No matter how beautiful your home is, there’s always the irresistible pull of wanderlust that begs you to pick up your camera and find somewhere new and exciting to shoot.
Whether you love discovering people’s stories and capturing their portraits or prefer to wait patiently with a tripod for the perfect landscape lighting, we’ve made a shortlist together of seven must-see hotspots to add to your itinerary: the best destinations for travel photography around the world.
All of these destinations will give you the opportunity to learn something new, whether you’ve just got your first DSLR or are a seasoned pro. Make sure to brush up on your techniques before you go, and you’ll be rewarded with a rich array of cityscapes, landscapes, and candid portraits.
Best Beaches: Koh Samui, Thailand
Although the title for ‘best beach in the world’ is probably hotly contested, there’s little argument that the variety of beaches available around the small island of Samui make it an ideal destination for sandy snaps.
Chaweng Beach is a simple stretch of soft white sand, while the neighboring Lamai beach is perfect for capturing the clarity of the turquoise sea. You’ll have to walk down a few winding pathways to reach the golden Maenam Beach, but you’ll find yourself gifted with beautiful views of Koh Phangan island nearby. Silver beach is an even better-kept secret and you’ll need to go through one of the surrounding hotels to access it.
Most Iconic: London, England
Where else can you get such a diverse collection of people, buildings, and cultures in one place? Whether you want to snap the glossy clean streets of Kensington, the bright terraces of Notting Hill or the edgy corners of Brixton, London offers something interesting and unique to capture around every corner.
You don’t even need to leave Zone 1 to encounter world-famous landmarks, iconic imagery (like black cabs and telephone boxes) and people from all walks of life. Some of the best views can be had from a height, with the Shard, the London Eye and the Emirates Air Line Cable Car offering exceptional vantage points. See Into the Blue’s London activity days here for a perfect excuse to have some fun whilst capturing those iconic photos.
Best Architecture: Rome, Italy
If you thought the buildings were beautiful in London, it’s time to pack your camera bag and head to Roma. It’s virtually impossible to walk down a street without taking a photograph, whether it’s to capture ancient monuments like the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum or to get a picture of a bambino clasping a cone of gelato.
It certainly helps that Rome (and in fact most of Italy) seems to be the true inspiration behind the term ‘golden hour’, where the quality of light at daybreak and in the later afternoon casts a warm glow across the whole city. Ornate statues and architecture are thrown into contrast and the blues and greys of street cobbles are given a warm wash.
Most Surreal: Kyoto, Japan
A lot of travel photographers like the bright lights and bustle of Japan’s capital, Tokyo, but no city offers the same unique blend of culture, heritage, and modern-living as Kyoto. The stunning cherry blossoms and the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove remind us of nature’s perfection, while the winding pathways of the Fushimi Inari Shrine inspire awe.
Be sure to visit the Pontocho district or Gion district for photographs of authentic maiko and geisha, wandering between the ‘ochaya’, or tea houses. You should also plan trips to the most impressive temples, including the Kinkaku-ji Temple, or “Golden Pavillion”, and the Nanzen-ji Temple with its immaculate zen garden.
Best Scenery: Banff, Canada
Serene lakes? Check. Stunning mountains? Check. Incredible wildlife, views of the Northern Lights and beautiful weather effects? Check, check and check. Banff National Park is home to some of the very best that nature has to offer, with trails and vantage points for every level of photographer and hiker.
Whether you want to capture crystalline waters in the middle of summer or dramatic sunsets over snow-capped mountains, the unadulterated landscapes at Banff National Park are sure to inspire you.
Most Colourful: Havana, Cuba
As you step off your plane into Cuba, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Vintage cars from the 1950s drive past bright, beautiful buildings with crumbling façades, as old men and children play checkers on the curb.
You only need to wander the streets of Old Havana to spot sun-wizened Cubans in vibrant colors, leaning out of the weathered doorways of their painted homes. The Parque Central is another great spot for people watching, with tourists and locals stepping out of gleaming classic cars to enjoy the sunshine. Most people will be happy to pose for photos, but don’t forget to exercise common courtesy.
Just before sunset, head down to the El Malecon seafront, which stretches for 5 miles down the coast. At dusk, you’ll have the opportunity to capture the young Cubans that come out to enjoy music and socialize in the glow of the city.
Best Skies: Oahu, Hawaii
With their exotic foliage, stunning waterfalls, dramatic cliffs and volcanic beaches, the islands of Hawaii are already pretty photogenic. There is also a rich culture and plenty of watersports enthusiasts to help you practice your portraiture and action shots. The real appeal though? It’s easy to find parts of the island that give off zero light pollution, making it possible to take unimaginable images of the night sky.
The Haleakala National Park is probably your best option for astral photography, so make sure you apply for a camping permit to book in an overnight stay.
So, grab your passport and some spare memory cards – what are you waiting for?