As the year draws to a close, we’ve been looking back at some of the most remarkable photography we’ve published in 2015. We’re thrilled to have worked with so many fantastic photographers this year, and below is just a small selection of their incredible images.

A lion takes an afternoon rest, Uganda – Clare Wise de Wet 

© Clare Wise de Wet

The northern lights appear at Jokulsárlón – Diana Jarvis

© Diana Jarvis

A moment captured at the Goroka show, Papua New Guinea – Fabien Astre

© Fabien Astre

Low mist hangs across the Lake District – Jon Sparks

© Jon Sparks

Ait Benhaddou in the sun, Morocco – Anthon Jackson

© Anthon Jackson

Dusk falls over Paris – Kaamna Patel

© Kaamna Patel

Kyoto cherry blossom festival in full swing – Nick Jackson

© Nick Jackson

A glorious day on Bellows Beach, Hawaii – Dustin Wong

© Dustin Wong

Morning mist in Richmond, London – Jon Sparks

© Jon Sparks

A young nun is all smiles, Bhutan – Margot Raggett

© Margot Raggett

Visitors enjoy Lake Braies, Italy – Kiki Deere

© Kiki Deere

The eerie ferris wheel in Pripyat, Ukraine – David de Rueda

© David de Rueda

Orkhon Valley stretches into the distance, Mongola – Nellie Huang

© Nellie Huang

Floating past Antarctic ice sculptures – Nori Jemil

© Nori Jemil

Cartagena in miniature, Colombia – Matt Garceau

© Matt Garceau

Autumn colours, Finland – Tim Bird

© Tim Bird

A woman dances in Arequipa, Peru – Kiki Deere

© Kiki Deere

Sunset in Aswan, Egypt – Anthon Jackson

© Anthon Jackson

Festivities get underway in Nagaland, India – Diana Jarvis

© Diana Jarvis

Named one of the most photogenic destinations by Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper, Hong Kong in undeniably striking. Whether it’s the brilliant skyline lit up at night, the colourful street scenes or even the surrounding countryside, there’s a picture to be taken at every turn. Here are 19 gorgeous Hong Kong pictures from Picfair‘s best photographers as proof.

Sunset in the countryside

sunset in hong kong countryside by cozyta / Picfair

Fruit for sale on a market stall

Fruit stalls, Hong Kong by davidhuiphoto / Picfair

Hong Kong at dusk

hongkong night by cozyta / Picfair

Bamboo scaffolding

Bamboo Scaffolding by Yuen, Wah Shing / Picfair

A traditional wooden junk boat in the harbour

Traditional wooden sailboat / tourist junk sailing in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong by cozyta / Picfair

The Tsing Ma Bridge

traffic in Hong Kong by cozyta / Picfair

Ocean Park cable cars

Ocean Park, Hong kong by davidhuiphoto / Picfair

A goldfish market

Goldfish Market, Hong Kong by davidhuiphoto / Picfair

Skyscrapers by night

Hong Kong skyline by Chris Petersen-Clausen / Picfair

Tian Tan Buddha

Lantau Buddha 1 by Ian Sheppard / Picfair

Towering apartment buildings

Packed building at night by Leung Cho Pan / Picfair

Umbrellas on a rainy day

Rainy Day in Hong Kong by Paul Hogwood Photography / Picfair

Busy streets

busy Hong Kong corner by Chris Petersen-Clausen / Picfair

Hong Kong in blue

Hong Kong in blue by Chris Petersen-Clausen / Picfair

Victoria Harbour at sunrise

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong by davidhuiphoto / Picfair

Hong Kong apartments

Hong Kong unreal life by Alexandre BESSE / Picfair

Man Mo Temple

Man Mo Temple by Andy / Picfair

Skyscrapers and greenery

Hong Kong by James B / Picfair

Explore more of Hong Kong with the Pocket Rough Guide to Hong Kong and MacauCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Travel writer and photographer Nellie Huang shares her best pictures of vast and beautiful Mongolia. 

Mongolia. Its name alone evokes a sense of mystery. Even in today’s highly connected world, this distant land remains relatively remote, far-flung and largely unexplored.

