6 tourist destinations around the world where you CAN'T take photos

Eiffel Tower photography
(Image credit: Future /PhotoPlus magazine)

Did you know that it's illegal to photograph the Eiffel Tower at night without authorization, due to European copyright laws? It's just one of many tourist destinations where you can fall foul of rules – and even laws – by taking photos. 

A report from the team over at ParrotPrint.com has revealed six spots across the globe where photography is completely banned, and where tourists and photographers should be careful what they choose to share on Instagram – with risks of fines and even jail time in extreme cases. 

These are the best lenses for travel photography

"We all take so many pictures when traveling somewhere new and when we’re so used to snapping away, it’s difficult to imagine that taking pictures is actually banned and illegal in some locations across the world," said the company's Matt Dahan.

"Although some consequences will involve being shouted at by some guards, there are many more extreme cases when tourists have been jailed or fined for taking illegal photos or videos when they may not have even realized it was banned…" 

(Image credit: Istockphoto.Com /Diadem Images)

Eiffel Tower – France

Top of the list we have the famous Eiffel Tower, the landmark of the city of love that millions of people flock to visit each year. But did you know that photographing the Tower and its 20,000 light bulbs glistening at night is actually illegal; according to European copyright laws, photographers must be authorized to photograph the lights and any images cannot be distributed without permission – including being uploaded to social media.

Obviously, this is a difficult law to enforce and prosecute, with thousands of images uploaded online of the tower at night time from restaurants or hotel windows. Still, it's best to be cautious if you're setting up a tripod outside the Tower on a starry night and the Sûreté National notice you.

(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Taj Mahal – India

The beautiful Taj Mahal mausoleum is situated in the city of Agra, India, and is a phenomenal architectural achievement. Around 22 rooms within the mausoleum are locked, to stop tourists from venturing into the basement.

Althouth you can take pictures of the structure from the outside, photography and videography is prohibited inside the main mausoleum and anywhere near the tombs, and doing so is considered extremely disrespectful. Large bags, day packs and tripods are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal, only small bags with essential items – but surprisingly, selfie sticks are allowed. 

United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a place that camera-loving tourists should be very wary of. It is illegal to photograph palaces, government buildings and military locations. There is also a rule that requires consent and permission from an individual before photographing them in the street, and the resulting images cannot be distributed without everyone’s consent. 

Airports in the UAE also enforce a strict photography and video ban, and tourists have been arrested, jailed, and fined for capturing illegal photos without even realizing that there were specific laws in place prohibiting such behavior. 

(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ Konstik)

The Sistine Chapel – Italy

Be a respectful house guest when in Rome and don't take photos inside the Pope's home! The official residence of the pope in Vatican City, and also home to some of the world’s most beautiful pieces of art, it can be tempting to take photographs when looking around the Sistine Chapel.

But it really isn't worth the risk to try to Snapchat or Instagram your visit to the Sistine Chapel, as taking photos or videos inside is strictly banned – and can result in security being authorized to delete the images from your phone. The rule dates back to the Eighties, when Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV gained exclusive photographic rights by funding the Chapel's multi-million dollar restoration project. 

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun – North Korea

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Visitors to North Korea have to abide by some pretty strict rules, including specific laws about taking pictures. Photos captured of monuments that honor previous North Korea leaders cannot crop any part of their body, as it is a sign of deep disrespect. 

Specifically inside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun, photography is banned outright – and visitors must even surrender and hand over their phones and cameras before being allowed to enter the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Tower of London – United Kingdom

(Image credit: Getty Images)

London might be one of the last places you would expect photography restrictions, but the precious Crown Jewels that reside at the Tower of London are under tight security at the Jewel House, with over 100 CCTV cameras and guards rotating shifts around the clock. 

Inside Jewel House it is strictly forbidden to take photos or record videos of these royal gems, which are worn by kings and queens upon their coronations and during royal occasions – and those caught doing such will face serious consequences, with guards authorized to intervene if anyone is caught trying to take a sneaky shot.

You may also be interested in the best travel drones, as well as the best travel tripods. And make you also have one of the best camera insurance for photographers to cover your kit, and one of the best cameras with GPSfor geotagging your holiday photos and videos.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.