The 50 Best Places in the World to Photograph

See the world. Bring your camera.

50 Best Places to Photograph 2014
50 Best Places to Photograph 2014
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LISTPopular Photography

Whether you want to be surrounded by people or capture a place where nearly no one goes, shoot amazing art and architecture, or just visit places of pure magic or drama, we've got 50 of the best places in the world to go. Take your pick. Every location on this list guarantees you incredible pictures.

Honestly, this list could have thousands of entries, but the few mentioned here have a reputation for performing in front of a camera. Once you've made your way through the list, be sure to leave a comment with your favorite place. As long we have charged batteries and open memory cards, we'll never stop looking for places to shoot.

[NOTE: If you're using a tablet, it's best displayed while holding your device in landscape orientation]

The Drake Passage, South America to Antarctica
The Drake Passage, South America to Antarctica
This 500-mile strait separating the southern tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, is at the whim of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which carries a volume of water 600 times larger than the Amazon.Jad Davenport

The result can be powerful weather that can lead to menacing, 50-foot waves—fun if you want to photograph fierce storms. "Bring a circular polarizer and a lenshood, even if it’s not sunny. It can protect the camera from rain and spray. " —Photographer Jad Davenport

The Neck, The Falkland Islands
The Neck, The Falkland Islands
To reach this privately owned, mile-long isthmus on Saunders Island requires a flight from Stanley in a Britten-Norman Islander, an overnight stay with the Pole-Evans family, and a 12-mile, hour-long ride down a rutted, muddy, jeep track.Mary Loosemore

But the wild ride is worth it: The Neck is a melting pot for King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, and Magellanic penguins.

Torres del Paine, Chile
Torres del Paine, Chile
This 935-square-mile park averages 150,000 visitors per year, which is to say there’s plenty of wide-open space to capture the natural drama: wild weather, intimidating peaks that stretch like fingers to the sky, eerie blue-iced glaciers, and the turquoise water of the Rio Baker.Ian Plant

Bring your warmest layers—the weather can change in an instant.

Lake Clark, Alaska
Lake Clark, Alaska
Grizzlies from a boat in this 2.47 million-acre wilderness as they fish from the shore.Brian Adams Photograph

Get close enough to snap as they rip open a salmon in 20 seconds.

Ladakh, India
Ladakh, India
This northwestern region sits higher than 10,000 feet and looks like a barren moonscape.Flickr-user Sandeep Pachetan (Creative Commons)

In winter (October to May), all roads are cut off and residents use the ice of the Zanskar River to travel between villages. Plus it’s the best place to photograph an endangered snow leopard.

White Sands, New Mexico
White Sands, New Mexico
The fine particles here are really white gypsum; that’s why the dunes of this 275-square mile desert glow against the sky.New Mexico True

Time your visit for a full moon, then capture it at sunset as it rises.

Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
Visit the “Galápagos of Canada” to capture sea lions, porpoises, humpback whales, and three species of orcas.Destination BC/Tom Ryan
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
With near-zero light pollution and overnight stays allowed (with a camping permit) this national park is amazing for astral shooting.Flickr-user Blaine Courts(Creative Commons)
The Kimberly, Australia
The Kimberly, Australia
This remote landscape has ancient pictographs, bizarre beehive-shaped mountains, and a huge marine park off the coast.Tourism Australia/Oliver Strewe
Mongolia
Mongolia
Go 50 miles northeast of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, home to brown bears, 250 bird species, the chilly Terelj River, and a granite behemoth shaped like a turtle.Flickr-user Jonathan E. Shaw (Creative Commons)
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
This natural Navajo cathedral is an intricate maze through a sandstone slot canyon where, if you time it right, you can capture a ray of sunlight shining through the curved whorls like a beam from a light saber.Richard Bernabe

"Most first-time photographers don’t realize how dark it is. A tripod is absolutely essential and long exposures—sometimes 20 or 30 seconds—are needed," says Bernabe.

