Who doesn’t look at breathtaking travel photos on Instagram and fantasize about visiting the most beautiful places in the world? But just what are the most beautiful places? Depending on the person you ask, the answers could be wildly different: Paris with its iconic skyline, the rugged peaks of Yosemite that Ansel Adams made famous, the picture-perfect islands of Greece.
So we asked Beautiful Destinations — the largest travel and lifestyle community on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat — to rank the most beautiful places in the world. The company pored through travel content on Instagram using its proprietary data tools, examined the most tagged places in the last six months, then drilled down to come up with this list.
So feast your eyes on these spectacular photographs and let us know if you agree: Are these the most beautiful places in the world? Let the countdown begin.
20. Sydney, Australia
Who: Katie Frederick Jacobson started Ever After Honeymoons in 2009. Since then, she has planned over 1,000 honeymoons for couples to destinations all around the world. “There is something so rewarding about traveling a long distance and then arriving in a gorgeous spot,” she says. “With my job as a luxury travel advisor, I have become obsessed with luxury hotels, so I really enjoy checking out fabulous hotels around the world.”
Why: “Sydney far exceeded my expectations. It felt like a cool mix of London and New York City, with the friendliest people. The Park Hyatt Sydney is the absolute best spot to stay — located right at the base of the Harbour Bridge and across from the Opera House. You have the best views of the city. Jet lag worked in my favor, allowing me to catch the most beautiful sunrise on my last morning in Sydney.”
19. Portland, Oregon
Who: Christina Tan is a world traveler, digital influencer and travel photographer who collaborates with luxury hotel brands as well as tourism boards throughout Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and North America. Christina loves to travel because it allows her to escape from “normal” life, experience other cultures and get to know places you otherwise only see in books and movies.
Why: “Oregon is a landscaper photography’s heaven, with all the lush national parks and its waterfalls, lakes, mountains. It would make a pleasant road trip in summer.”
Who: Diana — who prefers not to reveal her last name — is a world explorer first, a mom second and a workaholic third. In her spare time, she blogs at Just Wanderlust. She’s constantly daydreaming about where to go next, has no qualms about taking her toddler along for the ride (“Who said you have to stop traveling when you have kids? Not me!”) and believes that it’s better to collect memories than things in life.
Why: “With all the architecture and culture, Cuba was a feast for the eyes, as well as a lesson in what it’s like to live under Castro’s rule for so long. All the things we take for granted are the simple things a Cuban longs for. I’ve traveled extensively, but being in Cuba really tugged at my heartstrings in a way no other place has.”
Who: Mary Quincy, a full-time photographer based in Paris, is fascinated by the authenticity of every place she visits. Self-taught, her passion for photography grew from Instagram, on which she shares everyday moments and shots from her life in Paris or taken on trips around the world. “Traveling to me is all about encounters — meeting people, sharing moments, immortalizing them. It’s the best way to learn how to admire what’s in front of you,” she says. “That’s why I love my job.”
Why: “Barcelona is like a big village. So many streets are for pedestrians, and it makes it so agreeable to walk around the city. So many places where you can relax and enjoy a good cocktail. It is definitely a great city to visit.”
16. Mexico City
Who: Vicky Navarro is an architect, photographer and top Instagrammer based in Mexico City. “I’m trying to activate the muscles in my brain to feel inspired with new experiences,” says Navarro. “Instagram is the best way to express myself and to spread all the beautiful things I see. And currently it is the best connection with amazing minds around the world.”
Why: “I believe that architecture and emotions can be melded and transformed into magic tales, and Mexico City is the kind of city that becomes what you want whenever you want. You can find all kinds of surreal moments in it.”
Who: Sivan Askayo is an editorial and commercial photographer based in Tel Aviv. When not shooting on assignment, she loves to capture the local street art scene as well as hanging laundry for her fine-art project Intimacy under the Wires. She says she can relate to the famous Pico Iyer article “Why We Travel,” which contains this line: “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves.”
Why: “Tel Aviv is a stylish, completely contemporary Mediterranean metropolis. But the real seductive power of Tel Aviv is not necessarily in its cafes and restaurants, but in its people, who love the good life.”
Who: Kimi Juan is a travel photographer from the Philippines. Traveling is a big part of her life, as it serves as a great source of inspiration for her work. “Seeing all these amazing places around the world and in my home country fuels me to go out and shoot and see more of the world,” says Juan. “I have never been truly passionate about something until I started photographing the world.”
Why: “Cabugao Gamay is a small island located two kilometers off the coast of Isla de Gigantes Sur in Carles, Iloilo. The island’s shape is unique because it features rock formations, a gorgeous white sandbar and emerald waters.”
