The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you’re reading this, you’re staring at a screen. Wouldn’t you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the internet? Get inspired by the best travel and adventure documentaries streaming on Netflix right now.

Sure, we’re asking you to stare at a different screen when you watch these movies and shows. But after you view stunning panoramic views of the United States’ National Parks, sizzling entrees from far-off countries, and chilling feats of human bravery, you won’t be able to help yourself — you’ll have to get off the couch and get outside or schedule that next trip.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (2013-2018)

While the late, great Anthon Bourdain’s original acclaimed series, No Reservations, focused on the culinary scene of each location, Parts Unknown is a more encompassing look at the cultures, people, and history that make up the lesser-known gems in our big, beautiful world. Bourdain’s famed background as a chef means the series has an edible slant, so foodies will enjoy Parts Unknown as much as adventure-hungry travelers. The 12th and final season of Parts Unknown debuted on CNN in fall 2018, so the 11th season came to Netflix in December 2019.

Watch Now

National Parks Adventure (2016)

The year 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Parks Service, a federal program that has saved such treasures as Yellowstone and Yosemite for public use. National Parks Adventure, an ambitious documentary from filmmaker Greg MacGillivray and narrated by the one-and-only Robert Redford, explores the history and modern landscape of America’s precious natural assets. Artist Rachel Pohl, mountaineer Conrad Anker, and photographer Max Lowe lead the journey on camera from glaciers in Montana to the spectacle of Utah’s natural arches. Warning: This film will trigger severe travel envy, which can only be treated by planning your own trip to a national park.

Watch Now

Tales by Light (2015-Present)

All of the most potent documentary films, in-depth magazine features, and stirring non-fiction works have someone to thank: the person behind the camera. Photographers are often left out of the spotlight because they’re too busy searching for the next perfect shot (and, you know, taking it). Tales By Light, which began as a short series from Canon and evolved into a partnership with National Geographic, introduces you to one amazing photographer in each episode and takes you along his or her next journey to capture elusive wildlife, unique communities, and heartfelt themes. The almost metaphysical look through the lens at another person looking through a lens encourages you to see the subject matter in a slightly different light (no pun on the show name intended). The third season arrived to Netflix in December 2018.

Watch Now

Valley Uprising (2014)

What happens when a group of rock climbers goes toe-to-toe with the National Park Service in Yosemite, one of the country’s most amazing landscapes? A few parties, a little bit of dumpster diving, a little more drama, and some of the most daring feats of climbing you’ve ever seen. Valley Uprising, narrated by Peter Sarsgaard, causes you to think about the importance of public lands, the power of counterculture, and the thrill of the climb.

Watch Now

The Dawn Wall (2017)

El Capitan in Yosemite is one of the most famous climbing destinations and the Dawn Wall, so named because it is the first thing in the valley to be illuminated in the morning, had never been free-climbed (the act of using equipment only to protect from falls, not to assist in climbing) until Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen took it on. The documentary explains the years of training and each climber’s motivation for attempting the world-record climb.

Watch Now

Mountain (2017)

Speaking of climbing — why do we even do this? Isn’t a bit odd that we consider scaling mountains a recreational activity? Humanity’s urge to explore the highest reaches of the Earth is discussed in the aptly named Mountain. Director Jennifer Peedam and photographer/mountaineer Renan Ozturk showcase the most astonishing peaks and valleys to the soundtrack that is Willem Dafoe reading from Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane. The documentary is more experiential than educational, but inspirational nonetheless.

Watch Now

Pedal the World (2015)

What’s more intense than spending an entire year cycling across 22 different countries? Filming yourself while you’re doing it. Felix Starck’s self-produced documentary of his journey will have you itching to try something similar.

Watch Now

Losing Sight of Shore (2017)

The flight between California and Australia is long and grueling — now imagine rowing the Pacific Ocean. A team of four women known as the Coxless Crew share the 8,446-mile, nine-month adventure and all the challenges, fun, and fulfillment they encounter. If that wasn’t exhilarating enough, the team also raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research and awareness in the process.

Watch Now

Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

How can we talk about worldly flicks without mentioning Werner Herzog? The German filmmaker blessed with a velvety smooth narrating voice teamed up with long-time collaborator and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger for another captivating documentary. Destination? The South Pole. Rather than focus on the wildlife found in Antarctica — yeah, penguins are cute, we get it — Encounters at the End of the World is a deep dive into the human population that works and lives on Earth’s most relentless continent: the resilient men and women who research the biology and geography that make up the bottom part of our globe. Highlights include volcanoes, ice caves, icebergs, okay, yes, some “fluffy penguins,” and a chilly rooftop concert.

Watch Now

Under an Arctic Sky (2017)

Surf’s up … in Iceland? Travel to the opposite pole with Under an Arctic Sky and watch as six fearless (and perhaps a little reckless, but definitely fun-loving) surfers shred the coast of Iceland. During a storm. The movie is a heartfelt look at a dangerous sport in one of the most unforgiving, yet gorgeous places on Earth.

Watch Now

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (2017-Present)

Speaking of real-life travels through foreign countries, imagine if you were vacationing with your dad? Comedian Jake Whitehall drags his father, Michaels, around on unlikely adventures that force them both out of their comfort zones. Their difference in tastes causes some interesting (and often funny) disagreements. For example: One of them wants to stay in a hostel. The other wants to stay in a five-star hotel. Who do you think wins? The first season follows the hilarious duo through Southeast Asia.

Watch Now

Karl Meltzer: Made to Be Broken (2017)

In 2016, Karl Meltzer completed the Appalachian Trail — a stretch of over 2,000 miles of rugged American terrain between Maine and Georgia — in record time. The name of this documentary, which chronicles the ultrarunner’s awe-inspiring and successful trek, takes on two meanings. Just last year, Joe McConaughy beat Meltzer’s time by nearly a day. Regardless, Made to Broken is a fascinating look at what it takes to pull off something as intense as covering a huge portion of the United States in less than two months.

Watch Now

Craving something more culinary? Check out the best food documentaries and series streaming on Netflix right now. If you like all kinds of docs, we’ve got you covered (or maybe you’re just really into crime docs and action flicks). Our brother site, Digital Trends, also has an overall guide on the best movies and shows.

Grooming

Juniper Ridge Founder Hall Newbegin Talks Sustainability in Men’s Grooming and the Search for Natural Scents

We caught up with the lightning-tongued Mr. Newbegin for a quick and dirty interview about what sustainability really means in the context of fashion and grooming.
Fashion & Style

How to Fold Your Clothes Like Marie Kondo, the Queen of Modern-Day Organization

Never accept a wrinkled tee and sloppy chest of drawers again. The Marie Kond method is surprisingly simple.
Food & Drink

26.2 Brew is a Beer Developed By Runners, For Runners (and for Everyone Else)

Whether you're a runner or not, chances are you're going to like 26.2 Brew, a craft beer developed by runners for runners.
Food & Drink

5 of the Most Expensive Rums on the Planet

You can get a fine bottle of rum for about $50 and a truly great bottle for a little under $100. But to dabble in the best rums, you're going to need to add a few zeroes.
Travel

Hitch Hotel Might Be the Most Compact Travel Trailer We’ve Ever Seen

For RV campers and road trippers who value mobility, versatility, and portability, less is more.
Travel

5 Free Travel Apps You Should Never Journey Without

From planning to packing to going, these free must-have mobile apps make travel so much easier.
Travel

4 Hotels that Are Actually Restored Vintage Travel Trailers

All the retro charm of a classic American road trip with none of the hassle.
Travel

5 Best Travel Clothes Brands You Can Get Away with Not Washing

These high-tech, premium pieces are comfortable, quick-drying, odor-resistant, and infinitely wearable.
Living

2 Historic Buildings Become One at Portland’s Woodlark Hotel

Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Woodlark is fresh and sophisticated with classic Old World charm.
Outdoors

The Best GPS Apps for Navigating without Reception

GPS used to require expensive devices but now the power can be found in our pocket.
Travel

This Luxury Sedona Vacation Rental is Like a Personal Resort For Two

Sedona is one of those magical places that most people from around the world fantasize of visiting. The stunning red rocks formations, the timeless canyons with rivers gushing through them, and the spiritual energy of the vortexes that…
Travel

These Boutique Hotels Proudly Pay Homage to Their Strip Club Roots

Former gentleman's clubs turned luxury accommodations: where vintage sleaze meets high-brow, designer travel.
Travel

Stay Where the Stars of Game of Thrones Stayed with this Sweet Discount Code

Game of Thrones was filmed in some truly spectacular locations — and you can enjoy a discount at some of the best hotels in these cities.
Travel

Finland’s Rent a Finn Program Aims to Teach Visitors How to Be Happy

Find your happy place through relaxing Finnish saunas and wild berry foraging via this unique travel contest.