Whether you have a boring commute, a long car ride, or a tedious chore you just have to finish, some of the best podcasts can be found right on Spotify! Unlike watching TV or a movie or flipping through your preferred reading material, podcasts are totally hands-free entertainment that you can take with you anywhere you can pop on your headphones. And just like your favorite books, movies, and TV shows, the best podcasts on Spotify come in all sorts of genres and styles — so there’s definitely at least a handful you’ll love.
From comedy podcasts hosted by some of the funniest people around to true crime podcasts that will let you walk in someone else’s shoes — and from storytelling podcasts that have all the gripping narratives of your favorite books and shows to podcasts run by legacy media companies or radio programs — the field is totally huge. Fortunately, we’ve combed through the list and picked the best ones so you don’t have to. We’ve included podcasts in a range of genres so there’s something to suit your taste, as well as those that come in different lengths so you can tailor your listening experience to the amount of time you have on hand.
1. In the Dark
If you like to go deep on fascinating stories, this is the podcast for you. This Peabody Award-winning podcast investigates law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and it leaves no stones unturned. The first season investigated the kidnapping and death of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling and the second, the case of Curtis Flowers, who was tried six times for the same murder.
2. LeVar Burton Reads
Fans who watched Reading Rainbow as kids or Star Trek as adults will recognize LeVar Burton’s velvety-smooth voice and amazing storytelling skills. On LeVar Burton Reads, you can slip into the stories he tells like you would a warm bath. The podcasts vary in length based on the tales he’s sharing, which are also chosen based on his person faves.
3. WTF With Marc Maron
Since it started in 2009, WTF With Marc Maron has become one of the most well regarded comedy podcasts around. Maron starts each episode off with a monologue then gets into some seriously awesome interviews with movie stars, comedians, and other celebrities. If you’ve never listened to podcasts before, this is a great place to start.
4. Stuff You Should Know
We all have knowledge gaps and misconceptions, and this informative and entertaining podcast can help fix that. Each episode covers a topic you might want to know more about, like how barbed wire actually works, a brief history of punk rock, and how ventriloquists do what they do. This one’s guaranteed to give you some prime cocktail party conversation.
5. Left, Right, and Center
For those sick of partisan politics, try this podcast that does its best to go over the week’s news from a variety of perspectives. Join Josh Barro of Business Insider, Rich Lowry of the National Review, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel as they discuss what’s going on government in a more balanced way than many others.
6. Over My Body
From the producers of the hit podcasts Dirty John and Dr. Death (both of which you should also check out, if you haven’t already) comes yet another true crime slam dunk. This one follows the case of two high-powered lawyers who marry, have kids, and are living the dream – until they divorce and one of them ends up dead. The story that follows is riveting, and so is the podcast that tells it.
7. Why Won’t You Date Me?
Nicole Byer has a lot going for her: A hit Netflix show in Nailed It, sold-out comedy shows, and a killer sense of style. But she hasn’t found love, so she made a podcast about it. This gut-busting podcast tackles topics like her green-card marriage, getting through dry spells, and the hilarious pitfalls of the modern dating scene with the sometimes R-rated comedy you love from Byer.
8. All Fantasy Everything
For a somewhat mindless listen when you’ve got a tedious task to complete, this podcast hits the spot. It takes the fantasy football approach to topics like television dads, movie fights, birds, and even things you haven’t actually tried but think you’d excel at doing. It’s silly, it’s fun, and feels like arguing with your best buds.
9. With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus
This zany podcast flips the script on interview podcasts, with comedian Lauren Lapkus appearing on her own show as a different guest each time. It’s part improv comedy, part interview, and a whole lot of fun. You’ll need a Stitcher account to binge listen to old episodes, but you can find new ones on Spotify.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize we hold certain assumptions until they’re challenged. That’s what Invisibilia does, by uncovering the unseen forces in our lives and how they function in society. Two people can look at the same thing and have totally different ideas, and it’ll do anyone good to examine that through this great podcast from NPR.
