50 Best Places to Photograph 2014

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Lake Clark, Alaska

Grizzlies from a boat in this 2.47 million-acre wilderness as they fish from the shore.

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

Ladakh, India

This northwestern region sits higher than 10,000 feet and looks like a barren moonscape.

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

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

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

Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

Visit the “Galápagos of Canada” to capture sea lions, porpoises, humpback whales, and three species of orcas.

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.

The Kimberly, Australia

This remote landscape has ancient pictographs, bizarre beehive-shaped mountains, and a huge marine park off the coast.


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.

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.

“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

Almost everything in Italy is photogenic, but Sicily feels especially lost in time.

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

Havana, Cuba

With cigar factories, curbside checker players, outdoor boxing rings, crumbling façades, and ’57 Chevys, this city is a shooter’s dream.

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

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.

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.

Prime shooting is between late August and April.

Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

30-foot waves break here November through February.

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

Central Park, New York City

This oasis holds 21,500 trees in 31 different families.

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

The Society Islands’ Bora Bora has two extinct volcanoes ringed by a turquoise lagoon.

Bring your underwater housing.

Temples, Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest Monastery looks carved out of a cliff.

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


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

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

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.

“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

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.

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

Artists from around the world submit room-design concepts.

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

Turkey’s largest covered market dates back to 1520 and has 4,000 shops under ornate, grand passageways.

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

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.

Plaza Botero, Medellín, Colombia

This square is filled with bronze sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

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

MONA, Hobart, Tasmania

The Museum of Old and New Art looks like a post-apocalyptic bunker.

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

Scotland, Distilleries

There is no shortage of whiskey distilleries in Scotland, but the Speyside is home to more than half.

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

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.

Car Art Reserve, Nebraska

Located in the northwestern region of Nebraska, this outdoor art compound features sculptures created out of vintage American-made automobiles.

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

“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 Sartore

Copacabana Beach, Brazil

This 2.5-mile long beach, bookended by Sugarloaf Mountain, is a riot of beauty and color.

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

The population density surrounding the world’s busiest street corner is more than 13,000 people per square kilometer.

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

In January and February, the world’s largest religious gathering draws 70 million pilgrims.

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

Cowboys Game, Dallas, Texas

Nearly 80,000 football fans attend the average Dallas Cowboys game.

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

The world’s second-most densely populated island houses 86,782 in less than one square mile.

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

Fireworks, Chicago, Illinois

More than a million gather on July 4 to watch the fireworks over the Navy Pier.

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

Every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. from spring through autumn, the Pope holds an audience in St. Peter’s Square.

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

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.

The Metro, Moscow, Russia

Its 194 stations are some of the world’s most beautiful.

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

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 Dixon

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Ouray Ice Park, Ouray,Colorado

More than 200 ice and mixed climbs are located a 15-minute walk from the park entrance.

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

At this active volcano, little in the way of fencing or security stands between the photographer and the crater.

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

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Ninety percent of visitors see it from the South Rim, but most of this national park is wilderness.

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

Macau Tower, Macau, China

At 765 feet, China’s Macau Tower hosts the world’s highest bungee jump.

Record the epic leap with an action cam.

Gray Wolves, Yellowstone

In winter the Yellowstone Association Institute offers a course on the park’s gray wolves.

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

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.