Woman looking at sunset on board Hero

The European Golden Hour Guide

When winter comes around, we’re usually left with only the memories of our summer vacations and city trips. But a slight chill in the air shouldn’t put a damper on your wanderlust!

With winter comes a whole new experience for your trip away. With scenes that wouldn’t look amiss on a Christmas card, to seasonal food and of course, experiencing all the festivities, winter is the perfect time to get away and fill your Instagram feed with travel envy-inducing snaps.

As well as taking snaps of wintry backdrops and market stall food, there is another aspect that will be sure to add the cherry on top to your travel photography – and that’s Golden Hour.

Golden hour isn’t just reserved for summer – it can also blanket snowy landscapes with a warm glow and provide the perfect lighting for that quintessential holiday selfie.

As travel experts, we’ve studied everything from exact times for the best Winter Golden Hour snap across Europe, the most popular location to take advantage of this perfect photo op, and even some tips straight from a photography expert so you can book your next trip knowing you’ll be the one with the envy-evoking Instagram feed.

Sunset in mountains

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’s now become a popular photo opportunity for those who like to fill their social media feeds with stunning snaps – especially when on their travels!

The most popular cities to catch golden hour

According to Instagram the top 3 most popular European cities for winter Golden Hour snaps are London, Paris and Nice. These beautiful destinations not only are the ideal getaway destination but provide the perfect landscape and backdrop for that sought-after Golden Hour shot.

The best times to catch golden hour

For both early birds and evening explorers, this table explores all of the times you’d need to catch the sunrise or sunset when it’s at its peak Golden Hour. We looked at all of Europe’s most popular winter break destinations including coastal cities and brought to you their Winter Golden Hour times so you know when to book your trip and snap the most magical memories - whether it’s a #GoldenHourSelfie or a quick 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

Looking at some of Instagram’s most popular locations for a Golden Hour photo, we’ve had a look at some of the best locations to fully take advantage of this magic hour for photography. Whether you’re using the gorgeous lighting and are in need of the perfect backdrop for your selfie, or you need an equally as stunning, complementary view for your Golden Hour sky snap, here’s where to make a note of whilst planning your travels!

Why does Golden Hour make for the perfect holiday snap?

To dive deep into why we love Golden Hour so much, we spoke to photographer and expert Kaye Ford of Fordtogrpahy who told us exactly why we look so good in Golden Hour as well as some of her expert top tips!

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 those happy vibes.

Secondly, the sun being lower in the sky means we can take photos in the 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.

My advice would be to always face the sun and embrace that golden glow. 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 a little bit. Top tip? Underexpose on a phone by tapping the screen and sliding it down!

Methodology

The DFDS research team Identified all the countries in Europe that feature a coastline. The team then identified popular coastal towns/cities as well as popular British holiday destinations to gather sunset and sunrise data times to calculate the average golden hour time for each city/town.

The research team analysed Instagram hashtag data for each city/town to using the hashtag of the location and sunset/rise/goldenhour to reveal the most instagrammed golden hour city.