Travel Restrictions? No Problem. Travel Through Movies!

If you're missing the freedom of travel, explore the world via these international films that put their gorgeous settings in the spotlight.

Incluvie Writer
Incluvie Writer
April 12, 2021

As coronavirus cases continue to increase in the US, many countries aren’t allowing American tourists to visit. So let’s go to the next best thing, the warm and encompassing embrace of the screen, and travel to different countries through movies!

(Note: This article was originally published by Mick Cohen-Carroll on Incluvie's Medium in July 2020. For up-to-date information on travel advisories, consult the CDC or your state government's website.)

I’ve compiled a list of movies (dramas, musicals, comedies, documentaries, etc…) that take place around the world so that you can safely “travel” from home. They are set in different countries and show off the country’s natural landscapes, culture, or picturesque cities. If you think of any other ones, please let me know! I’ve categorized them by continent to make it easier.

AFRICA

Kenya — The First Grader

An elderly Kenyan man sits in a classroom full of young children. He's taking notes and sharing a smile with a teacher, a young Kenyan woman.

Based on a true story, this inspirational tale follows an 84-year-old man who takes advantage of Kenya’s newly established free education to enroll in elementary school and learn to read. We get to see rural Kenya on his route to and from school!

Where to watch The First Grader: Hulu

Niger — The Wedding Ring (Zin’naariyâ!)

A person leads a herd of cattle across a stretch of steppe

As Niger’s first entry submission for the Foreign Language Oscar category, this is a movie you don’t want to miss. Also, look at these shots!

Where to watch The Wedding Ring (Zin’naariyâ!): YouTube

Multiple Countries — The Endless Summer

A pop-art style poster depicting three men carrying surfboards.

Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa aren’t the first countries that come to mind when you think of surfing, but this ode to surf proves that its appeal is worldwide. The subjects of the documentary also travel to more traditional surfing parts of the world, like Oceania and Hawai’i.

Where to watch The Endless Summer: Tubi

Tunisia — Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones cracks his whip in a marketplace

What passed as Egypt in the first Indiana Jones film was actually the Tunisian desert (incidentally, very near where they shot Star Wars: A New Hope). If arid climates are your thing, here’s your opportunity!

Where to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark: Netflix

ANTARCTICA

Adélie Land — March of the Penguins

A group of emperor penguins huddle near the shoreline in Antarctica

The easiest way to visit Antarctica (in my experience). Plus, I’ll take any excuse to watch penguins for an hour and a half!

Where to watch March of the Penguins: Hulu, Vudu

ASIA

Russia — Doctor Zhivago

A train travels across a snowy landscape

If you want a taste of both Russia and Romanticism, here’s your movie! You can see Moscow, Siberia, and a passionate love affair.

Where to watch Doctor Zhivago: HBO Max

China — The Farewell

Billi (Awkwafina) embraces her grandmother Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao)

If you enjoy Beijing and crying, then The Farewell is right up your alley!

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (purchase)

Singapore — Crazy Rich Asians

Fireworks explode over Singapore's skyline

Crazy Rich Asians gives you a taste of what it’s like to be part of the elite in this booming and beautiful nation.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video or YouTube (both for purchase)

Japan — Memoirs of a Geisha

A pair of geisha converse in a garden

Transport yourself to the ancient neighborhoods of Kyoto and visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine Gates.

Where to watch Memoirs Of a Geisha: Amazon Prime Video or YouTube (both for purchase)

India — Veer-Zaara

Veer (Shah Rukh Khan) and Zaara (Preity Zinta) stand in a field of yellow and pink flowers

Mountains, flowers, fountains, colors, romance, song and dance numbers, and a sensitive portrayal of India-Pakistan relations. What more could you ask for?

Where to watch Veer-Zaara: Amazon Prime Video

EUROPE

Austria — The Sound of Music

Maria (Julie Andrews) spins in a field in front of the Alps

Ever wanted to visit the Alps? This is your chance with this classic family musical.

Where to watch The Sound of Music: Disney+

Belgium — In Bruges

Ken (Brendan Gleeson) sips a drink at an outdoor table.

This dark comedy is a laugh riot, and you can see quite a bit of the titular medieval city, too.

Where to watch In Bruges: HBO Max, Hulu

Italy — The Trip To Italy

A promotional poster for The Trip to Italy. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon eat an Italian meal with a beautiful island town in the background.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s antics, impressions, and conversations are fun to watch, even more so with the backdrop of the Amalfi Coast.

Where to watch The Trip To Italy: Hulu

France — Amélie

Amelie (Audrey Tautou) overlooks Paris

The oft-sought out trip to Paris is one click away in this heartwarming and creative movie.

Where to watch Amélie: Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu

Turkey — Kedi

An orange and white cat looks into the camera. In the background, the setting sun shines over Istanbul.

This adorable documentary explores the beautiful city of Istanbul from a cat’s point of view!

Where to watch Kedi: Amazon Prime Video and YouTube (both for purchase)

OCEANIA

Australia — Walkabout

A wide overhead shot of the Outback. Three figures walk away from a tree.

The wilderness is breathtaking, you’ll feel like you’ve been outside for a long time! However, the reason why the main characters are in the wild is disturbing, so beware sensitive souls.

Where to watch Walkabout: Amazon Prime Video (purchase)

New Zealand — Whale Rider

Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), a Maori girl, sits in an abandoned boat near the New Zealand coast

An inspiring story with gorgeous views of the ocean and of nature. If you want the coastal experience, watch this!

Where to watch Whale Rider: Amazon Prime Video, Tubi

Samoa — The Orator (O Le Tulafale)

Fa'afiaula Sagote as Sailli, a Samoan man with dwarfism

Gorgeous views of the South Pacific island and a compelling and nuanced drama, too. It’s also the first feature film to be shot entirely in Samoa — worth watching for that alone!

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

SOUTH AMERICA

Argentina — Gauchos Del Mar

A surfer with a board under their arm walks along Argetina's Patagonian Coast

If you’ve always wanted to trek and surf along the Patagonian coast, watch this stunning documentary!

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Brazil — Amazonia

A monkey sits on a log spanning a body of water in the Amazon Rainforest

Check out the wildlife and feel like you’re hiking through the Amazonian jungle (without getting mosquito bites!) when watching this breathtaking adventure documentary.

Where to watch Amazonia: Vudu

Ecuador — Qué Tan Lejos

Two hikers observe a small herd of sheep and several children walking down a dusty road

With a beautiful countryside and the most picturesque bus stop I’ve ever seen, Qué Tan Lejos looks at the impact that traveling can have on the rest of your life.

Where to watch: Filmingo (to rent)

Multiple Countries — The Motorcycle Diaries

Three men ride down the river on a ferry. Two of the men are pointing to the right of the frame.

In this travel-focused movie, you get to see Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, and more all in one!

Where to watch The Motorcycle Diaries: Amazon Prime Video and YouTube (both for purchase)

Hopefully that’ll cure your wanderlust until the restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to travel again. If you’re more interested in the philosophy of why we travel, here’s a compelling documentary.