Most Photographed places in the world


Banner from Jenny Pedlar – Workmen Sydney Harbour

This article is about the value of Mapping.  When you post a photograph on line you have the option to tag it with the location that it was taken.  Google and Instagram use these tags to give information on the most photographed spots on this planet.  Is this useful information?  I will let you judge for yourself.

So you are going to travel, and you want to take stunning photographs, where do you go?  Google of course.  In the rest of this article I will refer to the google heat map.  The Google heat map gives a colour rating according to the number of geotagged images for that location.  It also places a marker on the top 10 photographed locations.  Just type in to your web browser.  Here it is.


or if you turn off the heat map, you will get just the top 10 locations.  That is the most photographed locations.


According to Google the most photographed locations in the world are as follows:

  1. New York
  2. Rome
  3. Barcelona
  4. Paris
  5. Istanbul
  6. Venice
  7. Monte Carlo
  8. Florence
  9. Buenos Aires
  10. Budapest

Well that is an impressive itinerary.  Of course Instagram has a different list.  The most instagrammed places are as follows:

  1. New York, New York
  2. Moscow, Russia
  3. London, UK
  4. São Paulo, Brazil
  5. Paris, France
  6. Los Angeles, California
  7. Saint Petersburg, Russia
  8. Jakarta, Indonesia
  9. Istanbul, Turkey
  10. Barcelona, Spain

There are 4 cross overs between the lists, namely New York, Paris, Istanbul and Barcelona.  The Instagram list reflects the demographic of their users which is predominantly American and Russian.  I suspect Google has a wider distribution of users.

So what if we restrict our focus to Australia.  Here is the google map

Australia 2

In order Google recommends;

  1. Sydney,
  2. Melbourne,
  3. Brisbane,
  4. Perth,
  5. Adelaide,
  6. Katoomba,
  7. Cairns,
  8. the Twelve Apostles,
  9. Canberra,
  10. Cape Byron.

Instagram recommends,

  1. Bondi — Top Spot in NSW
  2. Sydney Opera House
  3. Darling Harbour
  4. Manly Beach
  5. Sydney Harbour
  6. Surfers Paradise Beach— Top Spot in QLD
  7. St Kilda Beach — Top Spot in VIC
  8. South Bank Brisbane
  9. MCG
  10. National Gallery of Victoria

The Instagram list seems to be more specific, but also it reflects where the greatest populations are found in Australia.

If we hone down further to South Australia,

South Australia

Adelaide, Victor Harbour and Kangaroo Island all feature highly on the heat map.  The tags are becoming harder to interpret and I have to double guess a bit as to what they refer to.

The Instagram top 5 are as follows:

1. Innes National Park – Yorke P.
2. Remarkable Rocks – Kangaroo Island
3. Wilpena Pound – Flinders Ranges
4. Sellicks Beach – Fleurieu P.
5. Henley Beach – Adelaide beaches

This seems to give a better coverage of our state and reflects some of our premier tourist attractions.  Interestingly this list appeared on the SA tourism site.

Or just Adelaide itself:

South Adelaide region

Rundle Mall, Port Adelaide Glenelg, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide University, North Terrace, Victoria Square, Adelaide Zoo, Hindmarsh entertainment centre.  Some of these tags I have had to re-label according to the picture displayed.  For instance the Police department, probably related to images taken around Victoria square.

and the Instagram list

  1. Parwana (Afghan Cuisine), Ebenezer Place
  2. Port Adelaide
  3. Chicco Palms (Brooklyn Park)
  4. Honeysuckle Lane (Prospect)
  5. Hispanic Mechanic
  6. Plant 4 Bowden
  7. Vietnamese Laundry (Bar and Street Food)
  8. Peter Rabbit Cafe
  9. Adelaide Central Markets/China Town
  10. Second Valley

This looks to be an edited list, directing us to specific commercial establishments.

And perhaps to Blackwood itself


The google markers are beginning to lack specificity, being merely the names of the suburb like Pasadena or Hawthorne Dene.  Instagram has a group of photos, mostly selfies and pets and backyards.  I think we have just reached the limit of the possibilities of mapping.

One of the downsides of heat mapping is the risk created by placing pooled data on line.  In 2017, shortly after Strava released a heat map for jogging routes,  an analyst pointed out that he was able to pinpoint all of the US bases in Afghanistan from the map.  I am not sure of the risks to geotagged photos.  I have heard it postulated that an identity thief could triangulate your photos to locate your most likely address.

So what is the final word on geotag mapping?  Traditionally I have sought out  travel brochures and magazines when I am looking for photographic inspiration for travel.  I might use Flickr to look at photos that have been taken from a given location.   I am not sure how I would use the heat map?  However I do think it is an interesting concept.  What do you think?