We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

The 28 best adventure movies of all time, ranked

From the murky jungles to the expanse of Space, our list of the best adventure movies will take you far and wide for the greatest tales.

Best adventure movies of all time: Inidana Jones, Luke Skywalker and Dorothy

What are the best adventure movies of all time? Want to explore strange and foreign lands beyond your wildest dreams? Or seek out ancient treasures, most likely surrounded by deadly booby traps that were a real hassle to construct just for a single use?

Well, it’s dangerous to go out alone, so take this list of classics that mine from the best action movies, best fantasy movies, and best science-fiction movies while putting an adventurous spin on some of the most unbelievable stories. We’ve mapped out the essentials to ensure you don’t waste your time watching anything but the most rousing offerings led by a wide variety of heroes.

Best adventure movies: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

28. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

If you are looking for one of the most hilarious and quotable adventure movies of all time. Well, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is for you. Like most good adventure flicks, this ‘70s classic follows a sweeping journey into faraway lands as King Arthur sets out to find the Knights of his Round Table.

But if you thought that there was just one round of journeying here, then you’d be wrong. Monty Python and the Holy Grail goes above and beyond, showing us the side-splitting recruitment and then massive quests of the medieval men. After some silly fights, an impromptu witch trial, and even a musical number in Camelot, Arthur then sets out to find the Holy Grail with his new gang – and the laughs never stop.

Best adventure movies: The Great Escape

27. The Great Escape (1963)

Oftentimes, people forget that adventure movies aren’t always based on fantasy or sci-fi exploration. Adventure films are also about surviving, characters fulfilling quests, and generally trying to get from one place to another. So, of course, we had to add the classic Steven McQueen movie, The Great Escape, to our list.

Based on the 1950s book of the same name, The Great Escape sees a mass escape from a German prisoner of war camp during World War 2. Despite this being a war movie, the tone is generally upbeat, focusing on cool escape plans and the ingenuity of the characters instead of any bleak themes.

This film is exciting, has one of the most heroic and fun scores ever to hit the big screen, and basically stands as a gem when it comes to championing sub-genres in Adventure film history.

Best adventure movies: The Lost City

26. The Lost City (2022)

Listen, adventure movies tend to have a romantic element every now and again. But we rarely see any true rom-coms in the genre. Thankfully, The Lost City proves that romantic comedies and dangerous exploration can be a perfect pairing. The 2022 movie follows the romance author Loretta (Sandra Bullock) and her hunky book model Alan (Channing Tatum), having to escape and survive the jungle.

Why were they in the jungle, you ask? Well, because Loretta was kidnapped by the historical buff billionaire Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who believes she is the key to finding the location of a priceless and ancient treasure. Seeing Loretta and Alan being fish out of water while trying to survive and outrun henchmen is a hoot.

And the whole thing is really just a joy to watch, reminding you of classic films like Indiana Jones through a light-hearted and fun story. If you need further convincing, you can read our The Lost City review as well.

Best adventure movies: Jurassic Park

25. Jurassic Park (1993)

If you are a ‘90s kid, chances are your first adventure film was the classic Steven Spielberg movie Jurassic Park. And the good news is that even after decades since its initial release, it still stands as one of the best picks in the genre. From its iconic score and general tone of wonderment, few films capture the sense of discovery and entering a new world like Jurassic Park does, period.

If you haven’t seen all the Jurassic Park movies in order yet, the film centers around a group of scientists being invited to see a new island theme park. However, this isn’t Disneyland. Instead, the theme park in question has brought to life dinosaurs via genetic engineering, and they are now running amuck.

There are thrills, characters navigating a dangerous environment, and plenty of fantastical elements for you to enjoy. But families be warned, while we firmly believe Jurassic Park isn’t a horror movie, it has a PG-13 rating for a reason.

Best adventure movies: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

24. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Nothing screams adventure like a road trip, right? Well, what about a disastrous one where you are stuck with a stranger who won’t leave you alone? Directed by John Hughes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles follows a three-day journey of pure chaos as the stressed-out businessman Neal and the friendly salesman Del are forced to travel together.

Neal is desperate to make it back to his family in time for Thanksgiving, but the world isn’t on his side as flight delays, burning cars, and wallet switch-ups keep throwing his plans awry. Seeing a simple trip turned into an epic adventure, where two people come together and are forced to overcome constant obstacles, is one of the most entertaining things you can see.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles remind us that adventures can happen to anyone at any time. It’s a tale of companionship and understanding and shows how valuable a backup plan truly is, too.

Best adventure movies: Peter Jackson's King Kong

23. King Kong (2005)

Look, there are people who hate Peter Jackson’s King Kong and people who love it. Depending on what day you ask us, we’ll be both. But today, we love it, and you can’t deny that in the first half of the monster movie, there’s plenty of adventure to be found.

