Best Movies for Sparking Travel Excitement

Ever seen a movie and thought, “Oh, I HAVE to go there someday”? Traveling the world vicariously through a film can be educational and inspirational! Whether you are learning about a new destinations and culture in preparation for traveling, or opening the door for new knowledge, a movie can be the beginning of something bigger. Check out this list of movies that will spark travel excitement. Each was filmed in locations where WorldStrides takes students on educational travel experiences.


Big Miracle – Be wary, some tears may be shed while watching a trapped pod of whales be saved. Most of the film was shot in and around Anchorage, even the scenes that are based in California!

Chasing Coral – Educational AND beautiful. This documentary illustrates the deterioration of coral around the world, including on the Great Barrier Reef. With a ton of supporting educational materials, this is the perfect film to teach students about an important issue, while also showcasing the beauty of our oceans.

Tracks – Take the movie Wild and transplant it to the Western Australian outback and you’ve got Tracks! Following a woman as she hikes through the Flinders Ranges, this movie is great for highlighting an area of Australia that isn’t as popularly represented like Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
The Matrix – Ever wonder where the futuristic city featured in the Matrix is? It’s actually Sydney!

Sound of Music – Of course most of this movie was shot on location! Most of the scenes were filmed around Salzburg, including Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg’s Old Town, and Schloss Leopoldskron.


“Where’s That Really?” Bonus(es):
X-Men: First Class – Villa Gesell? It’s actually in Neuqeun, Argentina.

Black Panther – All of the amazing water features in Wakanda are in reality Iguazu Falls! The Falls can also be found in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Bonus: You’ll also catch T’Challa in Busan, South Korea!

The Revenant – Though set in the American West (in the 1920s), would you believe the end of this film was shot in Argentina? After sudden snow melts in Canada, the film was forced to relocate to Tierra del Fuego to finish production!

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus: The Avengers: Infinity War – Want to visit the planet Vormir and search for the Soul Stone yourself? You’ll have to visit Lencois Maranhenses National Park, on the coast of Brazil.

Fast and Furious 5 – See the team run off to Rio de Janeiro. Throughout the film, you’ll see shots of Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and the many favelas of the surrounding hills.

La La Land – You’ll feel as though the city of stars is shining just for you in this technicolor dream of a film. With a California centric plot (a struggling actress! A musician having a hard time!), you’ll spot infamous sites such as the Giffith Observatory, Hermosa Beach Pier, Chateau Marmont, Warner Bros Studio, Grand Central Market, and a traffic jam on the 105. (Don’t expect dancing in the streets when you go though!)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon ­– One of the many Pillars can be found within Angkor Wat.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Wandering through Montreal, several places are spotted, including Olympic Stadium, the Train Touristique de Charlevoix,  and the Square-Victoria-OACI station of the Montreal Metro.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
The Terminal – The main character may be trapped at “JFK Airport” but the external shots of the airport are actually Montreal-Mirabel International Airport!

Transformers: Age of Extinction – When the product is moved to China, you’ll see scenic shots of Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing as well as the Great Wall.

Mission: Impossible 3 – Ethan Hunt runs off to Shanghai where he leaps off the Jinmao Tower! You’ll also see a chase through Bund, the city’s waterfront.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – The Wookiee planet of “Kashyyyk” was actually filmed at the limestone towers of Guilin in Southern China!

Czech Republic
“Where’s That Really?” Bonus(es):
Casino Royale ­– Most of this film was shot in Prague. In fact, even the Florida and Venice scenes were filmed in Prague!

A Knights Tale ­– Though set throughout various French cities and London, this movie was shot in Prague.

Mission: Impossible – A big fan of this series? Then you know the first film was shot mainly in Prague, including at the bridge connecting Mala Strana to the Old Town. Other entries in this series would return to the Czech Republic to shoot, including for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Harry Potter series – Many of the scenes throughout the Harry Potter films were from various locations throughout England. Hogwarts alone was filmed in six different locations. If you want your Platform 9 ¾ photo, you can go to King’s Cross Station.

Bridget Jones’ Diary – See a ton of London throughout this movie, including Borough Market and the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Love, Actually ­– The ultimate romantic comedy, this movie starts and ends in Heathrow Airport and includes shots of places like Somerset House and Oxford Street.

