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We’re all going on a big-screen holiday

Choose your destination, fasten your seats and get ready for take off. Here's 21 films, set in exotic locations that are almost as good travelling abroad.

Grab your passport, pack your dental floss bikini, and mix up a jug of Sangria. No, you haven’t missed a Government announcement telling you Brits will be welcome abroad, but there’s no better time to whisk you off to some of the exotic locations starring in these 21 wanderlust movies. Choose your destination, fasten your seatbelt, we’re ready for take-off.


Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight In Paris Owen Wilson monet lake with lillies
Image: Sony Pictures

Ahh, gay Paris, the home of bohemian arty types who permanently sit in a cloud of cigarette smoke drinking coffee, absinthe or both. Midnight In Paris is essentially a time travel movie starring Owen Wilson as screenwriter and aspiring novelist Gil Pender. Like many tourists, he retraces the steps of past Parisian creatives past… then he’s swept back in time to the 1920s. Sounds bonkers but is actually a very wanderlust-inspiring comedy.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Image: MediaPro/ Metro Goldwyn Mayer

You’ll usually find Woody Allen shuffling around NYC with his camera, but he switched geographical gears for Vicky Cristina Barcelona – a story about two women spending the summer in Barcelona who hook up with the same handsome *ahem* married painter. Despite a glittering cast – hello Scarlett Johannsson, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Crux and Javier Bardem – the city is a scene-stealer. Grab a glass of rojca and drink it in.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest hotel Fox Searchlight Pictures
Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Luxury city break anyone? Wes Anderson will whisk you off to one of the most extraordinary cinematic hotels in the world. The Grand Budapest Hotel a hyper-stylized creation, with its pink facade and retro glamour – it’s one of the most influential hotels in terms of design and yet doesn’t exist. Anderson used various Eastern European towns and cities in Germany as the backdrops for the fictional Zubrowka. However, most of the key scenes were specifically filmed in Görlitz. The plot? The film centres around Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave, the most dedicated concierge whether he’s fighting off murderous armies or providing ‘room service’ for the ancient female guests. Great cast, mind-blowing interior design and a longing for a Euro jaunt. 

Mamma Mia (2008)

Colin Firth and amanda Seigfried ono a yacht in greece
Image: Universal Pictures

Greece in glorious technicolour. It is without question a grand fromage fest with an impressive celebrity cast and ABBA’s greatest hits. But the real star of the show is the Greek Islands, in particular Skopelos– a paradise of white traditional homes draped in fuchsia flowers, clear blue sea and a comeback for dungarees. Thank you, Meryl Streep. The sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was actually filmed in Croatia on the island oof Vis.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Jude Law and Gwenyth Paltro in The Talented Mr Riplet on sun loungers on the beach
Images: Paramount Pictures/ Miramax

The Talented Mr Ripley is super-creepy and super-stylish in equal measure. For this film, director Anthony Minghella found himself a beautiful cast – Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon – and some lust-worthy locations. FromVenice’s opulent hotels to the walls of Ponte Ischia and the beach of Bagno Antonio it’s got holiday goals throughout with the added bonus of Jude Law and Matt Damon in 50s highwaisters.

Roman Holiday (1953)

Audrey Hepburn aand Gregoory Peck Spanish Steps in Rooman Holiday
Image: Paramount Pictures

Audrey Hepburn, George Peck and Rome – the ingredients for a Hollywood classic. It’s a quirky, comical love story between a reluctant royal wanting to experience Rome like everyone else and a journo chasing the scoop of his career. Their tour of Rome proves the perfect catalyst for their budding romance and our love affair with the Italian capital

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Leonardo Dicaprio as piloot in Catch Me If You Can with PanAm Air hostesses
Image: Dreamworks

Steven Spielberg’s cat and mouse a caper starring Leonardo Dicaprio. Based on the life and scams of notorious teenage con artist Frank Abagnale (DiCaprio), you see more airports in the film than anywhere else. But pop quizzers can do their best to spot the 147 locations as the faux Pan Am pilot travels the world. Plenty of vintage air travel eye candy to lust after – a time when ‘budget airline’ wasn’t even in our vocabulary.


Cast Away (2000)

Wiiiiiiiiiilson! Any film that includes a plane crash isn’t going to settle nervous fliers, but at least Tom Hanks finds paradise and has a best mate in volleyball Wilson. Cast Away washes up on a deserted Pacific island and realizes that help isn’t on its way, Chuck is forced to learn how to survive on his own. If you’re a lover of long haul, the Cast Away island is Monuriki, one of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. It’s a 24-hr flight IRL so you might prefer 2hr 23 mins in front of the TV.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

Image: Gramercy Pictures

A group of fellas who don’t the meaning of packing light. Refreshing! But these ain’t no ordinary fellas – they are drag queens. More specifically we have Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving, bathed in sequins lip-sinking and leg kicking to pop classics across New South Wales, Southern Australia and the Northern Territories. It’s as Camp as Christmas and utterly fabulous. 


The Beach (2000)

The Beach Leonardo Dicaprio
Image: 20th Century Fox

How young does Leonardo Dicaprio look? He’s a baby. So refrain from inappropriate lusting. Save it for Thailand’s lush Maya Beach, possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world. But, of course, paradise is like catnip to travellers, and fans trashed the filming location, forcing its closure until 2021. It should be open by the time we can fly again. Dig our your combat trousers, stream All Saints and head for the paradise.

