Bruges is a medieval masterpiece of cobbled streets, canals and romantic footbridges – and it also boasts some of Belgium’s finest chocolate shops. There are fairy-tale scenes at every turn and it’s a challenge not to get distracted by the inviting window displays. When you’ve grown tired from exploring and snapping, lovely cafés and warm bars are aplenty.
7. Namib Desert, Namibia
The Namib Desert has some of the highest and most dramatic dunes in the world. The raw banks of sand (which burn brightest orange at sunrise) cut great swathes across the terrain, interrupted only by the occasional tree, petrified by sun and lack of water. Its sheer, stark beauty makes the desert perfect fodder for the adventurous photographer.
With its wild, windy seas and beaches backed by rugged mangroves, the Caribbean coast of Colombia is an absolute knockout. A place of untouched beauty with a cool Latino charm and a budding “posh-packer” hostel culture, this part of the world is a delight for roving photographers.
Here you’ll find scenery to stir the soul – and plenty of whisky to warm the cockles. A haven of lochs and glens, lush hillsides and heather-strewn peaks, Arran possesses a rambling, unrefined beauty. Indeed, it’s not the roughest, nor the remotest place in the Western Isles, but it offers a perfect slice of idyllic Highland life.
A city resisting the tide of modernisation that has swept through much of the country, Kyoto remains committed to maintaining old-world Japanese culture. Walk through peaceful gardens with picturesque ornamental bridges shaded by cherry trees; hear tales of Samurai clashes and discover the scars of their swords, or glimpse Geisha on their way to appointments at dusk. The streets here are imbued with history and charm: an antidote to the neon metropolis that is Tokyo.
With air as crisp and fresh as the snow underfoot, and a mountainous landscape that changes dramatically from summer to winter, the Swiss Alps are home to some of the most photogenic scenery imaginable. Aside from the awe-inspiring panoramas and record cliff faces (think of the Eiger in all its emblematic glory), there is nothing prettier than the sight of a cosy chalet nestled on a green hillside.
Monuriki is a tiny, uninhabited Fijian island. A high formation of volcanic rock (crowned with a distinctive peak) is sheltered by verdant foliage, and delightfully warm waters lap a beach of talcum-white sand. It was the setting for blockbuster survival movie Cast Away. Day cruises are popular, but not overcrowded, so you can still capture that sense of castaway seclusion.
Colourful corrugated buildings produce an eye-popping contrast to the surrounding backdrop of water and snow-crested peaks, while the awe-inspiring Hallgrímskirkja church stands sentry in tall, majestic glory. Ride the lift to its zenith for unmissable photo opportunities.
This archaeological site is among the most important in the world – but it has remained well off the beaten track until recently. Centuries-old Bagan is a town of temples, which rises from the landscape in surreal and monumental beauty. The pagodas and their conical peaks are most captivating at dawn and dusk when their forms are silhouetted against the vast horizon.
The Moors’ wild, rugged scenery and typical British weather may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but for those who crave lungfuls of fresh air and plenty of greenery, they’re perfect. Spend the day photographing the rolling hills and patchwork fields, then take shelter in one of the area’s landmark pubs.
16. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The vast savannahs of the Serengeti are a photographer’s dream. The wildebeest migration across the plains of Serengeti, to the plush grasslands of the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, is a particularly wonderful spectacle. Once per year, millions of animals make this journey in earth-shaking herds, on the hunt for food.
Imperial Russia left behind opulent architecture and an impeccably planned city, which survives in spite of the country’s bloody history of revolution, brutal siege and communist rule. The Winter Palace is perhaps the most obvious example: a lavish building of monumental size and beauty, built for a Tsar, that today houses the Hermitage Museum. Located at the edge of the Baltic Sea and famed for exquisite art and culture, this city could give any European capital a run for its money when it comes to sheer photographic potential.
Pearl Lagoon is a truly unspoilt Caribbean hideaway, and certainly not somewhere you’ll fight for space on the sand, or find flashy resorts touting all-inclusive deals. The Creole community here mostly make a living through fishing; freshly caught lobster is a highlight, especially when eaten beachside to the sound of reggae music and the swishing of coconut palms. A paradise such as this is a treat for the camera and a balm for the soul.
You don’t have to go to a far-flung tropical island to enjoy pure sand and azure waters. Formentera offers all this (albeit without total isolation). Popular with day-trippers from neighbouring Ibiza, this smaller, quieter island is an antithesis to the crowded party scene and hedonistic activities of its loud big sister. Further exploration of the island will reward you with ravishing beauty: patches of remote rocky coast with exceptionally stunning and secluded beaches.
Picture hurtling across sands of burnt umber astride an Arabian horse, or traversing the lunar-like landscape (more gently) by camel, to hunker down at a Bedouin camp for dinner under a million twinkling stars. Picture that and you’ve pictured Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon. Here, gigantic, weathered rock formations create scenery so cinematic that it will transport you to another world.