Midnight in Paris – The movie may include some time travel, but it fully shows Paris at its finest. Wandering through the iconic neighborhoods of Paris in both the past and present, and featuring artists such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, this film will have students jumping up and down to go to Paris in no time.

Ratatouille – It may be animated, but Ratatouille features a beautiful view into the food rich world of Paris. With a lovable main character, this film is great for younger viewers, and introduces them to French cuisine and its cultural significance.

Amelie – No movie makes Paris look as charming as this one! Most of the filming takes place in Montmartre, including the Metro Lamarck -Caulaincourt and Sacre Coeur.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Ever wanted to visit President Snow’s extravagant mansion? You can, as it’s the Chateau de Voisins outside of Paris.

Mamma Mia! – I don’t think many would be surprised to hear that most of this was filmed in Greece – mainly on Skopelos, one of the Sporades Islands.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus(es):
Blade Runner 2049 ­– This flick may be set in Los Angeles, but it was almost entirely shot in Hungary!

The Martian – Instead of using the real Johnson Space Center in Texas, the Balna Events Centre in Budapest is used as NASA’s complex.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty –The film follows the story of a man who wants to leave his boring life behind and do something more adventurous. Eventually ending up in Iceland, the gorgeous shots of the local landscape, combined with a message of confidence and self-discovery, make this a quintessential wanderlust movie.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
Interstellar – Want to feel like you’re on another planet? Go to Southern Iceland, which was used for the planet surfaces in this movie.

Ferris Buellers Day Off – See the love Ferris Bueller has for Chicago as it stars as the playground of irresponsible teen Ferris. See sites such as the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field and the Art Institute.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – A group of British retirees travel to India to stay in what was supposed to be a nice hotel. However, they find a dilapidated one in its stead that slowly begins to charm them. Based in Jaipur, this movie can help demonstrate the culture shock that can arise when traveling in a foreign country.

The Bourne Supremacy – This film begins with Jason Bourne hiding out in Goa, specifically on Palolem Beach. You’ll also see scenes of Panaji, featuring the Communidade Building, the Fontainhas Heritage Precinct and the Nerul Bridge.

The Trip to Italy – Two friends eat their way throughout Italy while writing a travel and food column. Focusing on six locations – Tuscany, Liguria, Rome, Amalfi and Capri – what better way to hype students up for a trip to Italy than a focus on the local food! Do be aware that this film is a bit cheeky, so it’s appropriate for a more mature audience.

Twilight: New Moon – Ever wanted to visit where the Volturi live? Just head to the town of Montepulciano!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi ­– Perfect for sushi lovers, this documentary focuses on an 85-year-old sushi master. The owner of three Michelin star restaurants, the film highlights Jiro’s dedicated worth ethic as well as the beauty of Japan.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – Of course you’ll find shots of Tokyo in this movie! Featured locations include Futsal Court, Takeshita Street and Kabukicho.

Lost in Translation – Most of this film takes place in the Shinjuku and Shibuya districts of central Tokyo. When Bob arrives, he walks past the neon signs of Yasukuni Don. He stays at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, and grabs a drink with Charlotte in their top-floor New York Grill. Charlotte visits Jugan-ji Temple in Shinjuku, and sings karaoke in the Shibuya branch of Karaoke-kan. She later travels to Kyoto and visits the Heian Shrine and Nanzenji Temple.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
The Martian – A little bit of work and Wadi Rum became the surface of Mars!

Hocus Pocus – Settle in for a campy adventure with witches! Set in Salem, you can find a myriad of real-life locations throughout the film, including Salem’s Pioneer Village and the Salem Museum.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – This version, (staring Leonardo DiCaprio) was primarily filmed throughout Mexico City, including the Zona Rosa district, Castillo de Chapultepec, and Banorte Bank.

American Sniper – Much of the war sequences were filmed within Rabat and Sale – this was also done for the movie Black Hawk Down.

The Bourne Ultimatum – Find Bourne tracking down Daniels in Tangier, including a foot chase through city’s Medina.