Sicily, Italy
Sicily, Italy
Almost everything in Italy is photogenic, but Sicily feels especially lost in time.Flickr-user Montecruz Foto (Creative Commons)

From hillside Taormina to battle-scarred Palermo to the island of Lipari, Sicily is a photograph a second.

Havana, Cuba
Havana, Cuba
With cigar factories, curbside checker players, outdoor boxing rings, crumbling façades, and ’57 Chevys, this city is a shooter’s dream.Flickr-user Zoriah (Creative Commons)

Visiting takes research for Americans, but it’s doable.

Gray Whales, Baja California, Mexico
Gray Whales, Baja California, Mexico
They’re 52 feet long and weigh 36 tons, and every year in November, more than 10,000 trade Alaska’s Bering Sea for the warm water of Scammon’s Lagoon and Bahia San Ignacio.Flickr-user Jeff Huffman(Creative Commons)
Aurora Borealis, Fairbanks, Alaska
Aurora Borealis, Fairbanks, Alaska
Within a ring-shaped region around the North Pole called the auroral oval, Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the aurora.Chris McLennan

Prime shooting is between late August and April.

Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
30-foot waves break here November through February.Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Lee Aeder

Head up the bluff and shoot the surfing scene within the larger context of the gorgeous North Shore coastline.

Central Park, New York City
Central Park, New York City
This oasis holds 21,500 trees in 31 different families.Marley White

The majestic American Elms are glorious all summer, but time the visit for late spring when the Kwanzan cherry trees bloom and the grass is so green it looks like AstroTurf.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The Society Islands’ Bora Bora has two extinct volcanoes ringed by a turquoise lagoon.Flickr-user Henrian Julien (Creative Commons)

Bring your underwater housing.

Temples, Bhutan
Temples, Bhutan
Tiger’s Nest Monastery looks carved out of a cliff.Flickr-user Michael Foley (Creative Commons)

More than 10,000 feet above the Paro Valley, it requires a three-hour hike, but the ascent is worth it.

Tunisia
Tunisia
With Mediterranean beaches, Roman ruins, Berbers on horseback, and a peaceful political scene, Tunisia is a less photographed, equally exotic Morocco.Cathrine Wessel

Star Wars fans: Go now before the Mos Espa set is overcome by the shifting desert.

Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal, Guatemala
Tucked into the lush Maya Biosphere Reserve of northern Guatemala, Tikal National Park covers 222 square miles and is the largest remaining site of pre-Columbian civilization.Kevin Steele

"Don’t worry about missing the golden sunrise—the often foggy mornings are perfect for creating ethereal and moody photographs," says photographer Kevin Steele.

Museo Subacuático de Arte, Mexico
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Mexico
In the warm Caribbean waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Mexico, Jason deCaires Taylor’s sunken “Silent Evolution,” 400 life-size human sculptures, lie 28 feet underwater.Flickr-user Scuba Catalog (Creative Commons)

The ghost-like figures, which double as a manmade reef, are accessible via mask and snorkel, but most of the PADI-certified dive shops in Cancun offer day tours there.

The Ice Hotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
The Ice Hotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Artists from around the world submit room-design concepts.Michael Freeman

If chosen, they get to carve their vision in ice harvested from the Torne River. The sculptures change from year to year and slowly melt by the time May roles around, but the ice bar and its premium Swedish vodkas are a constant. It’s gorgeous but tricky shooting—watch your white balance carefully, or shoot RAW.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey’s largest covered market dates back to 1520 and has 4,000 shops under ornate, grand passageways.Flickr-user Didier Baertschiger (Creative Commons)

Go early when goods are abundant and the shopkeepers willing to pose.

