When we’re on holiday or a special trip, we probably take the most pictures - therefore it makes sense to pick up the best travel camera rather than solely relying on your smartphone.
Despite a couple of years of travel restrictions, the travel camera market is still filled with a wide range of different models. No matter what your budget, skill level or genre requirements, there’s something that will suit you out there.
Many of our buying guides settle on one particular camera as an outright winner. It’s harder to do that when it comes to travel cameras, since there are lots of different reasons why something could be considered a good travel camera.
As such, our list is fairly diverse, giving you a good range of options to choose between depending on exactly what you need.
It’s always a good idea to reserve a healthy budget for a travel camera, especially if you’re embarking on a particularly exciting or unusual trip. After all, long after you’ve returned home, you’ll still have the pictures to look back on if you choose well.
Cameras equipped with a large zoom are also often touted as ideal travel cameras, giving you the option to take pictures from landscapes to faraway subjects with ease. If that’s what you require, there are a couple of small compact cameras on our list, as well as more advanced (and bulkier), bridge cameras.
How to buy the best travel camera for you
When it comes to buying the best travel camera, you’ll probably be facing a decision between portability and image quality. Picking up something which neatly fits in a pocket or bag makes a lot of sense if you’re restricted on your baggage allowance.
That said, if you’re aiming to capture memories that will last a lifetime, you might argue that having the best flexibility with different lenses and so on is the most sensible choice.
For those in the former camp, the Sony RX100 VII is probably the best choice, but if your budget isn’t enormous then it likely won’t appeal. In which case, have a look for older RX100 models which are still great cameras and come in at different price points. The Panasonic TZ200 is also a fantastic alternative that gives you a decent zoom paired with a one-inch sensor for good all-around travel shooting.
Another type of travel photographer is the “adventure” type. If that's you, then the market leader and obvious choice is the GoPro Hero 10 Black. You can use it to grab videos (and even some stills) of your most daring exploits, up mountains, under the sea, and even for more sedate activities such as poolside and beachside activities.
If you’re the type whose main reason for going on holiday is to capture photographs, then it will be image quality that is at the forefront of your mind. If you still want to travel light, then models which use a sensor smaller than full-frame make for the best compromise.
There’s the Nikon Z50, an APS-C model which is well-suited to travel, as well as cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T30 and the Canon EOS M6 Mark II. There are also Micro Four Thirds models such as the Panasonic G90 and the Olympus PEN E-P7 which with their overall very small system size give you the most flexibility. For those that do want to go full-frame, cameras like the Nikon Z6 II make a lot of sense.
Bridge models make for excellent travel options, giving you a bit of everything all in one model. The best ones out there right now are the Sony RX10 IV and the Panasonic FZ2000, but if zoom is your main concern, then the Nikon P1000 offers a ridiculous 125x zoom - ideal for safaris.
Finally, there’s another two types of compact cameras. The first are long-zoom models such as the Canon SX740 which although offering a large zoom compromise on image quality by offering a small sensor. Then, you’ve got fixed lens models such as the Fujifilm X100V which offer superb image quality, but only one focal length to shoot with.
There’s always a compromise to be made, so with all of these things considered, read on to find one which is best suited to your needs.
The best travel cameras you can buy today
For the ultimate marriage between high portability while keeping high-image quality, the TZ200 is currently the best around. Panasonic has kept the predecessor, the TZ100 in the line-up, giving you two options depending on your budget.
For the extra cash, the TZ200 gives you greater flexibility with a 15x optical zoom lens, a higher resolution electronic viewfinder, a slightly better screen (which is touch-sensitive, but fixed in place), and an improved battery life.
Ergonomics have also been improved by the addition of a strip along the front of the camera to help you get a better grip on it. Although relatively expensive, the TZ200 is a fantastic all-rounder without too much compromise.
If budget is no problem, there should be nothing stopping you from investing in the RX100 VII. It offers pretty much everything you could ever hope for in a pocket-friendly camera. The large one-inch sensor produces excellent results, while the highly flexible zoom lens gets you nice and close to the action, while also being wide enough for excellent landscapes and interior shots.
A pop-up viewfinder is great for traditionalists when it comes to composing, or if the sun is a little bit too bright to see the screen properly. Video specifications are also good, with a new microphone socket no doubt appealing to the travel vlogging community - of which there are many.
