I have the travel bug. Sometimes I get sick of spending 20+ hours on flights and going through TSA repeatedly for the same trip, but after a while, I still want to get out and shoot new spots. So today I wanted to put together a list of some of the best travel photography spots on earth.
While many of these spots are very popular and well known, I didn't go by the volume of travel to each spot. Rather, my criteria for making this list was simply my recommendations for 15 photo spots to visit before you die. I've been to many of these spots, and others I'm yet to visit.
What to Shoot: Tasmania has several 5-star waterfalls, a dramatic and rugged coastline, and unique trees.
Cost of Travel: Plane tickets from the North America and Europe are expensive, but it's cheap from nearby Australia. Travel within the island is inexpensive as you can drive clear from one side of Tasmania to the other side in just four hours.
Tasmania is a hidden photography gem. Those who live in Australia surely know of the beautiful waterfalls and landscape of Tasmania, but it's relatively undiscovered by most photographers. It's a photo spot that few photographers really talk about.
Cinque Terra, Italy
What to Shoot: Beautiful cliff homes arrayed in a variety of colors along a rugged cliff.
Cost of Travel: Travel anywhere in Italy is expensive. However, you can save some money on this trip by taking the train to Cinque Terra instead of renting a car.
These 5 cities on the cost of Italy feature beautifully colored cliff houses that look magical reflecting in the water of the rugged coast below.
What to Shoot: Ice caps, penguins, polar bears, ice, snow… ya know, Antarctica stuff.
Cost to Travel: Extremely expensive. Plan to spend $10,000.
Sing Sings of Papua New Guinea
What to Shoot: Native people in unique dress and make up at a festival.
Cost to Travel: Travel costs are generally quite expensive. Given that the country has little international business travel, airline fares are usually pricey, and most people want to travel with a guide.
I am dying to travel to Papua New Guinea. This country has many undeveloped areas which seem to have been frozen in time. However, there have been reports of cannibal tribes on the island as recently as 2012.
What to Shoot: Slot canyons, wide vistas above the landscape, and unique red rock formations.
Cost of Travel: Travel in southern Utah is generally not expensive. You can even find hotels for $100 a night during the peak season near Zion. However, Moab can get more expensive during the spring and fall.
Southern Utah is one of the most incredible photography destinations on earth. Home to Zion National Park, Arches, Canyonlands, Moab, this place is a photographer's dream. Not to mention that Page, Arizona is nearby where you can photograph the famous slot canyons as well as Horseshoe Bend.
Read my Southern Utah photography guide if you'll be considering a visit.
What to Shoot: Beautiful coastlines with red homes and boats in front of the snow-capped mountains.
Cost of Travel: Norway is an expensive country. Food and gasoline is pricey, but hotels can generally be had for $100/night.
Lofoten is in northern Norway (20 hours drive from Oslo) and has become a photo hub of sorts.
What to Shoot: Incredible flowers, agriculture, unique old homes, and all the charm of France.
Cost of Travel: France is generally an expensive trip.
What to Shoot: Incredible waterfalls, rugged volcanic rock lining the coast, and the moss covering it all.
Cost of Travel: One benefit of visiting Iceland is that the travel is often cheap. From the United States, plane tickets are often subsidized by the Icelandic government. If you look for Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes deals, you get get there including your international flight and hotels for under $700. That's how I made my first trip to Iceland and it was quite reasonable for a 6-day adventure. Food and gas are expensive in Iceland, and hotels can be during peak summer season, but are inexpensive during the spring and fall.
I absolutely love Iceland. After two week-long visits to Iceland, I just want to hop on a plane and make a third visit. Iceland is very different from any other place on earth. There are very few trees in the entire country. It's almost all volcanic rock covered with lush green moss. That may not sound beautiful, but the rugged coastlines, thundering waterfalls, and easy navigation of the Ring Road put hundreds of incredible photo spots within the reach of photographers.
Some of my favorite spots in Iceland are Kirkjufell, Vestrahorn, Skogafoss, the downed airplane, and Bruarfoss. Read my free Iceland Photography Guide if you'd like to visit Iceland.
Cormorant Fishermen on the Li River
What to Shoot: Cormorant fishermen, incredible street photography, beautiful landscapes, etc.
Cost of Travel: Plane tickets to China is usually inexpensive because of so much business going there. The cost of the guides mentioned below is actually quite reasonable. Food and hotel stays are very inexpensive.
I've twice gone to photograph the cormorant fishermen on the Li River with the absolute best guides in the world. Both trips were incredible. While most of China is a developed and technologically advanced place, we were able to visit rural China. We road bamboo rafts down the river at 4AM to get to locations and photograph the traditional cormorant fishermen. We photographed a Chinese man in his home, and also saw some tremendous landscapes. China is a playground for photographers.
Watch my Youtube video above to see what it's like photographing China with the guide I linked to above.
What to Shoot: Northern Ireland is full of ancient castles, rustic green coastlines, and rainbows. One of the photo spots in Ireland which has become popular since the Game of Thrones used it is the Dark Hedges. This spot has incredible old trees lining the sides of the road.
Cost of Travel: Similar to other European countries. Not overly expensive, but not cheap either.
Ireland is often wet and rainy in the Spring, which is when I visited. Consequently, we rarely had good light on the trip. I suggest visiting in the summer instead.
West Virginia in Fall Color
What to Shoot: West Virginia has, arguably, the best fall color in the United States. With famous photo locations such as Babcock State Park, it's a beautiful place to shoot.
Cost of Travel: Relatively inexpensive for hotel stays and travel.
What to Shoot: Amazingly beautiful hills with old homes and agriculture.
Cost of Travel: Travel in Italy is very expensive as this is obviously a popular tourist destination. However, you can cut your costs of lodging nearly in half if you go during the off-season.
Tuscany is famous for its grapes, but it's also a tremendous place to take photos. The rolling green hills, old homes, cypress trees, and great light make it a fantastic place to visit and photograph.
What to Shoot: Lions, Tigers, and Bears–minus the tigers and bears. All the African game will give you ample photography opportunities, but the desert landscapes are also stunning.
Cost of Travel: Travel to Africa is usually very expensive. Not only are airfares pricey, but also guiding fees.
Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
What to Shoot: Waterfalls galore!
Cost of Travel: Inexpensive.
The video above shows just how incredibly beautiful the waterfalls are in the Columbia River Gorge on my trip there just a couple months ago. This waterfall is Panther Creek Falls in Washington near the Oregon border.
If you'll be shooting the Columbia River Gorge, consider extending your trip to shoot the Oregon coast as well. There are a number of incredible spots along the coast.
I was only able to highlight 14 of my favorite spots in this article. Where would you recommend? Leave a comment to add to the list.