Point-and-shoot cameras are a natural choice for travel thanks to their compact sizes and built-in zoom lenses, making it a breeze to capture all your memories abroad without carrying a bulky kit. While smartphone cameras have continued to improve, and they're more often than not the camera you've already got on you, some point-and-shoots offer improved image quality with larger sensors than the ones typically found in phones, while others offer wider zoom ranges that you simply can't get with the physically limited lenses on your smartphone.
We've bought and tested over 80 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best compact cameras to get for travel. If you don't mind carrying a larger kit with interchangeable lenses, check out our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel. If you're looking to take beautiful images of destination vistas, you might also want to check out the best cameras for landscape photography. Alternatively, if you're less interested in snapping places and more interested in the people that populate them, see our picks for the best street photography cameras.
While it isn't cheap, the Sony RX100 VII is the best small travel camera you can get. After seven iterations, Sony has perfected the formula for its series of popular premium compact cameras. This latest model features a solid 1-inch sensor, a pop-up viewfinder and flash, a large tilting screen, and a zoom lens—all within an incredibly portable package. While it doesn't have the widest zoom range on this list, you still get a fairly long 24-200mm equivalent focal range, meaning you can capture everything from landscapes to close-ups of far-away subjects.
If image quality is your biggest priority, the premium Fujifilm X100V has a larger APS-C sensor that gives it a leg up in noise handling and low-light performance. However, it isn't nearly as compact and has a less versatile fixed lens, making the Sony a better fit for travel. The RX100 VII also has Sony's reliably accurate autofocus system. That said, most compact cameras have disappointing battery life, including this one, but you can always pack a spare battery or portable power bank to charge it on the go.
If you don't want to spend as much, the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a great mid-range option. It's easily one of the most comfortable point-and-shoots we've tested, thanks to a nicely designed grip that feels good in the hand. On top of that, its user interface is super intuitive. It also has a nearly identical pop-up viewfinder as the one found on the Sony RX100 VII, great for sunny days when it's harder to see the screen.
The built-in lens on this thing is also better than the Sony's when it comes to low light since it opens up to a wider max aperture, but the trade-off is a significantly shorter zoom range. Its autofocus system is also disappointing and struggles to track subjects quickly and accurately, so keep that in mind if you plan on shooting busy scenes or faster subjects. Otherwise, this camera has plenty to offer for travelers who want something compact and comfortable to shoot with.
The Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 is one of the best compact cameras for traveling if you're on a tighter budget. Unlike the pricier options mentioned above, it uses a smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor, which means worse image quality overall. On the upside, the smaller sensor gives it more focal reach, giving you a much longer zoom range. So, if it's zoom you're after, this budget compact is a great choice. Its max 720mm equivalent focal length lets you capture subjects miles away with a fair bit of detail.
It also feels decently put-together and has a small viewfinder for sunny days, along with a screen that can flip up for selfies. Of course, it doesn't perform too well in low light in terms of noise and generally isn't a huge step up from the image quality you can get with some smartphones. But you won't find a compact camera with a more versatile zoom lens in this price range, making it a solid travel camera for the budget-conscious buyer.
While the previous picks are more photography-oriented, travel vloggers should take note of the Sony ZV-1, which is hands-down the best point-and-shoot camera for travel vlogging. While it doesn't have a viewfinder, it's the only option here to feature a fully articulated screen, making it easy to monitor yourself while recording or to take the odd selfie. On top of that, it has vlogging-specific features like a detachable windscreen to reduce ambient noise when using the internal mic.
Like the Sony RX100 VII, it has a fantastic AF system to ensure you or your subject stays in focus. However, its built-in lens has a notably shorter zoom range than our other picks. While it's enough to give you some flexibility for framing your vlogs, it isn't great if you need to zoom in on far-off subjects. Battery life and overheating can also be an issue when shooting longer takes using the highest quality settings, but if you're looking for a compact all-in-one vlogging camera, this one checks all the boxes.
If image quality is your top priority, it doesn't get better and more compact than the RICOH GR III. While you'll still get great images out of 1-inch sensor cameras like the Sony RX100 VII and the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II, the RICOH boasts a larger APS-C sensor that delivers excellent image quality and better noise handling in low light. Its sleek, minimalist design also makes it the most pocketable camera on this list.
Of course, this isn't the travel camera for everyone. If you want the flexibility to zoom in on farther subjects or you like to shoot video on the side, you're out of luck here since the camera has a fixed 28mm equivalent focal length and lacks 4k video capability. If 28mm is too wide for you, you can opt for the RICOH GR IIIx instead, which has a 40mm equivalent lens. Speaking of, the lens on this camera is super sharp and opens up quite wide, allowing you to get some nice bokeh. Though it lacks a viewfinder or zoom lens, this is the best small travel camera if you want something super portable that doesn't compromise image quality.
Mar 08, 2023: Added the RICOH GR III as the 'Best Large Sensor Compact Camera For Travel' and removed the Nikon COOLPIX A1000 from Notable Mentions.
Jan 10, 2023: Checked article for accuracy, with slight adjustments to text for clarity.
Nov 11, 2022: Reviewed picks for accuracy; no change to recommendations.
Sep 13, 2022: Overhauled article for clarity and to better represent user needs. Also rewrote intro and updated Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best compact cameras for most people to buy for travel, 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 fixed-lens 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.