True love stories never go out of style, especially when you add to them a travel spin. Love is a universal language, but there´s nothing more absorbing and intriguing than to follow a romance on the other side of the world. Any usual storyline becomes unique when you add new landscapes, cultures, and traditions to the plot. Let´s check my favorite romantic travel movies that will make you live adventures from home.
As much as I love watching travel documentaries, sometimes we all want something heart-melting – a movie with a beautiful storyline to escape the ordinary without having to get off the couch.
If you think of it, traveling is quite a romantic experience itself: navigating a new place gives you unlimited possibilities to fall in love with cities, architecture, nature, food, museums, street art, and people. Most of my personal romantic travel experiences were connected to traveling.
Therefore, every time my next holiday feels too far away, I just pick a few romantic travel movies and secretly disappear from the rest of the world.
The best romantic travel movies
1. Out of Africa (1985)
Let´s start this list of the most romantic travel movies with a few iconic oldies. Out of Africa (1985) is based on the autobiographical novel and tells the story of the Danish author Karen Blixen, who moved to Africa to establish her new life there.
There´s something breathtaking about this movie – the wild African scenery, the romance between leading actors, the music on the background … Besides the engaging storyline in Out of Africa (1985), the photography director has definitely done a wonderful job bringing Africa´s wild natural beauty to the screen.
2. Roman Holiday (1953)
Roman Holiday (1953) is a timeless classic with Audrey Hepburn´s charming performance. It´s the story of a bored princess who escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome. It absolutely inspires to visit Rome, Italy or simply watch all of Audrey Hepburn´s iconic movies in a row.
3. The English Patient (1997)
The English Patient (1997) is one of my personal all-time favorites. This movie has it all – love, romance, tragedy, secret, drama, and journey.
A nurse from Canada is caring for a pilot, horribly burned in a plane wreck. He cannot remember his name, so he’s known simply as “the English Patient,” thanks to his accent. However, once the nurse begins to piece together her patient’s story, the spectators time-travel to Italy and Egypt (although the dessert scenes were actually filmed in Tunisia) where the love story took place.
You literally gravitate to the screen from the first minute of The English Patient (1997). It has won 9 Oscars for a reason.
4. Painted veil (2006)
Painted veil (2006) is another absolute favorite of mine. The movie is based on the classic novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The storyline takes us back to the 1920s. A middle-class doctor marries an upper-class woman, but she never really appreciates him and falls in love with someone else. Once the doctor discovers the infidelity, he accepts a job in a remote Chinese village (suffering deadly epidemic) as an act of vengeance.
But this journey together changes everything between the couple and makes the unfaithful wife see her husband in a different light. Life in a Chinese village brings meaning to their relationship and makes them fall in love with each other all over again. I adore this movie and never get tired of watching it.
5. Anna and the King (1999)
Anna and the King (1999) takes you to the magical kingdom of Siam. The widowed British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, travels to the other side of the world to educate the king´s heirs in the ways of the West. First, the strict Siamese protocol seems unfair to her. But once she and the king get to know each other and make an attempt to understand their cultural differences, their relationship evolves into a beautiful love story.
6. Tourist (2010)
If there´s one movie to inspire everyone to visit the Italian city of Venice – it´s Tourist (2010). The storyline might not be as deep or dramatic as in the other romantic travel movies from this list. But Tourist (2010) is one of the most visually pleasing movies ever – literally everything you see on the screen is beyond aesthetic: filming locations, leading actors, Angelina´s outfits, the splendid canals of Venice…
The plot seems simple at a first glimpse: an American tourist Frank meets a mysterious beauty who drags him into a dangerous world of espionage and adventure. But did their paths really cross by a pure accident and how will the romance between the two of them evolve?
7. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
One of Woody Allen´s must-see works is Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). The plot takes place in the picturesque city of Barcelona, where two American girls get their travel plans turned upside down by a bohemian artist Juan and his psychotic ex-wife. Besides the great performances of the main actors, what I loved about this movie is how it really shows the beauty of Barcelona and this unique love for life the Spanish people have.
8. The Holiday (2006)
Have you ever thought of having a spontaneous vacation somewhere far away by simply swapping homes with someone? The Holiday (2006) tells a story of two women tired of guy-problems who decide to swap homes. From California glamour to a reclusive British cottage, and all the way around, both of them unexpectedly meet a local guy and fall in love. It´s just a sweet movie to cozy yourself at home and enjoy the two different love stories in the States and UK.
9. A Good Year (2006)
A Good Year (2006) will take you to the charming region of Luberon in the French Provence. Max Skinner is a highly successful investment expert who inherits the vineyard in France where he grew up as a child. Max travels to France with an intention to sell the vineyard as quickly as possible, but after spending some time in Provence, he discovers a part of himself that he had lost, as well as falls in love with a beautiful French woman.
10. Eat Pray Love (2010)
Almost every list of romantic travel movies and books starts with Eat Pray Love (2010). The movie is based on Elizabeth Gilbert´s post-divorce journey around the world.
In pursuit of worldly pleasure, she visits Italy, India, Indonesia and finds friends, spiritual devotion, and love. Many call this movie (or book) “too cutesy” or “superficial”. But I really enjoyed both. The path of spiritual growth and enlightenment is different for everyone, this movie is just a personal journey of Elizabeth Gilbert. It might inspire you or it might not. But you can definitely get some aesthetic pleasure from watching Eat Pray Love (2010). It´s all about life and food passion in Italy, devotion in India, and inner balance on the Indonesian island of Bali.
