There are 195 countries in the world, most with dozens of cities and hundreds, if not thousands, of sights to see. For as long as they’ve existed, we’ve taken cameras with us on our journeys to these exotic locales, hoping to capture even a shadow of the majesty of the architecture, natural wonders, and artwork these places have to offer.
What’s interesting now is that, while we have long known what the most visited places in the world are (London and Bangkok top the list for 2014), we’ve never been able to track which cities are the most photographed – until now.
Thanks to Sightsmap, which uses data from Google’s Panoramio service to calculate the most photographed cities and attractions in the world, we can now get a decent idea of which places are attracting the most snaps. And it’s a pretty interesting list.
Only three of the 10 most visited cities in the world are also among the most photographed – and London and Bangkok are not among them. Then again, considering how much travel is for business purposes, perhaps that’s not so surprising. What is more surprising is that fully eight of the most photographed cities are located in Europe – and three of those are in Italy. That’s a stunning statistic, even considering the fact that Europe is positively dripping with romance and history that’s just begging to be photographed.
Of course, it’s not a stretch to surmise that the most photographed cities are likely also some of the most visually exciting; so this list could well serve as a guide for deciding on the destination of your next international trip. Nobody wants a boring vacation, and if the following ten cities are topping the list of the most photographed places on Earth, it stands to reason that they offer visitors plenty to see.
10. Budapest, Hungary
One of several cities to adopt the nickname “Paris of the East”, Budapest is the capital city of Hungary – a bustling metropolis, and home to some of the most stunning architecture in Europe. A standout location is St. Stephen’s Basilica, which comes in as the city’s #1 most photographed attraction on Sightsmap. Visitors can head on up to the top of this building for a spectacular view of Budapest, and can go inside to see the mummified hand of St. Stephen. Other must-see attractions in Budapest include the Hungarian Parliament and Gellért Hill, which offers a stunning view of the Danube river.
9. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The lone South American city on this list, Argentina’s Buenos Aires is famous for being the home of the tango, and also for being the premier shopping destination in South America. It’s also the only most photographed city found south of the equator. Visitors will want to check out the massive Plaza de la República (#1 sight on Sightsmap), which offers shops, restaurants, and the enormous Obelisco Buenos Aires. For something a little different, check out the Jardín Japonés, which offers one of the largest Japanese-style garden experiences in the world – outside of Japan, of course.
8. Florence, Italy
The capital of Tuscany, Florence is an Italian gem that offers fabulous food, beautiful architecture, and some of the most renowned art in the world. There’s almost too much to do in this city, though any traveler would be remiss to skip Michelangelo’s David, located at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze. Travelers might also want to stop by the Piazzale Michelangelo, which ranked as the city’s #1 sight on Sightsmap and offers a breathtaking view of Florence from way up high. As with most other Italian cities, visitors are also advised to grab some gelato here.
7. Monte Carlo, Monaco
Believe it or not, it’s not all casinos and auto racing in Monaco. The tiny principality, tucked away on the French Riviera, is also home to some beautiful buildings and more than a few monuments to opulence. Nothing tops the list in either category quite like the Hotel de Paris. This jaw-dropping luxury resort offers suites for as much as $16,000, and is the #1 Monte Carlo sight on Sightsmap. Visitors should also check out the Prince’s Palace, home to the royal family and quite a vision in its own right.
6. Venice, Italy
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more romantic activity than a gondola ride on the gentle canals of Venice, Italy, and it’s no surprise that the pervasive canals feature so heavily on the list of things to see while in town. The Ponte dell’Accademia takes the top spot on the Sightsmap list of things to see, pulling double duty as a vital pedestrian crossing across the Grand canal and as a major attraction. Visitors should also make a point of heading over to the Basilica San Marco, stopping for a bit in la Piazza on the way. Two gorgeous birds, one stone.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Right on the border between Europe and Asia lies Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and a place of enormous historical significance. Formerly the seat of both the Roman and Ottoman empires, Istanbul is now a thriving hotbed of culture, offering galleries and monuments aplenty, and a killer nightlife to boot. Though the Hagia Sophia is probably the most famous sight in Istanbul, it’s the Kiz Kulesi, or Maiden’s Tower, that has taken the #1 spot on the Sightsmap list. Legend says a princess was sent to live in the tower after it was prophesied that she would die of a snakebite. A bit morbid, but certainly worth checking out.
4. Paris, France
Immortalized in a million stories, Paris is widely regarded as one of the loveliest, most romantic places on Earth, and deservedly so. The Eiffel Tower, L’arc De Triomphe, and the Louvre are some of the most famous places to visit, and well worth the time, but surprisingly these do not top the most photographed list. Instead, it’s the “temple of music and dance,” the Moulin Rouge, that claims the top spot, with the Basilique Sacre Coeur coming in second. Other places worth stopping by include the Notre Dame cathedral and Les Invalides, which includes an impressive collection of weaponry in its Army Museum.
3. Barcelona, Spain
Beautiful, warm, and near some incredible beaches, Barcelona is a great place to visit, and is home to one of the most interesting pieces of architecture in the world. Construction on this building, the Sagrada Família church, began in 1882… and was completed in 2010. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí, who died in 1926, and features different styles of architecture on different sides of the building. It’s one of the biggest attractions in Barcelona, but is not the top sight on Sightsmap. That honour goes to another Gaudi creation, Park Güell, which offers gorgeous, peaceful gardens through which travelers can wander – for free!
2. Rome, Italy
The final Italian city on this list, Rome is a magical city full of spectacular buildings and monuments, dizzying in the sheer number of places to see and things to do. A trip to the Vatican is a must, as the museum is top notch and the view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica is second to none. Visitors also need to stop by the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Colosseum. Sightsmap’s top spot is the Trinità dei Monti, the famous church atop the Spanish Steps. The Steps are worth a visit, and also serve as a nice spot to sit and relax after a long day’s adventuring in Rome.
1. New York City, USA
Probably the least like any of the other cities on this list, New York takes the top spot as the most photographed city in the world. It’s not the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building that gets the most snaps, surprisingly enough. It’s the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, instead, that attracts the most photos. Its unique look certainly does much to set it apart, and it offers plenty of spellbinding artwork for those who venture inside. The under-construction One World Trade Center is another must-see location, which at 1,776 feet will be the tallest building in the city upon completion.