Compact cameras are a natural choice for travel thanks to their portability and built-in lenses, allowing you to capture your travel adventures without carrying around a bulky camera kit. Image quality, sensors, and autofocus have continued to improve on premium point-and-shoots, too, so it's easier than ever to invest in a compact model without giving up on key features and quality. When picking a camera for travel, look out for portability and ergonomics, but also image quality, autofocus, and stabilization performance since you'll most likely be shooting on the go without a tripod. Above all, though, a camera should fit your budget and shooting preferences.
We've tested over 70 cameras, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best compact cameras for travel, depending on their performance, available features, and price. Also, check out our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel, the best point-and-shoot cameras, and the best cameras.
The Sony RX100 VII is the best small travel camera that we've tested. This lightweight point-and-shoot is remarkably portable and can easily fit into a bag or pocket, so it's perfect for traveling. It has a bright touchscreen that can tilt out for lower-angle shots or flip up to face you for selfies, and if you prefer to shoot through a viewfinder, it even has a small pop-up EVF. It has a built-in zoom lens with a decently long focal length, meaning you can zoom in on subjects farther away.
This camera has an incredible autofocus system with 357 advertised detection points across a fair coverage area, and it reliably keeps moving subjects in focus, whether you're taking photos of moving subjects or shooting video. It also has a 'Subject Detection' mode that you can set to track people or animals. Its overall image quality is excellent, with a ton of dynamic range to bring out a wider array of detail, though it doesn't perform as well in low light at higher ISO settings.
Unfortunately, the camera has a disappointing battery life, although this can vary depending on your choice of settings and usage habits. It may also overheat and shut down when recording video continuously for longer sessions. Still, it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges over USB if you have a portable battery pack. Overall, this is a versatile little camera and one of the best travel cameras we've tested for most people.
Though it isn't as portable as other options on this list, like the Sony RX100 IV, the Fujifilm X100V stands out for its rangefinder-style design and its unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. With the flip of a switch, you can toggle between using the viewfinder as an EVF to preview your exposure adjustments in real-time or as an optical rangefinder that provides an unfiltered look of your subject. The camera's compact size makes it easy to travel with, and it feels impressively well-built.
This camera uses a 26-megapixel X-Trans sensor and offers excellent overall image quality, even at higher ISO levels. Its lens has a fixed full frame-equivalent focal length of 35mm, which is well-suited to capturing everyday moments or street scenes. If you need, it also has a digital zoom function that can simulate focal lengths of 50 or 70mm. The lens also has a built-in ND filter to help you shoot at slow shutter speeds or wide apertures in bright environments. Its effective autofocus system, combined with its relatively fast max shooting speed of 10 fps, should also help in capturing clear photos of moving subjects.
Unfortunately, this camera's battery life isn't especially long, so you may want to purchase an extra battery for long shooting sessions. It can also overheat, though the risk of this occurring is highest when shooting 4k video. Otherwise, if you're looking for a compact, sturdy point-and-shoot that delivers excellent image quality out-of-the-box, this is a very good option.
If you're a travel vlogger or want to shoot high-quality videos of your travels, the best compact camera for travel vlogging that we've tested is the Sony ZV-1. This portable, lightweight model is designed with vloggers in mind, with a fully articulated screen that's easy to flip around and monitor yourself while you record, as well as a detachable windscreen for its microphone to reduce noise from the wind. It feels comfortable to use, thanks to its small handgrip and thumb rest.
This camera can shoot 4k video at up to 30 fps with just a slight 1.12x crop, and it shoots 1080p video at up to 120 fps, giving you a range of frame rate options to capture a variety of footage, including slow-motion. It delivers excellent 4k video quality when shooting in brighter lighting conditions and decent 1080p video quality, though video is more grainy and soft when shooting in low light. Still, it has a fantastic autofocus system with specialized autofocus modes and a 'Background Defocus' button that quickly toggles between a deep and shallow depth of field.
That said, its batter performance is sub-par, though this is typical of compact point-and-shoot cameras. Battery life can also vary drastically with real-world use and depending on what settings you use. While shooting a lot of high-quality video drains the battery quicker and may even cause overheating, the camera does support USB charging, and you can use it while it charges. Despite its shortcomings, this camera is well-suited to travel vlogging, and most users should be happy with it.
If you'd prefer something with a longer zoom and better ergonomics, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II is the best camera for travel that we've tested with a superzoom lens. A bridge camera like this one combines a comfortable DSLR-like shooting experience with the convenience of a built-in superzoom lens, making it a good choice for traveling when you don't want to compromise on zoom range. It's also relatively portable considering the focal reach of its lens, despite not being as compact as the other point-and-shoots on this list.
Its built-in lens has a 25–400mm equivalent focal length range, so you can zoom in on far-away subjects or take close-ups and landscapes if you prefer. It feels very comfortable to shoot with and has a remarkably easy-to-use menu system. It also comes with a fully articulated screen, so you can compose shots from unconventional angles or flip it around for selfies. Its overall image quality is great with a fantastic dynamic range, though it doesn't perform as well in low light due to its smaller sensor.
It's also not the best option if you want to shoot 4k footage of your travels. While it can shoot in 4k at up to 30 fps, shooting in this resolution incurs a significant 1.45x crop. Its autofocus system also struggles to keep moving subjects in focus when recording in 4k. That said, it's more effective in 1080p. Despite its shortcomings, this is still a great option if you want a long zoom range in a relatively compact package.
The best small travel camera that we've tested for those on a budget is the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80. While its features are more limited than some of the more premium options on this list, it's a highly portable point-and-shoot that offers a lot of value for its price. Unlike many compact cameras, it has a small EVF, so you have the option to compose shots through the screen or the viewfinder.
The camera feels comfortable to use, with a small grip and thumb rest to help you maintain a secure hold as well as an easy-to-use menu system. It has a flip-up screen that makes it easier to shoot from the hip, and it can flip up to face you for selfies and vlogs. Thanks to its small sensor, its built-in lens has a very versatile focal length range of 24 to 720mm (full-frame equivalent), giving you a ton of flexibility to zoom in on far-away subjects without moving.
Its overall image quality is decent, especially when using it in brighter conditions, but that said, this isn't a camera that's well-suited to low light. It can only shoot up to ISO 3200 (extendable to 6400), and sharpness declines drastically at those higher ISO settings. It supports RAW shooting, but it has poor RAW noise handling due to its small sensor. Still, if you're looking for a portable camera for travel with decent photo and video features and a versatile zoom lens, it's a good budget option.
Jan 28, 2022: Added the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 as 'Best Budget Compact Camera For Travel' and moved the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III to Notable Mentions. Added the Sony RX10 IV to Notable Mentions.
Dec 01, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Nov 10, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.
Oct 26, 2021: Verified that picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given categories.
Oct 05, 2021: Added the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II and the RICOH GR III to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best compact cameras for traveling for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our compact and bridge camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.