Movies That Inspired Travel in 2011

From The Descendants to Midnight in Paris, these 11 movies made us want to pack our bags in search of our own picture-perfect paradise.

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In The Beach backpackers search for a hidden beach in Thailand, inaccessible to tourists. Since the movie was filmed in 1999, Maya Bay has become one of the main tourist attractions in Thailand. The film inspires visitors to make the trek to this secluded area for a glimpse of paradise. 960 1280

  

The Eternal City's famous sights are the backdrop for the love story in the Roman Holiday. While the leads, played by Hollywood icons, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, fall for each other, we fall for all things Italy. 960 1280

  

Mamma Mia created a tourism boom to the Greek Islands for destination weddings. Mesmerized by the film's spectacular scenery, fans booked trips to this Mediterranean paradise to have a Big Fat Greek Wedding of their own. 960 1280

  

When Endless Summer came out in 1966, not only did it increase the popularity of surfing in general, but it also created a 'surf and travel' culture that inspired surfers, experts and novices alike, to travel the world in search of the perfect wave. 960 1280

  

In Sideways, 2 middle-aged men, Miles and Jack, try to recapture their carefree days with a mancation centered around wine and women. The movie created a huge boost to tourism not only to the Napa wine region, but also to Santa Barbara's wine country, where most of the movie took place. 960 1280

Mark Rasmussen  

Think you can only visit J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth in your imagination? Escape into the epic fantasy of Lord of the Rings by visiting one of the locations in the film, Milton Sound (pictured here) in the South Island, New Zealand. 960 1280

  

The draw of Out of Africa isn't just icons Robert Redford and Meryl Streep playing passionate lovers, but stunning scenes of Kenya's raw and untamed landscapes. After the movie was released, Kenya became a popular tourist destination for safaris. 960 1280

Ludmila Yilmaz  

In Lost in Translation, 2 American strangers abroad form an unlikely bond in their isolation. Tokyo's high-energy culture wakes up their passion for life and for us, our passion for travel. 960 1280

  

Under the Tuscan Sun , based on Frances Mayes' memoir, shows a recently divorced American woman venturing off to Italy to buy and restore a villa in Tuscany. The film inspired many travelers to seek out the film's locations in the stunning countryside. There has even been an increase in expats following in Mayes' footsteps and buying homes in the same area. 960 1280

Dan Bannister  

The Twilight phenomenon breathed new life into the town of Forks, WA, with "twihards" flocking in droves to the locations from the book/film. Vampire- and werewolf-scouting aside, La Push (pictured here) is 12 miles from Forks and home to some of the most stunning scenery on the Olympic Peninsula. 960 1280

Sonja Yearsley  

The film Amelie shows a whimsical side of Paris with the story of a secret matchmaker who kindles many love affairs in the city, and then finally gets one of her own. With beautiful shots of the city, the film rekindles our love affair with Paris. 960 1280

Erick Nguyen  

In Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona 2 friends spend a summer in Spain and unbeknownst, have an affair with the same painter. It wasn't just the stunning cast and sexy plot, but the iconic shots of summer in Barcelona that left us seduced by Spain. 960 1280

Zinchik  

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Chott el Djerid, Tunisia)

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Chott el Djerid, Tunisia)

The iconic exterior of Luke Skywalker’s home (aka: the Lars Homestead) from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was filmed in the desert of Chott el Djerid, Tunisia. George Lucas returned to this location to film new scenes for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 28 years later. 960 1280

By Stefan Krasowski (Flickr: Algeria Tunisia Libya 042) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Mamata, Tunisia)

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Mamata, Tunisia)

Matmata in southern Tunisia is home to a distinctive style of underground dwellings called troglodytes.  One of these structures, The Hotel Sidi Driss, which was used as the interior for the home of Luke Skywalker on the planet Tatooine in Episode IV.   960 1280

Bernard Gagnon [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Various Locations on Tatooine (aka: Death Valley National Park, CA)

Various Locations on Tatooine (aka: Death Valley National Park, CA)

To add some depth to Tatooine, George Lucas shot several different scenes in Death Valley National Park, including R2D2’s run-in with the Jawas in Episode IV and exteriors of Jabba’s Palace in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The majority of locations can be found off of Route 190 through the California section of the park. 960 1280

"Twenty Mule Team Canyon" by RoadTripWarrior - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.  

