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30 Beautiful Destinations for Taking Photos Around the World

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Destinations That Click

While the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the pyramids in Egypt are classic choices for travel photographs, there are countless lesser known destinations that are equally — if not more — compelling, and alternative ways to approach photographing those usual suspects. With travel photography skyrocketing in popularity thanks in large part to social media (on Instagram alone, the hashtag #travelphotography surfaces more than 67 million posts, according to TripAdvisor data) here's a look at some of the most beautiful destinations around the globe, many highly recommended by professional photographers and travel experts. We've also included highly rated photography tours and workshops should you be looking for some extra guidance when you travel.

Related: The 50 Most Beautiful Views in the World

Mongolia
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Mongolia

Mongolia is a hidden gem, attracting barely a half-million tourists from abroad each year, says Adiyabold Namkhai of New Milestone Adventure and Cultural Tours. "It's the birth land of Genghis Khan and, according to National Geographic, is one of the 20 most beautiful countries in the world in terms of nature," Namkhai says. A photographer who traveled recently with New Milestone, Nathalie Daoust, says the diversity and richness of images in landscapes, animals, culture, and traditions keep her returning again and again.

Rovaniemi, Finland
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Rovaniemi, Finland

The capital of Lapland, in northern Finland, Rovaniemi is a legendary destination for viewing and photographing the Northern Lights. A TripAdvisor tour from the city provides an opportunity to get the best possible photos and instructions on the ideal camera settings to ensure you leave with stunning wall art.

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
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Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

The Yellowknife region in Canada's Northwest Territories is a good place to explore the deep back country, and was one of the top destinations for photography tour bookings last year, according to TripAdvisor. No surprise that those who want some help figuring out what to photograph and when can take the TripAdvisor Northern Lights Tour from Yellowknife, which includes a guide to help hunt for the best locations.

Nice, France
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Nice, France

The variety of architecture in Nice is just the start, Romanian photographer Marius Migles says. "Castle Hill is a historic hilltop park that offers dramatic city and ocean views. Besides the fact that you can photograph the city of Nice from the top, it is a good place to stay and relax," he says. Rents in Nice are not as pricey as competitors such as Monaco, and within close proximity are other cities famous for their beauty, such as Eze, Menton, or Cannes.

Siskiyou County, California
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Siskiyou County, California

In California's most northern reaches, Siskiyou remains an underrated destination but one that offers an ideal landscape for nature photography. Some of the most notable places to shoot here include Castle Crags (a massive granite pluton); McCloud Falls; and the Lava Beds National Monument. If it's wild bird pictures you're after, head to Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, home to around 500 species.

Santa Rosa County, Florida
Courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Santa Rosa County, Florida

Santa Rosa County is one giant Instagram opportunity, from its pristine, expansive beaches on the south end to the old town of Milton and the wilds of Blackwater River State Forest to the north. And don't miss setting up a tripod for pictures of the stunning sunsets that can be observed from Navarre Beach. This unique 12-mile stretch is a "wild beach" unlike most in Florida, lined by photogenic sand dunes and sea oats.

Sapa, Vietnam
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Sapa, Vietnam

This beautiful region in northern Vietnam is highly recommended by Becca Siegel, a photographer and creator of HalfHalfTravel. "The best time for shots of the rice terraces is right after sunrise and before sunset, when dramatic shadows overtake the scenery," Siegel suggests. "The best ways to shoot the terraces are from downward, or totally upward from the valleys." She recommends hiring a local guide or traveling with a trekking company that will take you to the homes of villagers and arrange for a sampling of foods from the region's many ethnic minorities.

San Francisco
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San Francisco

While there's nothing particularly under-the-radar about an iconic city such as San Francisco (the Golden Gate bridge alone is endlessly photographed), there are plenty of lesser known viewpoints around the city that are worthy of pictures, photographer Emily Jenks says. "San Francisco does have its famous viewpoints like Coit Tower or Twin Peaks, but what most don't realize is that there are far less crowded and more impressive sites like Grand View Park, from which you can literally get a 360-degree view of the city, or Kite Hill and Bernal Hill, which are 'Sound of Music'-like hills with a billion-dollar view," Jenks says.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Another not exactly unknown destination, Dubai still holds plenty of places most photographers won't have on their radar. The Jumeirah Al Qasr hotel, designed in the form of traditional royal architecture, is approached along a tree-lined avenue adorned with sculpted Arabian horses. Other notable but lesser known Dubai options include the Al Qudra Cycling Path, which offers not only amazing desert views but also potential glimpses of local wildlife. (Don't miss visiting at sunrise or sunset.)

Madeira Islands
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Madeira Islands

The Madeira Islands, an archipelago 750 miles southwest of Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean, offer dramatic volcanic landscapes and hiking vistas. Lido Tours offer a full-day walking exploration that will reveal unique plants and the ancient trees of a heather forest as well as Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the island.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe has been a haven for artists and photographers for decades — it has more than 300 days of blue skies a year, and Pueblo Revival style adobe buildings at every turn. The city is home to the famous Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, where acclaimed photographers and participants of all levels can expand their skills, vision, and creativity. The workshops offered range from the basics to advanced studio lighting.

