Instagram is a great place to get inspiration for your next travel adventure. The vivid details of carefully posed pictures can make anyone jealous. There's even a community of people only after photographs to show off on Instagram using the hashtag: #doitforthegram. With cropping, filters, and the support of influencers, a cool travel destination can go from off-the-beaten-track to overcrowded in record time. Damage by excited tourists or by the sheer number of visitors is harming once beautiful sites. But if you're quick and use savvy travel tips, you can see what the hype is about before it's too late.
Kjeragbolten is a boulder suspended between two cliffs high up on a beautiful Norwegian mountain. A popular place to pose for photos, the boulder often has a queue of people waiting for their turn on the rock perched above a 3,228 foot (984 meters) drop. In truth, the rock is unlikely to shift as it's wedged tightly in but it's certainly not for people nervous of heights. For many visitors, the stunning views across the forests and fjords are exciting enough. However, The Kjerag mountains are a popular base jumping site, so don't be shocked if you see someone holding a parachute jump off Kjeragbolten.
The sunset across the caldera in Santorini is quite romantic, however; in reality, you could be stood shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of other people and hardly see the sunset at all. One idea is to book tables with a view in advance to guarantee yourself a romantic spot. The lovely blue-domed roofs of the small churches make a picturesque foreground to a sunset photo, and the churches are in the quieter parts of the main towns of Fira and Oia as an added bonus. While you're in Santorini, be sure to try their sweet wine. Locals grow a unique grape on Santorini which gets its water from morning dew. The grapes are made into a sweet, rich dessert wine called Vinsanto which tastes like honey.
The red Shinto gates seen across Japan are called Torii, and Fushimi Inari Taisha near Kyoto is an outstanding example of the shrines. The mountain trail spans 2.5 miles (4 km) with sections of red torii so close to each other they make a tunnel. Online photos of people exploring the shrine trail often show the tourist alone. But in reality, the Fushimi Inari Taisha is hugely popular with Japanese people. In 2006, almost 2.7 million people came to worship at the main shrine - in just three days! But despite the large crowds at the entrance, the site is so large that you will find quiet places to appreciate the craftsmanship of the Torii.
Iceland has boomed in popularity with tourists, partially because many of the iconic locations in Game of Thrones were filmed there. Towards the east of Iceland, Kirkufell is the 'Arrowhead Mountain' North of the Wall in GoT. Search for Iceland photos and this mountain will appear in many of them. Meltwater flows over the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, which is where tourists flock to get their photos. Once remote yet beautiful, today the area is full of people who are only there to get a couple of pictures. That's a shame, as this is an accessible area to walk and enjoy the Icelandic landscape. Wear sturdy boots and bring a waterproof jacket and go for a stroll. You may find a more magical connection to the landscape if you move away from the crowd.
There are lots of popular photo opportunities in London, but one of the most photographed buildings is The House of Parliament. The iconic building is the seat of government, and the clock tower housing the Big Ben is very recognizable, making it a draw for tourists. If you visit, remember the Palace of Westminster is a working building, and one with high security. For the best introduction to the centuries of history, the houses of parliament contain, join one of the many free tours. The tours are in multiple languages, providing a behind-the-scenes look and lots of fascinating facts.
You might think that the Eiffel Tower would be the most photographer-packed location in Paris, but not so. The Eiffel Tower is visible for miles around Paris - you can't miss it. This means the tourists trying to get the perfect picture spread across a big area. But for Moulin Rouge, it's different. Birthplace of the can-can dance, the bright neon lights, and whirling windmill are a feast for the eyes. However, for some visitors, the fascination is the outside of the building, not the cabaret shows. That's a shame because the Féerie show running at the Moulin Rouge has a troupe of 80 artists including dancing Doriss girls, acrobats, miniature horses, clowns, and more all in dazzling costumes which are much more impressive than the windmill outside. Book yourself a ticket in advance to be certain of getting a seat.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Incan ruin is perched on a flat mountain in the Andes. Just the name Machu Picchu brings up images of remote adventure, mystery, and wonder. There are few places on the Incan Trail where you can get a good view of the ruined citadel, and everyone wants their turn. The Peruvian government has now stepped in to restrict visitor numbers, to limit the crowding. Hopefully, this will help visit Machu Picchu magical once again, but it does mean you have to book in advance.
Initially built for the Hindu god Vishnu, it became a Buddhist temple in the 12th century. Covering a vast area, it takes a few days to explore Angkor Wat properly. Twisting vines and thick tree roots cover parts of the temples. These sites have been made famous by films like Tomb Raider, and are where many people head to for a cool photo. Some areas are now roped off to protect them. When you visit Angkor Wat, Take your time and look at the carved stone decorations all over the temples. Scenes from the Hindu stories the Mahabharata and Ramayana are beautiful and extremely detailed. In places, young children make careful paper mache molds of the decoration, coloring them on bright paints which you can haggle to buy.
