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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
If you enjoy Beijing and crying, then The Farewell is right up your alley!
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video (purchase)
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)
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)
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
Ever wanted to visit the Alps? This is your chance with this classic family musical.
Where to watch The Sound of Music: Disney+
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
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
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
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)
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)
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
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
If you’ve always wanted to trek and surf along the Patagonian coast, watch this stunning documentary!
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
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
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)
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.