TV shows and films that inspire travel

EP301 Game of Thrones. Showtime. Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

EP301 Game of Thrones. Showtime. Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

They don't, necessarily, have to be good. I'm not getting all Margaret-and-David on you here. You don't have to like these films.

It's more about the location – the scenery, the cities, the people. I challenge any travel obsessive to watch any one of following movies or TV shows and not think to themselves: "I want to go there. Now."


Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou flee through Freetown in <i>Blood Diamond</i>.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou flee through Freetown in Blood Diamond.

The classic Pom-slayer film was notable not just for the fact that we could be proud of Mel Gibson back then, but also, of course, for the scenery. It was basically a long advertisement for Scottish tourism as William Wallace and his tartan-skirted cohorts romped around the Highlands, these beautiful green hills bathed in the sort of light that can only be found in northern Scotland.


Game of Thrones

Maybe it was Northern Ireland, with all of the castles and forests. Or maybe the wilds of Iceland captured in the scenes set "north of the wall". It might have even been Dubrovnik in Croatia. But for me the best Game of Thrones location so far has been Morocco, the fictional home of dragon queens and Pantene-haired swordsmen. Everything from the weird, "hey, I've been there" moments on the city ramparts of Essaouira to desert scenes in Ouarzazate had me keen to go back.

Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris.

Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris. Photo: Paul Rovere

A Good Year

Doesn't matter how hardcore a traveller you think you are, there's still a small part of everyone that wouldn't mind spending a year in the south of France drinking wine and eating cheese. This movie must have inspired that fantasy in many people, even if it meant having to live near Russell Crowe for 12 months. Scenes in Bonnieux and Cucuron were particularly drool-worthy.

The Spanish Apartment

Great scenery doesn't necessarily mean landscapes and countryside. It can be cityscapes, and you could do far worse on that front than Barcelona. You can find yourself easily sidetracked from this story of foreign students living in the Catalan capital by the shots of the city itself.

Blood Diamond

This dark tale is lightened somewhat by the way Africa is captured on film. Freetown in Sierra Leone suddenly looks like the kind of place I would love to visit – possibly because it was shot somewhere in Mozambique. Meanwhile, the mountainous landscapes Leonardo di Caprio escapes over are stunning, and the small scene at the vineyard in South Africa should have been enough to have most people googling "visit Stellenbosch".

The Da Vinci Code

This tale of a "symologist" who inexplicably hooks up with Audrey Tautou is also a tour of some of Western Europe's most famous landmarks, from the Louvre to Sacre Coeur, Westminster Abbey to the Paris Ritz, with stops at magnificent country estates and chateaux along the way. Mostly, however, it inspired me to get to Milan to see The Last Supper in the flesh. (And, obviously, to stop reading Dan Brown novels.)

Slumdog Millionaire

There's some argument over the way India is portrayed in this British film, but for anyone who's been to the subcontinent there are enough truths on screen to have you nodding your head in recognition. Many of the scenes aren't beautiful, but they capture the madness and excitement of India perfectly – and that's what a visit there is all about.

The Constant Gardener

Like Slumdog Millionaire, there are few traditionally beautiful scenes in the adaptation of John le Carre's book – it's more about the way the travel experience in Kenya is presented. With many scenes shot on-location in public spaces, it takes you straight back to the feeling of being a mzungu in Nairobi, with all the excitement and occasional danger that that can bring. It's not necessarily beauty, but truth.

The Bourne Trilogy

The first three Bourne films are like a Contiki tour of Europe, only with more hand-to-hand combat. He's in Paris, now he's in Prague, now he's in Madrid. The thinking man's James Bond also visits grittier locations than his tuxedoed nancy-boy alternative, from Moscow to Berlin to the rooftops of Tangier. You could book an entire year's holiday on Bourne locations alone.

The Descendants

Yes, I've left out Lord of the Rings because it's a bit too obvious. Instead I'm going for George Clooney's 2011 film, the heart-wrencher where he seemed to run a lot. Rather than concentrate on Clooney sprinting around in silly shirts, I spent most of the movie salivating over the Hawaiian locations, those stunning forest-meets-beach settings on Kauai and Oahu.

Which films have inspired you to travel? Which ones are the best at capturing their locations?




1 comment so far

  • It's more a You Tube Channel that has inspired me to travel. DigitalRev TV is based and predominantly filmed in Hong Kong, so I have been watching and noting locations they visit and photograph and will be visiting at the end of this year!

    Betsy Bicyclist
    New Farm
    Date and time
    July 06, 2013, 11:14AM

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