When a film crew travels to a mysterious island full of natives who worship an unknown entity, they find themselves struggling to get back home and avoid the wrath of a very, very angry giant ape. Yes, the CGI is questionable at times, and nobody can justify that runtime for a movie about a big monkey, but there’s something quite classic about this take on the famous tale. At the very least, it’s entertaining.

Best adventure movies: The cast of The Mummy

22. The Mummy (1999)

A group of explorers traveling to an abandoned city stumble across an ancient mummy? That’s an adventure movie, baby! This is also the adventure movie you were probably obsessed with when you were a teenager. Scary enough to feel edgy, romantic enough to make you swoon, and with just enough action to get your friends to watch it with you, The Mummy was nothing short of influential.

There have been plenty of outings with our undead friend, but this ’90s version is one of the most popular, and it’s easy to see why. It’s got the cinematic cheese that’s classic for the era, and the visual effects (while a little outdated now) still pack a punch. All hail Brendan Fraser!

Best adventure movies: Reese Witherspoon in Wild

21. Wild (2014)

When it comes to deciding what fits into the realm of ‘adventure movies’, I usually think: “Could I do this?” If the answer’s no, then it’s probably an adventure flick. Because of this, Wild makes the cut. It’s not fantastical or other-worldly, but focusing on the true story of a woman who hiked alone for three months across the PCT through California and Oregon, it’s most certainly a journey.

Starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl, it follows every dangerous and lonely step she takes through the trail, but it also shows the events in her life that caused her to get there in the first place. Emotional and exhausting, but beautiful. If you don’t feel like running out and buying a pair of hiking boots after you’ve watched this, you didn’t watch it right.

Best adventure movies: Charlie Cox and Clare Danes in Stardust

20. Stardust (2007)

When it comes to adventure, Stardust has everything. Evil witches, dramatic sword fights, flying ships…and Robert De Niro. I mean, it’s based on a Neil Gaiman novel. What do you expect? It all boils down to the journey of a young man, Tristan, who vows to collect a fallen star for his beloved. When he finds the star, however, it’s a beautiful woman. Together, they have to evade all sorts of mystical and magical forces to get back home.

The star-studded (eh!) cast is nothing short of breath-taking, and as the two travel across a strange and unfamiliar land, they encounter Robert De Niro’s dancing pirate captain, Michelle Pfeiffer’s scheming sorceress, and Mark Strong’s evil prince. An adventure for the ages and one for the whole family, too.

Best adventure movies: Bridge to Terabithia

19. Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

We’re sorry! Okay?! We didn’t want to bring it up, but we had to. In fact, it would be a crime not to include Bridge to Terabithia on any list of best adventure movies, no matter how much we hate to even think about it, let alone talk about it. And, really, what’s a bigger adventure than two kids who create an entire fantastical world?

When Jesse and Leslie find friendship with each other, bonding over their troubled lives, they head into the woods and create ‘Terabithia,’ a fantasy world in which strange creatures roam and anything is possible. If you’ve already seen it and lived to tell the tale, then you know where this is going. And if not…we’re sorry. Again.

Best adventure movies: the cast of The Wizard of Oz

18. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Look, we know everybody’s already seen The Wizard of Oz at least once, but it certainly deserves a place on this list. In fact, it might just be one of the original adventure movies and proved that not everything has to be swashbuckling action. In fact, it can be as simple as someone stepping out of their comfort zone.

Simple but decadent, The Wizard of Oz gave audiences a look into a colorful, opulent world of fantasy that many hadn’t seen before, and it had a lasting impact on the industry. It’s a musical, a coming-of-age story, a magical fantasy, and a straightforward journey all at once, and is as dazzling as a pair of ruby red slippers.

Best adventure movies: Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

17. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

One might not think of Ben Stiller as an adventure hero, and he’s not, not really. But The Secret Life of Walter Mitty sees Stiller play your average Joe, who winds up embarking on a globe-trotting adventure that takes him far from where he began. It all begins with Walter, a negative assets manager at Life magazine, who discovers that a film sample containing a picture of what is said to depict the “quintessence of life” is missing.

Realizing that the image must be used for Life’s final print edition, Walter decides to ditch his dull life and head out into the world to try and track down the mysterious photograph. It’s stunning to look at, blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, and gives you a protagonist you can really root for. Isn’t that what adventure is all about?

YouTube Thumbnail

16. Treasure Planet (2002)

This sci-fi reimagining of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island is an underrated gem that, despite its 2002 release, is reminiscent of the Disney Renaissance era. It might not have lit up the box office, but its stunning animated sequences, along with the vocal talent of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, Martin Short, and Emma Thompson, means that it definitely deserves its cult classic status.

Plus, it has something all the best adventure movies ought to contain: a heart. There are plenty of emotional beats throughout, which makes our hero’s journey all the more meaningful. It’s not an easy feat when your movie is A) animated and B) set in an alternate Space reality. When are we getting the live-action Disney remake, huh?

