Is a travel photo album truly complete without that shot of squeezing the Taj Mahal between forefinger and thumb, casually propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a shoulder or battling a (plastic) dinosaur on the shimmering surface of Bolivia's salt flats?

The answer to this question will vary from person to person, but for globetrotters whose lust for Instagrammable images knows no bounds, striking a pose atop, beside or underneath a mighty slab of rock is all but obligatory.

In this excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Secret Marvels of the World, we search for the ultimate spot for a wobbly-kneed selfie. Just remember the golden rule, though: follow local safety advice before you take out the camera.

A group of tourists taking in the view from Preikestolen – or 'Pulpit Rock' – in Norway © Ihor_Tailwind / Getty Images
Preikestolen – or 'Pulpit Rock' – is one of, if not the, most famous natural landmarks in Norway, a country that specialises in hair-raising drops © Ihor_Tailwind / Getty Images

Preikestolen, Norway

Rising sharply 604m above the Lysefjord, ‘Pulpit Rock’ is the reward for an intense four-hour hike in Norway’s Ryfylke fjord region – snap a photo near the edge, but not that near the edge!

Take a bus from Stavanger ferry terminal to Preikestolhytta, the trailhead for Pulpit Rock.

Goats wandering around near the Balancing Rock of Mahabalipuram, India © Danielrao / Getty Images
Despite strenuous efforts, no one has been able to budge 'Krishna's Butterball', which is otherwise known as the Balancing Rock of Mahabalipuram, India © Danielrao / Getty Images

Balancing Rock of Mahabalipuram, India

It’s a 250-tonne rock, 6m tall and on a 45-degree slope, but attempts to roll ‘Krishna’s Butterball’ downhill have failed, and tourists safely pose beneath.

The rock is just off Madha Kovil Street in Mahabalipuram, 55km south of Chennai.

Pedra da Gávea, Brazil

For a death-defying holiday photo, head to this 844m-high Rio lookout. From the right angle, you’ll appear to cling to a rock high above the beach; in reality, you’re two feet from solid ground.

Itʼs a tough, six-hour return hike through Tijuca National Park. Hire a guide (

A man posing for a photo on top of the Kjeragbolten, a huge boulder gripped between two cliffs in Norway
The photos don't do justice to the drop below the Kjeragbolten, a huge boulder gripped between two cliffs in Norway © nevereverro / Getty Images

Kjeragbolten, Norway

The ultimate in daring poses is atop this boulder, gripped between two cliffs above a 984m drop. The block was deposited here by glacial movement and has become a vertigo-inducing spot for a photo.

The 9km hike to Kjeragbolten, some of the route assisted by chains, begins in Øygardstøl.

Nature’s Time Post, Canada

Inspiring countless attempts at perspective trickery photos, the basalt column known as ‘Nature’s Time Post’ appears to balance on its tip on the corner of a larger rock in the Bay of Fundy.

Find the column via a 2.5km hike and 235 stairs; the route begins off Hwy 217, Tiverton.

Trolltunga, a rocky ledge that hangs out over Lake Ringedalsvatnet, Norway © javaman3 / Getty Images
It's a tough hike to reach Trolltunga, a rocky ledge that hangs above Ringedalsvatnet in Norway, but the backdrop makes all the effort worthwhile © javaman3 / Getty Images

Trolltunga, Norway

The tongue of rock jutting above the water at Ringedalsvatnet is one of Norway’s most spectacular photo ops. Hikers embark on a tough, 12-hour circuit from Skjeggedal to reach this panorama of sheer cliffs above water. The highlight is balancing on the 700m-high rock, one of several nerve-jangling outcrops you can pose on around the world.

Reach the rock via a 12-hour hiking circuit from the village of Skjeggedal, which is 5km east of Tyssedal in southern Norway.

Two of the Devils Marbles balanced on a rocky ledge in the Australian outback © James Hager / robertharding / Getty Images
Weathering and erosion created the round shapes of the Devils Marbles, Australia © James Hager / robertharding / Getty Images

Devils Marbles, Australia

Granite globes are dotted around a parched valley in Australia’s Northern Territory. To Aboriginal people, these weathered boulders have sacred significance. One pair seemingly defy gravity.

The Devils Marbles reserve is on the Stuart Highway, 100km south of Tennant Creek.

Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, USA © Nicolas Kipourax Paquet / Getty Images
Balanced Rock is just one of many outlandish formations in Arches National Park, USA © Nicolas Kipourax Paquet / Getty Images

Balanced Rock, USA

Balanced Rock roosts on a slender 39m column, looking ready to fall at any moment. Its twin rock formation did indeed tumble during the 1970s, so don’t stand too close, just in case...

A 20-minute hiking trail to the rock begins off the main road of Arches National Park in Utah.

Chiricahua National Monument, USA

Resembling a spinning top amid the creeks, volcanic formations and grottoes of this Arizona park, the Big Balanced Rock perches improbably at its narrow end.

Various trails from Echo Canyon Trailhead in Chiricahua National Monument reach the rock.

The Kummakivi, a huge boulder balanced in a forest in Finland © Esa Juusola / Getty Images
Who left this boulder behind in the forests of Kummakivi, Finland? A passing glacier or... trolls? © Esa Juusola / Getty Images

Kummakivi, Finland

It’s impossible to resist posing, arms raised, beneath this boulder in Finland. Performing a balancing act on a low mound, the 7m-wide rock was deposited by glacial movement, though folktales blame trolls.

The forest concealing the rock is a 10km drive north from route 62 in southeastern Finland.

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