If you had the chance to bring your camera anywhere in the world, where would you go? There are many beautiful places in the world for photography, and many photographers are lucky enough to have the time and resources to travel to every single one of them.
But even if you don’t have the option of trotting the globe all year round searching for new and stunning views to immortalize with your camera, you can still have to be a bit more selective with the places you visit. We’ve come up with a list of some of the best places to photograph from all around the world.
Whether you want to do some landscape photography, nature photography, astrophotography, or even street photography, here are some places that you’ll want to include your travel photography bucket list.
Machu Picchu (Peru)
Peru’s Machu Picchu is a dream for any photographer who loves traveling and taking large -scale landscape pictures. This world famous 15th-century landmark is situated almost eight thousand feet above sea level. It offers stunning views of the Andes and of the ancient Inca temples and ruins. And at the foot of Machu Picchu is the Aguas Calientes, where you can also do some astrophotography and capture spectacular shots of the Milky Way.
When you do get to plan your trip to Peru, make sure to bring your landscape photography lenses (especially a wide-angle one to capture more of the scene) and wait until the sun is a little lower to eliminate those harsh shadows.
Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
Who doesn’t get awe-inspired by the majestic pyramids of Egypt? At the Pyramids of Giza complex in the outskirts of Cairo, you’ll find the three pyramids (including the biggest and oldest one called the Pyramid of Khufu) and a massive Sphinx sculpture, which should look awesome in panoramic shots.
Photographers who have been to the Pyramids of Giza warn that you should expect extreme lighting in this part of this Egyptian desert, so you can definitely utilize fast shutters. For more professional-quality images, use a good and reliable circular polarizer to give your images a boost in contrast and your skies a deeper blue shade.
Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats (Bolivia)
If you’re a fan of surreal, breathtaking images then you’ll want to bring your gear with you to the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in the Andes of southwest Bolivia. It’s basically a dried-up desert lake where a thin layer of water forms during wet climates. When the water evaporates during hotter climates, the ground gets covered with a solid layer of salt and other minerals.
It’s currently the world’s largest salt flat and it stretches over 4,000 square miles, so you would be able to take wide shots of this incredible plane without other tourists sneaking into your frame and ruining your photo. However, you’ll definitely have to learn how to take photos of amazing reflections to be able to add cool optical illusions to your shots.
Reed Flute Cave (China)
The Reed Flute Cave, also known as the “Palace of Natural Arts,” is a popular tourist destination in Guilin, China. It’s been a famous attraction for more than a thousand years and is over 180 million years old. What makes this landmark so frequently photographed is the artificial multicolored lighting that beautifully illuminates the rock formations, as well as the lake that offers surreal mirror reflections of this majestic fairyland.
When shooting in colorful locations like the Reed Flute Cave, you’re sure to get visually appealing images. However, as with most of the other places mentioned on this list, there are many other photographers out there who will be taking pictures of the same things, so you’ll want to give your composition some careful thought in order to produce photos that stand out from the rest. At the same time, you’ll definitely need to learn about low-light photography to be able to take well-exposed images here.
Antelope Canyon (Arizona)
It would be hard not to take a ton of photos of the magnificent sandstone maze of the Antelope Canyon in Arizona. This unique geological formation has two sections (the Upper and Lower canyons) and is popular for its colorful, fractured walls. If you wait long enough and aim quickly with your camera, you may also be able to catch ephemeral “God beams” or sun spotlights from the cracks above.
The truth is, it’s actually darker inside the Antelope Canyon than it seems in pictures, plus the wide range of posure within makes it all the more challenging to capture properly exposed images. You’ll need to take long exposures (sometimes 20-30 seconds) and possibly even HDRs to ensure well-lit shots.
To see the entrancing Aurora Borealis (or the Northern Lights) is a dream for many, and capturing the Northern Lights is also an exciting feat for many photographers. Luckily, you won’t have to go very far to see these heavenly lights, because the Fairbanks region in Alaska is one of the top locations to visit if you want a great view of this fascinating natural phenomenon.
An inexperienced photographer may not be able to capture the Northern Lights in the same way that they see it with their own eyes, but here are some recommended settings to use in order to improve your night sky photography and take better pictures of these glowing lights:
- Use your camera’s Live View setting
- Set your focus to infinity
- Choose a high ISO (between 800 and 320)
- Open your aperture wide at around f/28 to f/5.6
- Set your shutter speed at 15-30 seconds.
And finally, schedule your trip between April and August for the best photographic results.
Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
For those with experience in astrophotography, you’ll love shooting at this prime stargazing area in Hawaii. The peak of the Mauna Kea, which is arguably the tallest mountain and volcano in the world, is the highest point in Hawaii, so there will be little to no light pollution to ruin your starry night shots.
Star photography, in general, requires very slow shutter speeds, so don’t dare forget your tripod and remote shutter release for tack sharp images of that beautiful starry sky.