Jetsonorama, Navajo Nation, Arizona
Jetsonorama, Navajo Nation, Arizona
On buildings lining U.S. 160 from Kayenta to Tuba City, shoot enormous black-and-white photos that Chip Thomas, an artist and physician who has documented his Navajo friends, has blown up.Flickr-user Moominsean (Creative Commons)
Plaza Botero, Medellín, Colombia
Plaza Botero, Medellín, Colombia
This square is filled with bronze sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.Flickr-user Guía de Viajes Oficial de Medellín (Creative Commons)

In July, during the Fiesta de las Flores, photograph their curves along with 50-foot Virgin Marys crafted entirely from marigolds.

MONA, Hobart, Tasmania
MONA, Hobart, Tasmania
The Museum of Old and New Art looks like a post-apocalyptic bunker.Flickr-user Sam Granleese (Creative Commons)

Capture the building, plus works like “The Remains of a Suicide Bomber Cast in Dark Chocolate.”

Scotland, Distilleries
Scotland, Distilleries
There is no shortage of whiskey distilleries in Scotland, but the Speyside is home to more than half.Flickr-user Project 404 (Creative Commons)

At last count that was 15, including the photogenic Glenfiddich, which sits in a pine forest surrounded by castle ruins.

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru
Visit the 15th-century site via the Salkantay Trek, on which you’ll see 30 other people per day and capture stunning images of the Andes and, eventually, the ruins.Flickr-user Max Reiser (Creative Commons)
Car Art Reserve, Nebraska
Car Art Reserve, Nebraska
Located in the northwestern region of Nebraska, this outdoor art compound features sculptures created out of vintage American-made automobiles.Flickr-user Brett Whaley (Creative Commons)

The site features Jim Reinders' Stonehenge replica, a windmill made of wheels and a brightly colored sculpture representing Nebraska's four seasons.

State Fair, Minnesota
State Fair, Minnesota
"I look at the State Fair in terms of dawn and dusk. At sunrise every day, it’s kids getting their animals ready to go at the livestock competition. They are the only people up at that time. In the middle of the day when the light gets harsh, I look for interesting things inside. When the light starts to get tamer, I’ll go out and look for what the last light holds. And don’t miss sunset in front of World of Wonders. It’s visually loaded." —Photographer Joel SartoreJoel Sartore
Copacabana Beach, Brazil
Copacabana Beach, Brazil
This 2.5-mile long beach, bookended by Sugarloaf Mountain, is a riot of beauty and color.Flickr-user Ronald Woan (Creative Commons)

Bodies—all wearing as little as possible—run, swim, surf, and bask in the sun. The less skin you show, the more you’ll stand out. Photographic opportunities are endless, but the more photographic bling you bring, the more vulnerable you are to pickpockets, so pack light.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan
The population density surrounding the world’s busiest street corner is more than 13,000 people per square kilometer.Brian Pineda/Big Leo Productions

The best way to capture the masses—like ants in a colony—is from above. Head to the square’s north side, and hit the Starbucks in the Tsutaya building: Arrive before the morning crowds swarm, order a latte, and secure a spot near the second-floor window.

Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India
Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India
In January and February, the world’s largest religious gathering draws 70 million pilgrims.Flickr-user Kishore Nagarigar (Creative Commons)

The ritual includes processions of naked, ash-smeared holy men and women performing ritual puja ceremonies to the gods.

Cowboys Game, Dallas, Texas
Cowboys Game, Dallas, Texas
Nearly 80,000 football fans attend the average Dallas Cowboys game.Flickr-user Doug Wertman (Creative Commons)

To capture the beer-goggled, face-painted legion in full splendor, buy a ticket for the first home game on September 9.

Lei Chau Island, Hong Kong, China
Lei Chau Island, Hong Kong, China
The world’s second-most densely populated island houses 86,782 in less than one square mile.Flickr-user Anne Roberts (Creative Commons)

For a bird’s eye view, climb the 643-foot Yuk Kwai Shan mountain.

Fireworks, Chicago, Illinois
Fireworks, Chicago, Illinois
More than a million gather on July 4 to watch the fireworks over the Navy Pier.City of Chicago

Rise above the throng at the 10,000-square-foot, fourth-story rooftop bar at the Godfrey Hotel, where you can photograph with an unobstructed view.

