8 TV Shows That Will Make You Want To Travel
Essential viewing for those with a serious case of wanderlust.
Sure, David Attenborough’s got a great knack for making us want to quit real life and escape into the wild. Anthony Bourdain’s good at that too. And there are plenty of other travel programs explicitly designed to give us wanderlust for the wider world. But what about the shows that just so happen to make us itch for a new adventure?
Maybe they’re set in the country, the wild or even the big city – either way, there’s something about them that helps us escape. Here’s hoping they inspire us to turn off the TV and see it for ourselves IRL.
Here’s eight shows with accessory landscapes you’ll want to visit.
#1 Top of the Lake
Where to go: New Zealand
New Zealand has a particular knack for looking good on screen. We saw it in the Lord of the Rings series and even more recently in the excellent Hunt for the Wilderpeople. On the small screen however, there’s one program proving New Zealand is as incredible as we all imagined.
Top of the Lake is a mystery drama that centres on the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl named Tui. Set in a remote mountain town, the program follows inexperienced detective Robin Griffin (played by Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss) as she tries to lead her investigation amid backlash and self discovery. Created by New Zealand native Jane Campion, Top of the Lake is a powerful story told with a stunning natural backdrop.
Where to go: Key West, Florida
Bloodline is a Netflix Original series that focusses on human drama and the anger that draws good people to do bad things. The story centres around Danny (played by Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn) as he returns home to Florida to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his parents’ seaside hotel. Danny, the black sheep of the family, is determined to make good with his parents and siblings following a tumultuous past. Despite the show’s dark premise, Bloodline does an incredible job pairing intense scene work with the distracting seaside beauty of Key West, where the show is set.
Where to go: Portland
Portland, home to food trucks, beer festivals and basically every cool band ever – add all those things together and you get a city that’s ripe for satire. Portlandia is helmed by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein who harmlessly take the city’s eccentricities – anything from independent book stores, yoga classes and dumpster divers – and push them to the extreme. But in between the hipster furore, there’s also a genuine love for Portland that shines through the comedy. This city is cool. Very cool. And it’s probably where you belong.
#4 Game of Thrones
Where to go: Europe
You simply cannot talk about television of the past decade without mentioning Game of Thrones. It’s HBO’s most successful program ever, and even the thought of it returning to our screens this year – for its penultimate season no less – can excite even the most cynical of fans. But if you’ve missed the boat (or fallen off in the waning years) there’s never been a better time to get (back) into Game of Thrones. Why? Well because of the sheer beauty of it all.
Game of Thrones‘ medieval past is well and truly alive in modern Europe. Filming locations for the program include Dubrovnik in Croatia, Mdina in Malta, the Höfðabrekka mountain range in Iceland and numerous sites across Spain. In fact, the Klin Fortress in Croatia has seen tourist interest growth increase by 579% after GoT was filmed there. Yes, really.
Check out our features on Game of Thrones below:
#5 The Kettering Incident
Where to go: Tasmania
An fascinating slice of Australian Gothic television, The Kettering Incident is a long-form drama series set in a coastal town in Tasmania. Filled with sweeping shots of its eerie location, The Kettering Incident is smart, captivating television that draws on influence from David Lynch and Mark Frosts’s iconic ’90s series Twin Peaks. It’s stylish and specifically Australian, and one of the best homemade dramas we’ve had in years.
Where to go: Scotland
Outlander is a time-travelling action-romance based on Diana Gabaldon’s supernatural historical romance novels. It follows Claire Randall in 1945, a former World War II nurse who accidentally time travels back to 18th century Scotland. As Claire tries to find her way back to her time, we get a glimpse into life during the troublesome power struggles of the time, all set beside the picturesque Scottish wilds. Fair warning: don’t watch this program with your parents.
#7 Northern Exposure
Where to go: Alaska
An oldie but a goodie, Northern Exposure follows Dr Joel Fleischman, a young New York doctor sent to practice in the small (fictional) town of Cicely, Alaska. There he encounters any number of curious characters as he struggles to make the jump from city slicker to country man. While the show was actually filmed in Rosaly in Washington, it does an almighty good job making it feel like an authentic Alaskan experience, right down to the moose ambling through the main street in the opening credits.
Where to go: Norway
There’s a whole bunch of Scandinavian programs that prove living up north is both beautiful and brooding come winter time (looking at you The Killing and The Bridge). But with Lilyhammer, we get something a little different. Steven Van Zandt (who you may remember from The Sopranos or as a guitarist from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band) stars as a New York-based gangster, Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano. After testifying against his mafia boss in New York, Frank is forced to enter the witness protection program. Frank is given a new identity and is relocated to Lillehammer, a town in Norway which he fell in love with after watching the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. Expect the usual fish-out-of-water hi jinx mixed with the absurdity of organised crime, set against the quaint, sleepy town of Lillehammer – what a barn burner.