The present study concerns Lagrangian transport and (chaotic) advection in three-dimensional (3D) flows in cavities under steady and laminar conditions. The main goal is to investigate topological equivalences between flow classes driven by different forcing; streamline patterns and their response to nonlinear effects are examined. To this end, we consider two prototypical systems that are important in both natural and industrial applications: a buoyancy-driven flow (differentially heated configuration with two vertical isothermal walls) and a lid-driven flow governed by the Grashof (Gr) and the Reynolds (Re) numbers, respectively. Symmetries imply fundamental similarities between the streamline topologies of these flows. Moreover, nonlinearities induced by fluid inertia and buoyancy (increasing Gr) in the buoyancy-driven flow vs fluid inertia (increasing Re) and single- or double-wall motion in the lid-driven flow cause similar bifurcations of the Lagrangian flow topology. These analogies imply that Lagrangian transport is governed by universal mechanisms, and differences are restricted to the manner in which these phenomena are triggered. Experimental validation of key aspects of the Lagrangian dynamics is carried out by particle image velocimetry and 3D particle-tracking velocimetry.