Lost in Translation (2003)

Nill Murray Lost in Translation Shinjuku Japan
Image: Focus Features

Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation is a visual banquet, set in Japan. Take two lonely Americans (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson), resigned to being friends in a foreign land, throw in a ton of neon, a swanky hotel, a karaoke bar and you’ve got one super stylish tourism ad for Tokyo. Ultimately it’s about loneliness and that we all crave friendship and human contact wherever we are in the world. Lockdown life lesson 101.


Out of Africa (1985)

Meryl Streep Robert Redford in Out Of Africa
Image: Universal Pictures

Filmed on location in Kenya, Out Of Africa is a big-screen epic with dramatic backdrops aplenty. Starring Hollywood’s finest Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, this is a tragic love story about a married baroness who falls for a big game hunter. It’s not action-packed, but you’ll enjoy the geographical eye candy, big cats, big hats, Champagne glugging, and catty remarks. 

The English Patient (1996)

It won nine Oscars. NINE! Largely shot in Tunisia and Italy, this is a cinematic giant directed by Anthony Minghella, from his own script based on the 1992 Booker-prize-winning novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje. So it’s a big deal. With a storyline split between pre-war Egypt and post-war Italy, we get artfully crafted glimpses of both locations. We think you’ll appreciate Kirsten Scott Thomas’s classic holiday wardrobe and Ralph Fiennes’s face.


Point Break (1991)

Point Break Keanu reeves and patrick swayze 20th cdntury fox
Image: 20th Century Fox

Hubba hubba! A surf movie with the six-packs of Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze to ogle. Yes please. Point Break classic beach movie set in California that sees a young FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) sent deep undercover with a criminal gang of surf dudes led by Patrick Swayze. The beach scenes were filmed at Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, though director Kathryn Bigalow shot the big waves in Hawaii, at the legendary surfers’ paradise locations of Pipeline Beach, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay. It’s got sun, sea and sex appeal.

Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019)

Image: Sony Pictures

Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to Hollywood. It’s very long, pretty violent with easy on the eye stars – Leo Dicaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie. But Tarantino’s also managed to give us geographical eye candy – aka 1960s Los Angeles. Spot the slow pans across Hollywood Boulevard, famous backdrops like Westwood Village and many scenes were filmed in still-standing bars for those of you who fancy recreating the less murder-y storylines.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

Thelma and Louise Geena Davis susan Sarandon, and Brad Pitt in convertable car
Image: Pathe/ Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Sick of your family? Ditch them for your bezzie mate and hit the road. Thelma & Louise reinvented the buddy movie by sending two women on a road trip to escape their good-for-nothing men. They drive a fictional route from Arkansas (via Brad Pitt’s motel room) to the Grand Canyon. Although filming actually took place in California and Utah. Plenty for your peepers to enjoy here.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Little Miss Sunshine family and campervan
Image: Fox Searchlight

If you’ve survived 11 weeks (or is it 12?) in isolation with your loved ones, you’ll know if you could campervan around America together. If you all still like each other Little Miss Sunshine could be the road trip movie for you. Toni Collette crams her father in law, voluntarily mute son, suicidal brother, overworked husband, and beauty queen wannabe daughter into a lemon of a VW bus – and off they go. It’s funny, with plenty of warm and fuzzy.


Indiana Jones: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the lost Aark Paramount Picturess
Image: Paramount Pictures

No movie franchise romanticises the mystery, history and heat of the Middle East than Raiders of The Lost Ark. It’s a Spielberg classic that makes you wish you were a whip-cracking archeologist or hanging onto one if they are as a fit as a young Harrison Ford. If you thought Egypt is the location luvvie, you’d be wrong. Many of the scenes were shot in Tunisia, near Sidi Bouhel canyon (also used in the Star Wars series) with the jungle scenes captured on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. 

Sex & The City 2 (2010)

sex-and-the-city-2 four women in kaftans walking in the desert
Image: Warner Bros

Granted it was universally panned by critics, but if you love a kaftan and hanker after Middle Eastern luxury, Sex And The City 2 will float your Champagne cork. The film is set in Abu Dhabi, but all filming took place in Morocco – Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Merzouga and Agadir, to be precise. Why didn’t they just set in there in the first place? Anyhoo, it’s like Lawrence of Arabie meets Bloomingdales… at a stretch. Expect multiple costume changes, lots of sand and camels


Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther Wakahandaa Izaru Falls Argentina
Image: Walt Disney Pictures

Once you have watched Disney’s epic superhero movie Black Panther you’ll want to book a one-way ticket to the African utopia Wakanda. Sadly, it’s not real. But before your start furiously googling a holiday alternative, we have learned that many of the aerial shots were done in Zambia and Uganda. But the jaw-dropping Warrior Falls (aka The Iguazu Falls) can be found in Argentina. It is the largest waterfall system in the world that also starred in The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. I’ll be on the first flight that takes me here.

Spectre (2015)

Day of the dead festival in Bond film Spectre
Image: Sony Pictures

Ah, Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you… As with all Bond films, there’s not one star attraction. The globe-trotting secret agent pops up in more countries than he does Bond girl boudoirs. But Spectre’s iconic opening scenes follow Daniel Craig through a Mexico City Day of the Dead parade. But you’ll be jetting off to Austria, Morocco, London, Oxfordshire and Italy. Expect turbulence and jet lag.

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