As the world continues to fight against the coronavirus pandemic, it goes without saying that for safety’s sake –travel plans must to be halted. And while we hunker down in our homes –making home improvements, working out indoors, and ordering food delivery— there are still ways to stay cultured and curious through travel. That’s not to say that you have to leave your home, or even your sofa, at all. Instead, give these 10 virtual tours a whirl and visit some of the world’s most awe-inspiring wonders, sights, museums, parks and more, all from the comfort of your own home.
1. The Louvre in Paris
Originally a fortress built by the French king Philippe Auguste, the largest art museum in the world has now shuttered its doors. Thankfully, its exhibits are still open virtually. Four tours are available on the website so you can marvel at artefacts from the Pharaonic period in the Egyptian Antiquities exhibit, before looking up at the famous high vaulted and painted ceilings of the Gallerie d’Apollon. You can even view the remains of the Louvre’s moat, or go on an educational journey with ‘The Advent of the Artist’ that showcases how craftsmen evolved to become respected artists in the Renaissance period.
Tour the Louvre at www.louvre.fr
2. Northern Lights in Canada
You can witness nature’s most beautiful light show from your screen, thanks to a livestream from Churchill Northern Studies Center in Churchill, Manitoba. The camera is perched just below the aurora oval, giving viewers incredible front row seats to the Aurora Borealis. The live viewings go on all night and are organised by Polar Bears International, a group of conservationists, scientists, and volunteers working to aid polar bear survival in the arctic.
Watch the Northern Lights at www.explore.org
3. Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
The Sistine Chapel is known for its ornate Renaissance frescoes by Michelangelo, as well as paintings by other Florentine Renaissance masters, such as Botticelli and Perugino who detail various popes, as well as the lives of Christ and Moses. Keep your eyes peeled for the chapel’s most famous works: The Creation of Adam, and the nine stories from Genesis. Once you’re done with your adventure, you can hop on over to the other six tours of the Vatican museums.
Visit the Sistine Chapel and other Vatican Museums at www.museivaticani.va
4. The Great Wall of China
Considered one of the world’s most jaw-dropping wonders, the Great Wall of China is taking virtual travellers on a hike of its ancient fortifications that stretch more than 3,000 miles across Chinese provinces. The tour gives you incredible panoramic views from the watchtower, Jinshanling and Shimatai (one of the most beautiful sections of the tower), as well as the tower in winter.
Walk the Great Wall of China at www.thechinaguide.com
5. Buckingham Palace in London
While witnessing the changing of the guard outside Buckingham palace is a quintessential part of any family-friendly trip to London, most people have no clue what the royal institution looks like on the inside. On its official website, you’re free to discover the Drawing Room, the Throne Room and the Blue Drawing Room, as well as the velvet-swathed Grand Staircase.
Peek inside Buckingham Palace at www.royal.uk
6. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is one of the most lauded zoos in the world thanks to its reputation for excellent animal and wildlife care. The expansive institution is home to some of the beautiful animal habitats with naturalistic landscaping and foliage. It also happens to be home to the largest population of endangered pandas. Bring wildlife into your home with live camera sessions of the pandas, tigers, baboons, and giraffes.
Watch the animals at www.zoo.sandiegozoo.org
7. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
If you’re deathly afraid of volcanoes, there’s no need to be. As you can now hike them virtually without fear. Let the immersive Hidden Worlds of the National Parks by Google Art and Culture whisk you away on an educational tour that navigates underground caverns, flies over volcanoes, and perches precariously on volcanic cliffs.
Hike the volcanoes at www.artsandculture.withgoogle.com
8. Amazon Rainforest
Thanks to the nonprofit group Conservation International, you can now explore the planet’s largest tract of tropical rainforest –the Amazon– through an immersive 360-degree virtual reality (VR) video. Descend from towering trees to see the stunning sights of the great forest and meet the forest’s native Kamanja Panashekung, who will take you to see wildlife up close. You’ll end the tour with a deeper understanding on why the rainforest is so crucial to mankind’s survival.
Explore the Amazon rainforest at Conservation International’s YouTube channel
9. The Great Barrier Reef
Take a dive along the Great Barrier Reef with the voice of nature, Sir David Attenborough, who will take you on an interactive journey. A map plots your adventure across five locations, each complete with a wealth of information of the various ecosystems, and underwater excursions from a state-of-the-art research vessel. Hear from marine biologists and scientists on the front line of research to discover how to save the reef and its inhabitants in the face of climate change.
10. Mars and NASA Space Stations
Jet Propulsion Library’s tie up with NASA enables you to travel beyond the world from sofa to space. The virtual tour lets you view MARS from a 360 degrees aspect, through a WebXR project which shows you the real surface of Mars. Alternatively, you can head to NASA’s website to tour its international space stations while viewing videos, images and testing in action.
Visit Mars at www.accessmars.withgoogle.com
Visit the NASA international space stations at www.nasa.gov