a large building with domes and a pool of water with Taj Mahal in the background

How do you say “no photo” in your language?

It’s hard to imagine a time when every iconic place on Earth wasn’t full of tourists taking pictures. Does it impact the experience? The better question is: how couldn’t it? Transforming an angelic church into a buzzing paparazzi gallery transforms a quintessential experience into a mundane day in any city. But not everywhere. Many of the best destinations on earth say NO to photos, so if you’re in search of tourist sanity – head for one of these.

a room with a painting on the ceiling with Sistine Chapel in the backgroundThe Sistine Chapel – Rome, Italy

This is quite literally a religious experience. Leave it between you and the magic inside these walls. Your camera is not accepted, nor is any device with a lens.

Taj Mahal (Inside) – Agra, India

Fortunately, your friends will only recognize the outside, which you can take pictures of, anyway. The inside of the Taj Mahal is manic enough without people whipping selfie sticks around.

The Crown Jewels, Tower of London – London, England

The crown doesn’t stay wealthy by letting people take pictures of their riches. Tower of London, go photo crazy, but inside, you’d better not.

a stone stairs leading to a mountainValley of the Kings – Luxor, Egypt

Would you want someone taking a picture of your tomb? Didn’t think so. Photography inside these magical crypts is strictly prohibited, so you’ll have to stick to the Sphinx.

Musée d’Orsay – Paris, France

Photo – oui? No, merci. The Musée d’Orsay is extremely protective of their (truly) priceless art. Absolutely no photos inside. You’ll be chucked out!

Michelangelo’s David – Florence, Italy

There’s no research to suggest David was a nudist, so we don’t think Michelangelo would appreciate you photographing Davids bits. There are plenty of images on Google, anyway. Update: it appears the policy has been updated to allow select photography. 

Invalid request error occurred.Dolmabahçe Palace – Istanbul, Turkey

You can pay to bring your camera in, but even so – you’re not allowed to take any photos with it! You’ll just have to close your eyes and imagine life in the Ottoman empire.

The Alamo – Texas, USA

There’s a solemn beauty to the Alamo. In respect to the dead – there are absolutely no photos allowed. You’ll have to settle for outside shots, though they’re easy to miss!

Sanjūsangen-dō – Kyoto, Japan

Hoards of snap happy tourists is definitely not part of the buddhist mantra. Kannon, the temples goddess of mercy will have absolutely zero for you, if you break the coveted rules.

a large building with a statue in front of itWestminster Abbey – London, England

If you’re noticing a trend here, we’re glad. Some experiences are sacred. And hey, Price Harry will get married here. No photos inside, they won’t do the magnificent structure any justice, anyway.

Vladimir Lenin’s Mausoleum – Moscow, Russia

If you’d like to pay your respects to the leader of communism, you’ll need to do so the old fashioned way. You can snap outside the red and gold gates, but this is a no go inside.

Abbey Library of Saint Gall – St. Gallen, Switzerland

We’ll be perfectly honest. Just looking at this library is a privilege. These books nearly burned in the 900’s and any photography just wouldn’t feel right. You’ll understand when you arrive.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I figured that Valley of the Kings near Luxor would be featured in this article. I have been working on an article pertaining to my visit there almost three years ago and figured that a photograph of my ticket stub will have to suffice.

    I decided to do something I rarely ever do: leave my camera hidden in the car I rented rather than leave it at the entrance.

    I suspect that with the right amount of money, one can get photographs of Tut Ankh Amun — despite the tomb being wired with closed-circuit cameras…

  2. Not sure when this was written but at least 10 years ago, there were no restrictions on taking pictures inside the Alamo.

  3. The Musée d’Orsay has allowed photography without flash for several years now, at least of its permanent collection. Special shows may or may not allow photography.
    From the museum’s website:
    “During museum opening times, works may be photographed or filmed in the permanent exhibition halls for personal or private use, excluding use for groups or for commercial purposes.
    The use of flash, incandescent lamps, tripods or other support, is not allowed without an individual authorisation from the museum director.”

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