Traditional Mongolian gers (tents) dot the vast steppes while sand dunes rise from empty deserts and snowcapped mountains loom over lush green grasslands. Every turn on the road reveals a different landscape.

As a travel writer, I’ve visited more than ninety countries on all seven continents. Few have come close to Mongolia in terms of natural beauty. It is a special place, especially for those who love nature and wilderness.

On my recent trip to Mongolia, I spent two weeks traversing the country, from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar to the steppes of the Dundgovi Province region. I explored the sand dunes of Khongoriin Els in the south and made a loop to the Tsenger hot springs area and Hustai National Park. Here are 20 of my best images of Mongolia.

A Gobi camel

A wild horse grazes in Hustai National Park

The view from the Great Imperial Map monument, Karakorum

A stupa at Erdene Zuu Monastery

The steppes of Bag Gazariin Chuluu

The golden sands of the Gobi Desert

The 108 stupas that surround Erdene Zuu Monastery

The Khongoriin Els sand dunes, Gobi Desert

Off-road in the Yolyn Am Valley

The Buddhist monastery of Ongiin Khiid

Sunset in the northern grasslands

Rugged terrain surrounding Ongiin Khiid

Orkhon Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Nomadic families live in traditional gers on the steppes of Mongolia

A farmer on horseback herds his goats

Driving to Yolyn Am Valley, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park

Bayanzag or “Flaming Cliffs”, where the first discovery of dinosaur eggs was made

A river that snakes around Ongiin Khiid

A nomadic Mongolian in Tsenger

A lake outside of Karakorum

For more photographs by Nellie, see her travel blog. Copyright © 2015 for all images belongs to Nellie Huang. Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

As far as capital cities go, London is big. It’s the largest capital in Europe and has land mass of over 1500 square kilometres. Within that space, over 8.5 million people from all over the world live, work and play, and a further seventeen million people visit the city each year.

Those are big numbers for an undeniably enormous city. But you only get a sense of London’s vastness when you’re above it, so naturally, we took to the skies in a London Helicopter for a full 18 minutes of gawping at one of the world’s greatest cities.

If you’re flying over London or on the flight path into Heathrow, these are the astonishing views you should look out for:

The Shard

The City

St Paul’s Cathedral

Trafalgar Square

The Docklands

Lottie flew with The London Helicopter, which has 18-minute London Sights flights starting from £200 per person. Explore London with the Rough Guide to London. For more travel videos subscribe to Rough Guides on YouTubeCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

I’m an Aussie girl and have been living and working in Uganda for the past fifteen years. Apart from my “regular” day job, I’m also a freelance photographer.

I arrived in Uganda in August 2000, with my husband, after an eight-month 4×4 overland journey we started in London, in December 1999. It was during this journey I realised how important it was to document both photographically and in writing, the extraordinary people and places we had encountered.

Soon after arrival in Uganda we volunteered to build a school in Gulu, in the north. Once the school was completed we decided to stay, for the foreseeable future, and make Kampala our home.

Through travel and documentary photography, my sole intention is to show the beauty that abounds both in Uganda and other parts of the world, by providing a visual gift to those who may not have the means to experience it as I have.

Golola the boda boda rider, Kampala

Rainforest at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains

A troop of roaming baboons, Ishasha

Sunset, Kalangala District, Ssese Islands

The Bahá’í House of Worship, Kampala

St Balikuddembe Market, Kampala

A gathering of family members, Kaiso Village, Lake Albert

Queen Elizabeth National Park

A tree lion having an afternoon rest, Ishasha

Dancing at UN World Refugee Day celebrations, Rwamwanja Settlement Camp

Dusk over Sipi Falls, Kapchowra

Main prayer hall, Uganda National Mosque, Kampala

Henry, the fashion conscious boda boda rider, Kampala

Sunrise over Mweya Peninsula, Queen Elizabeth National Park

Aerial view of Ssese Canoes being crafted, Mukono District

You can see more of Clare’s photography on her website here and her Facebook page here. Thinking of Africa? Find out more with the Rough Guide to First Time Africa

When winter is upon us, the temptation is to retreat to our homes for cosy nights in. But all around the world, winter is the time when some cities really shine. Here are 20 places that look more beautiful in winter.

