Our phones have transformed how we record our vacations. Gone are the days of posing for one or two shots to save film. Now we fire off a 50 shots of a landscape and upload our favorite to Instagram for all our friends to see. According to analysis of the frequency of Instagram hashtags, these are the most popular landmarks for photo sharing.
5. Grand Canyon, Arizona (2.8 Million Tags)
There’s a reason it isn’t called the “Pretty Good Canyon.” Anyone who has ever visited can attest to the fact that the Grand Canyon is truly, well, grand. Standing before behemoth crevices carved into the earth from millions of years of geological processes, one can’t help but feel humbled. What we're trying to say is, it makes for a pretty good photo op.
4. Big Ben, London (2.86 Million Tags)
Standing 315 feet tall at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, London’s neo-Gothic clock tower is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. A 2008 poll found that Big Ben is the most popular landmark in England, and the Instagram numbers agree. The tower currently sits in silence for the sake of a restoration project that’s scheduled for completion in 2021. Big Ben is still available for selfies, but if you hope to hear the bong, you’ll have to wait a couple years.
3. Times Square, New York (5.9 Million Tags)
It seems only appropriate that the city that never sleeps spends a lot of time on social media. New York takes three of the top ten spots for most tagged locations on Instagram, two of which are in the top five. Times Square, with its jumbled mosaic of neon lights, ever-present crowds, and its famous New Year’s Eve Ball, is the third-most-tagged landmark in the world.
2. Eiffel Tower, Paris (4.8 Million Tags)
You had to have seen this one coming. When the tower was built in 1889, it was intended to be a temporary structure to serve as the entrance to “Exposition Universelle,” commemorating the centennial anniversary of the French Revolution. The tower was first preserved for the sake of maintaining it as a radiotelegraph station. Fast forward another century, and with 7 million annual visitors, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most visited destinations in the world. With an estimated 25,000 tourists visiting daily, it’s no wonder it finds itself on Instagram often.
1. Central Park, New York (5.9 Million Tags)
Surrounded on either side by walls of the concrete jungle, lies the expanse of lush foliage that is Central Park. The park has been a National Historic Landmark since 1963 and a New York Scenic landmark since 1974. It’s been renovated and refurbished multiple times since its initial opening in 1858 and remains a popular spot to seek respite from the noise of the Big Apple. It’s also the most photographed landmark the world over.
The World in the Palm of Your Hand
It’s been argued that social media, for better or worse, has affected global tourism. Whether you tend to be the one on family trips who lugs the camera or begs someone to put it away, the simple reality is that people want to remember, and they want to share — hence, Instagram.
One major caveat of the above ranking is that Instagram is blocked in China, which excludes a sizable pool of international tourism from the above stats. Nevertheless, with one billion monthly active users across the world, the Instagram numbers give a good estimate of the top spots for photo ops among world landmarks.