9 Mandatory Urban Photography Destinations You Need To Visit ASAP

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?

Photo by Kace Rodriguez
Photo by Kace Rodriguez

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”.

New York City police car
New York City police car – Photo by Thomas Geider

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.

You never know what you'll find going on when walking the streets of New York City. Photo by Kevin Lee
You never know what you’ll find going on when walking the streets of New York City. Photo by Kevin Lee

Rome, Italy

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.

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome
Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome – Photo by Michael Siebert

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.

There are boundless photo opportunities in Rome. Photo by Ludwig Thalheimer
There are boundless photo opportunities in Rome. Photo by Ludwig Thalheimer

Paris, France

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.

Montmartre, Paris
People enjoying an evening in Montmartre, Paris – Photo by Gerhard Bögner

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Man feeding pigeons in Paris. Photo by Alexandre Chambon
Man feeding pigeons in Paris. Photo by Alexandre Chambon

Tokyo, Japan

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.

Top urban photography destinations Tokyo
Neon lights in central Tokyo – Photo by David Mark

There are neon lights everywhere you look. Temples dot street corners while alternative residents wear the latest Japanese fashion.

Top urban photography destinations: Alleyway in Tokyo
People walking through a Tokyo alleyway – Photo by Moritz Klassen

Melbourne, Australia

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. Photo by Linda Xu
Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. Photo by Linda Xu

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Flinders Street Station is a beautiful and bustling location to capture great shots when visiting Melbourne. Photo by Fabian Mardi
Flinders Street Station is a beautiful and bustling location to capture great shots when visiting Melbourne. Photo by Fabian Mardi

Bangkok, Thailand

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Floating market in Bangkok
Floating market in Bangkok – Photo by Dean Moriarty

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Monks in Bangkok
Young monks in front of a temple – Photo by Sasin Tipchai

Bruges, Belgium

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.

Photo by Carlos Andrés Reyes
Photo by Carlos Andrés Reyes

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Horse-drawn carriage in Bruges
Horse-drawn carriage in Bruges – Photo by Minminfighting

Istanbul, Turkey

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.

Top urban photography destinations: Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Blue Mosque – Photo by Ksobolev0

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.

Spice market in Istanbul
Spice market in Istanbul – Photo by Alain

Havana, Cuba

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.

Street in Havana
Street scene in Havana – Photo by Falkenpost

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.

Classic car in Havana
Classic car in Havana – Photo by Peter Kraayvanger

SUBSCRIBE

Get valuable photography education and inspiration.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

About the author

Bram Reusen

Bram Reusen is a Belgian travel writer and photographer who’s based in Virginia, USA. From day hikes in national parks to long-distance cycling adventures, from short city breaks to multi-month trips, he has tried several travel styles over the years. So far, Bram has been to 26 countries on 4 continents, 28 national parks and 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Send this to a friend