Travel photography has the ability to transport us to the most magnificent corners of the world – whether it be a sun rising and glistening on the side of the Eiffel Tower, the mighty Dolomites towering over a landscape as far as the eye can see, or palm trees blowing in the Pacific breeze.

The colors of the sky, the textures of the earth, the mood, the emotion, and everything largely comes down to which lens you have strapped to your camera to capture these wonders. Different lenses serve different purposes when capturing that dream travel shot.

In the pursuit of documenting the best our world has to offer, here’s our guide for the best lens for travel photography.

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Best Lenses for Travel

16-35mm f/2.8 – The Wide Lens for Travel

Whether you’re atop a city observation deck, or have a breathtaking landscape before you, a 16-35mm is a travel lens roster essential to capture those stunning panoramic views. There are so many instances on your adventures where you’ll want to squeeze in those extra millimeters of focal length – and between the ultra-wide 16mm, to more true-to-life 35mm (all while being able to stop up to f/2.8), this lens will help you capture it all.

Lens recommendations:

Sony: Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master | Alt: Sony 16-35mm Vario Tessar f/4
Canon: Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III | Alt: Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8
Nikon: Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 | Alt: Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 OSD

Wide Angle lens for travel photographyImage 1: 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 19mm | Image 2: 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 640, 35mm

24-70mm f/2.8 – The All-Purpose Lens for Travel

The handy 24-70mm f/2.8 is a go-to for all occasions, and for good reason. The focal range from 24mm all the way to 70mm allows you to be versatile in your shots and adjust on the go! The 24mm lets you capture landscapes or cityscapes in their fullest essence, while the 70mm lets you zoom in to a near telephoto range. The versatility of focal range, mixed with a nice wide aperture of f/2.8 comes in handy for smooth bokeh, and great low light captures!

Lens recommendations:

Sony: Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master | Alt: Sigma Art 24-70mm f/2.8 FE
Canon: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 | Alt: Sigma Art 24-70mm f/2.8 (for Canon)
Nikon: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 | Alt: Sigma Art 24-70mm f/2.8 (for Nikon)

Best All-Purpose Lens for TravelImage 1: 1/320, f/7.1, ISO 500, 28mm | Image 2: 1/250, f/4, ISO 320, 50mm

35mm f/1.4 – The 35mm Prime Lens for Travel

The mighty but mini 35mm f/1.4 prime lens is known to be a go-to for portrait photographers, but don’t underestimate this lens for its great landscape and cityscape-capturing abilities! The 35mm is the perfect middle ground between 50mm and a wider 24mm – which results in true-to-life capture with minimal lens distortion that you’d otherwise find in the wider angle lenses. The 35mm focal length paired with the max f/1.4 aperture packs a mean punch when capturing wider travel portrait shots, or wide landscape shots that will always give the sharpest details.

Lens recommendations:

Sony: Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 G Master Prime | Alt: Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 Prime (for Sony)
Canon: Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II Prime | Alt: Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 Prime (for Canon)
Nikon: Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 Prime | Alt: Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 Prime (for Nikon)

35mm Prime Lens for Travel PhotosImage 1: 1/200, f/2.2, ISO 1600, 35mm | Image 2: 1/4000, f/1.8, ISO 100, 35mm

85mm f/1.4 / f/1.8 – The 85mm Prime Lens for Travel

Take the portable build and awesome wide-open aperture of the 35mm prime, and turn it up a notch. What do we get? The 85mm f/1.4 (or f/1.8) prime! While offering the same abilities for exceptional depth of field, the extra 50mm of zoom reaches telephoto territory, and lets you compress the background closer to your subject, or isolate your subject thanks to its low f-stops. Get closer to your travel photos without compromising sharpness and dramatic depth of field.

Lens recommendations:

Sony: Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Prime | Alt: Sony 85mm f/1.8 Prime
Canon: Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L Prime | Alt: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Prime
Nikon: Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Prime | Alt: Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4 Prime (for Nikon)

85mm portrait travel lensImage 1: 1/1250, f/2.5, ISO 125, 85mm | Image 2: 1/4000, f/2.5, ISO 250, 85mm

70-200mm f/2.8 – The Telephoto Lens for Travel

While this lens will take up a bigger footprint in your camera bag, it’s worth every lb. The 70-200mm is the lens for getting up close and personal with your travel subjects – whether it’s a famous monument, or a grand landscape. Beyond helping you get tighter on your subject, the great thing about 70-200mm lenses is they really open up a world of creativity for your composition. Instead of getting the same shots that most would on their smartphones at a given spot, use that extra focal length to your advantage to capture unique frames!

Lens recommendations:

Sony: Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM | Alt: Sony FE 70-200mm f/4
Canon: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L | Alt: Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 (for Canon)
Nikon: Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 | Alt: Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (for Nikon)

Telephoto Lens for TravelImage 1: 1/320, f/13, ISO 500, 90mm | Image 2: 1/500, f/4.0, ISO 320, 200mm

Do you have a go-to lens for your travels? Let us know in the comments below! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @gridfiti and @gearspread for more photography and gear content.

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