Movies can be transformative and have an ability to transport you to far-flung places—even distant epochs—without ever leaving your living room. Even when your bank account keeps you from taking off on an adventure, a good flick allows you to roam the planet and leave your world for a while. With this in mind, the Paste Travel Team brings you the best travel movies on Netflix. We hope our selection will inspire many future expeditions and spur your curiosity.
Director: Chanya Button
Stars: Laura Carmichael, Chloe Pirrie, Jack Farthing
Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey) and Chloe Pirrie (Youth) star in this drama/comedy about two friends who must travel across Great Britain in order to fulfill their best friend’s last wish—to have his ashes scattered in four meaningful places. Throughout their journey, the women learn more about themselves, love, and appreciating the people in their lives. This raw, emotional rollercoaster, which is suitably named after a quote from Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, is destined to make you want to travel across Europe (and write your will) immediately.
Director: Julie Taymor
Stars: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson
This isn’t your ordinary, upbeat musical—Across The Universe depicts the fictional lives of 1960’s teens dealing with issues like Vietnam, protesting, and deportation. Thirty-four songs from The Beatles move the story from Liverpool to New York. Although parts of the movie might feel like a bad acid trip (like Bono playing a cowboy drug guru), Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess perfectly pin the age-old teenage struggle of love, adulthood, and fighting for what you believe in.
Director: Emilio Estevez
Stars: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger
After his son’s tragic death, a father decides to finish what his son couldn’t. Real life father/son duo Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez appear in this heartfelt drama that follows a man’s trip on the Camino de Santiago, also called “The Way,” a pilgrimage that takes hikers through the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Sheen’s character, a doctor hardened by city life, makes an unexpected group of friends as he scatters his son’s ashes along the way. The Way embodies the spiritual journey of a father finding his son.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
isn’t so much a travel movie as it is an escape movie. The film, which is set during the Great Depression, centers on the adventures of three runaway convicts while they travel through the Deep South looking for treasure. Based on Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, this movie is full of adventure from start to finish—with some big laughs and irresistible folk music thrown in along the way.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Tom, Robin Wright
From tours of duty in Vietnam to diplomatic games of ping-pong in China to political rallies in Washington D.C, Tom Hanks’ lovable character does more than his share of traveling during the span of Forrest Gump. The best part of this film, which chronicles the life of a simple-minded but well-meaning man as he navigates his way through some of the most important events of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, is getting to see so much of the world through Gump’s ever-positive point of view. The movie’s nostalgia, humor and adventure is sure to inspire some wanderlust—even if you can’t run as far as Forrest can.
Director: Bruce Brown
Stars: Robert August, Michael Hynson
Taking viewers on a beachside tour of the world, The Endless Summer is the surfing movie to end all surfing movies. Based on the concept of traveling the world in pursuit of a truly never-ending summer, the documentary follows two Californians to places such as South Africa, Australia and Tahiti as they seek perfect waves and a mellow lifestyle. Put all of this together with an unforgettable surf rock soundtrack, and it’s easy to see why this movie is such a classic.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Stars: Audrey Tautou, Matthieu Kassovitz, Rufus
Filmed in 2001, Amélie is sure to have inspired at least one Instagram filter and what would become hipster travel. From café life to Montmartre, the film captures Parisian life and all of its peculiarities in over eighty locations. Watch as Amélie orchestrates and enriches the lives of the people around her. Doe-eyed travelers can get a fix of the city’s charm and lifestyle between visits.
Night Train to Lisbon
Director: Bille August
Stars: Jeremy Irons, Mélanie Laurent, Jack Huston
A professor thrown into the mystery of a girl he saves walking to work in Switzerland abandons his mundane life to hop a train bound for Lisbon to find the girl and the answers to his questions. Night Train to Lisbon traces a man’s life during revolutionary times while mending broken relationships and starting new ones found along the way. A beautiful portrayal of Portugal’s capital, this novel-turned-film explores what it is we gain from travel: a destination’s history, forging a connection with new people and finding what our daily lives lack.
