When a little-known app called Instagram launched in October 2010, few could have predicted how significantly it would shape the travel industry. Where once backpackers exchanged tips on hostel bulletin boards, now we're able to share high-resolution images and an exact location to thousands of people. Admittedly, this has caused particularly photogenic spots to become overrun with iPhone-wielding tourists, but there's a significant plus side: It's also become one of the best tools to discover new travel destinations and plan a trip.
That's one of the biggest lessons we've learned from #MyDomaineTravels, our Instagram hashtag that connects readers around the world and lets us follow all of your amazing adventures. At the moment, there are 24,654 Instagram posts that use the hashtag, giving us plenty of intel and inspiration to plan our next trip. In need of a vacation or just a bit of armchair wanderlust? Here are eight out-of-this-world travel destinations we discovered with this hashtag.
Fairy Bower Pool, Australia
You've likely seen photographs of Australia's most iconic ocean pool, Bondi Icebergs, but few travelers realize that it's just one example of Sydney's best swim spots. Traveler Deanne Michele Wentzel (@deannamichelewentzel) snapped this incredible shot of a neighborhood pool on the walk from Manly to Shelly Beach. If you're lucky enough to visit, make sure you allow yourself time to fully explore the area. Grab a coffee at The Boathouse Shelly Beach and finish the day with a cocktail and thin-crust pizza at Hugo's Manly before getting the ferry back to the city.
The Azores, Portugal
Most travelers think of Lisbon, Lagos, and Porto when planning a vacation in beautiful Portugal, but there's another hot spot that deserves attention. Located off the coast in the mid-Atlantic, the Azores is an archipelago with some of the most surreal landscapes in the world. Travel photographer Ana Linares (@ananewyork) visited in June and says she was blown away by the natural beauty. It's easier to reach than you'd think, too. "The New York-JFK to Ponta Delgada route operates five times a week throughout the summer, [so it's] perfect for a weekend getaway!" she says.
Planning a trip to Italy next summer? Add San Fruttuoso to your itinerary. We learned about the ancient beachfront abbey from Daniel Triassi (@danieltriassi), who recently visited the Italian Riviera. Located between Camogli and Portofino, it's accessible only by boat.
Omoide Yokocho, Japan
Tokyo is one of those cities that you could explore for weeks and yet still never manage to see everything. If you're unsure where to start, Christine Scuderi (@postcardsfromchristine) recommends the Omoide Yokocho area. "Omoide Yokocho, meaning 'memory lane,' is a maze of little alleyways near Shinjuku station that used to be home to a black market in the 1940s," she explains. "It's a gritty but lively area packed with really tiny izakayas and bars, and it's a great place to try yakitori."
Guanella Pass, Colorado
If you've only visited Colorado when it's blanketed in snow, it's time to plan a return visit in the warmer months. Denver local Heidi Jewell (@jewell.heidi) shared this photograph of Guanella Pass in the Rocky Mountains, revealing a landscape covered in bursts of yellow bushes.
Italy's coastline and jewel-colored coves often steal the limelight, but it's also home to some of the most beautiful ancient towns in Europe. Matera, a city in the region of Basilicata, looks straight out of a fairy-tale—just ask Misha Yim (@wwmishado) who took this shot. Be sure to explore the Sassi area, which has a complex of cave homes carved in the mountainside.
Visiting Petra is like stepping back in time. The famous desert archeological site in Jourdan dates back to around 300 B.C., when it was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. Sarah of @otheplaceswego visited the area in September, when she took this stunning photograph. "Hiking to Petra's Monastery is nothing short of incredible," she says. "The hike is a bit treacherous (there are more flights of stairs than I can count). I recommend starting early and packing lots of water and snacks!"
Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina, Portugal
Our jaws dropped when we saw this image of the queen suite at Verride Palácio de Santa Catarina, a luxury hotel in Lisbon, Portugal. Another post by traveler Ana Linares, it quickly shot to the top of our bucket list. The five-star hotel is located in the city's historic heart and features suites to make any interior design lover swoon. Picture ornate mirrors, blue-and-white handpainted tiles, and one of the best standalone tubs we've seen.
Singapore is having a moment in the travel spotlight, but there's so much more to see than just the film locations from Crazy Rich Asians. Solo travel blogger Hayley Simpon (@hayleyonholiday) recently visited the city and calls Singapore's Chinatown "a must-visit." Her top tip? Make the most of free walking tours. "We walked through a wet market, got to sample a piece of popiah (spring roll) at a local hawker centre and stopped for some durian ice cream," she says.