Best adventure movies: The cast of Stand by Me

15. Stand by Me (1986)

Although the idea of an adventure movie might spark images of faraway lands, magical creatures, and dangerous villains, Stand by Me proves that true adventure can come in a quieter and smaller form. Based on the novella by Stephen King, Stand by Me is one of the best ’80s movies of the time and follows a group of young boys as they set out on a hike to locate a dead body.

Although they may not travel far, the journey the boys embark on is both physical and emotional. It’s about growing up and the last few experiences one can have when they’re young. Make no mistake, the journey is turbulent and full of trouble, but compared to some of the others on this list, Stand by Me is an adventure movie of a more unexpected kind.

best adventure movies rege jean page in dungeons and dragons

14. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

It might have only been released in 2023, but everyone who has been part of a D&D campaign knows it can be one hell of an adventure. Honor Among Thieves is essentially a love letter to the spirit and creativity that’s inherent to the tabletop RPG, and that’s why fans of the game adore it so much.

And even if you’re a novice to the D&D world, it’s an incredibly accessible film, and the cast’s charisma and impeccable comedic timing make it well worth a watch. I mean, Chris Pratt, Hugh Grant, and Michelle Rodriguez are definitely a crew we’d want to play with. Read our Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves review for more information on this gem!

Adventure movies: Macauley Culkin and Oprah Winfrey in The Pagemaster

13. The Pagemaster (1994)

You’re never alone with a good book, and this crossover of live-action and animation is a testament to that. When young Richard Tyler (Macauley Culkin) escapes into a library during a thunderstorm, he gets caught up in a mythical animated quest involving some of the finest novels that were ever written.

Three anthropomorphic books, Horror (Frank Welker), Fantasy (Whoopi Goldberg), and Adventure (Patrick Stewart), provide Richard with some company on the perilous journey. Joe Johnston of Captain America: The First Avenger directed the live-action parts, while Maurice Hunt handled the animated scenes. Classic literary scenes and characters are brought to bright, colorful life, proving that, as the Pagemaster himself puts it, all is possible.

best adventure movies interstellar

12. Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is an adventure on the grandest scale that takes Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper across the galaxy in an effort to save humanity from extinction. It’s not exactly lighthearted since it doesn’t skip out on some of the more haunting and perilous aspects of Space travel, but it’s well worth anyone’s time to engage with the impeccable world-building and visual effects.

Easily Nolan’s most breathtaking and beautiful film, Interstellar, balances weighty scientific concepts with the tender message that love, not gravity, is the force that bonds us all together.

best adventure movies elizabeth swan in curse of the black pearl

11. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Fancy stretching your sea legs in your search for danger? You can’t go wrong with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Disney’s wild card based on one of its famous theme park rides could’ve easily sunk had it not been for Gore Verbinski being at the helm.

Sure, there’s the supporting talent of Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom, but the character smuggles scenes away with ease, only rarely having to compete with Geoffrey Rush’s enigmatic Captain Barbossa. An eclectic crew sail, sword fight, and belch their way through a blockbuster that manages to surprise at almost every turn of the ship’s wheel, this is still an absolute treasure. You can also check out our guide on how to watch all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in order if you are after a full marathon.

Best adventure movies: Jen and Gira in The Dark Crystal

10. The Dark Crystal (1982)

As great as he was at creating heated relationships between talking pigs and frogs, one of Jim Henson’s most significant endeavors was an out-there adventure, The Dark Crystal. Lonely gelfling Jen’s heroic journey to restore the titular towering monument and battle the iconic and nightmare-inducing Skeksis is a magical watch even now.

Demonstrating the best of what Henson’s workshop had to offer, including the stoic urRu and exhaustingly frantic Fizzgig, The Dark Crystal still shines on.

Best adventure movies: Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in Hook

9. Hook (1991)

In retrospect, Robin Williams’ Hook feels like a long-lost superhero movie that dares to fly like no other Peter Pan adaptation has since. The journey of a mild-mannered father transforming into Pan the Man to save his kids is an “awfully big adventure” that sprinkles a new batch of fairy dust on an iconic character.

Add in Dustin Hoffman’s ‘tash-twirling movie villain, along with sword (and food) fights set to John Williams’ chest-swelling score, and you’ve got a great adventure movie that is absolutely bangarang!

Best adventure movies: Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth

8. Labyrinth (1986)

If we’re on the topic of adventure, then we have to talk about the babe. The other equally nuts but brilliant fantasy film from Henson sees Jennifer Connolly try to rescue her baby step-brother after wishing him away to Jareth the Goblin King.

