As the day comes to and end and the sky erupts into a palette of pinks, oranges and reds you want to be in the right spot at the right time to capture the perfect sunset that completes your travel album. While not every sunset is going to be a photographers dream, the golden hour is beautiful regardless and I’ve put together this list of my top ten favourite locations to photograph the setting sun around the world…
From Iceland to Australia, this list is a collection of images I’ve personally taken in these locations, I know there are many, many more places that could be included.
If you’ve got recommendation for sunset photo locations, please share your spot in the comments below, you’re more than welcome to link to your photos too!
#10 Marrakech, Morocco
Dusty desert sands and red ochre buildings make Marrakech an easy inclusion for this list. Combining the colours of the city with the sky at sunset blends together the perfect portrayal of magical Morocco. You’ll find most riads (traditional hotels) have private rooftop terraces from where you can photograph sunset over the city or if you’re willing to share your view you can order a Mint Tea and sit on the terrace of Café de France overlooking the circus that is the Djeema el Fna as the sun sets.
Icebergs and sunshine don’t sound like they go well together but believe me, they absolutely do. At the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon nature puts on quite the magic show with giant icebergs glowing in the sunlight then twinkling as dusk approaches and the stars (or aurora) shine above. Sunset at the lagoon is quite special because most of the tour buses will have departed for the day, leaving the lagoon peaceful and crowd free.
Be sure to explore around the shoreline to capture the icebergs from all angles and if you’ve got time, pop over the road to Diamond Beach. Here icebergs rest on the shoes of the North Atlantic and glisten as waves crash around them.
Every summer from mid-June to mid-July if you find yourself in Provence you’ll be treated to some of the most photogenic sunsets in the world. As rows of lavender reach towards the western horizon, the setting sun illuminates the purple landscape and you’ll find yourself snapping away as the light changes from a warm glow to dusky haze.
The Plateau de Valensole is one of the best locations to photograph lavender in Europe. For sunset though it’s the fields found just beside Lavandes Angelvin that work best as they face directly west. By exploring the region you will find other fields too so don’t be afraid to wander and see which ones take your fancy.
You rarely think about snow and sunsets in the same sentence but in New Zealand, anything is possible amidst the stunning scenery and magical land of middle earth. Queenstown sits beside the immense Lake Wakatipu which is framed by ridges of snowy peaks and dramatic mountains that appear to fall from the sky straight into the icy waters. Sunset happens a little early due to its southerly location but keep an eye out for the dipping sun and while you won’t get a direct view of the sun hitting the horizon, you will get an incredible contrast of warm skies against chilly winter landscapes.
Time your trip just right and you’ll be witnessing the sun set over the mighty skyline of Manhattan, New York City. The Staten Island Ferry is one of the best ways to see the cityscape from the water and you’ll pass by the Statue of Liberty along the way! Photographing sunset from on board the ferry gives your images that extra little special something blending the Hudson River with the man-made jungle of NYC and while you’ll be joined by others on board, the 25 minute ride gives you plenty of time to utilise the photo opportunities and it sure as hell beats elbowing your way around the top of the Empire State Building at sunset!
#5 Paris, France
Sunset in Paris can be seen from a few special spots but my absolute favourite is from the dome of Basilica Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. While most of the crowds will be at the Eiffel Tower or sitting at the park below the Basilica, few climb the 234 odd steps up the very narrow spiral staircase to the dome which provides an incredible panoramic view of the city. Not only is the view the best in town, you can walk around the entire dome, soak in the history and it’s open air meaning you don’t have any dirty windows hampering your photographs. On a clear day you can see for up to 30km but on most days you’ll at least get a clear view of the Eiffel Tower and at sunset, the sky behind will light up and highlight the beautiful city. Be sure to check closing times before climbing the stairs and sometimes they close earlier than others depending on the weather and time of year!
Venture away from Port Vila, hire yourself a 4WD or jump on the back of someone’s ute (a completely normal occurrence) and ask to be dropped at Whitesands, a beautiful spot on the southern side of Efate Island. Or if you prefer to stay somewhere secluded and away from everything else, Tamanu on the Beach is a unique little collection of bungalows made from coral found on the very beach in front of the property. The beach here doesn’t exactly face west but the colours the sky creates over the ocean makes for spectacular sunset photo opportunities. Sit on the sand with the hundreds of little hermit crabs that roam the beach and photograph the colours of sunset over the waves breaking on the fringing reef.
#3 Florence, Italy
A visit to Florence isn’t complete unless you’ve seen the sun set over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo, a 19th century square perched high on the southern banks of the River Arno. Offering a panoramic view of Florence, from here you can see the Duomo, Campanile and infamous Ponte Vecchio which makes for a fabulous subject once the colours of sunset begin to appear. Local musicians use the chance to entertain the crowds with their live music which can make for a great vibe as you compose and focus on the many sights of Florence.
Wild and remote, The Hebrides lie off the western coast of Scotland. There’s so many vantage points to shoot the sunset here so be sure to explore as many islands as possible if you happen to visit the region. A few favourites from my recent trip include Neist Point Lighthouse and the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye. Both locations are ideal for landscape photographers looking to blend the rugged landscapes with the ever changing skies at sunset.
Out on the Isle of Lewis and Harris there’s the rocky coastline around Uig and Mangersta where waves smash against the cliffs and sheep are dotted throughout the seaside paddocks. Further north is the calm bay near Shawbost village and Loch a’ Bhaile, a beautiful stretch of sandy beach and wetlands ideal for reflection shots at sunset!
With one of the most recognisable harbours in the world, Sydney has a great network of walking paths that wind their way along the water front and provide endless opportunities for sunset photographs. If you can time if right, being on the water is a great way to capture the sunset and the rays shining behind the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Circular Quay to Manly Ferry is the best way to allow plenty of time on the water, otherwise jump on board a water taxi and float out on the harbour, face west and snap away at the sky in the west erupts into hues of red.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is another popular location along the harbour which offers views across to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
If you’re after some tips on how to capture the sunset, take a peek at my Setting the Scene series for creative and technical tips to improve your sunset photography.
Do know of somewhere amazing to capture the sunset anywhere in the world? Let me know in the comments below! I would also love to see your best shots via Instagram @the_wanderinglens or using the hashtag #thewanderinglens
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. After three years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides and I'm always so excited to hear from readers as they're travelling and improving their photos!