There are amazing towns and cities the world over. From the bustling towns of Southeast Asia to the medieval cities of Western Europe and the modern metropolises of North America, there’s an abundance of opportunities for urban photography in every corner of the globe.
With such an overwhelming number of great places, it can be nearly impossible to figure out where you should go. If it’s beautiful everywhere, where do you start, right?
Don’t worry, this is why we’re here. In this new post, we’ve listed nine of the absolute best destinations every serious travel, street, and urban photography enthusiast needs to visit.
All the following cities offer world-class photography opportunities. You’ll also notice that, even though they’re all urban places, you’ll find a variety of features in these different destinations. Street food and bustling markets, busy tourist hotspots and iconic buildings, parties and celebrations—you can find it all in the cities featured this list.
9 Mandatory Destinations For Urban Photography
New York City, United States
The hard thing about compiling this list wasn’t finding great destinations for street photography, but having to leave a lot of them out. One city that couldn’t possibly be left out is, of course, New York City. One of the world’s greatest cities, this is the one that’s referred to as “the city that never sleeps”.
Naturally, that offers 24/7 photography opportunities—from people going to work in the morning, to night crawlers hitting the city’s bars. And let’s definitely not forget the iconic buildings in New York City. With landmarks like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, and Times Square, there is a plethora of things to photograph in the Big Apple.
In Rome, you basically have the chance to capture not one, but two countries—Italy and the Vatican City. One of Europe’s oldest cities, Rome is everything you can possibly want from a city. Iconic spots include the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. Also make sure not to miss the Forum Romanum and Trajan’s Market, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls.
The Roman people are every bit as interesting as the city’s historic buildings. Seize the opportunity to photograph people navigating the intense traffic on a Vespa or locals doing what they do best—sipping coffee at a street-side terrace.
A city known for its romantic charm, world-famous architecture, renowned museums, and superb food, Paris is an urban photographer’s dream. This is where you can see monumental buildings, including the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, and several palaces.
Paris is always bustling. Urban photography ops range from locals buying bread at a bakery in the morning to people enjoying their lunchbreak in one of the city’s parks. The city’s mix of historic architecture, typical French atmosphere, and thriving food scene makes it one of the world’s best destinations for street photographers. If you want to create an engaging photo story, Paris is arguably the best place to practice.
Seen through Western eyes, Tokyo is a city of overwhelming weirdness. There are endless streams of people, the world’s busiest street crossings, and quirky food stalls and eateries. This diverse city can be off-putting at first, especially if you’re not used to this kind of hustle and bustle. However, once you get used to it, you’ll realize the city’s limitless potential.
There are neon lights everywhere you look. Temples dot street corners while alternative residents wear the latest Japanese fashion.
If you’re looking for a city that oozes culture Down Under, Melbourne is where you need to go. Many Australian creatives flock to this bustling city themselves and there are good reasons for that. Melbourne is the Australian capital of food, culture, and art. There are pretty large ethnic populations—notably Greeks and Italians—which results in a wonderful cultural variety.
The city is also home to many picturesque old buildings such as the Flinders Street Railway Station, the Parliament House, and the State Library of Victoria. Additionally, Melbourne is the only Australian city that still has trams commuting through its center, resulting in extra opportunities for street and urban photography.
Characterized by chaos, Bangkok is one of the most diverse cities in this list. Parts of it are undeniably Western while other neighborhoods are 100% uniquely Thai. Don’t miss the floating market and the many iconic temples in the city—the Grand Palace is an absolute must-see building.
At the temples, there are superb opportunities to photograph the monks entering and leaving. On top of that, Bangkok is one of the world’s street food capitals.
Bruges may be much smaller than the other urban photography destinations in this list, but it unquestionably has its place here. Due to its low-key status and welcoming atmosphere, it is, for example, a great place to visit for beginning street photographers. In the Middle Ages, this was one of Europe’s most prosperous cities, a wealthy merchant and harbor town on the North Sea coast. You can still see this rich history when looking around in the city.
There are countless historic, step-gabled houses, a number of churches with towering spires, fascinating museums, horse-drawn carriages, and one of the world’s most beautiful medieval squares. Moreover, Bruges is also home to a dense network of exceptionally picturesque canals, lined with brick buildings, cobblestone streets, and weeping willows. White swans swimming on the water add an extra touch of magic to your photographs.
Located on the crossroads between Western and Middle Eastern cultures, Istanbul lies in both Europe and Asia. This alone makes it a visit-worthy destination. Oozing culture and history, this millennia-old city was previously known as Constantinople and Byzantium.
Nowadays, it offers visitors a marvelous mix of modern lifestyles and historic charm. There are busy bazaars and spice markets, enormous mosques, and a world-class food scene. Make sure to venture out into the less touristy neighborhoods for some authentically Turkish shots.
When it comes to street photography, it’s hard to imagine a better destination than Havana. Nowhere in the world will you find people so willing to pose for a picture. Stuck in the 1950s because of the American embargo, Havana now offers some of the world’s best street, people, and urban photography opportunities.
In Havana, you’ll find classic American cars that have disappeared from the streets elsewhere in the world decades ago. You’ll see amazing colonial architecture and cigar-smoking locals. The best time to visit Havana is now—the city’s changing fast. Soon, its iconic mid-20th-century street life will be gone forever.