These Vintage Travel Posters Will Make You Want To Say “Bon Voyage” To The Present

People can spend years writing about a specific place and its people; so how do we present our best selves to “the unknown” with only color and a sheet of paper? While modernism and all of its “instant” capacities are all the rage, there is still a place in the art world that holds tight to its older sensibilities. And the rich, graphically simplistic art of vintage travel posters is as varied as the countries that they represent.

Whether originating from a travel agency, tourism department or airway, they strike with an instant attraction intended to lure the potential traveler to part with a lump sum of money and head off to their unique destination. Decades of posters from dozens of countries have created a specific niche for art collectors; many of these vintage posters capture a perfect (and occasionally propagandistic) snapshot of the culture they depict. Combining beauty and history, this particular medium has retained popularity well past its heyday:

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Vintage Travel Posters Australia

Showing that Australia is not only for the nautical minded, this poster from the Trans-Australian railway puts an emphasis on speed and comfort. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Poster For Australia

This poster intended to draw visitors to the Great Barrier Reef gives a taste of what’s waiting in ‘the land down under.’ Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Austria

Austria is a beautiful land known for Mozart, strong coffee, and the Alps. It is also apparently home to wandering bands that cruise the countryside. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Vienna

Austria is also known for Vienna; this poster gives just a hint at the art and beauty that is to be found in the country’s capital. Source: Diesel Punks


Though Siam is no longer the name of the area, this poster from Bangkok, Thailand still holds much visual interest. Looking both classical and futuristic, this artist was ahead of his time. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Java

A selling point of being “Only 36 hours from Singapore” sufficiently dates this poster for Java. The poster also hints at the exotic location that would await you if you had the time to make the trip. Source: Diesel Punks


The only U.S. entry on this list, this poster’s beautiful depiction of Cleveland, Ohio’s New Union Terminal challenges the city’s derisive nickname, “the mistake by the lake.” Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters French

This poster for a French cruise line seems to step on its own feet in the captions that read: “The gentle art of civilized living” and “Bits of France afloat.” Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Germany Hamburg

An advertisement from Hamburg idealizing the benefits of Mediterranean cruises was surely a hit for weary German citizens wanting to relax and unwind. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Germany Motoring

What’s the best way to experience the countryside of Germany? According to this poster (and such a German response), it would be through the automobile. Source: Diesel Punks

Holland Lady

Holland is known for its windmills, wooden shoes, and…yodeling women with handkerchiefs. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters India Baby

With colors and fonts indicative of the area, India also tries to sell us on the merits of carrying babies on your head. Source: Diesel Punks


If babies in baskets didn’t snare you into visiting India, here are llamas playing horns at a llama dance. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Ireland Bray

When you think about Ireland, the first thing to come to mind probably isn’t strolls down the coastline on California-style boardwalks. This poster shows that in Bray, that is exactly what you should expect. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Ireland Rail

This poster wants you to know that Ireland is “the land of eternal youth”, as well as a great place to travel by train. Source: Diesel Punks

Garda Italy

While impressionistic and colorful, it’s difficult to tell what the artist’s vision was as far as attracting travelers was concerned. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Italy

The second example from Italy better shows how to attract new visitors. Boats on the serene water and an old castle in the background were sure to garner the interest of many an adventure seeker. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Mexico Bullfight

Touting one of Mexico’s oldest—and imported—traditions, this poster intrigued tourists looking for a taste of Mexican culture. The artist brought out the intensity of the event but in a way that isn’t too graphic. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Oaxaca

This colorful entry by the Oaxaca region of Mexico draws one in with bright colors and a promise of traditional culture and ritual. Source: Diesel Punks


Xochimilco, Mexico appears to be quite proud of a river industry of local trade. If river culture is relevant to your interests, this poster probably would have hooked you in for a trip. Source: Diesel Punks

New Zealand Native

Who knew native New Zealanders looked so much like Native Americans? Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Orient Calls

An exercise is cubism, the ‘Orient Calls’ from 1936 is from pre-World War II Japan. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Camel

This poster has a striking resemblance to a ‘Joe Camel’ advertisement. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Palestine

Depicting the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, this poster targeted those seeking a religious pilgrimage to the holy land. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Paris

The official poster for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, France; this poster holds extra collectability as it stands at the crossroads between vintage travel collectors and World’s Fair collectors. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters French Line

This Paris French Line cruise poster depicts the S.S. Paris, a ship that looks amazingly similar to the Titanic. Tragically, it suffered a fate similar to the Titanic, as it caught fire and capsized on April 18th, 1939. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Krakow

Although the gothic art on this poster from Poland is stunning, it likely scared away more vacationers than it attracted. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Odessa

The major seaport city of Odessa, USSR (Now part of Ukraine) really plays up its scenic sea view and marine based industry in this travel poster. The poster also shows the strong loyalties held to the USSR. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Sweden

Promising the “Most picturesque trip in Sweden”, this poster for the Gota Canal looks as though it could be the cover of a mystery novel. Source: Diesel Punks

Vintage Travel Posters Vikings

The colors, subject, font, and titles seem to have hit the bull’s-eye of what the artist was intending; “We come from the lands of the ice and snow…” Source: Diesel Punks

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Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly is a freelance writer, artist and video editor that splits her time between the humid Midwest and the dusty corners of her mind.
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