1. Chicago, USA

Chicago is best known as the Windy City, although we think it’s even more beautiful during the winter months when it transforms into the Snowy City. Come in January or February to witness Chicago at its coldest; temperatures can drop so low that Lake Michigan partially freezes over – truly a sight to behold.

2. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn’s medieval old town is enchanting throughout the year, but during Estonia’s long winter months it takes on a whole new dimension of wonder. Take a stroll around the fortified Toompea and eventually you’ll end up in Raekoja Plats. Pop into the tiny room beside the Town Hall for a glass of glögi or some homemade soup.

3. Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Imagine a series of sixteen turquoise lakes, cascading into each other in an unforgettable display of water’s power and majesty. Now imagine that same scene, but frozen. Plitvice National Park is one of Croatia’s main tourist attractions, almost deserted in the winter months but all the more beautiful when its waterfalls are frozen in time.

4. Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan

Jigokudani may not be the most dramatic winter landscape in Japan, but it is unmissable in winter when the resident Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, bathe in the steaming hot springs. It’ll take a fair amount of willpower to resist stripping off and joining the monkeys, although the attendants might have something to say about that…

5. Banff National Park, Canada

The star attraction of Banff National Park is undoubtedly Moraine Lake. Located some 15km from Lake Louise, the lake’s crystal clear waters reflect the snowcapped Valley of the Ten Peaks. We’re not the only ones who love it here – the Canadians put the scene on their $20 banknotes during the 1970s.

6. Hallstatt, Austria

No, you’re not looking at a puzzle. This place really exists. Hallstatt is a tiny lakeside village and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Austria, all the more glorious when nearby Salzburg Mountain is blanketed in snow. It is often voted as one of the prettiest villages in the world, and we wouldn’t disagree.

7. Richmond Park, UK

London’s biggest park is even more beautiful in the winter. At 2500 acres, it’s three times the size of New York’s Central Park, and with wild deer galloping around it feels like you could be lost in the middle of the English countryside. On the few winter days when snow falls in the capital, Richmond Park is the place to be.

8. Gobi Desert, Mongolia

If you’re the kind of person who might travel to deepest Mongolia to check out some wooly camels in the middle of the bitter winter, then read on. During the Thousand Camel Festival, local camel herders take part in polo competitions and races. If you fancy getting involved, everyone is welcome to mount a camel and join the opening parade.

9. Bruges, Belgium

With its cobbled alleyways, frozen canals and gingerbread architecture, Bruges is without a doubt at its most beautiful during the winter months. Come in January or February when the popular Christmas markets have packed away and you will have the town to yourself. It’s unlikely you’ll return home with seeing a castle or two – there are more per square inch here than any other city in the world.

10. Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany

Remember sleeping beauty’s castle at Disneyland? Well this is the building that inspired it, only you won’t find any adults dressed as furry rodents lurking around here. Located on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, Schloss Neuschwanstein is even more beautiful in the winter months when the surrounding forest is dusted in snow.

11. Trakai Castle, Lithuania

The expression “fairytale castle” is overused, but when it comes to Lithuania’s Trakai Castle there are few other ways to describe it. Located seventeen miles west of Vilnius, the castle transforms during the winter months, when the surrounding lake freezes over and the orange turrets are speckled with snow.

12. Atlas Mountains, Morocco

This is Africa, but not as you know it. The majestic Atlas Mountains see total snow cover above 3000m from November to April. Though visitor numbers are higher in the summer months, Mount Toubkal is perhaps at its most stunning during the winter, when intrepid mountaineers don crampons and climb to the 4167m-summit.

13. Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is a great place to visit year-round but during the winter months (May to September) it really comes into its own. Nearby, the Remarkables and Coronet Peak ranges offer some of the finest skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand, and the town is particularly lively in June and July when the Queenstown Winter Festival takes place.

14. Yellowstone National Park, USA

Vast, volcanic Yellowstone has been home to bison since prehistoric times. During the winter months, when higher areas are covered in a thick layer of snow, the bison migrate to lower grounds where it’s easier to feed on the grass. Wildlife lovers will be in their element; the park is also home to bears, elks, wolves and the pronghorn antelope.