Moscow
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Moscow

Visiting Moscow in winter is unforgettable, says Lindsey Puls, creator of the travel blog Have Clothes Will Travel. Even the most novice photographer will come away with striking images. "This is especially true if you visit Red Square during the Christmas festivities, when it's decked out in incredible decorations," Puls says. "You can capture fairytale photos of the Red Square at this time of year if you go during the workweek when hardly anyone is there." There are far fewer tourists to obstruct your photos in winter, too.

Cocora Valley, Colombia
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Cocora Valley, Colombia

A part of Los Nevados National Park, this scenic valley has wax palms stretching up to 150 feet above verdant green fields, says travel writer Ryan Shauers, author of "Big Travel, Small Budget." "It's a super photogenic and beautiful place, great for hiking and snapping shots," Shauers says. "The nearby town of Salento is also one of Colombia's most photogenic little pueblos." The best time to shoot is early in the morning or late afternoon, but keep in mind that late afternoons have a higher probability of rain showers, especially during the rainy season.

Kruger National Park, South Africa
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Kruger National Park, South Africa

For those hoping to photograph wildlife, there are few better places than Kruger National Park, says Jessica Contreras, with Ecological Defense Group, who teaches photography to kids on the frontline of African wildlife conservation. "My first trip to Kruger National Park, I saw herds of elephant mud bathing, leopard sneaking through the bush, rhino catching afternoon sunlight, buffalo, lion, giraffe, and more," Contreras says. "With patience and swapping between my Nikon with 70 mm and Sony with 400 mm, I can capture both the leopard between the branches and the elephant next to the window. Kruger offers a photography experience like no other and is perfect for a budding wildlife photographer."

Colonial Beach, Virginia
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Colonial Beach, Virginia

Being on a peninsula means there are stunning sunrises and sunsets, a favorite subject for travel photographers. Mary Carter, a photographer who specializes in landscape and wildlife images, calls the area a photographer's dream. "There are a variety of subjects to choose from — the beach; the river and the bay; wildlife like bald eagles, osprey, and other waterfowl; berry, goat, and cattle farms; wineries; trees, plants, and flowers; architecture, both historic and beach-inspired; historical sites, such as George Washington's birthplace … and with the sunrises and sunsets, you get a different palette every day," she says. Carter shoots photos around the clock, including moonscapes and the lights of the town. Her favorite subject is sunrises.

Aarhus, Denmark
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Aarhus, Denmark

There are hundreds of beautiful locations to photograph in Denmark's second-largest city, says Jonathan Bräuner Delfs, of the Danish fashion company Trendhim, which stages photo shoots throughout the year. "It's a cool location for photography with a Scandinavian look in the northern light," he explained. "Depending on when in the day you are taking the photos, you will get different light settings that create different moods. Try them all. You can shoot modern Scandinavian architecture, historic churches, model portraits, and international people walking around."

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A favorite destination of photographer Will Haynes, who has traveled to 40 different countries, Angkor Wat is a legendarily beautiful temple complex dating back to about the 12th century. Not only does it offer imposing grandeur and fascinating decorative flourishes, but because of its many walls and towers, photographers will find plenty of places to play with shadows and light in their images. "Many people love to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise. The sun rises behind the temple, so it will be backlit for your images," Haynes says. "There are also beautiful colors just before the sun peeks up."

Taos, New Mexico
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Taos, New Mexico

An inspiration to artistic visionaries for decades — including such towering figures as Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keefe — Taos is known for its endless vistas, ethereal light, and the soft color palette of the desert sky, which make it quite literally a picture-perfect destination. The striking, multistory adobe buildings of Taos Pueblo have been standing for more than 1,000 years, and the colors alone are dynamic and alluring. You'll find bright turquoise doors, the rich red of chile ristras pepper strings, and the deep blue of Taos Mountain peeking between the soft tan of the ancient adobe homes.

Chiapas de las Casas, Mexico
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Chiapas de las Casas, Mexico

A rustic city alive with history and culture, Chiapas de las Casas is full of color and texture, photographer Michael Meyer says. "There are wonderful markets, picturesque side streets, and interesting museums," Meyer says. "A side trip to the ruins of Tonina adds Mayan history to the colonial history evident throughout the city."

Budapest, Hungary
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Budapest, Hungary

Budapest isn't a secret by any means, but it's as beautiful a city as one can find in Europe and with fewer of the tourist hordes, Meyer says. "Its art nouveau architecture provides a visual feast and is a prime reason to visit," Meyer says. There's also a not-to-miss photo museum, the Hungarian House of Photography (and the city's numerous spas provide comfort after a long day of trekking about taking pictures).

Jordan
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Jordan

The country doesn't get nearly as much attention as its neighbor Egypt, but photo opportunities in Jordan are phenomenal, says Cassandra Brooklyn, who runs the travel company Escaping NY. "Though the rose red city of Petra gets all the attention, the country is full of ancient Roman ruins, which are particularly photogenic in the springtime when they're surrounded by colorful wildflowers," Brooklyn says. There are also vast deserts dotted with rock formations that look like melting chocolate. "Some of the most photo-worthy experiences come from engaging with local Bedouin tribes, who invite travelers to traditional coffee ceremonies or teach them how to make bread," Brooklyn says.

