The Most Popular Destinations for Travel Photographers

June 24th, 2014 | Peter Stewart

If you spend enough time browsing through photo sharing websites like I do, It shouldn't take long to start noticing quite a few locations that keep popping up again and again in the many photographer's photo feeds. 

Here is my list for some of the most popular locations around the world amongst travel photographers. I'm excluding big cities and obvious locations like the Eiffel Tower or Golden Gate Bridge, instead to focus on other highly regarded and some lesser known "awesome" locations. This is in no way a decisive list as there are simply far too many locations to choose from. I've tried to limit this to what I perceive as being most popular from the works of other well known photographers. 

Cormorant Fishermen, Yangshuo, China

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Located within China's southern Guangxi province, these fishermen use traditional methods to catch their prey by using cormorant birds. 

In the small village of Xingping near Yangshuo, you will find these fisherman on a daily basis either out fishing or posing for photos like in the image above. Whilst it's no great secret that it's mostly a show for the tourists, it's great to see the tradition being kept alive in this unique part of the world. 

This location is also famous for it's vast landscape of giant vertical karst peaks, and in XingPing you will find the most popular ones of all, those which are printed on the back of a 20 Yuan note!

Xingping Village is located about 25km from Yangshuo and is easily accessible by local buses or by boat.

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia, Santorini

Oia is one of four small towns built on the cliff tops of Santorini island, one of the most picturesque Greek islands to visit and a firm favorite location for many travel photographers and tourists alike. 

Whilst it is mostly cruise ships that visit the island, air travel is the most easily accessible method with many daily flights to and from Athens with a flight time of only 30 minutes.

Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

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This massive medieval castle in the north of France sits alone on an island only 600 metres from land, although it's easily accessible at low tide to visit (and park), and equally as awesome to photograph once the tide has surrounded it. 

Mont Saint-Michel is accessible by car and it approximately a four hour drive from Paris. There are no train services nearby, although it is possible to train to Rennes, and then travel onwards by bus which stops directly outside the castle. 

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, USA

Horseshoe Bend, A Different Perspective

Arguably one of the greatest sights of the Grand Canyon, Arizona's Horseshoe Bend is breathtaking, and although it is well known and popular, it still doesn't receive the same influx of visitors as other parts of the Grand Canyon. 

An absolute must see, and I'm kicking myself for not visiting when I last passed through Arizona. 

Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

Upper Antelope Canyon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Flickr/George Kyriazis             

Situated very near the Horseshoe Bend is another of North America's best natural attractions. Probably one of the most well known locations amongst all travel and landscape photographers, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon formed by the natural erosion of sandstone to create these beautiful feathery patterns in the rock walls. 

Visits to the Canyon however are accessible only by permit, and I'm told it can get pretty busy  with tour groups and throngs of people wielding sturdy tripods!

Both the Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are a short drive away from the town of Page, Arizona. 

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

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Manarola is a coastal village in Northern Italy built on a high rock some 70 meters above sea level. It's the smallest of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre, but easily the most picturesque. 

Walking between the five towns is possible due to a carved walkway that runs along the cliff edges and makes for some stunning sunset shots. Nearby Riomaggiore is equally as beautiful and more populated, yet Manarola is really the prized location for any photographic opportunities. 

Cinque Terre is served by local trains connecting it to nearby La Spezia, which is a 4 hour train ride from Rome. 

Bagan, Myanmar

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Flickr/Nhi Dang

Bagan is home to the largest concentration of Buddhist temples and ruins in the world, with around 2000 temples, many dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries.

The last few years have seen Myanmar's visitors rapidly increase, and it's not difficult to see why when presented with sights like these. Even better views can be had in a hot air balloon ride over the area, making for some great aerial photography. 

Bagan is accessible by most modes of transport, with regular flights and train services available from Yangon or Mandalay. 

Fushimi Inari Shrines, Kyoto, Japan

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The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is home to thousands of Red torii gates which lead up the side of a mountain path over a span of four kilometres. 

Although Kyoto in itself is a must visit location for any photographer, the Fushimi Inari should rank as it's most valuable attraction.

Fushimi is serviced by the JR line and is a quick 5 minute ride from the centre of Kyoto. 

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

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Cambodia's most famous landmark and the national symbol for the country, the temples of Angkor contain the remains of the ancient Khmer Empire. Readily open for exploration with minimal areas out-of-bounds, Angkor Wat is a perfect location for travel photography. Sunrise and sunset at the various temples can draw huge crowds along the banks of the moats so be prepared to fight for a little tripod space!

Angkor Wat is about a 20 minute car ride from Siem Reap. 

Gullfoss, Iceland

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Let's not kid about. To be honest all of Iceland deserves it's own listing as king of all travel locations. I have never seen a photo of Icelandic landscapes that has not left me spellbound and with a twitchy mouse finger hovering over next available flights to ‎Reykjavík. It's the ultimate travel destination and rightly so. 

The waterfalls at Gullfoss are probably the best known of the countries attractions. This waterfall is situatied in a canyon featuring a three step 'staircase' which promptly drops 100ft into a crevice. 

Gullfoss is located roughly 100km east of Reykjavík , with travel by car or tour being the only options to visit the waterfalls. 

Milford Sound, New Zealand

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New Zealand's most famous tourist attraction and TripAdvisor's No.1 world travel location, Milford Sound is a huge natural wonder that simply must be experienced. 

The area is comprised of huge snowy peaks which form on both sides of the river and features two large waterfalls, in addition to an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins and seals. 

Located 3 hours south of Queenstown, Milford Sound is not easily accessible other than through organised tours from Queenstown. There is also little accommodation in the area, although camping is allowed. 

  • D xplorer

    on November 12, 2015

    Milford Sound is truly incredible, whether or not !! I made a video about New Zealand must do, check it out if you are going there, or simply enjoy the views !

  • Juan Carlos Heredia

    on July 6, 2014

    Really awesome photography. Great post, thanks for sharing it.

  • Cheers Matt. After researching places for this post I was seriously considering a trip to Iceland! Is there no better place on Earth?

  • Matt Jones

    on June 25, 2014

    Amazing images Pete, great to have all these magical locations in one post

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