Papal Audience, Vatican City
Papal Audience, Vatican City
Every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. from spring through autumn, the Pope holds an audience in St. Peter’s Square.Flickr-user Catholic Church of England and Wales (Creative Commons)

Arrive at 8 a.m. for the 10:30 blessing; portrait opportunities abound.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
To capture the largest crowds, visit on a weekend from July 1 to August 10, when the Lagoon is open until 11:30 p.m. and take advantage of the midnight sun.Flickr-user Fraser Morrison (Creative Commons)
The Metro, Moscow, Russia
The Metro, Moscow, Russia
Its 194 stations are some of the world’s most beautiful.Flickr-user Alex Naanou (Creative Commons)

The Komsomolskaya, with its yellow ceiling and elegant chandeliers, makes a stunning backdrop for portraits.

The Pillars, Tasmania
The Pillars, Tasmania
"There’s so much potential for drama with those steep, dark, foreboding cliffs. The day I shot this photograph it was stormy and I was right out on the end of a peak called the Blade, looking back along the coast. If the wind is blowing in the right direction it’s almost like it can support you, but you wouldn’t want it to drop off at the wrong time or you’ll fall off the cliff." –Photographer Grant DixonGrant Dixon
The Alps, Switzerland
The Alps, Switzerland
From the top of the 13,661-foot Breithorn, photographers have views to the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps, with the Matterhorn front and center. Summitting isn’t easy, but neither does it require vast expertise.Switzerland Tourism

Find a guide in Zermatt, take the Matterhorn Express gondola to the top, rope up with your guide, and pick your way across the peak. The effort—and the resulting photo of Europe’s iconic mountain—will be worth it.

Maasai Mara, Kenya
Maasai Mara, Kenya
Two million wildebeests migrate 1,800 miles from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve every year from July through to October.Ingo Arndt

That means cheetahs, lions, and hyenas are close behind. Catch the wildebeest as they bunch up at the Mara River, crossing the crocodile-infested waters, and snag their predators, too.

Day of the Dead, Oaxaca, Mexico
Day of the Dead, Oaxaca, Mexico
Most villages in Mexico pull out all the stops for this late-fall celebration, but few are as rich as the Tlaclolula, Ocotlan, and Etla valleys of Oaxaca.Flickr-user Alex Alonso (Creative Commons)

Book with traditionsmexico.com. The founder is a pro photographer.

Ouray Ice Park, Ouray,Colorado
Ouray Ice Park, Ouray,Colorado
More than 200 ice and mixed climbs are located a 15-minute walk from the park entrance.Matt Inden/Miles

Safely capture the climbers wielding ice axes and crampons as they ascend the vertical ice pillars from the lower or upper bridge-viewing platforms.

Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua
Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua
At this active volcano, little in the way of fencing or security stands between the photographer and the crater.Flickr-user Monty VanderBilt (Creative Commons)

As the light goes down, the boiling lava below wafts out of the crater, ready for its close-up.

Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Ninety percent of visitors see it from the South Rim, but most of this national park is wilderness.Flickr-user Dhilung Kirat (Creative Commons)

The most dramatic way to shoot it? From the Colorado River in a wooden dory.

Macau Tower, Macau, China
Macau Tower, Macau, China
At 765 feet, China’s Macau Tower hosts the world’s highest bungee jump.Flickr-user Elvis in China (Creative Commons)

Record the epic leap with an action cam.

Gray Wolves, Yellowstone
Gray Wolves, Yellowstone
In winter the Yellowstone Association Institute offers a course on the park’s gray wolves.Donnie Sexton

Led by a Wolf Project biologist, you’ll likely manage to photograph one.

Holi Festival, India
Holi Festival, India
Use your camera in a housing during this spring Hindu love fest, where revelers sing, dance, and fling dry paint mixed with water at each other.Flickr-user Rajesh Pamnani (Creative Commons)
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