15. Lapland, Finland

During the summer months this is the land of 24-hour sun, but during the long winter Lapland is engulfed in almost total darkness. This would be a fairly grim time of the year to visit, were it not for the chance of catching a display of the aurora borealis dancing in the sky. January, February and March tend to be the best times to see the Northern Lights.

16. Prague, Czech Republic

Europe does Christmas markets well, and arguably the most beautiful of them all is in Prague. Here you can roam around the fairy-lit wooden huts and pick up Christmassy gifts and decorations to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to try a klobása (barbequed sausage) washed down with some svařené víno (mulled wine) to complete the full festive experience.

17. Harbin, China

If you’re going to make the journey to Harbin make sure it’s in January, when the city hosts the largest ice and snow sculpture festival in the world. Participants travel from all corners of the planet to exhibit their spectacular, enormous ice designs. Just don’t forget your gloves – this part of northeastern China has been known to have temperatures dropping below -20°C in the winter.

18. Lake Bled, Slovenia

It doesn’t get much more picturesque than Instagram-filter-defying Lake Bled, in the alpine Upper Carniolan region of Slovenia. You can walk around the entire lake in about an hour, although it’ll be hard to resist stopping at every opportunity to photograph Bled Island’s Church of the Assumption, with the epic snowcapped mountains looming behind.

19. New York City, USA

New York City does winter well. The temperature plummets, the sky is electric blue and when it snows, it really snows. While some visitors might spend their time fighting with festive shoppers in Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, more romantic sorts should head to Central Park for a skate. This is probably the most impressive setting for an ice rink on the planet, with the Manhattan skyscrapers towering nearby.

20. Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan

Tajikistan’s seldom-visited Pamir Mountains are beautiful throughout the year, but they are perhaps at their most epic during the winter. During the long cold months this rugged part of the world is deserted, with the exception of the most intrepid explorers. Even the native nomads retreat from the high pastures from September onwards.

After exploring the world for his dream photography project, David de Rueda now has a rather disturbing collection of photographs. Here, he shares 20 pictures he took while exploring abandoned urban spaces.

“Nikon challenged me to create and complete my dream photography project, with my own imagination being the only restriction.”

“[It] was an opportunity to challenge myself and push my urban exploration photography to another level. For me, the abandoned places of Europe’s recent past were an obvious choice. I see discovering the hidden side of such locations as a kind of modern archaeology that, when coupled with the artistry a photographer can bring, should capture the imaginations of many.”

An abandoned radar station in the mountains of Italy

A former concert hall in Tallinn, Estonia

A disused experimental power facility near Moscow, Russia

An old factory built during, St Petersburg, Russia

A former hospital in Pripyat, Ukraine

The waiting room in the remains of the Pripyat hospital, Ukraine

The city of Pripyat, Ukraine

Abandoned café in Pripyat, Ukraine

Old bus station, Pripyat, Ukraine

Sunrise from the top of Pripyat’s highest building, the Fujiyama

Inside the cooling tower of a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine

The famous Ferris wheel, Pripyat, Ukraine

An abandoned power plant near Budapest, Hungary

Inside the abandoned power plant near Budapest, Hungary

A derelict train graveyard, Budapest

Buzludzha monument in Bulgaria

The congress room at the Buzludzha monument, Bulgaria

An abandoned structure near Sofia in Bulgaria

A long-forgotten wreck of a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, Iceland

Two relics of the Soviet space race in a huge abandoned warehouse, Kazakhstan

See more of David’s photography hereCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

After a two-and-a-half-month research trip for the next edition of the Rough Guide to Italy, Kiki Deere shares some of her stunning pictures of northern Italy

My trip took me across northern Italy, from the Western Alps to the Slovenian border. In Piedmont I strolled the pretty Baroque streets of Turin, and sampled some of the world’s finest wines from the rolling hills of the Langhe.

From there I travelled northwest to Italy’s smallest region, Valle d’Aosta, peppered with ancient forts and castles and home to Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc. I later took to the shores of Lake Como, which are lined with magnificent villas including the setting for the James Bond classic Casino Royale, while Lake Garda is a haven for sports-enthusiasts with excellent kite and wind surfing.

