PFH’s top 10 films to inspire travel

January 31, 2019

Before you read this blog post I want to acknowledge that number 9 was originally published as Lost in Translation which I have since removed. I am letting you know this so you too (if you didn’t already know) can recognise the insensitive de-humanisation and frequent mockery of Asian people, specifically Japanese, in this film. Since reflecting on the how the film’s stereotypes are degrading and not actually funny as I once disrespectfully thought, I have decided to remove it as I do not knowingly want to promote a film that is racist.

I want to share with you my top ten films that have either inspired me to travel to the place they’re set or have lead me to add that destination to my bucket list. I’m keeping it light with the genres covering comedies, rom-coms and musicals (mostly musicals) and taking you from the 1950s through to last year!

I am 100% the type of person who likes to disappear into a film. Second best to travel, it’s my way of escapism. I am drawn into a new world, I invest in characters and I often text Michael telling him I’m going to be a mess for about 30mins after if it was a particularly emotional film. I came home from watching Mary Poppins and I had to sit on my own for about 10mins before I could tell Michael that I enjoyed it without crying about how good it was.

This list shouldn’t provoke too many tears but if they do, they should be happy tears! Alright, I’ll stop talking about crying over made up people and situations and leave you with my top 10 films set around the world to inspire you to travel.

1. Blue Hawaii (1961) – Hawaii

Directed by Norman Taurog.

Staring Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman and Angela Lansbury.


After returning home from the Army to Hawaii, Chadwick Gates (Elvis Presley) chooses to work as a tour guide for his girlfriend’s (Joan Blackman) travel agency rather than work at his family’s pineapple plantation. Chad isn’t exactly the most loyal of boyfriends and finds it hard to resist when he catches the eye of many young ladies. Eventually he has a decision to make whilst filling the film with a great soundtrack sang by the King himself.

Trailer published by YouTube Movies.

Filmed in Ohau and Kauai, the scenery in this film will have you longing to hop on a surfboard to ride waves until the sun goes down when you can party the night away at a luau. Not only is this one of my top films to inspire travel, but it’s also one of my favourite films of all time! It’s funny, it perfectly showcases the beauty of Hawaii, the soundtrack is so romantic and it has Elvis! I’m not going to pretend like Chadwick’s infidelity is charming, it’s super questionable actually, but that aside, it’s a lovely film.

PFH Fun Fact: Blue Hawaii was Elvis’ most successful film.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

2. Boy (2010) – New Zealand

Directed by Taika Waititi.

Staring James Rolleston, Taika Waititi.


Set in the mid-eighties, Boy (James Rolleston), an 11 year old obsessed with Michael Jackson, forms a relationship with his criminal father (Taika Waititi) who returns home to find a bag of money he buried before leaving after the death of Boy’s mother.

Trailer published by FilmBuff Movies.

Boy is a very sweet and comical film with quotes that will have you practicing your New Zealand accent for years to come. The first time I saw Boy was on my first trip to New Zealand so it has a very special place in my heart. Once you’ve watched Boy you must follow it up with Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), another brilliant New Zealand comedy from Taika Waititi.

PFH Fun Fact: Taika Waititi went on to direct Thor Ragnarok.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

3. Come September (1961) – Italy

Directed by Robert Mulligan.

Starring Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin.


Every September Robert (Rock Hudson) pays his beautiful Italian lady (Gina Lollobrigida) and his almost as beautiful holiday home a visit. This time he’s a little earlier than expected and his housekeepers are more than a little surprised, as is Robert when he finds out he won’t be home alone.

Trailer published by KayRHvids Cellar.

Come September is a very fun and upbeat film that makes light of old vs young. It has an all star cast and the fashion is beyond dreamy. What’s more, it’s set up in the mountains looking down on the most spectacular views of the Italian coast. The whole movie was filmed in Italy in Cinque Terre, La Spezia, Liguria, Ostia, Rome, Portofino and Liguria. If endless photos of Cinque Terre on Instagram haven’t already persuaded you to travel there, this beautiful film sure will.

PFH Fun Fact: It was on the set of Come September that Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee met and fell in love.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

4. La La Land (2016) – Los Angeles

Directed by Damien Chazelle.

Staring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.


This contemporary musical love story follows Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian’s (Ryan Gosling) romance as they begin as nobodies both trying to succeed in Hollywood, otherwise known as La La Land.

Trailer published by Lionsgate Movies.

The opening scene to La La Land gives me chills every time I watch it. I had the soundtrack to this film on repeat for months when it came out. It takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions as you watch the highs and lows of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship. If you’re a fan of classic 40s-50s musicals such as On the Town you’ll appreciate the film’s nods to such classics.

PFH Fun Fact: Ryan Gosling took piano lessons so that he could play every piano scene without the need for a hand double.

Available on Netflix.

5. Brooklyn (2015) – New York

Directed by John Crowley.

Staring Saoirse Ronan, Julie Walters and Emory Cohen.


Set in 1950s Brooklyn, Eilis is a young Irish immigrant who moves to New York on her own to start a new life that has far more promise than if she were to stay at home. She falls in love with a charming Italian local (Emory Cohen) but, when a reason for her to go home occurs she is quickly swept up in her past life, and must decide between the two countries and the lives she has made for herself.

