Nothing gets you in the mood for your travels like watching a movie, set in the location you’re due to visit. Nothing inspires travel to an amazing place, like having your eye caught by a fine example of its culture. These are the best european films to watch before visiting Europe.
Here we’ve compiled a list of our favourite films from across Europa. These films are all extremely high quality, award-winning features in settings that paint a picture. Get your popcorn ready for the most recommended European films to watch by country.
If you are looking for our list of the Best Travel Documentaries & Films then take a look here.
Before Sunrise – The original film of a three-part trilogy and known as one of the best travel films. A chance encounter leads to an intense relationship forming between two young people with a few hours to spare in Vienna.
In Bruges – Two Irish hit-men head to Belgium to hide whilst things cool down after a job and the two men have a completely different experience of the place.
Withnail & I – Two struggling English actors with a love of boozing, take a trip away from their London flat to the countryside, in search of respite. This cult classic film is a laugh a minute, starring Richard E Grant.
This Is England – A gritty Shane Meadows directed film about the north of England and the cultural identity of the people. Featuring skinheads, punks and mods, this film gives insight into the music led culture of English provincial cities.
1944 – Portrays real events on the war torn Eastern Front in Estonia in 1944, from the Battle Of Tannenburg Line, when the Sorve peninsula was already conquered by the Soviet Army.
Lovers Of The Arctic Circle – Two children who have a close friendship, end up bringing their single parents together. Matters get more complex however, when the two grow up and start a relationship of their own in secret.
Amalie – A young woman orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making. This fantastical Parisian comedy is a French film classic.
La Haine – A riot erupts in a suburb of Paris after an immigrant is beaten up by police. This is a critically acclaimed portrait of marginalised and deprived areas you find as part of every big city.
Raw – A strict vegetarian student, heads off to vets university in the French countryside, only to discover strange goings on. This intense French thriller is one of the best films of the last year.
Victoria – A fast-paced thriller, filmed in one constant single shot, throughout a night in Berlin. A woman out clubbing, meets a group of Berlin local men and gets involved in the wildest night of her life.
Head-On – A Turkish immigrant barfly in Hamburg is convinced to marry a woman he meets, to avoid her family arranging a marriage she doesn’t want. A poignant film from the almost 3 million German-Turkish community.
The Lives Of Others – Set in East Berlin before the fall of the wall, a spy for the Communist Party has his loyalties tested when his subjects he is spying on strike a chord with him.
Run Lola Run – When a criminal loses some of his bosses money, he has a very limited timescale with which to recoup it. His girlfriend, Lola is on hand to help but with just 20 minutes to race around Berlin and come up with the money, what can she do?
Before Midnight – The third part of the ‘Before’ travel film trilogy, starring Ethan Hawkes and Julie Delpy. The couple initially met by chance in the first film and spend an evening together in Vienna. This time, they rekindle their liaison in Greece, in this dialog intense, romantic film.
Out Of Love – A film about a destructive relationship, set upon the backdrop of Amsterdam. This movie shows how fine the line between blossoming love and unhealthy obsession can be.
101 Reykjavik – A 30 something man, still living at home and unemployed, develops a relationship with one of his mother’s friends. This is a gritty film that demonstrates that Iceland is all fairies and auroras.
Rams – This film is set on the backdrop of the baron, yet idyllic Icelandic countryside. The main characters are two rival brothers who’ve not spoken for years but might have to start talking again, when the government gets involved in their sheep farming businesses.
The Commitments – A musical film based in Dublin, as a group of white musicians come together to fill the void in the cities R&B scene.
Sing Street – A young school boy forms a band in order to impress a girl. With delusions of grandeur, they embark on a musical adventure that they hope will lead them to greater things than small city life, in Dublin.
The Great Beauty – A stylish, modern film around the exclusive party scene in Rome. A writer – with only one successful book to his name – is evaluating his life after his sixty-fifth birthday comes with a surprise.
Cinema Paradiso – A Rome based man, finds out about the death of someone from his past, leading him to revisit his history and the place of his upbringing in Sicily.
Call Me By Your Name – A coming of age drama, as a young man finds love and companionship with his fathers summer intern. Set in the glorious sunshine of Northern Italy.
Bloody Sunday – A film set in Derry amongst ‘the troubles’ as Irish Catholics and Protestants fight over Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom.
Valkyrien – Okay, this is actually a TV series but it is one of the finest Scandi-noirs out there. A man is losing his wife to an illness but as a doctor, thinks he can find a cure. In order to do so however, he must fake her death and become involved with some of Oslo’s most shady characters.
Norsemen – A hilarious comedy series set back in the days of Vikings and Norse Gods. Very tongue in cheek and dry with it’s sense of humour.
The Pianist – In Poland 1939, a radio show is interrupted with the outbreak of World War 2, as a pianist plays live on air. Based on the true story, this film is as education as it is entertaining.
Toni Erdmann – After his dog dies, a retired music teacher decides it is time to mend his broken relationship with his workaholic Daughter who lives in Bucharest. This is a hilarious and heartfelt German/Austrian/Romanian collaboration.
Trainspotting – A group of heroin addicted friends, scheme and scam their way through life. A culturally important film about the heroin crisis of the 80’s. Perhaps more relevant to Glasgow – where lots of the film was shot – now that Edinburgh has been completely gentrified.
Shallow Grave – A group of young, middle-class friends, sharing a flat in Edinburgh get sucked into a devious plot. The most recommended film to watch before visiting Edinburgh, as it encapsulates the essence of the city well.
The Skin I Live In – A rogue surgeon sets about creating his perfect companion, in the privacy of the rolling Toledo hills, south of Madrid. Starring Antonio Banderas.
Talk To Her – A male nurse has the chance to impress a woman he is infatuated with, after she injures herself and is taken to the hospital in which he works.
Open Your Eyes – Before Vanilla Sky, there was Open Your Eyes. This is the original story and still stars Penelope Cruz, as the remake did.
Fortitude – The remote Island of Svalbard becomes host to strange goings on and a potentially catastrophic virus, in this TV series.
Sweden & Denmark
The Bridge – The original and the best Scandi-noir TV show. A joint police investigation is launched between the Swedish and Danish police, after a mysterious death occurs on the bridge linking the two countries.
Mustang – A group of young orphan sisters grow up under strict supervision and religious guidelines. Matters get complex when the arrangement of the girl’s marriage begins. A cultural eye opener and a wonderful film.
These are the best travel films you could watch before heading to a destination. If you have any additional suggestions then please leave a comment below. Thank you!