Bitten by the travel bug? These Netflix documentaries about travel will pacify your wanderlust between trips as you explore the world from the comfort of your couch.
Here are 18 of the best travel documentaries on Netflix streaming in the US as of January 2, 2020; many are also available in other countries. Watch them while you can, because content disappears as licensing agreements expire.
Netflix meets Vice in this travelogue by New Zealand filmmaker David Farrier, who sets his sights on the world of dark tourism.
From a nuclear lake to a haunted forest, he visits macabre — and sometimes dangerous — tourist destinations around the world.
Note: No English subtitles available for YouTube trailer; click to watch subtitled trailer on Netflix
Warning: Don’t watch if you’re hungry. Explore the deeply complex histories of the world’s most beloved tacos in this love letter to the iconic handheld food.
Experiencing street food culture is one of the joys of travel. This inspiring series from the makers of Chef’s Table is as much about the compelling survival stories of these talented street chefs as it is about their signature dishes.
The first season takes the viewer to nine Asian destinations; future seasons will visit other regions.
Countries: Thailand, Japan, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam
This beautiful and thoughtful film portrays Ono’s lifelong pursuit of perfection while exploring the toll his obsessive dedication exacts on his relationships. A fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture.
Over the course of one memorable and adventure-filled year, German-born Felix Starck documents his 18,000-kilometer bicycle journey across 22 countries.
The Oscar-nominated heart-rending true story of the rangers risking their lives to save Africa’s most precious national park and its endangered gorillas.
Each episode of this Emmy-nominated docuseries visits a different international location for an in-depth interview with one of the world’s most renowned chefs.
Creator David Gelb also directed the critically acclaimed Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and the two productions share a similar emotional and artistic sensibility hallmarked by compelling narratives and mesmerizingly beautiful cinematography.
This four-part BBC documentary takes us to Hong Kong, Mexico City, Moscow, and Delhi to delve into the inner workings of some of the most burgeoning metropolises on Earth.
Fascinating and sometimes creepy look at the bizarre world of teen idols in Japan and their fanatical middle-aged devotees.
Reveals how otaku (pop culture geeks) choose the escapist fantasy provided by these budding starlets, some as young as 10, over relationships with real women.
Chef David Chang brings his trademark irreverent humor and curiosity to Vancouver, Marrakech, Los Angeles, and Phnom Penh as he explores the culture and food accompanied by various celebrity guests.
Countries: Canada, Morocco, US, Cambodia
At only 23 minutes, this award-winning documentary short provides a fascinating and poignant window into impoverished rural life in post-Soviet Georgia. The camera follows a traveling trader as he sells secondhand goods in exchange for potatoes. Beautiful cinematography that captures the stark Georgian landscape.
Smart-ass chef David Chang leads his buddies on a mouthwatering, cross-cultural hunt for the world’s most satisfying grub.
Each episode of this highly original show tackles a topic like tacos, pizza, or dumplings, examining its cultural and culinary history and visiting different countries to compare how it’s made.
Warning: Chang can be obnoxious, and racial and political commentary is liberally sprinkled throughout the show, which may not be to everyone’s taste.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour shines a light on what sex and love look like in Tokyo, Delhi, Beirut, Berlin, Accra, and Shanghai, with a focus on women and marginalized communities.
Countries: Japan, India, Lebanon, Germany, Ghana, China
Late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien hits the road in this series that brings him and his sense of humor to far-flung destinations.
This Oscar-winning documentary short takes us to rural India, where local women fight the stigma surrounding menstruation by manufacturing low-cost sanitary pads.
Based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling book, this visually stunning series travels to the home kitchens of Italy, the southern islands of Japan, the heat of the Yucatán, and to Berkeley’s Chez Panisse.
Samin’s contagious laugh and genuine passion for cooking inspire as she explores the central principles of what makes food delicious.
Countries: Italy, Japan, Mexico, United States
In this BBC documentary series, British celebrities drive the world’s most infamous roads from end to end, taking in the breathtaking landscapes and the fascinating characters who live, work, and travel along these routes.
Countries: US (Alaska), Nepal, Peru, Russia (Siberia), Vietnam, Ethiopia
Subscribers to Netflix’s DVD service may be dwindling, but for movie buffs it remains a great way to access a large catalog of mostly older content. If you have a DVD subscription, don’t miss these documentaries on travel. They are also available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
Note that these films may also be found at your local library!
Classic travel documentary that follows a variety of solo budget travelers — from teens to seniors — through 26 countries on four continents. Young filmmaker Brook Silva-Braga trains his inquisitive lens on backpackers lending a hand to tsunami victims, trekkers forming brief but intense relationships, and fascinating moments of self-discovery and adventure.
Also available for rental on Amazon Prime Video.
Now available for free to Prime members on Amazon Prime Video!
This docu follows adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey to Patagonia of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, legendary founders of The North Face and Patagonia sportswear and pioneering conservationists. Along the way Johnson gets shipwrecked off Easter Island, surfs the longest wave of his life, and attempts to climb a Patagonian peak.
Also available for rental on Amazon Prime Video.
Countries: Mexico, Chile
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Ingrid retired early from software engineering at 43 to devote herself to language learning and travel. Her goal is to learn a new language to fluency every two years. Currently, she speaks English, German, and Spanish, and is learning Portuguese.