As a green and sustainable technology, semiconductor-based heterogeneous photocatalysis has received much attention in the last few decades because it has potential to solve both energy and environmental problems. To achieve efficient photocatalysts, various hierarchical semiconductors have been designed and fabricated at the micro/nanometer scale in recent years. This review presents a critical appraisal of fabrication methods, growth mechanisms and applications of advanced hierarchical photocatalysts. Especially, the different synthesis strategies such as two-step templating, in situ template-sacrificial dissolution, self-templating method, in situ template-free assembly, chemically induced self-transformation and post-synthesis treatment are highlighted. Finally, some important applications including photocatalytic degradation of pollutants, photocatalytic H2 production and photocatalytic CO2 reduction are reviewed. A thorough assessment of the progress made in photocatalysis may open new opportunities in designing highly effective hierarchical photocatalysts for advanced applications ranging from thermal catalysis, separation and purification processes to solar cells.