New York City (USA)
New York City is called “the city that never sleeps” for a reason—the constant hustle and bustle goes on until the wee hours of the morning, and the city lights pretty much never go out. Because of this, it’s a sight to behold both in the morning and at night. Its stunning skyline is without a doubt one of the most famous in the world, but apart from the glittering skyscrapers, you’ve also got plenty of famous landmarks to photograph: the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and many, many more. If you’re visiting in the winter, check out our guide to NYC holiday photo spots for inspiration.
Also, it’s undoubtedly one of the best places in the world for street photography, photographing graffiti art to add color to your images, and outdoor architecture photography.
Bora Bora (French Polynesia)
This list wouldn’t be complete without amazing beaches and islands. Feast your eyes on the beauty of the Bora Bora island, located in French Polynesia. Known for its extinct volcanoes and turquoise lagoon, it is surrounded by islets, crystal blue waters, fine white sand, and colorful coral reefs.
It’s definitely one of the most popular photography places in the world, both above water and underwater, so bring your circular polarizer for more vivid colors and an underwater camera housing for when you go scuba diving!
The Alps (Switzerland)
Whether you decide to climb up over 13,000 feet and find your way across the peak, or shoot from a grassy hill a couple of miles away where you can still get a great view of the mountains in the background, Europe’s iconic mountains will always equal to a priceless photograph.
Many photographers shoot from the top of the Breithorn mountain for the best views of the Swiss Alps and the nearby French and Italian Alps. If you have the privilege to shoot all day, we highly suggest you include both day and night in one photo for maximum impact.
Follow our guide to winter photography in Iceland or learn how to photograph an active volcano outside of Reykjavík.
Vatnajökull Ice Cave (Iceland)
Every year, thousands of adventurous tourists and photographers travel to Iceland to see the brilliant interior of the bottom of the Vatnajökull glacier in Skaftafell National Park. It’s one of the most unique wonders of the world, and you wouldn’t want to leave this breathtaking landmark without taking a dozen photos from inside.
You always have the creative freedom to shoot your subjects any way you want, but also try to use the correct white balance to capture the raw beauty of this one-of-a-kind icy cave.
The Pantheon (Rome)
While it’s always a good idea to visit the birthplace of Western civilization to immerse yourself in history and culture, you’ll definitely want to go for the photos, too. Pretty much every building in Rome is photogenic, which is why it is definitely one of the best places for photography buffs to check out. There are certainly a lot of recognizable buildings to choose from, but if we were to pick one, we absolutely love the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotonda.
You can shoot from inside this ancient Roman temple-turned-church for a shot of the huge circular hole (oculus) that lets light in from the domed ceiling or the façade, which is beautifully lit at night. We also suggest that you shoot just before sunrise or just after sunset during the Golden Hour, so the Pantheon would be lit orange from outside against dark blue skies.
The Canadian Rockies (Canada)
Oh, Canada. There’s simply nothing like the Canadian Rockies. Stretching from the U.S. border to the top of Alberta and British Columbia, this stretch of the Rocky Mountains is one of the most incredible photography places on the planet.
The Canadian Rockies certainly aren’t the biggest mountains on the planet, but they’re some of the most picturesque. They have with countless, brilliant colorful alpine lakes surrounded by jagged, glacier-carved peaks.
It has the historic mountain towns of Jasper and Banff and the world-renowned Icefield Parkway that connects two towns, running north to south. Plus, it has amazing national parks like Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Parks and multiple provincial parks in between. There are endless opportunities for photography. There’s no denying the Canadian Rockies are one of the best places to take pictures.
Yosemite Valley (California)
Situated in the amazing Yosemite National Park, deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California, Yosemite Valley is mecca for landscape photography. Made famous by Ansel Adams and countless photographers following in his footsteps, Yosemite Valley is truly a place you have to see to believe.
With endless granite walls and formations that rise thousands of feet into the sky and towering waterfalls that fall to the valley below, Yosemite Valley feels like another world. You could spend a lifetime in the valley and never get tired of its grandeur and endless compositions.
Without a doubt, Yosemite Valley, from El Capitan to Half Dome, is one of the most beautiful places in the world for photography.Check out how photographer Tyler Glass captured the Yosemite Firefall in action.
The Nā Pali Coast (Hawaii)
The Nā Pali Coast, located on the northern shore of the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, is one of the most jaw-dropping photography places on the world. The jagged ridges and valleys of this stunning coastline make up the second tallest sea cliffs in the world, towering over 4,000 feet tall.
You can photograph the Nā Pali Coast from above, in Kōke’e State Park. It can also be photographed from Nā Pali State Wilderness Park, on the ridgelines above or the the coastline below.
However, the best way to photograph the Nā Pali is by air or boat. Both methods of transportation offer the best views for photography and truly capture the magnitude and scale of these magnificent sea cliffs and coastline.
Patagonia is a region in southern Chile and Argentina and easily one of the most beautiful places in the world for photography.
Very few places in the world come close to the beauty of Patagonia. Whether its the iconic mountain landscapes, vast forests, large nature reserves, world-renowned national parks, sprawling glaciers, or beautiful native wildlife, Patagonia truly has it all.
