big hats, Champagne glugging, and catty remarks.
It won nine Oscars. NINE! Largely shot in Tunisia and Italy, this is a cinematic giant directed by Anthony Minghella, from his own script based on the 1992 Booker-prize-winning novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje. So it’s a big deal. With a storyline split between pre-war Egypt and post-war Italy, we get artfully crafted glimpses of both locations. We think you’ll appreciate Kirsten Scott Thomas’s classic holiday wardrobe and Ralph Fiennes’s face.
Hubba hubba! A surf movie with the six-packs of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze to ogle. Yes please. Point Break classic beach movie set in California that sees a young FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) sent deep undercover with a criminal gang of surf dudes led by Patrick Swayze. The beach scenes were filmed at Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, though director Kathryn Bigalow shot the big waves in Hawaii, at the legendary surfers’ paradise locations of Pipeline Beach, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay. It’s got sun, sea and sex appeal.
Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to Hollywood. It’s very long, pretty violent with easy on the eye stars – Leo Dicaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie. But Tarantino’s also managed to give us geographical eye candy – aka 1960s Los Angeles. Spot the slow pans across Hollywood Boulevard, famous backdrops like Westwood Village and many scenes were filmed in still-standing bars for those of you who fancy recreating the less murder-y storylines.
Some people love to flop and drop, others are can’t resist an old ruin, but there is a select group of people who genuinely enjoy a physical challenge. No, I’m not one them, but this film ticks that box if youo do. Reece Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a writer, who puts on an ill-fitting pair of hiking boots and a giant backpack to trek 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail – from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon-Washington bordern – after the death of her mother. Based on Strayed’s bestselling book, the film was shot in actual locations visited by her in Oregon and features breathtaking sceneries like Crater Lake – and several lost toenails too.
Sick of your family? Ditch them for your bezzie mate and hit the road. Thelma & Louise reinvented the buddy movie by sending two women on a road trip to escape their good-for-nothing men. They drive a fictional route from Arkansas (via Brad Pitt’s motel room) to the Grand Canyon. Although filming actually took place in California and Utah. Plenty for your peepers to enjoy here.
If you’ve survived 11 weeks (or is it 12?) in isolation with your loved ones, you’ll know if you could campervan around America together. If you all still like each other Little Miss Sunshine could be the road trip movie for you. Toni Collette crams her father in law, voluntarily mute son, suicidal brother, overworked husband, and beauty queen wannabe daughter into a lemon of a VW bus – and off they go. It’s funny, with plenty of warm and fuzzy.
Ooh, they must be sweating buckets in those leather trousers. But if you’re hankering for the open road, helmet hair and some serious eye candy, Easy Rider is the one for you The film is a motorcycle travelogue, following Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) with an appearance from a young Jack Nicholson as they ride from through desert and town from Mexico to New Orleans in a drug and booze-fuelled haze.
No movie franchise romanticises the mystery, history and heat of the Middle East than Raiders of The Lost Ark. It’s a Spielberg classic that makes you wish you were a whip-cracking archeologist or hanging onto one if they are as a fit as a young Harrison Ford. If you thought Egypt is the location luvvie, you’d be wrong. Many of the scenes were shot in Tunisia, near Sidi Bouhel canyon (also used in the Star Wars series) with the jungle scenes captured on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.
Granted it was universally panned by critics, but if you love a kaftan and hanker after Middle Eastern luxury, Sex And The City 2 will float your Champagne cork. The film is set in Abu Dhabi, but all filming took place in Morocco – Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Merzouga and Agadir, to be precise. Why didn’t they just set in there in the first place? Anyhoo, it’s like Lawrence of Arabie meets Bloomingdales… at a stretch. Expect multiple costume changes, lots of sand and camels
Once you have watched Disney’s epic superhero movie Black Panther you’ll want to book a one-way ticket to the African utopia Wakanda. Sadly, it’s not real. But before your start furiously googling a holiday alternative, we have learned that many of the aerial shots were done in Zambia and Uganda. But the jaw-dropping Warrior Falls (aka The Iguazu Falls) can be found in Argentina. It is the largest waterfall system in the world that also starred in The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. I’ll be on the first flight that takes me here.
Ah, Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you… As with all Bond films, there’s not one star attraction. The globe-trotting secret agent pops up in more countries than he does Bond girl boudoirs. But Spectre’s iconic opening scenes follow Daniel Craig through a Mexico City Day of the Dead parade. But you’ll be jetting off to Austria, Morocco, London, Oxfordshire and Italy. Expect turbulence and jet lag.
Barbara Cartland romance meets Indiana Jones action film. Romancing The Stone, starring 80s sex symbols Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, it follows novelist Joan Wilder (Turner) as she travels to Colombia in search of her kidnapped sister. Obvs, she runs into a heap of trouble needs the help of exotic bird smuggler Jack (Douglas) and sexual sparks fly. The majority of the film was shot in Mexico. Columbia wasn’t exactly the place to be in the 80s, but Snow Canyon, Utah, makes an appearance too.