Hoth (aka: Hardangerjokulen, Norway)

Hoth (aka: Hardangerjokulen, Norway)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back used this spectacular glacier to portray the ice planet Hoth. The 6th largest glacier in Norway, its highest point can sometimes only be accessed by skiers due to heavy snowfall. 960 1280
Endor (aka: Redwood National and State Parsk, CA)

Endor (aka: Redwood National and State Parsk, CA)

Used to portray the evergreen planet of Endor (home of the Ewoks) in Episode VI, the Redwood National and State Parks have become synonymous with epic speeder-bike chases for Star Wars fans everywhere. With over 133,000 acres to explore, its easy to get lost on your own interstellar-inspired journey. 960 1280

Visit California/Carol Highsmith  

Naboo Royal Palace (aka: Royal Palace of Caserta in Caserta, Italy)

Naboo Royal Palace (aka: Royal Palace of Caserta in Caserta, Italy)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Palace of Caserta served as the filming location for Queen Amidala’s royal palace on Naboo in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, as well as Queen Jamilia’s palace in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Built in the 18th century in the beautiful style of the Baroque, it has affectionately become known as the Versailles of Italy. 960 1280

Livioandronico2013 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Theed, Naboo (aka: Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain)

Theed, Naboo (aka: Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain)

The Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain was used as the backdrop for Theed, the capital of Naboo (and home of Luke and Leia’s mother, Padmé Amidala). Featured prominently in both Episode I and Episode II, the plaza was built in 1928 and heavily influenced by the Renaissance Revival style of Spanish Architecture, bringing an ancient and elegant feel to Theed. 960 1280

Gregory Zeier [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Unspecified Location in Naboo (aka: Villa del Balbianello at Lake Como, Italy)

Unspecified Location in Naboo (aka: Villa del Balbianello at Lake Como, Italy)

The site of Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker’s clandestine wedding in Episode II, Villa del Balbianello is located on Lake Como in the comune of Lenno, Italy. Lake Como has always been an admired retreat for the wealthy and elite, with ornate villas dating back since Roman times.  960 1280
Mountains of Alderaan (aka: Grindelwald, Switzerland)

Mountains of Alderaan (aka: Grindelwald, Switzerland)

While no physical filming with actors was done in the snowy alps of Grindelwald, Switzerland, footage of mountain scenery was later composited into the backdrop of the planet Alderaan, home-world of Princess Leia, in Episode III. 960 1280

Zacharie Grossen [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Mountains of Kashyyyk (aka: Phang Nha Bay near Phuket, Thailand)

Mountains of Kashyyyk (aka: Phang Nha Bay near Phuket, Thailand)

Aerial footage of the limestone karst mountains at Phang Nga Bay in Thailand were used in Episode III as a backdrop for the approach over the Battle of Kashyyyk, one of the last few battles fought in the Clone Wars before the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. 960 1280

Diego Delso [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Unknown Star Wars Location

Unknown Star Wars Location

The plot of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been kept tightly under wraps but there have been confirmed reports of new locations used for filming, including Skelling Michael in Ireland (pictured), the desert of the UAE emirate of Abu Dhabi, Scotland and Iceland. Add these new locations to your Star Wars travel itinerary as they will surely be as memorable as the last! 960 1280
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This latest installment of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy created a huge surge of tourism in New Zealand, where about 150 locations were used for Lord of the Rings’ scenes. The mecca of all Hobbit tourism is Hobbiton, private-farmland-turned-movie-set. You can tour the 44 hobbit holes set in the picturesque rolling hills of Matamata’s countryside to see how the furry-footed creatures live. 960 1280