While David Bowie steals the show as the big-haired, ball-twiddling (no, we’re not referring to that codpiece) antagonist of the piece, there’s much to enjoy elsewhere, too, as Connolly gets lost in this Acid in Wonderland trip alongside a fantastic bunch of characters devised by Henson in his prime.

Best adventure movies: Jumanji Welcome to The Jungle

7. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Of all the daring efforts on this list, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has every reason not to work, and yet it does. Modernizing an already beloved property and retrofitting it around a superb quartet of characters, it isn’t just a great adventure but also one of the best video game movies ever made.

Blending Tron and the first round of Jumanji, which starred Robin Williams, Welcome to the Jungle zips by at an incredible pace thanks to its massive set pieces and a self-aware cast, including Dwayne Johnson on top form, along for the ride. Changing the game that we loved, Welcome to the Jungle, has a bit of fun for everyone — yes, even diehard fans of the first film — and all involved are clearly having bucket loads of it. Press start if you haven’t already.

Best adventure movies: Robin Wright and Carey Elwes as Buttercup and Westley in The Princess Bride

6. The Princess Bride (1987)

When The Princess Bride was released, it wasn’t exactly a critical success. Part of this is because it was one heck of a puzzle to market, and any advertising failed to depict the full scale of the story. Was it a romance? A world-spanning adventure tale? A quest between a hero and villains? Well, actually, it’s all of the above. Isn’t that magical?

The Princess Bride is a love story that spans the years set in a fantastical faraway land. But it’s also a tale of giants, princes, and princesses, and one of the best sword-fights ever written. It was only when the movie was released on video that it found its fame (and has since grown to be known as one of the best movies ever made), and has remained as one of the biggest and most unforgettable adventures ever told.

best adventure movies harrison ford in indiana jones and the last crusade

5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Some of the greatest adventures are family affairs, and they don’t get better than Steven Spielberg’s third installment in the Indiana Jones series. If seeing Indy thumping Nazis and outsmarting ancient trials isn’t compelling enough, witnessing him having to deal with his dad along the way makes The Last Crusade one of the finer chapters.

The story goes that Spielberg always had Sean Connery in mind to play the dad to Harrison Ford’s whip-cracking protagonist because, as far as he saw it, James Bond was the father of Indiana Jones. It’s a line of thinking that pays off massively, raising the stakes and adding more heart to an already pulse-raising picture. Choose wisely.

Best adventure movies: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, and Ian McKellen as Frodo Baggins, Aragorn, and Gandalf

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Peter Jackson’s perfect introduction to Tolkien’s world and the One Ring bound to it is still a chapter worth revisiting. So many hair-raising lines and unforgettable encounters woven together make for an epic, peril-filled adventure in which — unusually — the heroes seek to rid themselves of a treasure.

Perfectly cast in just about every area, seeing Middle-earth’s mightiest heroes uniting always brings chills, and let’s be honest, when it comes to fantasy, The Lord of the Rings characters can’t be beaten.  Be warned, though; you shall not pass this viewing without sticking the next one on straight after. Find the extended editions, if you can, for even more Middle-earth goodness. You can also check out our guide on how to watch all the Lord of the Rings movies in order if you need some extra help.

Best adventure movies: the cast of the Goonies

3. The Goonies (1985)

A kid’s treasure hunt that any youngster would love to go on. The Goonies’ search for One-Eyed Willy’s rich stuff made such an impact that some of the most popular films and TV series are still trying to replicate its success years later. Quite frankly, we can’t think of any that have managed to meet the bar The Goonies set, let alone raise it.

From the second Mikey tells his friends the story of hidden treasure and finding the map that could lead them to it, it’s a dose of childhood awe and nostalgia that never fades. If you want to get lost on a Saturday afternoon, then The Goonies really are good enough.

Best adventure movies: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill as Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope

2. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

As a daring first installment and franchise that would span decades, A New Hope has every crucial ingredient for an adventure. Knights and princesses, rogues and wizards, monsters and talking carpets. At the time, it was a movie unlike any seen before and set the precedent for every new sci-fi movie that followed.

And yet the first Star Wars film (is it the first chronologically, though? Check out how to watch the Star Wars movies in order for more on that) is so original that it stands tall above the rest in its genre. Regardless of what followed, there’s no denying Young Skywalker’s trip across the stars is one for the ages.

Best adventure movies: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

If Adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones. Born from two of the most influential directors ever, the man in the hat’s first film manages to cram every second with excitement. Raiders of the Lost Ark is not just a phenomenal introduction to the hero who’s a hybrid of both Han Solo and 007, but just a near-perfect film in its entirety.

Ford’s grumbling good guy straps us into a roller-coaster ride that you never want to get off. Can you honestly imagine cinema history without him?

For more quality films, take a trip around the world and enjoy the best anime movies, the best family movies, and the best horror movies of all time. If you’re looking to plan another adventure, then why not check out our list of all the new movies coming out this year?