If you’re a mainly a stills shooter, there’s little to be gained from picking up the VII compared with the ever so slightly older VI, while others down the line are also still fantastic buys if you don’t need such a long zoom.
Much like the X-T20 before it, the X-T30 borrows the best bits from the X-T3 and delivers them inside a smaller, lighter and more affordable body. It's a winning combination which made the T20 Fujifilm's most popular model.
Quite franky, we think the Fujifilm X-T30 could be the perfect camera for most people. It's got a tough body (although, not weather proof), lightening fast auto focus performance, and, most importantly, great image quality straight out of the camera.
If you need even more reasons to buy one, the T30 is also capable of recording beautiful 4K video, and it can do all this for a very reasonable price.
If your budget can’t stretch to a Nikon Z6 – or you just want something even smaller - there’s a lot to like about the new Z50. It uses an APS-C sensor, rather than a full-frame, which means that Nikon has been able to distil the great handling of the Z series into an even smaller body. Image quality will likely still be fantastic - especially in good holiday light - while there have even been lenses that are specifically designed for it to keep the size down.
For now, there’s not a huge range of native Z lenses to choose from, but the system is steadily growing as time goes on. The Z50 also benefits from a screen that faces all the way forwards, great for grabbing those vacation selfies.
You may also want to think about the more recently announced Nikon Zfc, which features the same internals as the Z50 but with a beautifully retro-styled chassis. Nice.
For those who want the flexibility of multiple lenses, without the hassle (or expense) of carrying them around, then a bridge camera such as the FZ2000 is the ideal choice. Packing a 20x zoom, you’ve got lots of options to photograph a range of different subjects, while the one-inch sensor inside performs well in a variety of conditions. You’ve also got some decent video specs on offer here, and while the camera is relatively bulky (you won't fit it in your pocket) when you think about what it can offer, that still makes for a good travel option.
A great all-round premium compact camera, the G5X Mark II might not be quite jeans-pocket friendly, but it should certainly fit well within your bag or jacket pocket. It’s got a good range of features, with a well-performing one-inch sensor at its heart, which is coupled with a fairly flexible 24-120mm zoom lens. In terms of video, it offers uncrossed 4K recording, but unlike its sibling, the G7X Mark III, it doesn’t offer a microphone socket or live streaming to YouTube – so if you’re a dedicated travel vlogger you might want to look that way instead. If you like composing through a viewfinder, the G5X Mark II features a small but perfectly usable pop-up number that is great for using in bright light.
One of the best all-rounder models on the market, the Nikon Z6 II is a good option for those who want premium image quality on their travels.
An incremental upgrade from the original Z6, the Z6 II adds dual memory card slots - giving you peace of mind while on your travels since you can back up your shots as you go.
Internally, you get a well-performing sensor and processor combination. Usability of the camera is great, with a lovely viewfinder and screen set up. There’s now a good range of lenses for the Z range, including zooms ideal for travel such as the 28-120mm lens.
Although bulkier than some of the models in our list, if your travels are to take pictures, then something like this is certainly worth considering, while it shouldn’t break the bank too badly. That said, if you think you can live without that secondary card slot - take a look at the original Z6 for a bit of a bargain.
At launch, Panasonic touted its G100 camera as the “ultimate” vlogging camera. So, if travel and video-creation go hand in hand for you, this could be just the model you need. With its small and compact size, it’s also a good option for stills photography - so if you like to record a variety of formats it’s worth considering.
Being in the Micro Four Thirds format makes the overall system very small, so you can also bring a bag of compatible lenses along with you for the trip, while still having plenty of room in your hand luggage.
Having a smaller than APS-C or Full-Frame sensor means that this camera isn’t so adept at low light, but for many travel situations that won't be too much of a problem.
Using the same ultra-high-resolution sensor as the 90D DSLR, the Canon EOS M6 Mark II is a great option for travel thanks to its small size and weight. Despite that, it packs some incredible features like 14fps shooting and uncrossed 4K video recording. It doesn’t have an inbuilt viewfinder, but you can purchase one separately if you feel the need to buy one - if you’re used to composing shots on your phone, you’re likely to be a little less bothered. The 15-45mm kit lens supplied with the camera is a decent walk around and travel lens, but if you crave something a little sharper, go for the 32mm f/1.4 lens.
We were big fans of the original LX100. Representing an excellent choice for travel photography, it’s small and light enough to fit discreetly in a bag, but features a Four Thirds sensor - much larger than most sensors found in compact cameras.
