So you’ve bought your first decent camera and photo-editing software but you’re tired of taking pictures out of your bedroom window and want to take it up a level? We’ve compiled a list of photogenic cities to visit around Europe that are ideal for some cracking photo sessions and lend themselves for some magical pictures. After all, it’s a lot easier to take good pictures when you actually have a great subject for your photo.
York, the city which lends its name to the Yorkshire region in northern England, has a rich history, with many traces of its 2000-year past still visible when walking around it today. It was a prominent Roman city, before becoming an important hotbed for Viking activity in Britain. In more recent centuries, the city was a key trading centre and a significant railway hub. It is also the original York, the one which New York was named after.
Best spots for taking pictures: Anywhere within the old city centre should provide you with some great photo opportunities.
Points of interest: York Minster, the largest Gothic Cathedral of its kind in Northern Europe, towers over the city streets and is visible for miles around. York Castle and city walls, sections of which can be walked, are also popular with visitors. Many of the medieval streets or “Snickelways” have been well preserved and are highly photogenic, including “The Shambles”, reputedly the best preserved medieval street in Europe, with some of the timber-framed buildings dating back to the 14th Century. Train enthusiasts can get some cracking shots of rolling stock at the National Railway Museum.
What to do after taking pictures: Visit the Jorvik Viking Centre for an experience of what life would have been like for the inhabitants of York in the time that it was ruled by Old Norse warrior-kings, including recreations of sights, sounds and even smells – all using groundbreaking interpretive methods. The selection in the gift shop, which includes drinking horns and children’s arms and armour, isn’t half bad either! Round the day off at one of York’s numerous traditional pubs and have a nice roast with Yorkshire Pudding, washed down with a pint of bitter.
Where to stay – Visit Booking.com.
Situated on the banks of the Lusatian Neisse (a tributary of the Oder) and on the border to Poland, Görlitz (Zgorzelec on the Polish side) is a wonderful old city with endless opportunities to take unforgettable photos. The beautiful old town is a sight to behold, with houses still standing from the eras of gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture. The city has the tongue in cheek name of “Görliwood” because some scenes in films like Inglorious Basterds and the Grand Budapest Hotel were filmed there.
Best spots for taking pictures: The old town, which includes buildings such as the town hall and the synagogue. The Marienplatz, Frauenturm, Ahnenkapelle are also worth a look.
Points of interest: The city itself is considered a monument in itself, so basically everything should be interesting. Highlights include the castle Kaisertrutz, the animal park and various churches and cathedrals.
What to do after taking pictures: From May until August, there is a “Sommertheater”. Check out the Landskron-brewery for a cold beer or enjoy dining in one of the restaurants or take a drink in a bar looking out on the river.
Where to stay – Visit Booking.com
Bruges, the Venice of the North, is a favourite place for many tourists, and thousands of pictures have been taken here. This is not without reason, because the beautiful canals, bridges, old houses and charming city centre are the perfect background for your selfies.
Best spot for taking pictures: The most photographed place in Bruges, Rozenhoedkaai.
Points of Interest: Another popular spot is the beguinage, with the small white buildings and flowers everywhere. A third spot for great picture taking is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Kerk
What to do afterwards: Consume some of the Belgian classic specialities: chocolates and great beers. Having a drink next to the beautiful canals in summer is definitely a nice way to spend your afternoon. Another cool way to explore the city (which will give you a great view to take the most amazing pictures) is from a hot-air balloon in the sky.
Muiden, located just to the south-east of Amsterdam, is over a thousand years old and has a very historical background. The Vecht region where it is located is a well-to-do area filled with mansions, castles and parks, notwithstanding the outstanding natural beauty all around.
Best spots for taking pictures: Muiderslot (Muider Castle) and Muizenfort, (Mice Fort) are two fortifications, built centuries apart. Fort Pampus Island is an artificial island forming a section of the Defence Line of Amsterdam.
Points of interest: You can visit most parts of the castle and the surrounding gardens. West Battery is a smaller fort from the Stelling van Amsterdam.
What to do after taking pictures: There are interactive tours to learn and play while discovering the fort. There is a very small but nice sandy beach next to West Battery.
Located in Tuscany, Siena is known for its medieval cityscape, as well as its art, food and culture. There is also the famous Palio horse race, that takes place on the main square in which beckons the involvement of the whole city! The city is divided into wards and every ward is represented by one of the horses in the race.