11. Lost in Translation (2003)
Directed by Sofia Coppola and set under the bustling city life and lights of Tokyo, Lost in Translation (2003) is one of the romantic travel classics. The two main characters from different generations build a surprising bond simply because both feel lonely and have anything to do while they are in Japan. The film is a slow and dreamy story full of funny cultural clashes. It also shows how big cities can bring together people while keeping them apart at the same time…
12. The Terminal (2004)
Every frequent traveler will find the story of being stuck in airports very much relatable. But Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European tourist, is caught up in international politics and forced to live at JFK in New York indefinitely. However, he becomes improbably adored by all the people who work there.
It´s mostly a funny story of how life goes on at any place – people can still make friends and fall in love even without full freedom of move. While living at the airport, Viktor falls for a flight attendant, so the whole feeling-good comedy gets a romantic twist.
13. A perfect plan (2012)
It´s one of the on-the-road favorites we often watch with my husband. It is warm, funny and literally takes you around the world from France and Belgium to Kenya and Russia. In Isabelle´s family first marriages never work out. So she decides to marry the first guy on her way, just to divorce him and go back to her long-time boyfriend Pierre to live happily ever after. But as always things just don´t go as planned…
14. Mama Mia (2008)
If you need an ultimate inspiration to fall in love with Greece, just check Mamma Mia. Despite being a popular tribute to the Greek islands, it was not filmed on the touristy Mykonos or Santorini. Instead, the cast and crew headed to the lesser-known Skopelos and Skiathos. The film is built around ABBA hit songs and tells the story of a daughter inviting 3 of her mother´s boyfriends to figure out who´s her real father.
You know that after my last visit to Crete, I´ve confessed that I´m ready to go back to explore new Greek islands every summer. So every time I feel like I need a dose of Greece, Mamma Mia helps to fuel this Wanderlust.
15. Midnight in Paris (2011)
No list of romantic travel movies can be complete without something set in Paris, the universal city of love. Woody Allen brings to us an intriguing story of an engaged American couple falling under the magic of the city of Paris. Only one midnight walk in the city changes everything for both of them.
Besides spotlighting many famous actors like Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, and Carla Bruni, Midnight in Paris (2011) is full of beautiful cityscapes that will make you want to grab your partner’s hand and take him/her to Paris right away.
16. Letters to Juliet (2010)
Letters to Juliet (2010) is a romantic movie where the whole story takes place in the Italian city of Verona. Sophie travels to Italy with her husband, but one day she decides to explore the streets of Verona alone. Once she walks up to Juliet´s courtyard, she discovers hundreds of notes stuck in the wall, all from the lovers seeking advice. Sophie answers one of the letters and the story begins…
Verona is one of a few Italian cities still missing on my travel bucket list, so I personally enjoyed time-traveling to Shakespeare´s novel and seeing the beautiful cityscapes of Verona.
17. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) is your ultimate Wanderlust ticket to Toscana, Italy. The movie tells us a story of a San Francisco writer Frances Mayes who gets a trip to Tuscany as a gift from a friend. However, once she arrives in Italy she falls under the local charm of Tuscany and impulsively buys an aging, but very charming, villa. New friends, local experiences and lots of unexpected surprises – Frances Mayes finds herself immersed in an adventure of a lifetime.
18. Beyond Borders (2003)
Beyond Borders (2003) is a story of the turbulent romance with the backdrop of the world’s most dangerous hot spots. This movie brings our attention to the global humanitarian challenges of aid workers and refugees crisis. Many critics claim that Beyond Borders (2003) is neither a beautiful melodrama (because it shows its viewers not the prettiest side of this world) nor a serious documentary (because you have the romance in the foreground).
Although, you can feel that many of the experiences are partially autobiographical for the leading actress Angelina Jolie (who´s also a UN ambassador for refugees). You can find lots of things in common with her “Notes from My Travels”, where the actress describes her visits with Refugees in Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Ecuador. So, this movie makes you reflect on the world´s situation and our possible personal input.
19. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Based on the bestseller book, Crazy Rich Asians (2018) is the story of Rachel Chu who accompanies her longtime boyfriend to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excitement about visiting Asia mixes in her heart with a fear of meeting Nick’s family, one of the country’s wealthiest dynasties. It is a funny and romantic story of how a family is actually crazier than love itself.
20. Cairo Time (2009)
Juliette, a fashion magazine editor in her 50s, travels to Cairo to meet her husband, a UN official working in Gaza. She arrives in Egypt for a three-week vacation, but her husband is constantly delayed with work. Therefore he sends one of his friends, who had been his security officer for many years, to escort Juliette throughout the beautiful and exotic city of Cairo. The last thing anyone expects is that they will fall in love.
Cairo Time (2009), aside from its beautiful romance story, is also a love letter to the city of Cairo from its writer/director Ruba Nadda, inspired by her personal experiences. Throughout history, Egypt has played host to the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, the Ottomans, Napoleon, and the British, so there´s so much life and history beautifully captured on screen. A journey through Cairo feels like a journey through time…
Do you have a favorite romantic travel movie?
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