When not traveling, we love watching travel shows on Netflix at home. (And we’re not getting paid by Netflix. It’s just that – except for the news – Netflix beats regular TV any day.) There’s such a great selection of travel movies and travel documentaries on Netflix!
Often we find inspiration for a future trip. And it’s always exciting to see a travel show featuring a destination we’ve already visited. (Hey – we slurped spaghetti at that restaurant!)
Right now – like you – we’re home. We’re indulging in the guilty pleasure of time on the couch, watching re-runs of some of our favorite travel movies and consuming newly released travel shows.
Here, then, in no particular order, are some of the best Netflix travel shows. Catch them streaming now (because shows are removed from Netflix as licenses expire).
Best travel shows on Netflix
1) Night on Earth
Watch | 1 Season, 6 Episodes
When the sun sets, what do animals around the world do?
Lions hunt wildebeest. Migrating elephants wander through African towns. Jungle spiders fight. Using cool technology like moonlight-sensitive cameras, this documentary series – from the producers of Planet Earth II and narrated by Emmy-winning actor Samira Wiley – takes you (virtually) to Thailand, Peru, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Borneo and elsewhere. It’s eerily breathtaking.
2) Street Food
Watch | 1 Season, 9 Episodes
This series from the creators of Chef’s Table is all about street food in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore and India. It’s perfect to watch while devouring your own delivery or take-out of Thai or Indian dishes. The premise? Simple local food can be just as tasty as that served at a fancy gourmet restaurant.
But it’s the personal stories in Street Food that we especially like – such as Truoc from Ho Chi Minh, who learned to cook snails the way her father did. There’s lots of sadness in the street cooks’ lives (most street vendors are terribly poor). But there’s also joy – Bangkok’s Jay Fai won a Michelin star for her crab omelette.
Each episode is about 30 minutes, so they’re (almost) bite-size.
3) Eat Pray Love
Watch | Movie, 2h 20m
Okay, you’ve already seen Eat Pray Love. But this gorgeous travel movie – one of the all-time best travel movies – is worth watching again.
Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, Julia Roberts is our heroine who leaves her husband, house and career on a quest to find herself. She nourishes herself by eating in Italy, soothes her soul with prayer in India and then, blissfully, falls in love in Bali.
4) Pedal the World
Watch | Documentary, 1h 24m
“The adventure doesn’t begin until something goes wrong.” So said Felix Starck, a 20-something German, in a National Geographic interview.
And lots went wrong on his bicycle journey around the world, pedaling almost 12,000 miles through 22 countries.
Crazy truck drivers ran him off the road. He got sick with pneumonia. And he was robbed by police in Cambodia. What makes this travel documentary unique, though, is that Starck filmed his journey himself – and it’s a very good production for an amateur film-maker.
Bonus: Check out Starck’s 2017 Expedition Happiness, also on Netflix, where he and his musician girlfriend romp around North America in a refurbished school bus.
5) Chasing Coral
Watch | Documentary, 1h 29m
A nautical thriller about the death of coral reefs? Yes, and it’s gripping.
An advertising executive quits the corporate world to gather a team of divers, photographers and marine biologists. Together they document coral bleaching around the world, from the Florida Keys and the Caribbean to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The cinematography is stunning. Shots of vividly colorful corals and tropical fish are a dramatic contrast to coral boneyards. We’re scuba divers (the diving in Cabo San Lucas is an underwater world of wonders!) – and we couldn’t help but shed a few tears over the devastating effects of rising sea temperatures shown in Chasing Coral.
6) Dark Tourist
Watch | 1 Season, 8 Episodes
Dark Tourist is one of the best travel documentaries on Netflix to shine the spotlight on what is called “dark tourism” – places associated with death and tragedy. New Zealand travel journalist David Farrier witnesses an exorcism in Mexico, swims in a nuclear lake in Kazakhstan and is offered the chance to shoot a cow with a machine gun in Cambodia .
