7 Travel Documentaries

The Best Travel Documentaries to gain more knowledge and immerse yourself in new destinations

The changes in television consumption habits are undeniable. Digital streaming platforms have been steadily gaining ground and continue to grow and multiply. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Filmin, and HBO are just a few of the many options you likely have on your iPad or SmartTV to discover the best travel documentaries. Therefore, we present a selection of travel documentaries available on these platforms or YouTube, allowing you to gain new knowledge and virtually explore remote places around the globe with the guidance of explorers, travelers, journalists, and photographers, from anywhere and at any time.

The travel documentaries will not only provide you with intriguing facts and valuable insights into the history, culture, and society of various places around the world, but they will also serve as inspiration for creating your own travel documentary. With guidance from professionals and instructors of the Master in Travel Journalism program at the School of Travel Journalism, you will learn to incorporate elements such as short or general shots, drone footage for overhead angles, interviews with key individuals, and a combination of music and narration reflecting your personal experience. Take note and get inspired!

The finest travel documentaries

These are some of the many travel documentaries that you can find on streaming platforms that offer captivating journeys and unique perspectives on different cultures, landscapes, and adventures.

Tales by Light – by National Geographic

For lovers of photography and visual art, this documentary is a must-see, offering inspiration and techniques to enhance your own projects. Photographers and filmmakers travel the globe, capturing unforgettable images of people, places, creatures, and cultures from unique and unprecedented angles. Starring: Darren Jew, Art Wolfe, and Krystle Wright; and created by Abraham Joffe, in its second season, the episodes include:

  • Sacred Nature: Documenting the lives of animals in the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya.
  • Misunderstood Predators: Debunking myths and misconceptions about demonized and mythologized creatures.
  • Life + Death: Chronicling the horrors of war over the years, while also traveling to India to capture a more poetic and dignified perspective on death, as well as in the deserts of Namibia and the Kalahari.
best travel documentaries

Our Planet – by David Attenborough

As a common thread, Attenborough addresses the issue of climate change, focusing on global warming and its impact on the planet’s flora and fauna. This visually stunning documentary features images that beautifully capture the splendor of Earth. Spanning two seasons, it invites us to reflect on this pressing issue that increasingly affects the integrity of our world. It vividly portrays the fauna of aquatic environments, savannas, deserts, jungles, mountains, and forests.

best travel documentaries

Expedition Earth

Explorers, expert cameramen, and journalists capture fascinating natural themes such as Canada’s Pacific shore and the Great Bear Rainforest, examining grizzlies in their natural habitat. They also explore the subarctic to observe polar bears and investigate the harmful impact of human activity on their population. Additionally, they document the unique ecosystem of the Florida Everglades, which encompasses both subtropical and temperate climate zones. Finally, they showcase the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches over 2,300 km along the coast of Queensland, Australia.

best travel documentaries

My octopus teacher – by Craig Goster

Winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2021, this film depicts an extraordinary friendship between a filmmaker and an octopus living in a South African kelp forest. Through daily interactions, the filmmaker learns about the mysteries of the octopus’s world, forging a deep connection and friendship. Set against the stunning marine scenery of South Africa, the documentary not only showcases the beauty of the underwater world but also delves into the fascinating traits and behaviors of the octopus, weaving an enthralling story of friendship and discovery.

best travel documentaries

The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals – by Megan Batoon, Jo Franco, Luis D. Ortiz

In this reality show, three travelers explore vacation homes and accommodations worldwide. The hosts showcase unique and luxurious vacation rentals, offering travel tips and delving into local cultures. Across its two seasons, the show features a diverse array of extraordinary accommodations, from eco-friendly architecture and paranormal sites to ultra-designed lodgings, Californian-style houses, floating homes, and secluded forest cabins. Each episode highlights the remarkable variety of vacation rentals in remote locations around the globe.

best travel documentaries

Street Food

This documentary showcases the rich and intriguing gastronomy of various regions in the United States. It features restaurants in California and Los Angeles renowned for their perfect hot dogs. In Portland, it highlights the diverse tacos served at food stands across the state. It also presents the delectable cuisine of New York, from sautéed shrimp and pizza to hot dogs. Alongside New Orleans’ sandwiches, fresh poke from Hawaii, and the Cuban influence on Miami’s culinary scene. For those interested in exploring Latin American gastronomy, the ‘Latin American Street Food’ documentary is also available. Offering a glimpse into the vibrant culinary traditions of Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia.

best travel documentaries

Dark Tourist: New Horizons – by David Farrier

Journalist David Farrier travels the world visiting some of the most unusual (and often macabre) tourist destinations. Farrier explores a town devastated by radiation and traverses a supposedly haunted forest in Japan. Moreover contacts one of Pablo Escobar’s former hitmen in Colombia, and participates in an illegal excursion to cross the Mexico-United States border. He attends a voodoo festival in Benin, shoots a cow in Cambodia, and bathes in a lake in Kazakhstan formed by a nuclear explosion.

best travel documentaries

If you are fascinated by the world of documentaries, in the master’s degree in travel journalism you will be able to discover new tools when it comes to deepening your own vision of the world and travel. Have your camera and microphone at hand and start traveling and creating.

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