Coming to America
Director: John Landis
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones
Eddie Murphy’s comedy Coming to America confronts stereotypes of the perception of American and African cultures while poking fun at the mentality of the traveler. While travel is the ultimate education, it does not always have to be a solemn venture to find our true selves or dispose of all of our material possessions. From Brooklyn to the Waldorf Astoria, this film captured the fashionable New York of then and today’s trendiest location without a single scene set in Times Square. Murphy and Hall poke fun at the traveler’s mentality as one of wanting to experience the life of locals even if it is the most miserable existence. Get ready to laugh at yourself.
Take Me Home
Director: Sam Jaeger
Stars: Sam Jaeger and Amber Jaege
Thom isn’t your average taxi driver. He isn’t one at all, but that doesn’t stop him from operating an illegal taxi driving service in New York City. Claire flags him down after hearing news about her estranged father who has suffered a heart attack and hires Thom, who is also low on his luck, to drive her to California to see her father. Even through detours and dilemmas on the road, fate brought the two together with a shimmer of hope for their future together.
Director: Frank Hall Green
Stars: Ella Purnell and Bruce Greenwood
Fourteen-year-old Mackenzie has been dealt a hard hand with the passing of her father and the hospitalization of her mother. After being sent to stay with her pig of an uncle in Juneau, Alaska, the teen runs away to embark on a journey of healing across the Alaskan wilderness with an older widowed backpacker. Even though she hijacked his hike, the unlikely pair find peace with their troubles through their travel while returning Mackenzie to Seattle.
On The Road
Director: Walter Salles
Stars: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart
An adaption of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel, On The Road, Sal Paradise, a young writer has his world turned upside down after he goes on a road trip hoping for inspiration on his stalled career. During his travels, he meets a free-spirited and charismatic Dean and his girl, Marylou (Kristen Stewart) as they take a journey across the country encountering a diverse mix of people impacting their lives and taking risks along the way while searching for a life worth living.
Kate & Leopold
Director: James Mangold
Stars: Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman
Ladies, how would you react if a young, dashing man showed up at your apartment … in a 19th century waist coat? In this hilarious 2001 flick, Leopold, a 19th century duke played by Hugh Jackman, stumbles into present day where he sweeps a jaded New Yorker (Meg Ryan) off her feet. This rom-com will make you fall in love with New York again…and wish time travel really existed. After all, don’t we all wish petticoats, pocket watches and overly chivalrous men would come back in style?
How to Steal a Million
Director: William Wyler
Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, Eli Wallach, Hugh Griffith
Audrey Hepburn steals hearts once again in one of her later films, How to Steal a Million. Set in retro Paris, the movie tells the comedic crime story of two people (Hepburn and Peter O’Toole) who steal a prized Venus statue from a Paris museum… and fall in love with each other along the way. Filled with art, high-jinks, Parisian scenery and romance, this Hepburn classic will make you laugh and wish you were as smooth as these two thieves.
The Fundamentals of Caring
Director: Rob Burnett
Stars: Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez, Craig Roberts
The Fundamentals of Caring is thoughtful and sarcastically morbid. Paul Rudd (Ben) plays a washed-up writer with a troubled past, trying to fill a void by becoming a certified caregiver. Craig Roberts (Trevor) plays a teenager with DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), who maintains a strict diet of waffles and sausage. The paths of these two men cross when Ben becomes Trevor’s caregiver, taking him on a roadtrip to visit America’s lamest roadside attractions culminating with the World’s Biggest Pit. With this trip, Trevor learns the value of his own life, and Ben is reminded of his own value. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best dark comedies to date.
Director: Benjamin Weill
Stars: Devi Couzigou, Mathis Crusson, Victor Le Blond, Sullivan Loyez
In this one hour and 20-minute film, a band of French teens—Delete, King Kong, Flé O, and Copkiller—obsessed with the West coast, American rap culture set out on a journey to retrieve a dangerous lost (originally stolen) item. As is often the case, this journey shows the deep friendship of four boys navigating their own identities while trying to impress the girls of their dreams. There trip takes them outside of their small French town, via hitchhiking, a bike, and a stolen car. Epic water gun battles ensue and internet relationships are brought to light, all while these four boys travel western France to find a way out of the tangled web they’ve woven for themselves.