DFDS logo
The European Golden Hour Guide

The European Golden Hour Guide

When warmer weather arrives, our Instagram feeds are packed with holiday snaps, and each one fills us with wanderlust (and a little bit of travel envy). But one holiday snap that will have you pencilling in a well-deserved getaway is the quintessential golden hour shot.

Being the travel experts we are, we’ve studied everything from exact times for the best golden hour snaps to the most popular location for these photo opportunities. We've even sourced tips from photography expert Kaye Ford on capturing envy-worthy Instagram photos for your next trip.

What is Golden Hour?

But firstly, what is Golden Hour?

Golden hour refers to the time just as the sun rises and just before the sun sets. On clear days, golden hour creates a uniquely rich, golden tone that provides a much softer light than during the day. Known as ‘magic hour’ amongst photographers, it has become a popular photo opportunity for those who like to fill their social media feeds with stunning snaps – especially when travelling!

The most popular cities to catch golden hour

According to Instagram, the top three most popular European cities for golden hour snaps are London, Paris and Nice. These beautiful cities are perfect getaway destinations, with idyllic landscapes and backdrops for that sought-after golden hour shot.

The best times to catch golden hour

For early birds and evening explorers, this table highlights the times you’d need to catch the sunrise or sunset when it’s at its peak golden hour. We’ve researched Europe's popular city break destinations, including coastal cities, and compiled their golden hour times for capturing magical memories, be it a #GoldenHourSelfie or a scenic horizon shot.

Golden Hour guide - Paris
Golden Hour guide - London
Golden Hour guide - Nice
Golden Hour guide - Venice
Golden Hour guide - Berlin
Golden Hour guide - Barcelona

Where to go

After researching Instagram’s most popular locations for a golden hour photo, we’ve collated the best places to take advantage of this magic hour for photography. Whether you want a stunning backdrop for your selfie or a breathtaking view for your golden hour sky snap, take note of these locations when planning your travels!

Why does Golden Hour make for the perfect holiday snap?

To dive into why we love golden hour so much, we spoke to photographer and expert Kaye Ford of Fordtography, who told us exactly why we look so good during golden hour and her top tips for selfies.

Kaye said;

We look so good in golden hour selfies for several reasons. Firstly, warmth looks good with any skin tone, and due to colour theory, the warmer yellows and oranges give off happy vibes.

Secondly, the sun being lower in the sky means we can take photos in direct sunlight without it being harsh and without us squinting. It’s the only time direct sunlight is flattering for portraits without needing extra equipment.

Kaye followed with her two go-to tricks for capturing the perfect selfie. *1. Always face the sun and embrace that golden glow. 2. Underexpose the camera a little bit to really take advantage of the colours that can occur. The oranges and reds can look so much better when underexposing the camera.

“Top tip? Underexpose on a phone by tapping the screen and sliding it down!”


The DFDS research team identified all European countries with a coastline. The team then identified popular coastal towns/cities and popular British holiday destinations to gather sunset and sunrise data to calculate the average golden hour time for each city/town.

The research team analysed Instagram hashtag data for each location, specifically focusing on hashtags related to sunset, sunrise, and golden hour, to determine the most frequently Instagrammed golden hour city.