National Geographic asked readers to show them the world, and these photographers didn't disappoint, offering inspiring images from their travels.

For the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest, the judges chose winning images in three categories — cities, people and nature. That's the grand prize winning image above, the work of Weimin Chu, which also won first place in the Cities category. Chu, who won $7,500 and was featured in the @natgeotravel Instagram account, describes the scene:

"Upernavik is a fishing village on a tiny island in west Greenland. Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted different colors to indicate different functions, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes — a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. This photo was taken during my three-month, personal photo project to present life in Greenland."

You can see the rest of the winning photos and several honorable mentions below, all described in the photographer's own words.

The winners may inspire you to do some exploring of your own. At the very least, it will add a dose of awe to your day.

In the Age of Aviation: Second-Place Cities

San Francisco International Airport from above, In the age of aviation, Nat Geo 2019
(Photo: Jassen Todorov/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

There are four runways at San Francisco's International Airport (SFO). This is a rare look at the approach end of runways 28 left and right. I had dreams of documenting the motion at SFO and [arranged] permission to fly directly overhead. What a windy day it was. Winds at SFO were 35-45 miles per hour, which meant a bumpy flight, and it was much harder to control the plane while photographing. The flight was challenging, but it was also so thrilling that I couldn't sleep for several days afterward.

Streets of Dkaka: Third-place Cities

People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Streets of Dhaka, Nat Geo 2019
(Photo: Sandipani Chattopadhyay/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ijtema. Bishwa Ijtema is one of the major Islamic religious gatherings which is [observed] annually in Dhaka and millions of Muslims visit [during this time]. Dedicated prayer grounds are not [large] enough to handle this huge number of people, so large numbers of people come to [Tongi], the main street of Dhaka. All the ground transportation and [pedestrian crossings] are suspended during that time.

Tender eyes: First-place Nature

griffon vulture soars in Spain, Nat Geo 2019
(Photo: Tamara Blazquez Haik/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture's eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals — kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them.

Dreamcatcher: Second-place Nature

sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii; Nat Geo photo contest 2019
(Photo: Danny Sepkowski/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment this past year. On this particular day, I decided to shoot the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers were out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures from the trade winds [created] subtle colors from the west and blended well using my 100mm lens. I had to look into my viewfinder while this wave was breaking. Not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you.

Dusky: Third-place Nature

dusky dolphins, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Nat Geo 2019
(Photo: Scott Portelli/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

Dusky dolphins often travel together in great numbers in the deep canyons of the Kaikoura, New Zealand in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up only to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and will often keep pace with a speeding boat. I waited on the bow of the boat as the Dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their elegance and streamlined bodies are built for speed and maneuverability — accentuated by the smooth, clear water of the New Zealand coastline.

King of the Alps: Honorable Mention Nature

herd of ibexes in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, Nat Geo 2019
(Photo: Jonas Schäfer/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

A herd of ibexes in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland cross a ridge above Lake Brienz. Their powerful and impressive horns show who the king of the Alps are. Ibexes are ideally adapted to live at dizzying heights. The continuing ridge path and the rising fog show the natural habitat of these animals. After a few hours of observing the animals, I spotted the ibex herd on one side of the ridge. Several ibexes stopped at the transition [to view the world around them].

Showtime: First-place People

Actors prepare for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China
(Photo: Huaifeng Li/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

Actors prepare for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. I spent the whole day with these actors from makeup to [stage]. I’m a freelance photographer, and the series “Cave Life" is a long-term project of mine. In China's Loess Plateau, local residents dig holes in the loess layer [to create cave living spaces, known as yaodongs] and use the heat preservation properties to survive cold winters. This series mainly records the life, entertainment, belief, labor, and other [daily] scenes of the people living in the caves.

Daily Routine: Second-place People

Old man does Tai Chi in a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong; Nat Geo 2019
(Photo: Yoshiki Fujiwara/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

This photo was taken at a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. When I visited during the afternoon, it was very crowded with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. But when I visited at sunrise, it was quiet and a different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood residents in the early morning, and there was a sacred atmosphere. I felt divinity when I saw an old man doing tai chi in the sun.

Horses: Third-place People

purification of animals at Feast of Saint Anthony, Avila, Spain
(Photo: José Antonio Zamora/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

Every year on the feast of Saint Anthony, the ceremony of the purification of animals, called Las Luminarias, is celebrated in Spain. In the province of Avila, horses and horsemen jump over bonfires in the ritual that has been maintained since the 18th century. The animals [are not hurt], and it is a ritual that is repeated every year. To make the photo, I moved from Seville to San Bartolomé de Pinares because I am very interested in photographing ancestral rites.

Mood: Honorable mention People

boy at sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi; Nat Geo 2019 travel contest
(Photo: Navin Vatsa/2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest)

I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy was thinking silently, and visitors were enjoying the loud musical chirping of thousands of seagulls. The early morning golden light from the east mixed with the western blue light, creating a [ethereal atmosphere]. I am a regular visitor [here] and have photographed this place for the past three years. Now, many national and international photographers have begun visiting [too].

Sarah Hicks Sarah Hicks is a journalist who has been with Mother Nature Network since 2008. As managing editor, she guides the editorial team’s coverage of a wide range of environmental topics, from pets to science to endangered species.