Best spots for taking pictures – Panorama and Duomo Nuovo: Siena Cathedral. It is possible to climb up the Facciatone where you can get a great view over the city and the Tuscan countryside.
Points of interest: The cathedral which combines French Gothic, Tuscan Romanesque and Classical architecture. Piazza del Campo, the main medieval square, it is considered one of the best in Europe and it has a shape of a shell. Many buildings face the square like the Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia.
What to do after taking pictures: Visit Pinacoteca Nazionale, the national museum of Siena with medieval and Renaissance paintings, followed by a walk in Orto Botanico, a botanical garden operated by the University of Siena. Round it off with dinner or lunch at Osteria Trombicche where you can enjoy a traditional meal in a cozy atmosphere.
Different civilizations have always wanted to rule Granada, from Romans to Moops and Castilians. Each of its corners keeps a bit of history and this is one of the things that makes Granada a special city.
Best spots for taking pictures: Of course, one of the most beautiful and magic spots in Granada is La Alhambra. Albaicín and Sacromonte are really photogenic areas of the city too.
Points of interest: Apart from the must-see Alhambra, there is also the Cathedral, the Royal Chapel, Sacromonte Abbey and the Carthusian Monastery.
What to do after taking pictures: Go to Sacromonte to see some zambra, a flamenco variation with a more Oriental feel in which the singer also dances. There are numerous caves where you can watch flamenco with a drink and in some, you can also have something to eat.
Bonifacio is located in the very south of Corsica, facing Sardinia directly, which means you can take some great pictures of the Mediterranean sea. You can also enjoy the old citadel that seems to be suspended above the sea, with its old houses and fortifications eroded by the sea spray.
Best spots for taking pictures: You can walk to the top of the Citadel to capture the beauty of the old city and the deep blue of the sea. There you can see houses hanging right over the edge of the cliff.
Points of interest: Maybe the most famous spot in Bonifacio is the Stairway of the King of Aragon, which legend dictates was carved out of the steep cliff in a single night. You can also walk along battlements and around the port. If you have time, take a trip to the Lavezzi islands!
What to do after taking pictures: After a long day walking up and down the city, you should enjoy having a few tipples at the B52, a cool and friendly bar on the port, with music and sometimes international DJs.
Salzburg is one of Austria’s most beautiful cities and is the birthplace of the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. With the backdrop of the Austrian Alps and numerous historic buildings and sightseeing spots, the city makes for taking unforgettable pictures
Best spots for taking pictures: Try the Mirabellgarten, the Festung Salzburg (castle), the Kapitelplatz, the Hellbrunn or one of countless others.
Points of interest: Castle Hohensalzburg, different places where Mozart grew up, Castle Hellbrunn, the Domquartier, and the Toy Museum
What to do after taking pictures: Enjoy some “Mozartkugeln” sweets with a nice coffee, or go for a hike in the surrounding mountains.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest European centres. Its city centre was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Porto is the perfect city for you to intentionally forget the map and get lost around the narrow streets of the inner city.
Best spots for taking pictures: One of the most photographed spots in Porto is Dom Luis I Bridge, a metal arch bridge that spans the Douro River between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Other good spots for taking pics are the coloured houses at the city center or the typical markets like the Mercado Do Bolhao.
Points of Interest: Porto Cathedral, Church of São Francisco, Episcopal Palace of Porto, Porto City Hall (Avenida dos Aliados), Clérigos Church
What to do after taking pictures: After a long walk making photos around, one of the best things to do is have a Portuguese dinner. You can’t leave Porto without eating a some “bacalhau” (codfish). Also, you must drink one of the famous Port Wines, produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal and named after the city.
Thira/Santorini is a volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, which attracts tourists thanks to its narrow streets and little white houses with blue roofs. Another unique feature of the island is its beaches with black, red and white sand.
Best spots for taking pictures: The most famous views, are from the picturesque town of Oia, where you can get great views of the bay. Up here, there is no traffic and the houses look like they are huddled together on the rocks, like a small bird’s nest.
Points of interest: Santorini is also considered part of the sunken Atlantis – and proof of this can be seen in the many historic monuments.
What to do after taking pictures: On the main street of the city, you can find small souvenir shops with handicrafts and art exhibitions, but most of the tourists come here to admire the incredibly beautiful sunset and taste the local wine which has its own original taste, given that the vineyards are set on volcanic soil.