Trailer published by FoxSearchlight.

In all honesty, apart from a very lovely scene set in Coney Island, there isn’t a huge amount of New York sights in this film, but it is one of the most beautiful and endearing films I’ve ever watched, and one of my favourites. This film fuelled my desire for the American Dream, that’s for sure.

PFH Fun Fact: This was the first of Saoirse’s films where she spoke with an Irish accent, but it wasn’t actually her own dialect.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

6. Roman Holiday (1953) – Rome

Directed by William Wyler.

Starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.


A bored princess (Audrey Hepburn) who had done nothing but live life by everyone else’s rules makes a run for it on a royal visit to Rome. American journalist, Joe (Gregory Peck), who seizes the opportunity to make headlines with this once in a lifetime opportunity, takes her in. It isn’t long before sparks fly between the two and the pair are both left with difficult decisions to make.

Trailer published by Miguel Garcia.

My itinerary for my trip to Rome a few years ago was entirely inspired by Roman Holiday. The Spanish Steps, Mouth of Truth, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and the Roman Forum are all featured in the film and worth a visit at least once in your life.

PFH Top Tip: Despite Audrey Hepburn’s scene where she eats gelato at the base of the Spanish Steps, eating on the Spanish Steps is forbidden and you will be swiftly removed. We found that out the hard way…

PFH Fun Fact: Princess Ann’s screams of horror followed by laughter in the scene with the Mouth of Truth are real. Gregory Peck decided during filming to hide his hand in his sleeve and Audrey Hepburn wasn’t expecting it.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

7. Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – Singapore

Directed by Jon M. Chu.

Starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan and Michelle Yeoh.


Nick Young (Henry Golding) takes his girlfriend Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) home to Singapore to meet his family. What she doesn’t know is that he is Singpore’s most affluent bachelor and what he doesn’t know is that his mother does not approve of Rachel. Watch Rachel try her best to fit in to his former hilariously over-the-top and dirty rich life.

Trailer published by Warner Bros. Pictures.

When Crazy Rich Asians came out, I had a trip to Singapore booked and I had been before a few years back but I swear if I hadn’t already had one booked I would have bought my flights when I got home from the cinema! Whilst telling a very endearing and rather hilarious love story, this film shows off Singapore beautifully and considering the ending was painfully close to my dream engagement scenario (a girl can dream) I’d say it’s pretty spectacular. From street food and very apt sweating to Gardens by the Bay, Raffles and Marina Bay Sands, this film will make you fall in love with Singapore.

PFH Fun Fact: This was Henry Golding’s first film. He is actually one of the hosts of the BBC’s programme “The Travel Show”.

Available on Amazon Prime.

8. The Sound of Music (1965) – Austria

Directed by Robert Wise.

Staring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.


The Sound of Music is a musical adaptation of the true life story of the von Trapp family. Maria (Julie Andrews) leaves her covent to become the governess for Captain von Trapp’s seven children who she befriends with the help of sing-a-long moments and playful days in the hills of Salzburg.

Trailer published by Fox Family Entertainment.

The many scenes of Maria and the children frolicking in the Austrian countryside are breathtaking and if I had the opportunity to do the same I would drop everything to go.

PFH Fun Fact: The helicopter that filmed the opening scene, where Maria is spinning and singing against the mountainous back drop, kept knocking Julie Andrews down due to the wind it created. The scene had to be filmed multiple times.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

9. Call Me by Your Name (2017) – Italy

Directed by Luca Guadagnino.

Staring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet.


It’s the summer of 1983 in the Italian countryside where Elio (Chalamet) resides with his parents. His whole world changes when his father hires an intern, Oliver (Hammer), and intoxicating romance begins.

Trailer published by Sony Picture Classics.

Aside from Oliver serving up some major style inspiration, I mean major props to Giulia Piersanti for the costumes, they make smart casual look effortless, Call Me by Your Name is one of the most transcendent “coming of age” films out there both visually and emotionally.

It’s possible that I should have written an individual blog post on films set in Italy as this is the third one on this list, but my gosh, Italy is a beautiful country to film!

PFH Fun Fact: Call Me by Your Name was adapted from the novel of the same name by André Aciman.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

10. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – India

Directed by Wes Anderson.

Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman.


Three brothers embark on a train journey across India as an attempt to bond with each other. Each of them have their differences which consistently albeit humorously come to light throughout.

Published by FoxSearchlight.

Michael was watching Wes Anderson films before Wes Anderson films were cool. The first one he made me watch was The Life Aquatic and I was impressed mostly because it made him grow out his beard and wear a red beanie. Thankfully that stopped but luckily me watching a few more of Anderson’s films didn’t. His films are incredibly aesthetically pleasing (yeah I have an A level in Film Studies so I can use fancy terms) and beautifully capture the scenery of the location the film is set. You might not want to partake in this questionable train journey in particular but you will be drawn into India’s charm.

PFH Fun Fact: To keep up his character’s limp, Owen Wilson kept a lime in his shoe throughout filming.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.


Happy watching.

Aloha, Gabriella

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