If you’ve ever been on holiday with me you’ll know I love an early morning. Yes, even in Summer when sunrise can be pre 6am. You might also know this if you follow my Instagram feed where the majority of my photos are from dawn walks through streets and landscapes, with very few other people about. For me, this feeling is absolute joy and I get such a buzz out of the bleary eyed, coffee needed morning rambles. Ok yes I’m weird but take a look at these 16 beaut shots from some of my early morning that I promise will prove an early morning is totally worth it (or at least they’ll start to convince you).
1. Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Victoria Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town is one of the most photographed locations in the capital. This is probably because of the splash of colour that the shop fronts inject into what is generally a city of Gothic aesthetics. It’s also likely due to its links to the legendary wizard Harry Potter starring as an inspiration for Diagon Alley in the book series. This means that it’s also one of the city’s busiest streets and usually Victoria Street is full of cars parked tight against the pavement as well as tourists ambling across the cobbles.
This was a November Sunday morning when I’d dragged my Dad out the door at 7.30am. I do think we got lucky with the lack of cars! But in all seriousness, come early to avoid the Potter fans.
2. Monmartre, Paris
My absolute favourite area of Paris is Monmartre with its dreamy buildings and streets. Its also a super popular arrondissement so the narrow lanes can become packed tight with sightseers during the day. This lovely spot is the restaurant La Maison Rose and its pink exterior makes it stand out as a photo location. To avoid waiting ten minutes for a photo where there’s always an elbow or foot in shot arrive much earlier (this was 7am) and you won’t need to worry at all!
3. Schnoor, Bremen
During the day, the narrow cobbled streets of the fairytale Schnoor District in Bremen fill up with visitors enjoying the atmosphere and exploring the craft shops that line the streets. The narrow streets and tall buildings also lead to pesky shadows in sunny weather which make taking photos a tricky task. Instead, enjoy the Schnoor District in the quiet of morning with the soft light that lets you capture all of the details in the scene.
Check out 14 early morning photos of beautiful Bremen to be inspired by Bremen’s quiet streets.
4. Spanish Steps, Rome
I know Rome is one of Europe’s most famous and well loved capital cities but I was still astounded as to how full it felt on a very (very) wet weekend in February. The weather did keep people away from the Spanish Steps on the Saturday morning so it was a great surprise that a little lie-in hadn’t been a problem. Walk up the stairs to the beautiful church at the top.
5. Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest
Fisherman’s Bastion sits high on the Buda side of the Danube and watches over Pest towards the Hungarian parliament. Despite its name, the Bastion was actually built to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state which explains its intricate decoration.
It’s no wonder this is one of the top tourist spots to enjoy in the city and so it can be very busy during the day. The best time to visit is at sunrise when there are very few people about and to enjoy the sun coming up over the city!
There are plenty of other ways to occupy yourself in Budapest so have a look at 21 breathtaking reasons you have to Budapest for some more inspiration.
6. Yosemite Valley, California
It’s not always for the avoidance of other tourists that getting up early is worthwhile it’s also for the sunrises. During an October California roadtrip my brother and I spent a couple of days in Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately our accommodation was just under an hour’s drive away from the park so to get this sunrise view our alarms were set for 5.30am.
Despite reaching 25C during the day the temperature hovered around freezing as we waited to see the rays of the sun begin to appear over Half Dome. Behind us (but I couldn’t get a decent photo) the Dawn Wall on El Capitan was beginning to catch the soft glow of the sun waking up.
7. Temple Bar, Dublin
Dublin’s Temple Bar is the bustling tourist hub of a night out in Ireland’s Capital City. It’s also teeming with visitors during the day so you’re likely to get plenty of other people in your photo with the legendary Temple Bar pub. In the morning the lights, hanging flowers and red exterior are peaceful, belaying the ruckus they witnessed the night before.
8. Rozenhoedkaai View, Bruges
The romantic city of Bruges in northern Belgium becomes all the more enchanting in the early morning when it is bathed in the pink light of a fantastic sunrise. Wherever you look the 83m high rises above the meandering canals and cobbled streets of the city.