The list goes on. Also see glimpses of Morocco in InceptionMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,  ­
The Mummy, and Spectre.

New York
Elf – Buddy the Elf is the epitome of every first-time visitor to New York City. See famous sites through Buddy’s eyes, such as the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center, and know you’ll probably react the same way when you see them.

New Zealand
Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Focused on rebellious teen Ricky Baker, this film makes it easy for students to relate to the main character. A great introduction to Maori culture and kiwi slang, the movie also features scenery from Auckland, the Coromandel and Tongariro National Park.

Whale Rider – Whale Rider follows a 12-year-old Maori girl who wishes to be the chief of her tribe. A well-loved movie, the focus on Maori culture and filming location of Whangara make this a great way to introduce New Zealand indigenous culture to students.

The Lord of the Rings – Of course these films have to be mentioned! All of the LOTR’s, as well as The Hobbit franchise, were filmed throughout the North and South Island, with the infamous Hobbiton found in Matamata.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – You too can see the ice plant of Hoth by going to Hardangerjokulen Glacier.

Avengers: Infinity War – Much of the start of the movie was filmed throughout Edinburgh, including on the Royal Mile.

“Where’s That Really?” Bonus:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Much of the movie was filmed at Donue Castle, which stands in for every castle featured in the film!

South Africa
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Watch an enraged Bruce Banner hulk out on the streets of Johannesburg.

South America
The Motorcycle Diaries – Based on the journals of Che Guevara, this movie chronicles his adventures by motorcycle with his best friend through South America. With a historical storyline and set within Argentina, Chile and Peru, this movie will teach students about a man who shaped South America. It will also strengthen their Spanish comprehension (so make sure to throw on subtitles!)

South Korea
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Ultron runs off to Seoul, specifically to the Saebit Dungdungseom. A chase takes place through locations like Gangnam Subway Station Intersection, the Mapo Grand Bridge, Cheongdam Grand Bridge and the Digital Media City in Sangam-dong.

Pan’s Labyrinth – This movie was entirely shot within Spain, including San Rafael and Belchite.

The Beach – This Leonardo DiCaprio flick made Phi Phi island a major tourist destination! Starting off on Khao San Road in Bangkok, the majority of the film takes place on Hat Maya beach.

The New World – Everyone knows the story of Jamestown, Captain Smith, and Pocahontas. This feature was noted for its authenticity in location, settings and costumes. You’ll see places such as First Landing State Park, Colonial Parkway, and the Jamestown Settlement.

Washington, D.C
All the President’s Men – Following two reporters as they uncover the details of the Watergate scandal, this film made sure to use authentic locations for filming. You’ll spy the Watergate Complex, the Capitol Building, the Library of Congress and the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

National Treasure – D.C. sites are central to this story of Ben Franklin Gates tracking down treasure, including the FBI Building, the National Archives, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress. You’ll even spy the D.C. metro, and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Constitution Hall which stands in for the “White House.” Fun fact: In the scene where Gates and his associate discuss their strategy near the reflecting pool on the mall, the pool had been drained for routine maintenance during filming. The water was added in post-production!

A Map for Saturday – Watch a man pack up his life and travel the globe for a year. It captures all the ups and downs of travel – the pre-trip anxiety, the stresses of the road, the joys of new friendships and experiences. From Australia to Nepal to Europe, this film features a ton of iconic locals.

Hector and the Search for Happiness – Following a psychiatrist on his pursuit to change up his life and see what makes people happy, the film traverses through China, South Africa and England. With a feel-good ending, this film will make your students want to hop on the next plane out of town!

Eat, Pray, Love – The pinnacle of travel movies! On a journey of self-discovery, the main character relishes in the food of Italy, the spirituality of India, and the zen of Bali. Perhaps the most well-known travel-centric movie, this is perfect to show for sparking feelings of wanderlust.


The wanderlust is real! Find your perfect program here. More of bookworm than a movie buff? Check out our list of the Best Books for Sparking Travel Excitement.

Article written by Nikki Fabrizio

Nikki Fabrizio
Nikki creates content and enjoys highlighting the exuberance of experiential learning. In her free time you can find her traveling, hiking and practicing circus arts.
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