20 movies that will help you see the world from your couch

shoeller@businessinsider.com (Sophie-Claire Hoeller)
Pacific Crest Trail, USA.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

  • Let these films transport you to another place without ever leaving your couch.
  • "Before Sunrise" with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy will take you all around the historic Austrian capital of Vienna.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio's "The Beach" is part of what made Maya Bay in Thailand such a popular tourist destination.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

As travel is restricted and most of the world has been asked to stay home, we could all use a little escapism.

We also have a lot more time on our hands.

From a sun-drenched road trip through Mexico to a night-time stroll on the cobblestoned streets of Vienna, Austria, these 20 movies feature stunning backdrops that essentially steal the show.

"Y Tu Mamá También" (2001) — Oaxaca, Mexico


Anhelo Producciones

Julio (Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna), both 17, decide to embark on a wild cross-country adventure when their girlfriends leave for Italy for the summer, meeting a beautiful older woman who joins them. The movie is a blunt coming-of-age story about sex, drugs, and friendship, but it's hard to look away from the sun-drenched Mexican backdrop.

How to watch: Free on Netflix

"Amélie" (2001) — Paris, France

Paris, France.

Claudie Ossard Productions

Paris is essentially the secondary character in "Amélie," which shot at 80 different Paris locations, from the Notre Dame to a seedy Pigalle sex shop. The quirky comedy follows the tale of introverted Amélie (Audrey Tautou) as she traverses the City of Lights doing secret good deeds, quietly changing the lives of those around her, unbeknownst to them.

How to watch: Free on Amazon and Hulu with a Cinemax subscription

"The Darjeeling Limited" (2007) — Rajasthan, India

Rajasthan, India.

Fox Searchlight

Wes Anderson has a knack for colorful, gorgeous cinematography, and "The Darjeeling Limited" is no different. His use of Rajasthan's gorgeous expanses of both vast desert and rugged mountains will make you overlook the drama, endless hours, and general crampedness of the rattling rail journey undertaken by estranged brothers Francis (Owen Wilson), Jack (Jason Schwartzman), and Peter (Adrien Brody).

How to watch: Free on Hulu with a HBO subscription

"Before Sunrise" (1995) — Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria.

Columbia Pictures

Vienna, Austria, shines in this romance, which takes place in the span of a single night. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American, is on his way to Vienna when he meets Céline (Julie Delpy), a French woman, on a train, and convinces her to join him in the Austrian capital for the night, before his flight back home the next morning. The two spend the night exploring the city, talking, and falling in love.

How to watch: $2.99 on Amazon

"Thelma & Louise"(1991) — USA


Thelma and Louise/Pathé Entertainment

A story of female friendship, a road trip turned manhunt, this film embodies the free-spiritedness of an impromptu road trip across the US, albeit without a happy ending. Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots a man attempting to rape Thelma (Geena Davis) in Arkansas. They escape, and end up driving to the Grand Canyon in a Ford Thunderbird convertible in the adventure of a lifetime.

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon


"Roman Holiday" (1953) — Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy.

Paramount Pictures

Rome steals the show in this romance between European princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), who escapes her royal responsibilities while on tour, and American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who shows her around town having bet his editor he can get an exclusive interview with her, but falls in love instead. The Spanish Steps, a tour of the Colosseum, Vespa rides, and coffee at street cafés will transport you to the Italian capital.

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon

"Call Me by Your Name" (2017) — Northern Italy

Northern Italy.

Sony Pictures Classics

A 1980s summer romance between 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and  24-year-old graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer), who works for Elio's father, is the focal point of "Call Me by Your Name," but the world fell in love with the northern Italian countryside and its sprawling fields and ancient, dusty piazzas, as well as beautiful Lake Garda and historic Bergamo.

How to watch: $1.99 on Amazon

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (2011) —  Jaipur, India

Jaipur, India.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

After seeing an ad for a luxurious but cheap retirement home in India, a motley crew of eccentric British retirees (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy) decides to spend their twilight years there, only to find that the beautiful Jaipur palace from the brochure, run by Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), is a lot more rundown than expected.

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon

"Lost in Translation" (2003) — Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan.