It had manual control and great handling, and made a lot of sense for city breaks where zooming isn’t too much of a priority.
After four years of waiting, Panasonic updated the LX100 to bring out the Mark II version. It represents more of an incremental upgrade when compared to its predecessor, so while it still represents an excellent choice if budget is tight you might want to keep an eye out for one of the originals available at a bargain price.
With the new version you get touch-sensitivity, additional 4K Photo options, and, quite usefully for travellers, the ability to charge via USB.
This funky, small and light camera is ideal for travel in most ways. You can pack it along with a set of lenses to cover every situation in a small bag, while its retro good looks are sure to turn heads.
It’s tactile enough to appeal to slightly more experienced photographers, while also being well-suited to beginners too. The sensor and processor combination work well in tandem to produce good quality images in most scenarios too. Low light is not particularly its forte, but as mentioned elsewhere, that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker when it comes to travel-oriented models.
The major downside here though is the lack of a viewfinder. If you’re used to shooting with your phone, that might not be too much of a killer, but for traditionalists it’s a shame not to have it.
To use the term bridge camera with the RX10 IV would be doing it a disservice, as this term has generally been met with snooty derision from “serious” photographers. While it may well be one in the strictest sense of the word, the RX10 IV arguably redefines the genre, producing the ultimate all-rounder which is ideally targeted at travellers who want the image quality of an interchangeable lens camera and a bunch of optics, but don’t want to carry them around.
Here you’ve got a 25x optical zoom lens, which also manages reasonably wide apertures of f/2.4-4 (particularly impressive at the 600mm end), along with a high-quality EVF, fantastic AF system and a very well performing sensor. Take this on your safari holiday and you won’t be disappointed - just be prepared to shell out the big bucks.
We’ve included the P1000 almost as more of a curio than a serious suggestion for almost every consumer.
That said, if you really do want the longest zoom possible, then it’s worth thinking about. There will of course be certain travel scenarios where zoom is absolutely required - safaris and nature holidays being the obvious one.
Otherwise, it’s a compromise of a camera. Yes you get that enormous zoom, but it’s in front of a tiny sensor, which doesn’t deliver amazing imagery, especially in less than favourable lighting conditions.
You do get full manual control and raw format shooting though, so it does at least appeal to enthusiasts who want to photograph a bit of everything. If you like the idea of a bridge camera and can live without such a ridiculous zoom, look for the one-inch sensor models in this list (Panasonic FZ2000 and Sony RX10 IV).
Although at first something with a fixed lens might seem to be the antithesis of a travel camera, it very much depends on what kind of holiday you’re going on.
For city breaks where you might be partaking in street photography, the Fujifilm X100V is arguably perfect. Yes, there’s a fixed lens - but that just means you need to get closer to the subject.
What you get in return is a large sensor, fantastic image quality and, let’s face it - a lovely looking camera that's also a joy to use.
If you want something which you can take with you on all of your adventures, especially if video is your thing, then you can’t really get better than the GoPro Hero 10 Black.
This action camera is the company’s most powerful and streamlined version yet, giving you video recording options all the way up to 5.3K. It’s also fully waterproof and is easier to use than previous models thanks to a more responsive touch-sensitive screen.
Most importantly, video quality is excellent - especially if you’re taking in some rocky action and need it to be as smooth as possible.
Here we have a camera that will fit neatly into your pocket but gives you a whopping 40x optical zoom to play with.
There will always be a compromise to be had, and in this case the trade off for a super long zoom is a smaller sensor. That’s not too much of a deal breaker if you’re generally shooting in good light, but the SX740 is therefore not best suited to darker conditions.
However, there are some other plus points, including full manual control, a screen which flips all the way forwards, and 4K video recording. It’s also available at a good price, making it well suited to those on a budget.
Easily one of the best compact system cameras on the market, the Panasonic G9 is a great all-rounder for a wide range of travel subjects. If you’re shooting wildlife, the 20fps (at full resolution) burst speed is sure to appeal, while the fine detail and excellent colours produced by the sensor make it good to capture landscapes, portraits and everything in between.
While the G9 may be relatively bulky for a compact system camera, since the Micro Four Thirds system is small, you can fit a slew of lenses in your hand luggage while barely noticing they’re there - something you won’t get with a full-frame alternative.