2016 has been a glorious travel year. I’ve visited 24 countries, 16 of them new ones, and everywhere I’ve been, I’ve brought my trusty Sony camera with me. Even here in Copenhagen, I can’t live without it. I’ve taken thousands of pictures this year, more than ever before, and choosing my favourites hasn’t been an easy job. It took me a while, but here they are: my favourite travel photos of 2016, one from each country visited this year, including my home country of Denmark.
Christmas spirit in Belfast, Northern Ireland
After spending New Years Eve in Dublin, Bethann and I decided to take a bus trip to Belfast the next day. I’m not sure exactly how smart that was given the fact that we had been drinking the night before, and the pictures that I took during our four hours in Belfast kind of reflect that. I didn’t have any good ones to choose from, but this photo shows just how beautiful Belfast is during the night at Christmas time.
Hiking in Howth, Ireland
After Bethann had left to go back to Wales, I had a day left in Ireland by myself. I decided to spend it doing what I love the most – going hiking! I went to the nearby town of Howth and spent the day walking along the beautiful coastline. It was one of the happiest days of solo travel that I remember and the colours of this photo match the mood that I was in that day perfectly.
Wintery Visegrád, Hungary
Never in my life have I been so in doubt when choosing a favourite! Hungary is an amazing country and Budapest definitely qualifies for the top 10 list of most beautiful cities in the world. Visiting Hungary in early January left me with tons of amazing photos and choosing one was near impossible. But I ended up choosing this one, which was taken in Nagymaros, looking across the Danube to Visegrád. I had to go to Nagymaros twice to be able to cross over to Visegrád, and this photo was actually taken the first, unlucky time. Not so unlucky after all, considering how perfect the weather was for shooting photos that day!
Bathed in fog in Bratislava, Slovakia
I love this spooky photo that I took of Bratislava Castle on a day-trip in January to one of my favourite capitals in the world, Bratislava. The first time I went there was during the summer, so the city had been lively and the weather great. I was surprised to experience a completely different Bratislava the second time around, where the city was bathed in thick fog and there were no tourists to be found. I loved it nonetheless.
Castle reflection in Trakai, Lithuania
When my mum and I visited Vilnius back in February, we took a day trip to one of the most popular destinations in the country, Trakai. We went there to see the famous castle situated on an island in a lake, known for its beauty. The castle definitely didn’t disappoint and the weather that day was perfect for shooting pictures – just look at that reflection!
Sunset over the skyline of Hong Kong
This year, I visited Hong Kong twice, in March and in April. The first time I only spent a few hours there and I fell completely for the city. I took this picture, while I was watching the sunset in Kowloon. Unfortunately, my second trip wasn’t as succesful, but I’ll still cherish the memories of my first time in Hong Kong, before my view of the city changed for good.
Kaolin Lake on Pulau Belitung, Indonesia
This photo was taken at the location of one of 2016’s most memorable events – the total solar eclipse on March 9th! Ian, Janis and I drove to the lake the day before the eclipse and that was when I took this photo, which is now one of my all-time favourite travel photos. Everything about this photo is perfect, if you ask me. The colours, the clouds, the memories, everything.
Sunrise at the summit of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia
This photo was one of the most satisfying photos to take ever. Prior to taking it, I had spent two days climbing the highest mountain in Malaysia, accomplishing the toughest thing I’ve ever attempted to do. Josh and I reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu just in time for the most beautiful sunrise that I’ll ever see.
Bus ride through the jungle, Brunei
This picture was actually taken from a bus window, and the ironic thing is that I didn’t even spend any time in Brunei’s rural areas. I spent my entire two days in the country in its capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and to be honest, there isn’t really much beautiful about it. Which is why I chose this photo instead of a photo from BSB. I actually really like this photo and I was surprised by how well it turned out considering how it was taken. BSB might not be the most beautiful city in the world, but Brunei certainly has its qualities – qualities that I hope to see more of someday.
Sunset on Elephant Mountain in Taipei, Taiwan
It took little effort for me to get this photo, which quickly became my ultimate favourite from my time in Taiwan in late March. For a hiking junkie like me, climbing Mount Elephant was a quick and easy task, and is recommendable for everyone who visits Taipei. The view from the mountain is hands-down the best in the entire city and is especially stunning at sunset.
Cherry blossoms in Nara Park, Japan
I spent my 21st birthday with Victoria and Joachim, two good friends from my childhood, chasing cherry blossoms in Japan. We lucked out and saw the phenomena in three different cities – Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara. My favourite destination for cherry blossoms was Nara! With the hundreds of deer that roam the city park, it’s the perfect place to shoot photos of this beautiful sight.
A view of North Korea at the DMZ, South Korea
This picture is the first illegal picture I’ve ever taken. While at the DMZ, on the South Korean side, it’s forbidden to take pictures of the North Korean side. The funny thing is, this rule doesn’t apply when visiting the DMZ from North Korea. I found the rule stupid, so I did it anyways and that’s why I love this photo so much. It’s a rare insight into the world’s most closed country.