The major highlight of Patagonia are its two famous national parks: Torres del Paine National in Chile and Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Both are essential to photograph for the classic Patagonia experience.
Tokyo is the most populated city in the world with over 38 million residents. It’s a sprawling urban mecca filled with endless energy and character. It’s where old world Japan meets new, and temples meet skyscrapers.
Tokyo is considered to be one of the top street and city photography destinations in the world because it offers so much for photographers. You get the gritty, big city feel at locations like Shibuya Crossing mixed with beautiful traditional Japanese culture and architecture found at beautiful locations like Meiji Jingu Shrine and Sensō-ji Temple. Tokyo is filled with photo spots, which offer amazing views of the temple with Mount Fuji in the distance.
Speaking of Mount Fuji, about an hour from Toyko’s city center is the famous “Fuji Five Lakes” region, with five lakes, Yamanaka, Kawaguchi, Saiko, Shōji and Motosu, that that perfectly frame the famous Mount Fuji.
Toyko is also known for its beautiful parks and gardens, with famous locations like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Yoyogi Park, and Ueno Park, to name a few. And the best thing about Toyko’s gardens, parks, and natural destinations? Their entire landscapes erupt with cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant foliage in fall.
Check out our Tokyo street photography guide and the hidden gems of Tokyo to find your photography destinations.
The Lofoten Islands (Norway)
The entire country of Norway belongs on this list. But if we had to narrow it down to one place, it’d be the Lofoten Islands.
Located in the Arctic Circle in the northern part of Norway, the Lofoten Islands are a dramatic chain of islands that juts out into the Norwegian Sea. It’s where glacier-carved mountains meet white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters appear out of a tropical paradise. The Lofoten Islands offer some of the most breathtaking landscapes in all of Europe and one of the most beautiful places in the world for photography.
However, what makes the Lofoten Islands so special are their idyllic fishing villages and rich Viking history. Famous villages with their colorful fishing huts that dot the coastline, like Reine, Hamnoy, Henningsvær, and Nusfjord, are incredible to photograph. If you decide to go for a more adventurous route, the Lofoten Islands have plenty of hiking trails with world-class views of the beautiful mountains, fjords, lakes, and beaches that make Lofoten so special.
It’s hard to think of a more beautiful and iconic city than Paris and one of the most beautiful places in the world for photography. Steeped in history, culture, Paris is the center of so much influence. Music, food, art, and fashion all have deep roots in this city, and Paris has been the epicenter for cultural revolution.
This history and culture carries over throughout the streets of Paris, where every street and corner is bubbling with charm and character. Wherever you look, there are colorful cafes and interesting bookstores, perfect for urban street photography.
If you’re looking for interesting, historic architecture, Paris has that too. Some of the best places to take pictures include the historic island fortress of l’Île de la Cité, the Pont des Arts bridge, the Lourve Museum and the famous Lourve pyramid, and of course, the around the Eiffel Tower.
Check out our guide to non-touristy photo spots in Paris for your next destination.
The Amalfi Coast (Italy)
Considered to be one of the most beautiful coastlines on the planet, the Amalfi Coast is a dream for photography. This UNESCO World Heritage Site spans over 34 miles of the southern Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy’s Campania region. It’s known for its rugged shoreline and large sea cliffs, dotted with beaches, colorful villages, terracing vineyards, beautiful hotels and villas, and of course, it’s famous lemon groves. And let’s not forget that incredibly blue crystal clear water.
There are 13 seaside villages and towns on the Amalfi Coast, connected by the SS163 highway that is considered to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. From Postino to Amalfi, Atrani to the high cliff dwelling of Ravello, every town is beautiful, with its own unique character and charm. The Amalfi Coast is a bucket list location for any photographer, and one of the best photography places in the world.
The Himalayas (Nepal)
The Himalayas, the great Asia mountain range, are home to the tallest mountains in the world, with more than 110 peaks rising over 7,300 meters or 24,000 feet. The crown gem of course, is Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on earth at 29,032 feet high above sea level.
While this massive mountain range spans into several countries, the Nepali Himalayas are often considered the most beautiful and accessible. The base of the Himalayas start at Nepal’s largest city, Kathmandu. It’s a vibrant, bustling and eclectic city, often referred to as the “Gateway to the Himalayas”, and a hotspot for photography in itself.
However, Kathmandu is just the beginning. You come to Nepal to hike and climb mountains. The popular routes from Kathmandu are Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit. Both routes take two weeks or more to complete, partly due to the days need for acclimation to the high altitude. However, both treks offer access to photograph some of the most massive, awe-inspiring mountains on the planet. You’ll see beautiful mountain temples and prayer wheels that connect the natural to the spiritual.
So what are you waiting for? These most beautiful places in thew world for photography are waiting for you to book that ticket and start packing for your next trip!
Nathan Lee Allen
Nathan Lee Allen is a storyteller and photographer from Kentucky. Check out his work on his websitenathanleeallen.com, on Facebook.com/peaktopierglobalstudio, and Instagram @nathanleeallen.