Online tours can’t compare to the real deal. That’s a fact. An in-real-life adventure is far more thrilling than navigating world wonders with your cursor. However, virtual tours are a wonderful way of seeing the best that Earth has to offer while keeping ourselves and others safe.
A quick online search will reveal plenty of places to (re)discover from the comfort of your own home. Around the globe, galleries, museums, architectural landmarks, and colorful arty streets have opened their virtual doors using cutting edge augmented reality and drone technology so we can enjoy these spectacular places (from every possible angle).
Virtual tours are also a great planning tool for post-pandemic travels, and you can use these online experiences as an opportunity to find the best spots for future trips.
Here are our favorite free virtual tours from around the globe.
Natural Parks and Hiking Trails
First on our list is a hand-picked selection of some of the best natural parks that reveal the wild beauty of America’s national reserves. National Parks gathered five different online experiences (with a superb introduction) that invite you to follow savvy rangers through hard-to-access places. If you’ve ever wondered how volcano lava formations look in Hawaii or wanted to swim with endangered species in coral reefs, these are online tours worth taking.
Yellowstone National Park has also set up a series of static cameras and one live stream that allow you to keep tabs on its incredible landscape without ever leaving your home. And, if you’re in the mood for a stroll on the other side of the pond, check out this idyllic tour of England beautiful countryside. The Hestercombe 360 tour features Victorian architecture, beautiful terraces, and lush greenery that’s best enjoyed with a cup of tea.
If you’re not much of a land lover, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary specializes in spectacular underwater adventures. There are four virtual dives available, including the eerie 360° Shipwreck Alley.
Live Feeds Tours
Are you curious about what rush hour’s like in Times Square, or how the beaches are looking in Thailand? EarthCam is packed with live streams from locations all around the globe and is one of our favorite sites for discovering the world from the comfort of our couch.
Or, if you’re in the mood for a trip to France, Earth TV has a great selection of live feeds of Paris’ famous Eiffel Tower.
If you’re into architecture, you’ve probably heard of Frank Lloyd Wright. For those who haven’t, Wright’s designs which are based on the subtraction of shapes from natural landscapes represent a milestone in the history of architecture. The Frank Lloyd Wright foundation organizes weekly virtual tours of Wright’s best-known designs for those interested in a walk around awe-inspiring houses and commercial centers.
Continuing with the theme of inspiring building landscapes, some college campuses have created online tours for future students and architecture fans of all ages.
You can take a look at the Youtube Channel and explore Harvard, Boston College, Princeton, Colorado State University and more than 90 other schools.
Museums and Galleries
Usually, making reservations at the Frida Kahlo museum is a challenge. After all, she is perhaps the best known Latin American artist of all time. The museum, set in the house that Kahlo shared with her renowned artist husband Diego Rivera, is a must-see on most tourists’ Mexico City itinerary, so securing a spot can be tough. Thankfully, the museum’s updated website solves that problem with a virtual gallery of some of Kahlo’s most famous paintings. There are also four scenes exploring her studio, garden, and other places of interest in her house.
Following this theme, Holland’s world-famous Van Gogh museum is also available for immersive online tours without having to battle the crowds and long queues. Complete your cultural European tour with a virtual visit to the Louvre and Prague Castle.
If you like your art a little more ‘street’, we’ve got you covered. Graffiti as an art expression often reflects messages of conflict, love, history, class struggle, and love, which are themes that are perhaps more relevant right now than ever before.
Google’s Street Art project is packed full of virtual tours, stories, and artist videos. From Argentina to NYC, this site is one of our favorite ways to discover global art, travel, and culture while social distancing.
Take a break from real life and indulge in an afternoon of discovering the most magical place on Earth. While the parks are closed for safety reasons, would-be visitors can explore Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort including Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach waterparks.
Online Country Visits
During the COVID-19 crisis, global tourism has taken a huge hit. So, some countries have taken the matter into their own hands by offering virtual tourism.
Chile, for example, reported 6 million tourists in 2017, but their 2020 numbers have unsurprisingly shrunk to a tiny percentage of that number. The Chile 360º app is a great way to discover the country virtually or plan a trip to the South American gem.
Or, if observatories are your thing, ESO.org offers spectacular virtual tours of several of its sites around the globe.
Virtual Tours with NASA
Last but not least: NASA.
If you have children, little ones love the Exoplanet Exploration for discovering the surfaces of different planets around the solar system, and there are downloadable templates of NASA’s posters that kids can color in.
Bonus tour: check out this breathtaking virtual canopy tour in the Amazon rainforest: