top of page

Television That Inspires Travel

Television is an amazing window to travel the world without ever leaving your living room. It can inspire you to travel, with one click, you can go from the picturesque hills of Scotland to the gritty streets of New York City. Television shows that truly capture the personality and culture of a city will have you feeling like you’re on vacation in these locations. Sit back and relax as I take you on a trip around the world. Maybe you will find your next binge-worthy show, but hopefully this will help you plan your next holiday location. While this includes some of the most popular television shows, it’s not a complete list. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

At the top of everyone’s list should be CNN’s Parts Unknown. TThe late, Anthony Bourdain, shared his passion for traveling and food as he explored lesser known places around the world on his television show. In the kitchens of these places, as I watch chefs chop up local delicacies and put them in steaming pots I can almost smell the spices filling the air. I can imagine dipping a warm piece of bread into the sauce, the juices running down my fingers as the flavors explode in my mouth. Then music starts, and I’m engrossed in a cultural native dance or drawn in by personal stories with the locals. When the 30 minutes are over I have visited places you don’t typically see on television like Naxos Island in Greece, Minas Gerais in Brazil, Montana and Antarctica. “It is some pretty amazing visual inspiration,” Bourdain says, and I forget that I didn’t actually leave my house.

Next up is a trip around Southeast Asia and Europe with a father and son duo in Netflix’s travel documentary, Jack Whitehall:Travels with my Father. The series begins with British comedian Jack Whitehall deciding to take his posh father, Michael, on his gap year travels. The first episode has Jack driving his father in a tuk tuk going in the wrong direction down a street in Vietnam. Later in the episode you watch Jack get a slap massage in Bangkok. I am laughing and am hooked. These two visit temples and shrines, travel the Orient

Express, attend a Full Moon Party and eat local delicacies made with snakes and rats. Though Michael seems ready to bail at any moment and Jack enjoys testing him they make to a second season of father and son adventures. In season two they go motorcycle skiing in the Bavarian Alps, visit the Houdini Museum and participate in a clown festival. Might I add that Michael is terrified of clowns, and I still can’t stop laughing at them. This show inspires me to find the humor in my own travels.

Who doesn’t love a great home makeover television program. HGTV's Fixer Upper put Waco on many people’s bucket list. I myself have traveled there to visit the hosts of the show, Joanna and Chip Gaines’, Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco. I waited in line with other fans as we all shared our favorite renovation stories from the show. I shopped in their store and sampled cupcakes at their Magnolia Bakery. Then took a tour of Waco. Be captivated by Southern charm as you travel Laurel, Mississippi with Ben and Erin Napier i in Hometown. The mother and daughter team, Karen and Mina, of Good Bones take us around the historic areas of Indianapolis as they revitalize homes. These homemaker shows share an inspiring love for their hometown, and we are seduced to visit their cities.

HGTV also transports you around the world with their house hunting shows. Visit beautiful white sand beaches and be enticed by a more relaxed pace of life on one of their five beach home finding shows. Our 49th State is highlighted in Living Alaska. You travel around the globe on House Hunters International and get a glimpse of what life could be like for you to live in other countries.

If you can’t tell, I am an avid television watcher. Not only do I watch travel documentary and home makeover shows, but I also get lost traveling the world with my favorite television shows. I love that they inspire my wanderlust.

Who hasn’t watched an episode of Gossip Girl or Seinfeld that didn’t make you want to pack your bags and head to New York City, one of the most exciting cities in the U.S.? New York is the backdrop for many other binge-worthy shows like Friends, Will and Grace, Mr. Robot, Sex and the City, Girls and even Sesame Street. These shows turn New York into a magical place full of romance, glamour, great neighbors and friends. Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem and other New York City neighborhoods are home to Marvel’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Cloak and Dagger, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and the Defenders. The city is a main character in these stories. Marvel’s heroes show us a New York that is gritty and grimy, but a city worth saving. The wealth of diversity in New York City has made it an ideal location for the filming of many television shows.

On Wednesdays this season, I find myself running around the streets of Chicago with NBC’s three show lineup Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. I’m not the only one, tourists come from around the world to take pictures outside Engine 18, used to film Chicago Fire's firehouse. The UIC Police Headquarters  on Maxwell Street is used for Chicago PD's exterior shots of District 21. Tourists also flock to Lottie’s Pub, the location of the character's favorite sports bar, Molly's.

Thursdays I  jump on the Shondaland train. I take a trip to Seattle with Grey’s Anatomy and her sophomore show Station 19 where my first impressions of Seattle have been formed. I am eager to see it’s distinct skyline in person, and go up the iconic Space Needle. But on the top of my list is a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island with breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and reminders of our favorite Grey’s couples Derek and Meredith and Alex and Jo.

Heading overseas now with Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, The Crown and Killing Eve. I have a list of European places on my bucket list that have been inspired by television shows. I want to visit Downton Abbey’s primary filming location, the expansive historic Highclere Castle in North Hampshire and the picturesque village of Brampton in Oxfordshire, England. The Crown Seasons 1 and 2 took us to some of the most grandeur homes and churches in England. These locations give detail and pay homage to the extraordinary life of Queen Elizabeth. I have actually stood in front of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich which is the backdrop for Buckingham Palace in the show. The architectural detail and the view of London are extraordinary.

My new obsession, the BBC espionage thriller Killing Eve, starring Sandra Oh of Grey’s Anatomy, is also primarily filmed in England. But its travel inspiration extends outside its prime location of London to Paris, Tuscany, Berlin and Romania. I’m already looking forward to traveling to Amsterdam with Killing Eve in Season 2 airing Spring of 2019. Amsterdam is one of the cities on my bucket list and I can’t wait to check it out my TV screen.

Finally, one of the most popular binge-worthy and travel inspirational shows, Game of Thrones(GoT). While GoT takes place in a fantasy world, many of its scenes were filmed in real medieval castles and towns, national parks, glacial valleys, ancient cathedrals and expansive mountains across Europe. The epic battles and betrayal dramas are set in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Spain, Croatia, Malta and Morocco. With eight seasons under its belt, there are many destinations to visit.

This list represents some of the television shows that I watch that have inspired me to travel.  Which shows do you watch that are the most effective at compelling you to leave your couch and go to a new destination somewhere in the world?

TV Listings You can also download or stream most of these shows on Hulu with subscription, Amazon and iTunes for $2.99 an episode, Google Play, YouTube  and Vudu for $1.99 an episode, unless otherwise indicated.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Netflix Seasons 7-10 with subscription, All Seasons on Amazon and iTunes for $2.99 an episode, YouTube, Google Play and Vudu for $1.99 an episode

Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father Netflix

Fixer Upper HGTV  There are no new seasons planned, but you can catch past seasons on HGTV. Visit the Magnolia Silos.

Home Town HGTV  Returns for Season 3 in 2019. Things to do In Laurel, Mississippi.

Good Bones HGTV   Returns for Season 4 in 2019.  Visit Indianapolis.

Living Alaska HGTV

House Hunters International HGTV  

Gossip Girl Netflix Gossip Girl Location Tours

Seinfield Hulu Also found on Amazon for $2.99 an episode, Google Play and YouTube for $1.99 an episode.

Chicago Med NBC  Wednesdays at 8:00 pm EST Visit Chicago.

Chicago Fire NBC  Wednesdays at 9:00 pm EST

Chicago PD NBC. Wednesdays at 10:00 pm EST

Grey's Anatomy ABC  Thursdays at 8;00 pm EST   Also past shows can be watched on Netflix.

Station 19 ABC  Thursdays at 9:00 pm EST

Downton Abbey and on Amazon Prime with subscription. You can watch some of the seasons on iTunes, YouTube, Vudu and Google Play for a price. Visit Highclere Castle.

The Crown Netflix. Visit the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Killing Eve BBC America

Game of Thrones HBO   Start at the beginning on   Visit the Game of Thrones Winterfell Tour

To find out where television shows are filming check out @olv on Twitter.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page