The Best Travel Documentaries about famous cities

6 de desembre de 2017

If you are short of money to invest in that long-awaited vacation you've been needing for a long time, what if I tell you that you can travel in time and space to great destinations by watching online travel documentaries about famous cities. And almost for free on!

Why watch documentaries about tourist cities?

The best way to plan our vacations before taking our plane is to know the best options we have at hand to explore. Whether you have very little money in your pocket or a comfortable budget, there are cities that can suit all types of travelers

Documentaries about famous cities not only help us to make a list of the tourist sites to visit in the city we choose but also allow us to learn about the history of that destination, its unknown attractions and those special corners and characters that you could only discover if you get away from the tourist trail.

What are the best documentaries about famous cities?

Gringo Favelado

A group of British men and Brazilian young men pose for a picture

Rio de Janeiro is often called "the marvelous city" and it is not hard to see why. For the foreigner who finds his place in this great city of Brazil, the scenery of its mountains and beaches can seem like heaven itself. 

Fin this documentary, Filmmaker Alexander Kryszkiewicz portrays Rio de Janeiro from the perspective of four British dreamers who leave their lives in Europe to settle in this vibrant Latin American city. 

This group of tourists focuses on life inside Rio's famous "Favelas", commonly labeled as dangerous and harmful places. But our protagonists make visible the human side of these communities full of hard-working people who dream of an honest and dignified life for their families.

Paris Was A Woman

Two French women take coffee in Paris in the twenties

The city of Paris has historically been portrayed as a seductive woman, as endearing muses that for decades inspired artists and poets. But not all the creators of the city of lights have been men. 
At the dawn of the 20th century, talented women swarmed in Paris, responding not only to the beauty of the city but even more to its promise of freedom. 

This documentary made in 1996 compiles a vast and valuable film archive of the Paris of those golden years, to get to know its most iconic places and its feminine essence through this community of revolutionary women



A New York bridge in the twenties

If we could summarize this eleven-minute short film with the name of a specific material this would be "Steel"

In this legendary cinematic piece made in 1921 by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, the booming city of New York flaunts its modernist development of the early twenties in a series of beautifully photographed observational shots. 

The images of the newly built skyscrapers, the numerous boats and tankers that move people and goods across the bay, and, of course, the strong and magnificent bridges, make up three tacit episodes, presented by poetic intertitles and enlivened by a wonderful score.

Suite Habana

A Cuban boy smells a flower in the film Suite Habana

In this documentary, a wide repertoire of characters, as picturesque as dissimilar, gives us an impression of Havana at the beginning of the 21st century. The Cuban capital barely glimpses a time of political and economic change that becomes unavoidable but, in its core, in its most earthly metabolism, its people live every day just as another one. 

Director Fernando Pérez, cataloged on the Caribbean Island as the best contemporary Cuban filmmaker, films ten-year-old Francisquito, also the twenty-year-old Ernesto and the forty-year-old Raquel, along with ten other characters. All together draw the spirit of a city that is torn between stagnation and hope.

Paris 1900

The facade of the moulin rouge in Paris in the twenties

Narrated with the particular humor of an eloquent French voice, this film premiered in 1947 at the Cannes Film Festival, presents the most representative anecdotes of Paris’s Belle Epoque in due elegance

Directed by Nicole Védres, the film is a valuable historical document about the great social and technological advances of Western society that had their first big push in Paris.

The flight of an airship, a football match between France and England, the completion of the Eiffel Tower and even an exhibition of fashion trends among Parisian ladies are some of the postcards of this all-time classic.


Sacro Gra

An old scientist and his palm tree in Rome

This is the first documentary to have won the Golden Lion of the Venice International Film Festival, a film that portrays the city of Rome with compelling beauty. 

Sacro Gra is Gianfranco Rossi's masterpiece named after the forty-two miles long highway that goes around the Italian capital. The metaphor of the circle as a figure that surrounds and shapes a space is the narrative premise of the film, in which several characters that live around the highway are portrayed in their daily lives. 

The choral approach allows us to grasp Rome from the little anonymous worlds of its inhabitants. Among other characters, the film contains the stories of an artisanal fisherman, two prostitutes, a couple of paramedics, and even a scientist obsessed with preventing the beetles from eating the leaves of a palm tree that lies a few meters away from the road.


Two german young men in Japan

What could be better than visiting a Japanese city? Well… visiting four!

This documentary follows two extroverted young Berlin friends as they face the most momentous challenge of their lives: to tour four Japanese cities in complete silence.

Traveling from Berlin, the route takes in the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Ishigaki, Hakone, and, of course, futuristic and picturesque Tokyo

Welcome To North Korea

A billboard showing a political leader in North Korea

This is one of the few documentaries that will allow you to see the most isolated country in the world. Directed by Linda Jablonská the film documents the excursion of a group of Czech tourists to Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2007

It is the second time that travelers are admitted to North Korea from the Czech Republic since 1989, and these tourists are taken on a package tour with a rigorous agenda as the only way to visit this communist country. 

The visit takes place under rigorous supervision, without mobile phones, without free time and wit a lot of moral dilemmas over six days. The trip is difficult to explain in words, we can only watch this documentary and see to believe.

B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989

A group of german youths in west Berlin in the eighties

Oh, the mythical, futuristic and historic city of Berlin! During the eighties, West Berlin was a site in a state of emergency. It was a melting pot of pop culture, masterminding amateurs and potential global superstars

In short, this documentary takes us into the cracks of that Berlin underworld that we would never discover if it weren't for this series of colorful archival footage of the frenetic subculture behind the famous "iron curtain" before the wall came down completely.  

Buenos Aires 

A futuristic building in Buenos Aires in the fifties in black and white

The critical eye of Argentine filmmaker José Kohon leads him to portray the contradictions of a Buenos Aires that in 1958 stands as one of the most industrialized Latin American cities. 

Accompanied by a daring soundtrack, architecture and human beings are the two motives of a parallel montage that alternates between the landscape of a well-off urbanity, represented by its neat buildings, and the poor suburbs, which are made up of small houses made of tin foil. 

The pulp of this documentary, filmed in black and white and with absolutely no dialogues in it, lies in the anonymous faces of those who belong to the poor class, characters who are portrayed while doing their jobs and who seem alienated by a city that makes them invisible.


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