Who: Tiffany Nguyen is a dentist from Southern California who morphs into an adventure-seeking photographer on weekends. She hopes to inspire others to get outside and explore more. “As a dentist, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is giving my patients the confidence to smile,” she says. “As a photographer, my goal is to be able to capture the story of my adventures in a photo in the hopes of inspiring others to create their own adventures.”
Why: “James Bond Island is one of the most visited spots in Thailand, but seeing this place for myself was simply unbelievable. It’s places like this that make you want to keep traveling and find new places to explore.”
Who: Turkey-based Hatice Korkmaz is a corporate branch manager at a bank who also takes stunning photos. Her slogan is: See the world in color. “I can easily say that Instagram changed my perspective of looking at the world, even my life,” says Korkmaz, who has been on Instagram for four years. “I always love traveling and have been taking photos for fifteen years, but just for fun before Instagram. My followers say, ‘When I wake up and see your photos, it is really a happy start to the day.'”
Why: “Things are back to normal in Turkey, thank God. Istanbul is where your dreams come true.”
Who: Sacha Kalis, also known as “Bahamas Girl,” has been involved in underwater photography projects for art, education, advertising, fashion and movies. She was born and raised on a small island in the Bahamas, where she learned to swim before she could walk. “My mother, an underwater photographer, encouraged my natural affinity for the world below the waves, and I grew up loving the ocean and swimming with the dolphins, stingrays, manatees, turtles and sharks in an environment where light and weightlessness often create magical images.”
Why: “The Bahamas have some spectacular caves — this one is Thunderball Grotto in the Exuma Cays, where the James Bond movie of the same name was filmed.”
Who: Nastasia Wong is the founder of Dame Traveler and a lover of travel, photography and life. She has traveled to over 40 countries and her passion for travel has led her to create a sizable community of female travelers. Whether sipping on chai in Istanbul or volunteering abroad in South Africa, Nastasia continues to find and share the beauty of this world, thus inspiring people to change the way they see and experience travel and life.
Why: “Santorini is a classic.”
Who: Katie Frederick Jacobson of Ever After Honeymoons
Why: “Miami has such a fun combination of a chic glamorous city and a relaxed beach-town atmosphere. There are gorgeous hotels (the new Faena Miami Beach is a jaw-dropper!), incredible restaurants and top-notch people watching. It’s easy to see why Miami is a favorite getaway spot for so many people.”
Who: Mary Quincy
Why: “Rome is absolutely gorgeous. It’s necessary to explore the city by foot, walking around all day long to discover little secret alleyways and cute cafés. A must-see!”
Who: Mary Quincy
Why: “Having lived in London for one year, I quickly felt like a Londoner. This city is so lively and warm. Especially during wintertime, where the Christmas spirit is simply incredible.”
Who: Lucie Josma lived a sheltered life in New York City, born to Haitian immigrants and active Mormons. Her mother lost her ability to walk and speak due to a botched surgery, and by the time Josma was 10-years-old, her mother was wheelchair bound. “Traveling was one of those things that I could only dream of when learning about the world and cultures in school,” Josma says.
Watching her mother’s life slip away pushed Josma to get out into the world and turn her dreams into reality. “Traveling the world may not seem realistic to many, but I knew that a long life is never guaranteed and I refused to spend my days on earth not chasing after my dreams. My mother didn’t make it very long to see how far I’ve come, but I like to think she’s with me as I travel the world from destination to destination.”
Why: “Paris is one of those cities that you won’t be able to stop thinking about once you’ve visited. I can’t pinpoint if it’s the language, the Eiffel Tower or the amazing food, but Paris stays with you forever.”
Who: Tiffany Nguyen
Why: “Sometimes waking up at the crack of dawn has its perks and this particular morning at Yosemite National Park certainly did not disappoint.”
4. San Francisco
Who: Tiffany Nguyen
Why: “No matter how far I travel, I always remember to kick back, relax and enjoy the show.”
3. Los Angeles
Who: Tiffany Nguyen
Why: “Feeling the pier pressure at Manhattan Beach Pier. This is one of my favorite beaches in Los Angeles to recharge and reflect.”
2. Venice, Italy
Who: Lucie Josma
Why: “Burano is one of the most colorful towns I’ve ever visited. It feels like you’ve just stepped into a huge box of Crayons from the moment you’ve hopped off the ferry from the main island of Venice.”
1. New York City
Who: Mary Quincy
Why:“New York has been my favorite city ever since I was a child. Walking around the city that never sleeps has always made me feel free and surrounded by people from all around the world.”