The crater lake at the summit of Mount Hallasan, Jeju Island
Oh, how satisfying it was to take this photo! After spending an entire day in April climbing Mount Hallasan, the highest mountain in Jeju Island and in South Korea, I finally got to the summit and was able to take this photo of the tiny crater lake. I loved climbing the mountain, but it was the toughest single-day hike in my life, no doubt about that!
Contrasts in Macao
I don’t have many good photos from Macao, and this one shouldn’t qualify as a favourite. The city is a lot of fun, but it’s not beautiful at all, and I was there on a gloomy day, which didn’t exactly help. Still, this photo made it to this post because it shows the great contrast between the old Portuguese-style center and the new, modern casino empire.
Sunset over the Gobi Desert, Mongolia
The Gobi experience in Mongolia was one of my favourite experiences to date! In early May, I spent 7 days with an awesome crew and stayed with nomads every night. This picture was taken near a ger that we stayed at one night, when the sun beautifully painted the sky orange as it went below the horizon.
Colours of Skazka Canyon, Kyrgyzstan
Choosing a favourite picture from Kyrgyzstan was hard, let me tell you that! Kyrgyzstan is one of the most naturally beautiful countries I’ve ever been to, and after going through all of my pictures, I was left with two. I had such a hard time choosing between the two that I chose to make one of them the featured image for this post. That picture was taken in Arslanbob. The picture above, which was taken in the beautiful Skazka Canyon, only just won over the other one! Oh Kyrgyzstan, you’re a gem!
Karakul Lake in the Pamir Mountains, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast
Karakul is one of the most remote places I’ve ever been to. While I’m writing this, it still doesn’t seem real to me that I was actually there in May. Imagine a place high in the mountains of an autonomous region in Tajikistan, where tourists are as rare as imported foods. It took a day of driving from Osh in Kyrgyzstan along the Pamir Highway to arrive at the half-frozen lake, and we got there just in time to shoot some photos before sunset.
Afghan sister in Sultan Eshkashim, Afghanistan
This is one of my favourite pictures ever! Never in my life have I seen more beautiful eyes. When I saw these sisters in Sultan Eshkashim, a small town in Northern Afghanistan, back in early June, I knew that I had to take their picture. They reminded me so much of the famous “Afghan Girl” from the cover of National Geographic from 1984, who had the same kind of stunning green eyes.
Traditional women in Khujand, Tajikistan
This picture was taken in June shortly after Steve and I arrived in Khujand, our last destination in Tajikistan. It shows two Tajik women in traditional dress on their way to the festivities in the center of the city. We had no idea that we had arrived on an evening of a national day, so we were delighted to be able to join in and experience a huge Tajik celebration.
The upper city of Bergamo, Italy
By the end of my Asian journey in June, I had a 16-hour stopover in Bergamo, where I spent the daylight hours checking out the city. My sightseeing took me to the top of the Colle di San Vigilio hill, where I took this photo of the 16th century bastions of the old town, called “the upper city”, which lies on the crest of a hill. Because it was a rainy day, I didn’t have many great photos to choose from, but this one definitely shows the beauty and potential of the city of Bergamo.
Flying into the Åland Islands
This has to be the best photo I’ve ever taken from a plane window! In July, Steve and I spent five days travelling through the Åland Islands by bike and came across quite a few of the islands, possibly even some of the islands pictured here. Åland is the perfect destination for an active holiday and a definite must-go-back-to destination for me!
The cliffs of Lake Leitisvatn, Faroe Islands
Choosing a favourite photo from the Faroe Islands was difficult to put it lightly. In August, I spent 18 days on the islands with my friend Katrine, and in October, I spent another two days there with my family, and these two trips resulted in over 5000 photos, so I had plenty to choose from. But this photo, which wasn’t even taken by me, but by my Faroese friend Andras, sums up one of the best trips in my life. It shows a beautiful friendship between Katrine and I, out-of-this-world landscape and a flag of the country that has my heart.
The cliffs of Møn, Denmark
Ever since I moved to Copenhagen at the end of August, I’ve been exploring many new parts of the country. This includes the island of Møn and Møns Klint, probably the most famous natural sight in Denmark. I can’t believe it took me 21 years to get there, but I finally got to take this photo of Denmark’s most beautiful natural pearl, which shows that we can definitely compete with other countries when it comes to nature!
View of Seydisfjörður from the waterfall, Iceland
When I visited Iceland for the third time in October, I also visited the tiny village of Seydisfjörður for the third time! I had a lot of amazing photos to choose from from this trip to Iceland, but I had to show my appreciation towards Seydisfjörður through this photo, which was taken on a hike to a waterfall in the village. I challenge you to find a village that beats Seydisfjörður in beauty!
Christmas in Flensburg, Germany
This photo is no gem, but it shows the cozy atmosphere in the city of Flensburg, where my family and I spent a day looking at the christmas markets, perfectly. I didn’t take many photos that day, as the trip was mostly about being together with my family and getting in the Christmas spirit, but for me, this picture actually gets me in the right spirit, and that’s why it’s a favourite.
So, these were my choices for my number one favourite shot from all 24 countries visited this year plus Denmark. This post is just the beginning of my celebrations of the travel year of 2016, which will continue in a few upcoming posts, so stay tuned for more!