Travel guides inspire you to get off the couch and explore the world, whilst looking at beautiful photographs instills a deeper sense of what a place is truly like.
To help stimulate your spirit of adventure, here are 20 of the very best travel photography books available.
Lonely Planet published a beautiful photography book that offers something unique: comparing and contrasting pictures on opposite pages.
On either side of the fold you will see celebrations in different cultures, smiling women from distant sides of the world, and man-made vs. natural beauty.
This book will inspire you to visit places you’ve never even heard of before.
Smiles from all over the world greet you in Lonely Planet’s One Planet.
There’s something both magical and eerie about the mid-western United States, with its unending plains, prairies, and open skies.
Georg Joutras captures this essence in Along the Edge of Daylight as light turns to dark, and clouds envelop the landscape.
The romance of France is not just inherent in its green landscape or vineyards, but also in the craftsmanship of its buildings. Even more specifically, in its signs and entryways.
Who doesn’t equate a cafe sign with visions of chocolate croissants? Or a cute storefront with some French cure for what-ails-you tucked away inside?
This book gives you that escape-to-Paris feeling.
Signs of France conjures up smells of freshly baked baguettes and aromatic coffee.
The cultural identity of a place is often hard to define in simple terms; you must visit it in order to understand it.
That is what Nuevas Historias does for Spain – it takes you there by way of showcasing soccer matches and sides of buildings, beaches and doorways, culminating in the personal expression of a country steeped in history, yet highly contemporary.
Will and Deni McIntyre decided to travel the world.
As their travel extended into two decades, they were left with many images that explained the cultures they visited better than they ever could.
Many off-the-beaten track images are included in this photography collection, along with technical information for the wanna-be professional photographer.
Nepal is often revered for its flying prayer flags and smiling faces, though photographs tend to focus more on the mountains of the Himalayas than its people.
Not so in A Nepalese Journey – the people and their environment are center focus – a must-see before you head out on that trek around the Annapurna Circuit.
The people of Nepal offer just as much beauty as the landscape.
One of the easiest ways to appreciate our past is to see old photographs of the lands we live on or have visited.
Many of us who now live in America have ancestors from Europe and flipping through Impressionist Camera provides a vivid account of the continent at the turn of the century.
Sometimes murky and other times clear, this book blends scenery, photography, and art.
A photojournalism student decides to venture outside of a gloomy German winter.
Along with a plethora of photographs, Christoph Bangert provides notes on the people and places he meets along the way.
National Geographic has more than a few million photos to choose from when putting a book like this together.
You better believe they picked the best ones when they complied Through the Lens.
Witty captions and juxtapositions such as a woman in her faux-fur coat matching the Dalmation standing beside her make Through the Lens both enjoyable and educational.
Through the Lens juxtaposes celebrations in one part of the world against another part.
Tibet has been so inextricably linked to Chinese oppression that we sometimes forget the Tibetan people still have their own separate identity.
Greater Tibet reveals this identity through photographer Jimmy Lam’s lens, offering breathtaking landscapes, ceremonies, and ways of living that we don’t often get to witness.
Getaway Magazine decided to go through 20 years of photos of Africa to tell the story of possibly the world’s most diverse and interesting continent.
New York City seems to provide endless inspiration for stunning photographs.
Books like A Photographer’s City provide access into the nooks and crannies, whilst also giving plenty of cityscape shots that never seem to get old.
Powerful lights and deep-seeded dreams dot the outer and inner landscapes of NYC.
Simple, elegant photos line the pages of this photography book on Japan.
Minimalism is often associated with Japan, and these photos offer landscapes of the country in a meditative and contemplative way.
This book recounts through photographs the shifts from trains to cars, cars to planes, and the two world wars that changed travel and transportation forever.
Each year is represented by one photo that speaks to the momentous changes made in the way we travel.
The bright colors and enigmatic faces of India rarely disappoint, and the same is true of Seduced by the Beauty of the World.
Sufi women honor Allah by counting coffee beans; a father and his daughters dance in the street.
This book covers the vastly different cultures and beliefs that reside within the land of India.
Traditional dancing in India involves colorful dress and jewelry.
16) Wonders of Egypt
A collection of photos that crisscross this extremely diverse country, from the deep brown of the sandy desert to the megatropolis of Cairo.
Wonders of Egypt easily portrays the intersection between ancient civilization and modernity.
Yes, National Geographic has so many great photographs that a second book was bound to show up on this list.
Less focused on juxtapositions and more based on the unique beauty of people and places around the world, Simply Beautiful Photographs provides stunning moments ranging from blazing sunsets in Brazil to a quiet morning on the Yellowstone River.
Internationally renowned photographers come together in Wind River Wilderness, showcasing scenery from the Wind River area of Wyoming, with its snow-covered rocks and frozen streams.
Essays on wildlife, the mountain ranges, and the Native American legacy are sprinkled in between the photos.
19) LATIN AMERICA
Detailed captions allow for a deeper understanding of what is happening in each photo, and the book “exhibits South American culture in all its glory.”
Wildlife and indigenous people from around the world are captured in this book, which teaches as much about the locals as it does about how each picture was captured.
This is one of the highest rated travel photography books on Amazon.
View edges of the Earth you’ve never seen before in Art Wolfe’s photographic collection.
What’s your favorite travel photography book of all time? Share it in the comments below.
If you liked this, you might also like: Top 10 Food Travel Books of 2010.
Main image: A Kazakh hunter in the Mongolian People’s Republic allows his golden eagle to take flight in National Geographic’s Simply Beautiful Photographs. Photo by David Edwards.