I marvelled at the Dolomites, with their jagged peaks and spectacular Alpine lakes with emerald-green waters, and visited the Trentino-Alto Adige region, only annexed to Italy in 1919, where it’s common to hear German rather than Italian on the streets.

On the northeastern border I photographed Friuli Venezia Giulia, with its elegant Habsburg capital of Trieste surrounded by varied landscapes, and then the Carso – a limestone plateau that extends into Slovenia, while the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aquileia harbours some of Italy’s most spectacular Roman remains lies nearby. Here are 24 photographs I took across the gorgeous landscapes that make up northern Italy.

 The wine-producing town of Barolo nestled among rolling vineyards

The Reggia di Venaria interior, near Turin

Turin, Piedmont

The emerald green waters of the Alpine Lake Braies

Pordoi Pass (2239m) located between the Sella and Marmolada mountains

The brightly painted streets of Limone sul Garda

Piazza Vittorio Veneto near the River Po, Turin

The little village of Limone sul Garda clinging onto rugged mountains

Views of Muslone di Gargnano on Lake Garda

Views from the town of Domaso in northern Lake Como

The fairy-tale town of Nesso on Lake Como

The crystal-clear western shore of Lake Garda

Villa del Balbianello, setting for the James Bond classic Casino Royale

Lunar landscape on the Sass Pordoi, the Dolomites

Views of the Dolomites from the Renon cable car above Bolzano

Locals in Trieste

Views of Lake Como from the small hilltop resort of Brunate

The Castello di Duino overlooking the Gulf of Trieste

Birds-eye view of the Dolomites from Sass Pordoi (2950m)

Trekking in the area of Madonna di Campiglio

Castel Tirolo high above the city of Merano

Lago di Carezza (Karersee) at the foot of Latemar mountain

The jagged peaks of the Dolomites

The sixteenth-century Castel Toblino reflecting in the waters of Lake Toblino

Explore more of Italy with The Rough Guide to ItalyCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Drone footage has hit the news for all the wrong reasons recently, but this clip shows how incredible the results can be when it’s done right. Amateur film-makers, this is is the one video you need to see.

Max Seigal’s pin-sharp mini-film takes you round the world in two minutes. Starting in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, the soaring footage crams in New York City, Greece, Croatia, Switzerland, California, Colorado and more before coming to a close in Japan.

Look out for the incredible flight through a bird colony at 00:33, mountain bikers riding Utah’s burnt orange rocks at 00:57, the base jumper at 01:10 and the fisherman swinging their nets in Vietnam at 01:29.

There are still plenty of gaps in this world tour, but even so, this distance-defying film is our pick of the week.

Around the World in Two Minutes from Max Seigal on Vimeo.

Photos don’t do justice to some places on Earth – you just have to go and see them. From the ancient pyramids and the Taj Mahal to the Golden Rock and the Colca Canyon, some sights are too stupendous to appreciate on screen. Get your bucket list at the ready, these are 22 natural and man-made wonders you need to see to believe.

1. The ultramarine sea and sheer cliffs of Shipwreck Bay, Zákynthos

2. The Pyramids at Giza in Egypt Dan Breckwoldt / Danbreckwoldt

3. The Wave in Arizona Csongor Tari / Cstari

4. The floating grass Uros Islands in southern Peru

5. The Erg Chebbi dunes in Morocco

6. Tongariro National Park, New Zealand Dmitry Pichugin / Dmitryp

7. The Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, Australia

8. The Atrium of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

9. Peru’s Colca Canyon

10. The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

11. Cholla cacti in Joshua Tree National Park, California

12. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from the sky Bin Zhou / Dropu

13. Ganghwa’s dolmens, South Korea

14. The gentle curve of Wave Rock, Western Australia

15. The colours of Yellowstone‘s Grand Prismatic Spring Derekteo

16. The ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru Jarnogz

17. Parque Nacional del Teide in Tenerife

18. The tufa rock formations at Mono Lake in California

19. The magical Golden Rock in Myanmar

20. India‘s mesmerising Taj Mahal

Photolibrary: Corbis

21. The unforgettable approach to Petra in Jordan

22. The icy expanses of Lake Baikal, Siberia Dshamanov

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month