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 60 cameras, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best compact cameras for travel depending on their performance, available features, and price. You can also check out our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel, the best point-and-shoot cameras, and the best cameras.
The best compact camera for traveling that we've tested is the Sony RX100 VII. It's an incredibly lightweight point-and-shoot that manages to fit both a pop-up viewfinder and a pop-up flash into its compact body. It has a screen that can flip up to face you for selfies, and its built-in zoom lens has a 200mm equivalent max focal length, giving you the flexibility to zoom in on far-away subjects.
Its 1-inch sensor has a 20.1 MP resolution, and the camera delivers excellent overall image quality with remarkable dynamic range. That said, photos dip in sharpness at high ISO levels, and its RAW noise handling capability is passable, meaning it's less suited to nighttime or low-light photography. Still, it has a fantastic autofocus system that reliably keeps moving subjects in focus, whether taking photos or shooting video in 4k or 1080p.
Unfortunately, it has disappointing battery life. It can also overheat and shut down when shooting video for long periods on its highest settings, though battery performance and overheating risk can vary drastically with real-world conditions. On the upside, you can use it while it charges via USB, which is handy if you bring a portable battery pack with you. All in all, this is one of the best travel cameras we've tested and a great option if you're looking for a versatile compact with a built-in zoom lens.
If you want to save some money, check out the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. Its autofocus system isn't nearly as reliable as that of the Sony RX100 VII, and it lacks a viewfinder, but it's considerably cheaper and is just as portable for traveling. Like the Sony, its screen can tilt and flip up for selfies, and it's a little more comfortable to use and is easier to hold due to its small textured handgrip. Its overall image quality is good, though its noise handling capability is worse than the Sony's. On the upside, it's a bit better suited to video, as it can shoot in 4k without a crop and does a better overall job of smoothing out camera shake. If you like to livestream your travel adventures, it also has a built-in livestreaming feature, though we haven't tested it. Unfortunately, it has similarly disappointing battery life.
Get the Sony if you want better autofocus and image quality, but if you want to save some money on a compact travel camera, the Canon is a good alternative.
The best compact camera for traveling is that we've tested with a rangefinder design is the Fujifilm X100V. This premium compact camera has a fixed 35mm equivalent lens well-suited to street photography or capturing everyday moments. It also sports a hybrid optical/electronic rangefinder that gives you an uninterrupted view of your subjects.
Despite its compact size, it has an APS-C sensor that delivers excellent overall image quality and amazing noise handling capability at higher ISO levels; this means you can shoot in more dimly-lit conditions without sacrificing too much quality. Its autofocus system also does a good job tracking moving subjects in photos, though it's a bit less reliable when recording video. Still, its overall video quality is fantastic, especially in brighter lighting conditions.
That said, it tends to overheat and shut down frequently while recording video, particularly in 4k. Also, it's only partially weather-sealed, and you have to buy an adapter and lens filter at an additional cost to get full weather-sealing, which is a bit disappointing considering its premium price point. Still, its amazing image quality and sturdy construction make this one of the best digital cameras we've tested.
If you're looking for a relatively compact camera with a built-in superzoom lens, the best long-zoom bridge camera we've tested for travel is the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II. Its lens has a maximum full-frame equivalent focal length of 400mm that lets you zoom in on far-away subjects, take close-ups, or a range of photography in between. It feels well-built and comfortable to use, and it has a very good advertised battery life, though this can vary with real-world conditions.
Its overall image quality is great with a wide dynamic range, but sharpness dips pretty heavily at higher ISO levels due to its smaller sensor, so it's less suited to taking photos in dim lighting. Still, it has a fully articulated screen to help you frame shots from more unconventional angles, and it has a decent autofocus system for photography. Its continuous shooting speed is impressive, too, so you can capture brief moments of fast action without interruption when shooting in JPEG.
Unfortunately, its video features are more limited, particularly in 4k. It can only shoot 4k video at up to 30 fps with a significant 1.45x crop, and its autofocus system performs poorly in this resolution. That said, 4k video quality is great in brighter lighting, and its FHD video features are better overall. Overall, this is a versatile bridge camera that gives you a DSLR-like shooting experience with the convenience and portability of a built-in lens.
For those who like to shoot video while traveling, the best compact camera for travel vlogging that we've tested is the Sony ZV-1. This point-and-shoot is aimed specifically at vloggers and comes with several vlogger-oriented features, including a detachable windscreen for its mic to reduce wind noise and a dedicated 'Background Defocus' button that quickly toggles between a shallow and wide depth of field. That said, we don't currently test these features.
Its 4k video quality is excellent when shooting in more controlled lighting conditions and is decent in FHD. However, it's more grainy and less detailed in low light, though that's expected due to its smaller 1-inch sensor. It has an incredibly effective autofocus system, whether shooting in 4k or FHD, so moving subjects or objects should stay in focus. The camera's also remarkably compact, so it's easy to take with you wherever you go.
Unfortunately, like many compact cameras, its battery life is limited. While this can depend on settings and usage habits, recording a lot of high-quality video drains the battery quickly. On the upside, it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges, which is handy. All in all, if you want a camera that's compact and well-suited to travel vlogging, this is a great option.
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 US).
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.