In this time of lockdown, we’re all looking for ways to scratch that wanderlust itch. Nothing can quite compare to being there in person, but we have found that digital tours can be a temporary substitute. And while virtual tours aren’t a new concept, some have gotten quite clever with how they’re implementing them. These are some of our favorites – the closest things to being there, the most unique, and the ones with the best “wow” factors.
Read on to find your perfect virtual vacation!
We’re no strangers to Google Maps. And oftentimes, we’ll employ Street View to get a feel for a new place prior to visiting. Or rather, Aaron will… I prefer the surprise!
If you enjoy digitally wandering around, you might enjoy these virtual tours.
- Take a tour of the Louvre. There are many free virtual tours of museums, but with 300 rooms and some of the most famous artwork in the world make these virtual tours worthwhile.
- Wander around inside a shinkansen. These Japanese bullet trains go up to 200 mph (320 kph), and passengers ride in style – especially in Gran Class!
- Explore 10,000 gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine. We loved this shrine during our visit to Kyoto, though we didn’t make it there until after dark. But we think it’s beautiful any time of day!
- While you’re in Japan, see the world as the cats do with the Onomichi cat street view. See if you can find the cats!
- Want to walk around a Croatian castle? Check out this virtual tour of Trakoscan Castle, and imagine your life as a royal!
- If you just can’t get far enough away on planet Earth, why not tour Mars through the eyes of the Martian rover?
- Play the airport game! Here’s how it works: Go to MapCrunch and click “Go!” to be dropped onto some random street view, somewhere in the world. The goal of the game is simple: just find an airport by wandering around.
Videos give a first-person view of a location. While viewers can’t control the direction or speed, these often feel less static than the virtual tours above. So if you want to see far-away lands from the comfort of your couch, check out these video tours.
- Take a walk through Yellowstone National Park.
- Visit the coveted Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan (they don’t allow photos or video inside, so this is cool to see!)
- Hop on your favorite Disney Park rides.
360 Video Tours
Even better than your standard video tours are those filmed with a 360 camera. As you watch these, be sure to enjoy the views in all directions by dragging the screen left and right. Or better yet, grab your virtual reality headset or goggles for your smart phone and get the full immersion experience!
- Start with a little of everything in this world tour.
- Next, check out this remarkably wonderful 360 tour of Japan.
- Explore five of the most beautiful American national parks through a series of 360 videos, views, and interactive prompts.
- Take in the beautiful tropics in the Maldives.
- Hop a train in stunning Switzerland.
- Watch sunset at the famous Sydney Opera House.
- Fly to Mount Everest with views even those who summit never see.
- Ride a roller coaster in Busch Gardens.
- National Geographic also has dozens of incredible 360 videos, taking you to places like Victoria Falls in Zambia, the glow worm caves in New Zealand, and even to outer space.
Want to transport to another country and see what’s actually happening right now? These webcams can give you a vacation without leaving home!
- Travel to Croatia with these webcams of the Split waterfront and Dubrovnik plaza. Having actually been in these places, seeing these webcams make us long for some fritule…
- See if you can spot any snow monkeys at this hot spring in Japan. This is high on our list for our next trip to Japan!
- Check out what’s happening at the famous Milan Cathedral. It’s certainly far less crowded now than when we were there.
- Dreaming of Thailand? Spy on these Koh Samui webcams.
- Even when we can travel again, we can’t all afford to go on expensive safaris. These watering hole webcams could give you a glimpse of elusive African wildlife.
- Speaking of wildlife, many zoos have live webcams, including the adorable MeerKam.
- And because we know kittens belong on any list, don’t forget to get your cute on with a live kitten cam!
By far, our favorite type of digital tours are those done live. We enjoyed several free walking tours during our time in Europe. These kinds of tours are harder to find, as they require real humans at set times. But if you don’t mind setting a reminder on your calendar, you should certainly give these a try.
- Travel Curious is performing regular live tours all around the world. They’ve been happening each Friday, though the next tours are announced well in advance. Past tours are also available on their website.
- Go on a live safari every day at sunrise and sundown. If you miss the game drives live, they also post the videos of past trips. One recent drive saw a pride of lions devouring a massive warthog!
- If you love the beautiful Scandinavian region, you should put the Faroe Islands on your radar. During the height of the pandemic, the local tourism board conducted weekly live hour-long tours of one of the villages, hiking trails, canyons, or even helicopter rides showcasing the islands. Their past tours are now available on their Facebook page. But the best part: those who joined the tour on their website were actually able to control the guide with a virtual game controller, telling her where to walk, to run, and even to jump! We loved this ingenious adaptation during a difficult situation.
We, like you, are sad to be stuck at home, but we feel this is the best place to be for now, for the safety and health of those we love and those around the world. We hope to travel again really soon, but in the meantime, we’re going to have some fun with a few 360 videos, a virtual trip through the Louvre, and making a tour guide jump in the Faroe Islands!
Where will you take your next digital trip?
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My name is Brianna, and I have been in love with photography for as long as I can remember. I am almost never without a camera, eliciting some strange looks toward my shooting garbage (never question a photographer’s inspiration!), trepidation from my loving husband when I put myself in some precarious positions to get *just* the right shot, and annoyance from our two cats – frequent subjects of my artistic antics. I welcome you to enjoy my passion with me – all around the world!
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