Films transport you to a different time and place as they tell their tales. Sometimes they take you to the last place on earth you'd ever want to be. But sometimes, the backdrop you're watching ends up overshadowing the leading stars. They make you pine to be right there, wherever 'there' may be, soaking up the sun or sucking up the culture.
In celebration of those moments, allow us to present six of the most awe-inspiring movie locations around the globe. Our selections may not necessarily be movies on your watch-list, but all 6 should have you reaching straight for your passport. Rest assured, you will not be disappointed.
Eat Pray Love
Julia Roberts plays just-divorced Liz Gilbert, who leaves a failed marriage behind and heads off on a journey of rediscovery, jetting off to a number of picturesque locations around the globe that include Bali in Indonesia and Pataudi Palace in India.
Perhaps the most inspirational stop-off of them all, however, saw the 'Pretty Woman' star in Naples, heading to the most important pizzeria on the planet – L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele
Touch down in Naples and head south along the coast to the unmissable tourist hot spots of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Sorrento. And if you're up for a longer vacation, the Eternal City of Rome and its limitless attractions is within easy reach, a little more than an hour north of Naples. And you'll be able to get great pizza there, too.
Best time to go: Spring and autumn are traditionally the best times to visit Naples and its coast — it's warm but not yet as stiflingly hot as you can expect in July and August. March and October are typically quieter but can still offer some warmth.
The Motorcycle Diaries
For the traveler with a serious sense of adventure, let the 2004 film of Che Guevara's legendary road trip be your inspiration. Set in 1952, eight years before the Cuban Revolution, we join Marxist revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and boyhood amigo Alberto Granado as they travel 5,000 thousand miles into South America — from Argentina to Venezuela, heading up through Chile, Peru and Colombia.
Five-thousand miles is perhaps unrealistic, so it makes sense to cherry pick a few of the landmarks Guevara visited or passed and build your itinerary around them. Highlights are everywhere, from beautifully chaotic Buenos Aires early on, to the funicular railway at Valparaíso in Chile, and the barren but breathtaking Atacama Desert that stretches 621 miles from Chile into Peru.
Best of all, perhaps, is Machu Picchu, the legendary Inca citadel almost 8,000ft above sea level. The ascent and the altitude can be testing, but as the millions of tourists who make the pilgrimage every year will agree, it's worth every last step.
Best time to go: South America's summer is roughly November to February, its winter June to August. Peru and Machu Picchu are a year-round destination but be aware that January to March is its rainy season.
Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight
A handsome young Ethan Hawke (Jesse) and an attractive young Julie Delpy (Celine) meet on a train in Europe, and end up spending a single evening together in Vienna, surrounded by the culture of one of Europe's most aesthetic and educational cities.
Alas, they both know it will be their only night together. Until, nine years later, their paths cross again this time in Celine's home city of Paris, another of Europe's most essential destinations.
Eight years after that, in Before Midnight, the pair now have twin daughters and find themselves in rural Greece, still talking, analyzing and watching the sun set on their surroundings.
Richard Linklater's trilogy was rightly acclaimed for its ambition, subject and script, but the true star of each was the location. You couldn't help watch and wonder how much it would cost to head straight off to Vienna/Paris/Southern Peloponnese. If you've never made the journey, now's the time.
Best time to go: This being Europe, the weather is at its most reliable — i.e. hottest — in July and August, but the crowds and prices reflect that. Aim for slightly earlier (April, May) or slightly later (September, October) for cooler conditions and thinner crowds.
Danny Boyle's movie adaptation of the gap-year classic saw a fresh-faced Leonardo DiCaprio running amok on the beaches and back tracks of an undiscovered Thailand — and reminded travelers the world over that 'The Land of Smiles' boasts many of the world's most beautiful beaches.
The location used was Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh Island, close to Phuket — featuring a beach of pristine white sand and translucent sea, framed for the postcards by vast, impenetrable cliffs. Initially overrun with paradise-seeking tourists inspired by the movie and devastated by the 2004 tsunami, Phi Phi is back on its feet and once again insanely — but understandably — popular. It should be on the bucket list of every traveler seeking sun, sand and warm, clear waters.
However, should the crowds there prove too much, rest assured that in this part of Thailand, you're never more than a short boat ride away from another, more peaceful island and beach on which to unwind.
Best time to go: Phi Phi is a year-round destination but the best weather is from November to March, when humidity is at its lowest. September and October bring the highest chance of monsoon rain.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Woody Allen's red-blooded rom-com saw Rebecca Hall (Vicky) and Scarlett Johansson (Christina) spend the summer at the Catalan hideaway of Vicky's friends, where both fall for the Latin charms of Lothario Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem.
But the star of the film is none of the above – the Catalan capital steals the show. A whirlwind tour of the city's most beloved landmarks help progress the plot and should inspire any traveler to pay Barcelona a visit.
Once there, should you somehow exhaust the city's myriad attractions, you could do as the plot does and head further afield, to the likes of Faro de Avilés and the Church of Santa Maria del Naranco at Calle de Enrique de Osso. You won't, of course, because by that point Barcelona will have you firmly under its spell. But you could.
Best time to go: Barcelona is busy year-round, but crowds, prices and temperatures hit a peak in July and August. Late spring and early summer are better options — the city is a touch quieter but still enjoys warm temperatures.
What plot there is in the film version of the phenomenally successful stage show took second billing to the soundtrack of ABBA — the story is of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father, told using the hit tracks of the Swedish quartet. The real star of the movie though is the sun-drenched backdrop of Skopelos, a picture-postcard island that lent the movie many of its most memorable landmarks.
It was there too that the movie premiered in 2008, and the first sighting of the beautiful Agios Ioannis chapel received a louder cheer than the sight of Pierce Brosnan ripping off his shirt. “The world will see Skopelos now," chirped the mayor afterwards. “We are the Mamma Mia! Island."
The world has indeed seen Skopelos since then, with its beaches, tavernas, whitewashed villages and an altogether slower pace. Your life would be enriched by seeing and experiencing it too, at the earliest opportunity.
Best time to go: Skopelos' summers are hot and dry, its winters mild and wet. July and August are the hottest and busiest months, making the shoulder seasons of May and September a slightly quieter, mercifully cooler and generally better bet.