One of four bridges crossing the Grand Canal in Venice, the Ponte dell'Accademia is a narrow wooden and iron bridge. Loved-up visitors post pictures of themselves, adding a padlock to the railings as they do on bridges around the world. However, the extra weight damaged the bridge and Venetian authorities ask that visitors stick with appreciating the view rather than adding any more padlocks. Save the few Euros a lock costs, and find a family-run gelato shop for some homemade Italian ice cream to enjoy instead. Although it tastes so good you may not want to share it with a loved one.
The classic funny place to get a "Look I'm holding the Leaning Tower up," photo, the Tower of Pisa is popular with tourists from around the world. If you visit Pisa, be sure to walk up to the top of the Tower. It was closed for many years as engineers worked to stabilize the Tower and stop it falling over. The lean is still about 4cm, and from the upper levels, you might feel like you are walking around a carnival fun house.
This monument to love is a stunning example of architecture. But while the Taj Mahal is well worth a visit, prepare yourself for the crowds. Whenever a TV presenter is walking serenely through the near-empty site, it's because officials let them in before or after the site was open to the public. The Taj has been a popular destination for decades, and it will be for many more to come. To bring back the romantic atmosphere, officials are limiting the number of people allowed in at a time. To make sure you have the chance to visit this iconic building, book a tour place rather than queuing for a ticket the day you want to see the Taj Mahal.
This beautiful area was made famous by The Beach film starring Leonardo Dicaprio back in 2000. Thousands of tourists have since decided they must visit for that perfect sharable photo, as many as 5000 a day in high season. Thai officials have closed this beach indefinitely, to allow this isolated area to recover. There are vague plans to reopen for limited numbers in 2021, but don't hold your breath as Maya Bay may be closed forever. Fear not, as there are literally thousands of isolated bays, coves, and beaches in Thailand. Go on your own adventure, talk to locals and find your own Beach.
Another place in Iceland that was once barely visited, and is now a popular destination. The famous black sand beach on the southern coast of Iceland is harsh yet beautiful. Atlantic waves crash onshore, breaking up the volcanic rocks into the black grains to make the sand. A side effect of Game Of Thrones, Iceland is enjoying a boost in visitor numbers. And Iceland is a fascinating place to go, full of culture and raw nature. But what people might not know is there are plenty of other black sand beaches on the island. Do yourself a favor and find a different beach for a more magical experience, where you will likely have the whole beach to yourself.
The natural beauty of the Scottish Island of Skye is world famous. One of the most recognizable features is The Storr rocks. The bizarre shaped rocks are actually the remains of an ancient landslide and are home to many nesting birds in spring. While some travel to the rocks to walk up to them, or even climb up, others only drive to the carpark nearby to take a photo of Storr and then leave. This is a pity as Scotland has a "right to roam" for walkers, so even if the paths are not well worn, you are allowed to get up close. And the view from the top is breathtaking.
The famous statue of Christ overlooks Rio de Janeiro from a mountain. The trek up the Corcovado is hard work, you will need to be fit and wear appropriate shoes to attempt it. Anyone who walks up the two-hour trail deserves a photo to celebrate the achievement. For better access to all, Brazil also put a minibus and a steep railway called a funicular up to the statue. That means that the top is crowded with people taking photos right underneath the statue. A picture of Christ's nostrils isn't all that interesting, but the 360-degree views out across the city and landscape are stunning. You can only get a decent photo of Christ The Redeemer from a distance, try one of the many rooftop bars at sunset for a fantastic show.
Also known as Pig Beach, this is the main home for the sea swimming pigs made famous through social media photos. Uninhabited, except for pigs, Big Major Cay has experienced a huge demand recently from tourists wanting to swim with the pigs. While swimming with the pigs might make a good story and a cool photo, remember these are wild animals. Being wild they are unpredictable. It is better to appreciate these animals from a safe distance when you can watch them behave naturally.
It may be a childhood dream to swim with dolphins, but the reality is the experience is often a negative one for the animals. While wild dolphins have been known to play and splash with humans on their own, dolphins kept in captivity have no way to escape or avoid the attention. The lives of captive dolphins are far shorter than their wild counterparts, in part due to the stress they live with. Instead, try watching wild dolphins and appreciate the animals living free.
This graffiti-covered wall has been the place in Prague for people to write how they feel to share it with others since the days of communism. Named for John Lennon, the wall is a constantly changing blend of Beatles lyrics and Lennon inspired art. If you visit Prague, be sure to look at the wall, and appreciate this unique piece of living history.
Not for the faint-hearted, the Devil's Pool is a natural infinity pool right at the edge of a waterfall on the Zambezi River over a 100-foot drop. The experience is said to be exhilarating, but be aware there are no security ropes or nets. The only thing saving you is your grip on the rock and how fast you can swim back upstream. For a more relaxing wild swimming experience, there are also natural pools along the Zambezi River where children swim and splash to cool down far away from the waterfall. Alternatively, many of the larger hotels have infinity pools on their roof, so you can enjoy the view in safety with a drink.