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia
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Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Located in Monongahela National Forest, Seneca Rocks are a scenic wonder popular with hikers and rock climbers, not to mention travel influencers such as Cherrie Lynn, Megan Costly, and Joelle Friend. The magnificent formation towers nearly 900 feet over the valley and North Fort River — if you go, bring proper hiking footwear so you can explore shots at the top of the rocks. Visiting on a clear day is best to capture the valley below.

Mallows Bay, Washington, D.C.
Mallows Bay, Washington, D.C. by Chesapeake Bay Program (CC BY)

Mallows Bay, Washington, D.C.

Home to more than 100 scuttled ships dating back to World War I, Mallows Bay is an otherworldly waterscape. The structures provided by the ships' remains serve as a habitat to populations of recreational fisheries, bald eagles, and marine species. The shipwrecks are most easily accessible by canoe or kayak, giving photographers a unique angle from the waterline. Early morning visits are recommended, particularly if a mist is rising from the water to accentuate the spooky factor of the deteriorating ships hulls.

Akaroa, New Zealand
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Akaroa, New Zealand

World traveler and author Barbara Ali recommends heading to Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula southeast of Christchurch. "It has beautiful scenery in green hills and a harbor where one can sail with penguins and dolphins," Ali says. "The water is a deep blue. There are plenty of birds — both waterfowl and colorful songbirds. A longer lens in morning light will be best for photographing the birds as they are more active." Perhaps the piece de resistance is The Giants House, filled with mosaic art pieces and plants, Ali says. "There are so many surprises in this large garden. I'd recommend shooting a wide angle of the structures and macro of the webs formed on the flowers, as well as insects."

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
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Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Known for its iconic flowerpot rocks and more than 50-foot tidal changes, Hopewell Rocks has a host of iconic photo possibilities, including grand time-lapses of massive tidal changes — there are photo tracking apps to time the sun's location for images that "can be magical at the right time of year," says photographer Jared Nusinoff of Out Here Travel. He suggests showing up when place is "closed." "You can still get in — nothing is locked, it is free. But the best part is that there are usually few people there because they don't realize that this is the case," Nusinoff says.

Gateway Arch, Missouri
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Gateway Arch, Missouri

The sleek lines and distinctive shape of the Gateway Arch have long been popular with photographers, but there are new and interesting ways to capture it, says photographer Aaron Fuhrman, of the Missouri Division of Tourism. "The reflective surface of the Arch offers an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color, depending on weather conditions, time of day and nearby city lights," Fuhrman says. "Take a trip 630 feet to the top of Arch — a tram takes you up inside the leg of the structure — to capture amazing views of the Mississippi River and the St. Louis skyline." A nighttime shoot could include a glowing Busch Stadium, if the St. Louis Cardinals are in town.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri
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Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri

Another suggestion from Fuhrman: The Ozark National Scenic Riverways, formed by two of the country's most pristine rivers deep in the rugged Ozark Mountains. "The rivers and surrounding region offer many little-known opportunities to photograph the natural beauty of the Ozarks — crystal clear streams, springs in brilliant shades of teal and turquoise, towering bluffs, caves, and lush green hardwood forests," he says. Humanmade structures, including a historic mill and architecturally interesting bridges, offer additional visual appeal for photographers. Weather and time of day present a variety of possibilities, with the sun producing picture-perfect reflections and highlighting underwater foliage. Early morning conditions create mist rising from cold spring water.

Redding, Shasta Cascade Region, California
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Redding, Shasta Cascade Region, California

The landscapes in northern California are stunning and offer diverse features to photograph, photographer Dan Shepler says. "Mountains, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, incredible waterfalls, rolling hills, fly fishing, mountain biking, ski touring, and on and on. Redding is surrounded by mountains almost 270 degrees, meaning almost any direction that you look you will see peaks jetting up on the horizon. This gives the adventurous photographer endless opportunities to explore with their camera," Shepler says. From extreme outdoor sports to landscape photography, you will have a hard time exhausting the options.

Related: 22 Bucket-List Experiences for Adrenaline Junkies

Malta
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Malta

A stunning archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean, the exotic islands of Malta offer endless picture-perfect opportunities. Noteworthy choices here include the fishing village of Marsaxlokk; the blue lagoon of Comino, and several locations so picturesque they served as backdrops in "Game of Thrones," including Gozo, the second-largest island in the archipelago, known for its spectacular coastline, greenery, and striking panoramas.

West Greenland
Courtesy of wildphotographyholidays.com

West Greenland

One last option to keep in mind: traveling to the Arctic. Wild Photography Holidays offers a journey that includes staying in a hotel overlooking an ice fjord, (Greenland's only UNESCO World Heritage site), traveling by boat in ice-filled waters at sunset, and walking to an ancient settlement that is home to relics from more than 4,000 years of Inuit culture. There's also guided hikes into the hills to capture the shifting colors of icebergs on camera.