Jeff Hitchcock, flickr  

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

While this film version shows very little of Russia or its famous landmarks (much of the action takes place on a theatre stage), it still inspires opulent travel of the old world sort. The scenes of Anna Karenina traveling in a lavish train car through the snow-covered open landscapes of Russia leave us dreaming of a similar trip: a luxury train ride on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, touring historic St. Petersburg and dynamic Moscow. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Praised as the next Avatar due its stunning cinematography and special effects, this film adaptation of Yann Martel’s fantasy-adventure novel has sparked renewed interest in Taiwan. With mesmerizing scenes filmed at Kenting White Banyan Garden, Kenting National Park and Taipei Zoo, Taiwan is likely to be on many lists for top destinations in 2013. 960 1280

Harry Huang, flickr  

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Ever booked a trip just for a meal? You might after seeing this film. This documentary follows Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master, considered to be the world’s best sushi chef. But good luck trying to get a reservation at his restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, in Tokyo; reservations must be made at least a month in advance and meals start at $300 a person. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Hunger Games

Hunger Games

Super fans are insatiable when it comes to experiencing anything to do with Suzanne Collins’ novel about 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, even flocking to the backwoods of North Carolina to see the film locations. Hunger Games Fans Tours is even offering immersive adventure weekend trips where participants learn basic survival skills like archery, shelter-building and special-effects camouflage. 960 1280

VisitNC.com  

On the Road

On the Road

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include this long-awaited film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel, which inspired a generation to get “on the road to nowhere.” Retrace Jack Kerouac's steps, visiting Beat landmarks across America, from New York's West Village to San Francisco's Jack Kerouac Alley. Keep the spontaneity theme going -- but skip the hitchhiking. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Skyfall

Skyfall

We’ve been envious of James Bond’s spy life ever since his exotic travels to Thailand in The Man with the Golden Gun and Sardinia in The Spy Who Loved Me. The 23rd Bond flick, Skyfall, is no less wanderlust-stirring, with dangerously alluring scenes shot in London, Scotland and Shanghai. 960 1280

Giancarlo Liguori  

Lincoln

Lincoln

History buffs and the Academy Awards alike can’t get enough of this film about our 16th president. Capturing the renewed interest in Lincoln destinations, tours are popping up this year in key cities such as Washington, DC, and Richmond, VA, retracing Lincoln’s steps and revealing history-rich locations. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon fishing in Yemen? Not so fast, warns Yemen’s tourism board after it saw a surge of interest in the activity following the release of this British romantic dramedy. While it's not exactly advisable for the average tourist to visit this Middle East country in the midst of recent civil unrest, if salmon fishing is what you’re after, try the much safer Seattle or Alaska. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

To Rome With Love

To Rome With Love

In recent years, Woody Allen’s films have inspired some serious wanderlust. In 2012 Allen followed up Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris with his latest tale of love abroad, To Rome With Love. The film showcases several stories of seduction in one of the most irresistible cities in the world -- Roma! 960 1280

Thinkstock  

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A group of British seniors check in to the newly restored Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India, with visions of an exotic retirement, but arrive only to find the hotel on its heels. Proving that travel adventures aren't only for the young, this film shows India's dynamic and transformative appeal for all. Judi Dench's character echoes this sentiment: "India hits you like a wave. If you resist, you will be knocked down. But if you dive into it, you will be alright." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Twilight: Breaking Dawn II

Twilight: Breaking Dawn II

Cinematic merits aside, Twilight left us smitten -- and not with hunky werewolves or bloodsucking vampires but with its stunning filming locations in what is the last installment of Stephenie Meyer’s popular vampire saga. From the unspoiled La Push Beach, WA, to Alaska’s rugged Denali National Park, you don’t have to be a Twihard to feel the pull of these natural wonders. 960 1280

La Push Beach, Dave Morrow, flickr  

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