In Mexico, we visited the Guanajuato Mummy Museum, which showcases more than 100 mummies (many victims of a cholera epidemic in the 1800s). That was macabre enough. Dark Tourist goes further. Farrier’s trip is one we wouldn’t want to take. Still, this documentary is fascinating, in a disturbing sort of way.
7) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Watch | Movie, 2h 7m
Oh this is an oldie. But what a goodie!
Watch it with the family and introduce your kids to the wondrous ancient city of Petra in Jordan, where the climax takes place. But before that, Harrison Ford (playing Indiana Jones) searches for clues to his father’s kidnapping in a library in Venice, then fights Nazis in Berlin – all in pursuit of finding the Holy Grail. Sean Connery is wonderfully grumpy as Indy’s Dad .
8) Restaurants on the Edge
Watch | 1 Season, 6 Episodes
In this Canadian-made reality series, restaurateur Nick Liberato, designer Karin Bohn and Chef Dennis Prescott travel the world to revive six failing eateries with ho-hum food and drab décor. The hook? All the restaurants boast OMG views – be it in the Austrian Alps or overlooking the Med in Malta.
Savor the slow-mo shots!
Watch | Movie, 2h 14m
From Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron, this heart-wrenching drama in black-and-white gets rave reviews. It depicts a year in the life of Cleo, a young maid living with a middle-class family in the neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. Set against the backdrop of political strife in 1970s Mexico, this is a slow-moving but powerful work of cinematography.
To stay in the mood afterwards, check out our story on the surprising culture in Mexico City.
Note: In Spanish with English sub-titles.
10) Ugly Delicious
Watch | 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
In this raucous cooking show, Korean-American Chef David Chang examines the nitty-gritty of ordinary grub. There’s no haute cuisine here! In Season 1, he explores why pizza is pizza, tries tacos in L.A. and samples Korean barbecue. In Season 2, Chang covers baby food, Indian food, what a steak means to different people and meat cooked on a spit.
Friendly warning: Chang is not Martha Stewart. Swearing and political debates gleefully pepper the show.
Watch | Movie, 1h 58m
Grab some Kleenex. Based on a true story, Lion is a tearjerker.
Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and David Wenham, it’s about a 5-year-old Indian boy who gets lost on a train. He arrives in Calcutta, thousands of miles away from his home, and is eventually adopted by an Australian family.
Fast forward 20 years later. The young man searches for his Indian birth family. Does he find them? Not telling…
12) Tales by Light
Watch | 3 Seasons, 12 Episodes
One of the best travel documentary series streaming on Netflix is this joint production by National Geographic and Canon. It shows the world through the eyes of different photographers. And the visuals are riveting – from lions playing and cuddling in Kenya to the colorful Indian festival of Holi and free-diving in the canyons of Colorado.
13) The Kindness Diaries
2015 and 2017
Watch | 2 Seasons, 26 Episodes
How far can you travel just on the kindness of strangers you meet? If you’re Leon Logothetis – from L.A. to New York and then to Spain, across Europe to Turkey, and then to India, Thailand, Vietnam and Canada.
Logothetis is an Englishman who ditches his former life as a successful broker to travel the world on a vintage yellow motor bike – relying on the generosity of locals to feed and shelter him.
What’s cool: Logothetis is still secretly rich, and he thanks his Good Samaritans in meaningful ways (like paying for schooling for an Indian riverboat driver’s children).
14) Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father
Watch | 3 Seasons, 13 Episodes
Jack Whitehall is a 28-year-old British comedian who invites his buttoned-up dad to join him on the trip of a lifetime. Talk about hilarious!
In the first season, they visit Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In the second season, their stomping grounds are Romania, Ukraine and Turkey. But what’s up with the third season? Only two episodes (Arizona and Las Vegas)? We want more!
15) Julie and Julia
Watch | Movie, 2h 3m
One of the best travel movies on Netflix is this charming tale about a young woman (Julie Powell) who cooks her way through all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days – and blogs about it. The movie bounces back and forth between Child’s life in Paris with her diplomat husband and Powell’s life in Queens, New York.
Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child, and she’s magnificent! Amy Adams plays Julie Powell. And the movie is based on two true stories.