German journalist Phillip Winter (Rüdiger Vogler) wants to write a story about America, but is unable to accomplish anything but a series of Polaroids before disappointedly returning to Germany. At the same time, he reluctantly agrees to take little Alice (Yella Rottländer) with him, because her mother (Lisa Kreuzer)—whom he meets in New York on the day before his departure—has urgent business to take care of there.
Alice's mother fails to meet them in Amsterdam as they had agreed, and so Phillip and Alice set out to try to find Alice’s grandmother in the Ruhr region. During their search together, their initial mutual dislike gradually transforms into a heart-felt affection.
Whilst technically, Alice In The Cities is Wenders’s fourth film, he himself often refers to it as “his first”, because it was during this film that he discovered the genre of the road movie - winning the 1974 German Critics Prize in the process.