Last Updated: March 29th
There are a lot of reasons to travel: experience, rest, education, love, even work. The thing is, for most of us, travel is something we can rarely do. That often means that we have to live out our travel dreams vicariously. Enter the travel TV series. No network has changed the game more in recent years than Netflix when it comes to providing a great list of travel shows that’ll inspire you while scratching that wanderlust itch.
But, as with almost all genres on Netflix, there’s a massive dearth of travel-related content. Knowing where to start, which shows are worth your binging time, and where the truly great ones lie is tough. We’re here to help.
The below fifteen travel series are the best of the best Netflix has to offer right now. We’ve gone ahead and ranked them. Although, we have to point out that these rankings are minor at best. It’s more about the order that we like to watch these series rather than one being better than the other. Let’s dive in!
15. The Kindness Diaries
2 seasons, 26 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
There’s a weirdness to people — from the West especially — traveling the developing world “without cash” and bartering their way through. For one, it’s assuming your winning personality and skills are more important to people than, you know, real money for their services. The Kindness Diaries’ wonky premise aside, host Leon Logothetis kind of pulls it off without coming across too much like a colonist.
The show shines in its ability to connect people. Logothetis finds a common thread of humanity through travel that inspires. And, at the very least, he’s been able to show with certainty that travel is never as expensive as you think it’s going to be.
14. Animal Airport
1 season, 13 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
It’s hard to know where to place this show. It has a clear Animal Planet vibe but goes a little deeper than that. Animal Airport brings the feel of travel to a single location be delving into the world of the Animal Reception Centre at London’s Heathrow Airport.
The show swings from the simple processing of domesticated house pets (dogs, cats, birds, etc.) through customs to having to deal with serious animal smugglers. There are episodes where sloths, bears, llama, and even a giant octopus shows up at the airport. It’s, ahem, wild. This is a great show for a rainy Sunday afternoon when you’ve already committed to an open bottle of wine and catching up on your Instagram feed on the couch.
13. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes
3 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10
This show is addictive. Let’s get this out of the way. This is luxury and lifestyle porn first and foremost. It’s a traveling show, we guess, by proxy. However, it’s intoxicating.
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes takes us inside architectural wonders around the world. These range from the homes of the elites in places like Greece, Los Angeles, and New Zealand to the homes of fisherman in Japan and writers in Holland. Hosts Piers Taylor (an architect) and Caroline Quentin (a British actor) offer a great entry point. Taylor offers professional insight, while Quentin is the audience’s awed surrogate.
12. Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10
Amazing Hotel: Life Beyond The Lobby could have been just another lifestyle luxury show. It could have been all champagne wishes and caviar dreams in the world’s ritziest hotels. And, honestly, who doesn’t want that gig as a travel host? Hosts Giles Coren and Monica Galetti went further and created a show that offers you the glitz but humanizes it.
What makes this show a winner for us is that Coren and Galetti don’t just go to amazing hotels and resorts around the world. They work at them. The integrate into the staff and show us how these places actually operate. This gives the show an edge and realism rarely seen on Travel TV.
11. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10
Phil Rosenthal’s first iteration of his travel and food show on PBS was a trial run for his Netflix series. All of the elements of Somebody Feed Phil are here but they’re not quite dialed in yet.
I’ll Have What Phil’s Having is like watching Bourdain’s Cook’s Tour of the first few seasons of No Reservations. They’re still massively watchable but not quite the prime cuts, yet. Still, the six one-hour episodes are very binge-able and will prime you for the good stuff to come.
3 seasons, 43 episodes | IMDb: 9/10
Departures is back on Netflix with three, full seasons streaming. The show follows friends Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach as they galavant around the world filming their adventures and misadventures. Wilson and Lukach offer a glimpse into the wider world of travel as they ying-and-yang their way from one great place to another.
9. Tales By Light
2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10
Tales By Light isn’t your average travel show per se. The focus here is on great photographers and how they operate with travel as inspiration.
The photographers the show follows just happen to be some of the best in the world who have devoted their life to globetrotting to find the absolute best shot. Every corner of the world is covered over two seasons of breathtaking episodes and crazy escapades. Seriously, one episode is about swimming with anacondas in the Amazon.
8. Planet Earth II
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 9.5/10
This companion piece to the Planet Earth series is every bit as captivating as the original. David Attenborough returns for more breathtaking cinematic deep dives into Earth’s animal populations with a focus on places that you may never make it to.
How does this relate to travel? We’d argue that a show this well shot and intriguingly narrated — showing you the often unseen corners of our planet — is the perfect fuel to inspire you to hit the road.
7. Larry Charles’ Dangerous World Of Comedy
1 season, 4 episodes | IMDb: 7.5/10
Larry Charles’ Dangerous World Of Comedy is a travel show at its heart. Acclaimed TV and film comedy director, Larry Charles, travels the world seeking out how comedy is done in war zones, on Indian reservations, in theocracies, in slums, and beyond.
This is the sort show that takes you deep inside the harder side of life around the world. It’s a part behind-the-scenes look at TV comedy around the world and a part subversive travelogue with a keen eye on finding the grey areas of life and comedy in places few dare to travel. Plus, it’s only four one-hour episodes, making this one a very easy binge.
6. Dark Tourist
1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10
David Farrier’s Dark Tourist isn’t what you think it is. This isn’t about the western gaze, looking down upon the weird or “other.” Farrier’s nuanced approach to travel and diversity shines through as he parses some of the lesser-known parts of varying cultures.
The show shines in its ability to hook you in from the first frames. Episodes about vampires in New Orleans, Pablo Escobar’s hitmen, and haunted forests offer a glimpse into the unknown in our world without judgment.
5. Planet Earth
1 season, 11 episodes | IMDb: 9.4/10
This is the show of shows. BBC spent years filming the wild world and, wow, did it pay off. This series single-handily set a new bar in what is possible in worldwide, nature-based documentary cinematography that influenced food and travel filmmaking.
Touching on each geographical area the world has to offer, Planet Earth is a feast for the eyes. It offers a glimpse into the natural soul of the planet in an intimate and brutal way. If this series doesn’t make you want to travel the wonders of the natural world, nothing will. If film crews can go, you can, too.
4. Somebody Feed Phil
2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
Phil Rosenthal has cut out a pretty great second act after his days running Everybody Loves Raymond. Rosenthal is traveling around the world eating great food, meeting people, and seeing new places he thought he’d never see.
Rosenthal is on a trip of discovery. There’s a clear food focus to the show. But, really, the series ends up being just as much about the journey as a great meal with new friends.