The 10 Best Travel TV Shows Streaming Now
Travel documentaries have become somewhat of their own genre over the ages, and today there’s a plethora of fascinating shows about the world to watch.
From highlighting Asia’s impressive street food scene to going behind the scenes at luxury hotels, travel documentaries are truly helping to make the world smaller.
Here’s our pick of the 10 best travel TV shows that are streaming now.
1) Travel Man: 48 Hours In...
Spanning forty cities over the course of nine series, British Channel 4 show ‘Travel Man: 48 Hours In…’ sees loved comic Richard Ayoade travel, with a fellow TV personality, to a popular city each episode. Richard and his guest spend 48 hours in each city, giving viewers a glimpse into how to spend a weekend in each destination. From Reykjavik to Marrakech, this fast-paced travel series is a captivating way to experience the world in 30-minute chunks. Twice nominated for a BAFTA, this educational yet laugh-out-loud endeavour, now streaming on Amazon Prime, makes for hours of easy watching.
2) Sacred Wonders
A recent addition to the BBC’s repertoire, Sacred Wonders explores the human stories behind world-renowned places of worship. With a focus on how faith drives individuals to do incredible things, this series marries grand architecture with absorbing human interest stories. From a local community re-plastering an entire mosque in Mali to the gardeners risking their lives by scaling Angkor Wat, this show offers an entirely new perspective on some of the planet’s most amazing places of worship. Catch it on BBC One every Wednesday at 9pm, or on BBC iPlayer.
3) Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father
This comedy-documentary does what it says on the tin, and follows British comic Jack Whitehall travelling through Southeast Asia with his father. Hilarity ensues, with the father and son duo doing everything from attending an elephant polo match in Bangkok to partying through the night at Thailand’s full moon party. Behind the humour, this easy-watching travelogue gives viewers a fascinating insight into the culture, traditions and people that make Asia so great.
4) The Kindness Diaries
This innovative show follows former broker Leon Legothetis, as he tries to travel the world purely relying on the kindness of strangers. Legothetis spends the series circumnavigating the planet on a vintage yellow motorbike he fittingly calls ‘Kindness One.’ He can’t accept money or use money to pay for anything, and what results is an uplifting journey that highlights how kind the human race can be. In return for food, shelter and gas amongst other things, Legothetis repays the unwitting good Samaritans with life changing gifts.
5) Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
British food writer Giles Coren and renowned London-based, Michelin-starred chef Monica Galetti travel the world, gaining a unique perspective on the world’s most amazing hotels. Living and working alongside hotel staff, the pair are thrown straight into the hustle and bustle of working for a luxury hotel. Coren and Galetti venture everywhere from Sweden’s Ice Hotel to Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge, making for incredible viewing. Gaining exclusive access to areas of the hotel the public never normally see, this show really does go beyond the lobby.
6) Street Food
One for the foodies, Netflix original Street Food serves up both delicious and poignant viewing. What sets Street Food apart from other food and travel documentaries is the focus the series has on the people behind the food. Elderly woman Truoc in Vietnam discusses how she learned to cook snails like her father, young man Dalchand Kashyap talks about taking over the family chaat business in Delhi and Michelin-starred Jay Fai in Bangkok thinks back to her humble beginnings. This show is a real exercise in how food transcends wealth, location and language. It’s fantastic viewing, but don’t watch when you’re hungry!
7) Our Planet
This Netflix series, created in collaboration with Silverback Productions and WWF, features jaw-dropping panoramic scenes underscored by one of the most pressing morals of our time. Combining the best of science and nature, this David Attenborough voiced documentary showcases the world’s incredible species and the most at-risk habitats. From ice caps and deep ocean to deserts and remote forests, Our Planet aims to inspire viewers to see the planet in a way they never have done before. Four years in the making, this series traverses 50 countries and every continent in the world. Once you finish watching all eight instalments, you’ll feel as though you too have journeyed across the globe with Attenborough and his team.
8) Dark Tourist
Dark tourism is the subset of tourism that involves visiting places historically associated with death and tragedy. In this series, journalist David Farrier does just that and explores places that wouldn’t make it to most travellers’ bucket lists. Over the course of the series, Farrier becomes embedded in a Mexican death-worshipping cult, soaks up radiation in Fukushima, gets acquainted with vampires in New Orleans and travels to Kazakhstan to visit the most nuked place on earth. Although these destinations aren’t on the normal tourist trail, this documentary discusses important issues of our time whilst trying to understand the logic behind dark tourism – it’s weirdly addictive.
9) Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
The show that put travel documentaries on the map, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown follows the chef and best-selling author as he eats, adventures and chats his way around the world. This series originally aired on CNN, and paved the way for niche travel documentaries to be broadcast on major news channels. Bourdain travels to less-explored countries such as the Congo, Libya and Myanmar, giving viewers an amazing insight into destinations they might not have ever considered travelling to. A mixture of travel, foodie and entertainment content makes this one of the most diverse travel shows on our list.
10) Somebody Feed Phil
In this light-hearted series, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond Phil Rosenthal eats his way through the planet’s major cities. The two season endeavour sees Rosenthal journey everywhere from Tel Aviv to Cape Town, sampling local delicacies along the way. In each hour-long episode, Rosenthal goes on a culinary tour of each city, meeting the locals doing incredible things for each city’s food scene. As Rosenthal is joined by friends and family along his journey, this culinary adventure delights hungry viewers.