11 photogenic places that are still inexplicably undiscovered

The thin crust of a new moon and the starry sky of the Milky Way arch above us. Wispy clouds are slowly moving across the sky. “Here they come,” whispers Geir Notisnes, our photo guide. We raise our cameras to the ready and take a long exposure in the sky. Ethereal ribbons of emerald silk appear on screen.

“The Sami say you can hear the Northern Lights singing,” says Geir. He has spent the last 20 years tracking auroras in Lofoten, one of the most reliable places on earth to see the natural phenomenon. “I still haven’t gotten my best shot, so I’ll keep going,” he smiles.

About 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle and accessible by a 3½-hour speedboat or half-hour flight from Bodo on mainland Norway, Lofoten offers arctic scenery on a breathtaking scale. Imagine red-roofed rorbuer (fisherman houses) dwarfed by sword-sharp mountains jutting into crystal-clear fjords. Sandy beaches with big smiles, skies patrolled by eagles, waters squirming with cod bringing whales and of course a night sky dancing with Northern Lights.

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Few places still send humanity to their wild edges, but the Lofoten Islands are one such place. Here, nature is a fiery mistress, with rapidly changing weather making for dynamic landscape compositions and distinct seasons that offer unique photographic opportunities. Arrive in the early stages of winter (December to March) for snow-covered landscapes, frozen lakes, and the best chance to photograph the Aurora Borealis. As an added bonus, the sun never rises far above the horizon, so the light stays soft for longer hours of shooting.

Fall (September to December) heralds a picturesque palette of fall colors, and summer (mid-June to August) heralds the arrival of the never-setting Midnight Sun, bringing long sunrises and sunsets, a riot of wildflowers in the mountains and in the Autumn brings with it the best weather for hiking up those hard-to-reach peaks for envious aerial views.

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Keep an eye out for the archipelago’s peculiarities – from roads that run on water to the world’s strangest football pitch in Henningsvaer – and remember that it’s not just about the scenery either. Besides tourism, fishing is the main industry in Lofoten. Plan to visit between the months of January and April, peak fishing season, to set your lens on the locals lining up giant skrei (Arctic cod) to dry. Just be prepared for the stench and the seagulls. Lofoten will – pardon the pun – have you hooked from day one. Be prepared to come back year after year.

How it goes

Norwegian Airlines (norwegian.com) flies from London to Bodo via Oslo from £160 return. The ferry that connects Bodo with Lofoten can be booked at toghatten-nord.no. Thon Hotel Lofoten (00 47 76 04 90 00; thonhotels.no) offers double rooms from £120 per night.

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10 more places yet to be “discovered” by the Instagram set

Camargue, France

Just a few kilometers from the glittering Cote d’Azur lies the Wild West. This almost-forgotten region of southern France is characterized by salty wetlands where flamingos blush and are patrolled by white-horse cowboys (or “guards”) who can be photographed rounding up huge black bulls and participating in rodeos. The gateway to the region is Arles. While it’s on the UNESCO list, it still flies under the radar, despite being the city where Vincent Van Gogh destroyed 300 paintings in 15 months in 1888 and boasting a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater.