Now in its tenth year, Instagram has become an addictive accessory for millions of travellers who use it to document their experiences and show off to friends. But what are the world’s most photographed locations? Emily Eastman reports

An independent study commissioned by Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, has revealed that more than three quarters (77 per cent) of more than 7,000 travellers from Paris, London, New York, Shanghai, Dubai, Sydney and Mexico City feel obliged to visit the most popular tourist sites when they go away.

This is in spite of the fact that almost the same percentage (75 per cent) say they would like to see more of what a city has to offer and explore like a local.

The problem with “Insta-tourism” is it can make travel feel competitive – a “gamified”, public experience that becomes more about “ticking off the sites” than “following your nose”.

That said, the study also found that 55 per cent of global luxury travellers (defined as someone who has stayed in a four-star or five-star hotel in the past year) believe using social media content while travelling increases their ability to have a meaningful experience.

Either way, the consequence is intense over-crowding at the world’s most picturesque locations, as thousands of travellers jostle for the same shot every day – ideally without anyone else in it. Photo-bombing, however, is usually unavoidable.

Analysis of the hashtags used to label Instagram posts revealed the most popular tourist sites in each destination. The most Instagrammed spots of 2019 were…


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  1. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, which featured in 53 per cent of all Paris photos analysed and almost ten per cent of all photos analysed worldwide
  2. The Bund, Shanghai, in 44 per cent of all Shanghai photos analysed
  3. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, in 36 per cent of all Dubai photos analysed
  4. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, in 35 per cent of all Sydney photos analysed
  5. Pyramid de Teotihuacan, Mexico City, in 25 per cent of all Mexico City photos analysed
  6. Buckingham Palace, London, in 21 per cent of all London photos analysed
  7. Central Park, New York City, in 20 per cent of all New York City photos analysed

The results also revealed the top five most-Instagrammed sites in London…

    1. Buckingham Palace
    2. Tower Bridge
    3. London Eye
    4. River Thames Walk
    5. Wellington Arch


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Despite the rise of TikTok (read our Gen Z Horizons report for more on this), the hotel group predicts that travellers will use Instagram even more in the new decade. It forecasts that this year, 39 per cent of global luxury travellers will put more focus on social media when travelling.

Meanwhile, decided to find out what are the most Instagrammable forests around the world – these were the result in January 2020…


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  1. The Black Forest Germany – 1.4 million hashtags
  2. Amazon Rainforest Brazil – 198,000 hashtags
  3. Sherwood Forest England – 142,000 hashtags
  4. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest/Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan – 84,000 hashtags
  5. Mossy Forest, Malaysia – 65,000 hashtags
  6. Atlantic Forest Brazil – 53,000 hashtags
  7. Jiuzhaigou Valley China – 52,800 hashtags
  8. Sequoia Forest US – 51,000 hashtags
  9. Bialowieza Forest Poland – 50,000 hashtags
  10. Olympic National Forest US – 43,000 hashtags

Another company (, randomly) analysed the most Instagrammed villages in the world – these were the findings for January 2020…


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  1. Cinque Terre, Italy – two million hashtags
  2. Reine, Norway – 1.5 million hashtags
  3. Oia, Greece – 1.4 million hashtags
  4. Burano, Italy – 1 million hashtags
  5. Colmar, France – 995,000 hashtags
  6. Hallstatt Austria – 817,000 hashtags
  7. Alberobello, Italy – 584,000 hashtags
  8. Hobbiton, New Zealand – 500,000 hashtags
  9. Shirakawa-go, Japan – 257,000 hashtags
  10. Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia – 232,000 hashtags

It’s worth considering that Hallstatt is a tiny UNESCO-protected town of just 800 people and yet it is swamped with over 10,000 tourists a day, mainly from China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.

Verena Lobisser, who owns a hotel in Hallstatt, told the Washington Post: “It’s a catastrophe. Many visitors seriously think this is a theme park.”

To top off our Instagram journey of the hottest hotspots, ranked the world’s most Instagrammed lakes. These were the results at the beginning of 2020…


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  1. Lake District, England – 2,951,548 hashtags
  2. Lake Tahoe, US – 2,459,104 hashtags
  3. Lake Michigan, US – 2,208,442 hashtags
  4. Lake Como, Italy – 1,412,597 hashtags
  5. Dead Sea, Israel/West Bank/Jordan – 1,137,909 hashtags
  6. Lake Erie, US – 863,446 hashtags
  7. Lake Superior, Canada – 832,139 hashtags
  8. West Lake, China – 814,434 hashtags
  9. Loch Ness, Scotland – 528,075 hashtags
  10. Crate Lake, US – 429,825 hashtags

What’s coming next? Trend reports available to download HERE

Globetrender Future of Luxury Travel Forecast 2020-2025

Globetrender Gen Z Horizons 2020 report

Globetrender 2020 Travel Trend Forecast