11. Ear Hustle
Fans of Orange is the New Black will also love this podcast that takes listeners inside the walls of San Quentin, as well as revealing what happens after people get out of prison. You’ll learn all about the idiosyncrasies of life inside, like how they cook, send notes, and make music. But they also address more serious questions like marriage, jobs, and recidivism.
12. Terrible, Thanks for Asking
You know how most of us always answer “fine” when someone asks how you are, even if the reality couldn’t be further from the truth? Host and author Nora McInerny digs into that phenomenon, asking real people about how they’re actually feeling and talking about it. This podcast is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and always unflinchingly real.
13. My Favorite M’s
True crime meets comedy in this conversational podcast in which hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark share real crime stories with a hefty dose of hilarious commentary. They also cover mental health issues, social issues, and their own lives in a podcast that’s down-to-earth, relatable, and irreverently funny.
14. Judge John Hodgman
If you love to pass judgement on your friends and family, or just need an impartial party to help settle your petty disputes, Judge John Hodgman is here for you. The judge hears “cases” from listeners who need a third party’s advice, with lots of banter and comedy along the way.
15. This is Love
From the creators of the true crime fan favorite Criminal comes a similar take on a very different subject. This is Love tells real love stories with the same care and dedication that host Phoebe Judge tackles crime. It’s sweet, poignant, and affecting whether you’re in a relationship or not.
16. Call Your Girlfriend
Long-distance best friends Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sou cover both light and heavy topics in this conversational podcast that sounds like a chat between girlfriends — because that’s what it is. They talk about current events and topics of cultural interest, as well as random subjects that fascinate both of them. Those can range from body hair to books, the patriarchy, and even sex education.
17. Decoder Ring
On each episode, host Willa Paskin examines a different cultural phenomenon, nagging question, or object and tries to explain what it means and its role in our world. Those can include ice cream trucks, clowns, our collective fascination with Jennifer Anniston, and so much more. You’ll find yourself drawn into elements of the world you’ve never considered before.
Whether you’re 25 or 75, there are always some elements of being a grown-up that confound us all. Hosts Michelle Buteau of Always Be My Maybe and Jordan Carlos will help you through it, by normalizing the real struggle of getting by in this world in all its confounding, awkward, and sometimes hilarious complexity.
19. The Moth
Storytelling fans, queue up this one. This podcast version of The Moth Radio Hour features true stories told by real people onstage without notes. Topics range as widely as the tellers’ backgrounds, and the episodes themselves also come in different lengths, so you can tailor your listening experience to how much time you have.
20. Becoming Wise
When you need a moment of zen but can’t spare much more than that, check out Becoming Wise. It “offers depth and discovery in the time it takes to make a cup of tea,” as its tagline suggests, and its bite-sized conversations are true to that word. This podcast offers quick hits on some of the world’s biggest questions, to broaden your horizons without taking up your whole afternoon.
21. D, S & M
As the title suggests, this podcast covers all of those topics most of us are taught not to talk about. Host Anna Sale brings on knowledgeable guests who bare it all with lots of sensitivity and a little humor thrown in. You’ll laugh and nod along as you learn fresh perspectives on hard things, from celebrities who are willing to get really honest.
22. Julie: The Unwinding of the Miracle
Grab the tissues before you dive into this breathtaking podcast that follows Julie Yip-Williams as she slowly dies of Stage IV colon cancer. Through hours of seriously personal reflection and conversation, the author revisits her extraordinary life as she readies for her death. It’s a love story, an immigrant story, and one you absolutely won’t want to miss.
23. Safe for Work
Hosts Liz Dolan and Rico Gagliano know what it’s like to face tough situations at work, and they’ve got great advice – with a side of humor – regardless of your workplace situation. From dealing with burnout to open office plans and even what to do when you’re tempted to rage-quit, they’ll be able to give you some food for thought.
24. The Bright Sessions
Fans of spooky psychological thriller books will love this fiction podcast that sounds like a well-produced audiobook. In it, you’ll listen in on therapy sessions with Dr. Bright, except her patients are atypical. Atypical in that they have special abilities like mind-reading and time travel, that is. That’s interesting enough but as the sessions wear on, you’ll realize something sinister is at play. You’ll have to listen to find out what that is.