Focus Features

Culture shock, insomnia, and ennui all weave together in "Lost in Translation," set in Tokyo, Japan. Disillusioned, aging celebrity Bob Harris (Bill Murray) meets bored and lonely newlywed Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) at an upscale hotel. Together, they escape their unhappiness by exploring Tokyo, culminating in a wild night out.

How to watch: Free on Amazon and Hulu with Starz subscription

"The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999) — Italy



Despite the terrifying nature of this thriller, in which con man Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) first becomes obsessed, and then pretends to be wealthy playboy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), before resorting to more extreme measures, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" has us dreaming about the azure waters of the Italian seaside.

How to watch: Free on Netflix

"Eat Pray Love" (2010) — Italy, India, and Bali

Italy, India, and Bali.

Columbia Pictures

After a bitter divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) decides to drop everything to go on a solo journey of self-discovery, which leads her to appreciate the simple pleasures of food in Italy, achieve inner peace in India, and, finally, find love again in Bali.

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon

"The Beach" (2000) — Maya Bay, Thailand

Maya Bay, Thailand.

Figment Films

A young American backpacker (Leonardo DiCaprio) finds himself in possession of a map that leads to a remote, secret Thai beach. He hooks up with a young French couple to find this tropical paradise so that they can live off-the-grid, but they discover that the stunning spot houses some dark secrets.

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon

"Under the Tuscan Sun" (2003) — Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy.

Touchstone Pictures

On a solo trip to Italy trying to rally after a bitter divorce, American writer Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany, where she begins to rebuild her life alongside a colorful cast of locals.

How to watch: Free on Hulu

"Australia" (2003) — Australia


Twentieth Century Fox

As the name implies, this dazzling, larger-than-life historical drama pays homage to the vast and rugged Australian Outback. Set on the precipice of WWI, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) travels from the UK to Australia to look after a cattle ranch she inherited, only to be forced to drive her cattle across the country to save it, all with the help of a sexy local rancher (Hugh Jackman).

How to watch: Free on Hulu with Starz subscription

"Crazy Rich Asians" (2018) — Singapore


Warner Bros.

From yacht parties to hawker centers, see Singapore through the eyes of its wildly rich inhabitants in this love story about Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a Chinese-American professor from New York who travels to Singapore to meet her fiancé Nick Young's (Henry Golding) eccentric family.

How to watch: Free on Amazon and Hulu with Cinemax subscription

"Wild" (2014) — Pacific Crest Trail, USA

Pacific Crest Trail, USA.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

An ugly divorce and personal tragedy prompts Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) to make the rash decision to hike 1,100 miles of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail completely by herself, despite no prior hiking experience. She has many adventures and close calls along the way, but the movie's focal point is her journey to self-discovery and forgiveness.

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon

"How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (1998) — Jamaica


20th Century Fox

Stella (Angela Bassett) is a powerful boss lady working as a stockbroker in San Francisco. While her career is taking off, her private life is less than thriving. On a well-deserved vacation in Jamaica with her best friend (Whoopie Goldberg), she has a fling with a 20-something guy (Taye Diggs) that makes her reevaluate her priorities.

How to watch: Free on Amazon and Hulu with Cinemax subscription

"The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" (1994) — Australia



Two drag performers and a transgender woman (Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, and Terence Stamp) travel to a gig in Alice Springs, a remote town in the heart of the Australian desert, in a converted purple school bus they've affectionately named Priscilla. The trip features plenty of soul-searching, personal revelations, and lip-syncing.

How to watch: Free on Amazon

"Mamma Mia! The Movie" (2008) — Greece


Universal Movies

The Greek isles stand their own alongside an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, and Amanda Seyfried. Donna (Meryl Streep), a hotelier in Greece, is planning her daughter Sophie's wedding (Amanda Seyfried), but little does she know that Sophie invited three of Donna's exes in the hopes of finding out who her father is.

How to watch: Free on Amazon and Hulu with Starz subscription

"La La Land" (2016) —  Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California.


The traffic, the Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Pier: "La La Land" is a candy-colored, carefree version of LA, centered around the not-always-happy love story of jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and actress Mia (Emma Stone).

How to watch: $3.99 on Amazon

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