In the last few years, there’s been a spike in the use of smartphones as the travelers’ way of documenting their journeys—and with it, the growth of Instagram as a virtual journal. Cliché shots of the Eiffel Tower aside, here’s a list of places that look good online and even better in real life
1. The Maldives
The Islamic Republic is made up of 1,200 mostly uninhabited islands. Overall, 90 percent of its territory is comprised of clear waters.
Standing in the center of white sand and cyan waters as far as the eye can see is brilliant in its simplicity. Between May and November, you can swim with manta rays at Manta Point.
Dressing in provocative clothes at Malé, the capital. The largely Muslim community frowns upon skimpy outfits.
Photo by Mr. Hicks
2. Cappadocia, Turkey
This semi-arid region is said to be brimming with otherworldly natural sites.
Unsurprisingly, the hot air balloons in the town of Göreme will rake in Instagram cred. Second runner-up is the fairy chimney, spires of volcanic rock.
Tourist traps that overcharge for dysfunctional ATV rentals.
Photo by Stuart Pinfold
3. Bath, United Kingdom
As its name suggests, Bath was the place to be for a refreshing soak at the height of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Baths, with its distinct look capable of transporting you to another century. Don’t skip out on the fan vaulting in Bath Abbey.
Spending more than a weekend here. The city is small enough for you to hit all the important sights in a short amount of time.
Photo by Chris Ford
4. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Also known as The Blue Pearl, the homes and buildings of Chefchaouen are rinsed in blue paint.
The sheltered trove in Hassan 1 is a dream with its silverware, carpets, and spices. Alleyways in the old part of town are neatly tinted and easy on the eyes.
Getting mixed up with shady locals. The city is the main producer of cannabis in Morocco, and hashish is sold all over.
Photo by Pistachoveloz
5. Córdoba, Spain
The Andalusian city is the largest urban area in the world declared a World Heritage by UNESCO.
Food shots at Ziryab, the city’s temple of tapas. To soak in local culture, the interiors of the Cathedral of Cordoba Mosque are spectacular.
The Archeological Museum. It has a good collection of Roman artifacts, but no English signage.
Photo by Carolina Odman
6. Cape Town, South Africa
Natural beauty reigns in South Africa’s legislative capital: tranquil peaks, vibrant beaches, and a diverse array of wildlife.
Wake up early to hike up Cape Point or swim with great white sharks at nearby Gansbaai, then catch the view from the peak of Table Mountain.
Partying hard. Cape Town’s nightlife simmers down by 2 A.M.
Photo by Andrey Wi
7. Saint Petersburg, Russia
Russia’s northernmost city is considered the country’s cultural capital.
The onion domes that crown the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood seem almost unreal in their presence.
Purchasing antiques or anything that could have “cultural value.” It may be difficult to get it past Russian customs.
Photo by Diana Nguyen
8. Marfa, United States
The West Texas city is a major center for minimalist art.
Marfa’s art scene like the Chinati Foundation and the Prada Marfa sculpture. Look out for the city’s ghost lights, said to be a paranormal occurrence.
Looking for cowboys. It’s just not that kind of place.
Photo by Tom Grydeland
9. Svaldbard, Norway
Situated between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the archipelago is largely covered in glaciers.
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is definitely the central attraction. But while smartphone cameras are all well and good, the area’s low temperatures might require more resilient technology.
Going in the dead of winter.
Photo by Toastbrot81
10. Positano, Italy
Positano used to be a poor fishing village until John Steinback wrote about it in Harper’s Bazaar in 1953.
Positano’s famous tipple: the L’Albertissimo, found at a tiny stall along the harbor. Then visit the Grotta della Smeraldo, or the Emerald Grotto.
Checking into a fancy hotel. Rent out a furnished apartment instead.