A walk on a chilly pink morning in Bruges led me back to Rozenhoedkaai View which we had passed many times the previous day. But at sunrise on this Sunday morning, with no boats passing to disturb the canal reflections, the only sound was that of the birdsong that hung in the frosty air.
If you’re visiting Bruges then take a look at 11 ways to spend 30 hours in Bremen.
9. Anse Volbert, Praslin
Sunrise at Anse Volbert is a peaceful affair that had few other viewers. The steady sound of the ocean water rolling rhythmically up across the white sand was occasionally broken by the gentle rustle of the wind in the palm leaves and the coughing engine of a fishing boat returning to shore. Later in the day the beach will begin to fill with colourful beach towels and bronzed bodies dotted along the shoreline.
Take a look at 23 photos that prove the Seychelles is paradise if you need any more proof how stunning it is!
10. The Shambles, York
York is a warren of cobbled streets and medieval buildings, the most famous of which is The Shambles. The cobbled street with overhanging Elizabethan buildings are what makes it so distinctive. It’s also full of shops (come back after your breakfast to look for gifts!) so as the day goes on it can become very busy especially given how narrow it is. An early morning Sunday start is best for getting a clear shot of The Shambles and to enjoy it without being shuffled from side to side!
If you’re in need of some more classic York Instagram photos then have a flick through 12 gorgeous Instagram spots in York.
11. Cobbled Streets, Riga
Old Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage site and with curving cobbled streets edged with buildings dressed in perfect pastel colours the best time to explore uninterrupted is with an early Sunday morning start. In chilly March temperatures it certainly helped to shake away the beer infused cobwebs.
If you’re planning a visit to Riga then get inspired with 12 things you must do in fairytale Riga.
12. Sunrise, Valletta
A massive challenge for your sleep deprived mind of travelling in Summer is that to catch the sunrise and morning light the alarm needs to be set even earlier. However, it does mean there will be less people willing to do the same so you’re more likely to have a popular location to yourself.
In Valletta, an early start (we’re talking an alarm at 5am having got home after midnight from Summer drinks) let us watch the sun rise over the city’s skyline, casting golden light onto every building it reached,
This is one of my fave photos from Malta, for another 11 take a look at 12 magical Instagram spots in and around Valletta.
13. Old Town Square, Prague
The Old Town Square in Prague is a magical blend of Baroque facades, Gothic towers and cobble stones. It’s one of the most popular tourist locations in Prague, especially with the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall Tower which visitors gather around every hour from 9am to 11pm to watch the procession of the disciples. An early start lets you enjoy the beauty of the Square without the shouts of hen parties and stag dos in the background!
Looking for other Insta locations in Prague? Take a look at 15 perfect Instagram spots in Prague and check them out.
14. Solvang, California
We stopped off overnight in Solvang to break up the road trip journey between Carmel-by-the-Sea and LA. A long drive down the Pacific Coast Highway meant we arrived in town after dark and had no time to explore. There was only one thing for it. Whilst my brother took an extra hour in bed I pulled my trainers on to hit the pavement.
I couldn’t miss a stroll round this town. Solvang is known for its unusual Danish-style architecture and the soft morning light really boosted my photos. It was pretty bizarre to be walking through scenes like this in California!
15. Marienplatz, Munich
The Marienplatz is Munich’s focal point and is the busiest location in the city. Especially at 11am and 12pm when the glockenspiel in the tower of the New Town Hall gives its performances. We arrived just before the sun had fully risen so the street lamps in the square were still glowing, creating an atmosphere that matched well to the Gothic architecture that surrounds it.
Munich’s perfect for a weekend trip so take a look at 9 ways to spend 30 hours in Munich.
16. Długi Targ, Gdańsk
Usually my early morning wanderings are on a weekend as I try to optimise my annual leave with amount of locations but a trip to Gdańsk fell on a UK bank holiday and it was a Monday morning that was most convenient amongst other plans. I hit the streets at around 6.30am but already they were beginning to fill with people on their way to work. I’m used to avoiding other tourists and hand’t come across this challenge before! I’m well and truly convinced that a Sunday morning is the quietest opportunity.
The Main Town Hall of Gdańsk on the city’s main street, Długi Targ, still looked exquisite despite a few more people in the street than I would have liked!
Have I convinced you that an early morning is worthwhile every now and again?