We’ve all gotten antsy at one point or another during the pandemic. Who can blame us? So while the country begins to transition toward various stages of reopening, we have to remember that the best way to engage with the outside world is safely. For now, that means virtually. And affordably. As in, free virtual tours. In the midst of summer’s approach and all the vacations that could have been, we’re excited to introduce a few ways you can check off some sightseeing around the globe without going so far as your front door.
Simply grab your computer or mobile device, sit back, and relax; we’ve got your travel plans covered—once you allow these free virtual tours to transport you, that is. If you like what you see, there’s always more to explore on the internet, like this PBS nature series, which will help remind us of how important it is that when we step back into the world, we do so with care and compassion for wildlife and the ecosystem.
Check out these 11 ways to tour the world right from the safety of home. These free virtual tours are easy to access and rich with history and (most times) soaked in sun. This way, you don’t have to forget what kinds of adventures are waiting for us on every continent when the time is right.
1. Machu Picchu
Let’s start off with some breathtaking views from the peaks of the Andes in Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Incan citadel located above the Urubamba River Valley in Peru. YouVisit’s impressive 360-degree technology brings these historical remains to life for all to enjoy, and under the best weather conditions too.
2. Hitachi Seaside Park
Next stop, Hitachi Seaside Park in the Japanese city of Hitachinaka, Ibaraki. After a quick click on the Google Translate pop-up from Japanese to English, you’ll be able to easily navigate this virtual tour on the park’s website. Absorb iconic blue fields of Nemophila, for instance, a flower that’s actually native to North America.
3. Roman Baths
Venture through the Roman Baths and Pump Room, one of England’s most mesmerizing tourist spots, right from the historic site’s official webpage. Here they offer guided (and VR friendly) walkthroughs, digital floor plans for clarity, and of course those stunning close-ups that make an in-person trip so memorable and a virtual one so worthwhile.
4. Mount Kilimanjaro
From Discovery Education comes this “virtual field trip” to Mount Kilimanjaro in a cohesive 27-minute video. The dormant volcano is located in Tanzania and marks the highest altitude in all of Africa. You can also find any upcoming virtual field trips with Discovery Education right here.
5. Great Barrier Reef
This immersive website sees broadcaster and historian David Attenborough teaming up with Atlantic Productions for this ambitious exploration of the Great Barrier Reef. Swim through an underwater world one chapter at a time or by clicking through their interactive map. Your journey will consist of gorgeous cinematography, detailed readings, and even some layered audio clips from the ocean floor.
6. Mount Everest
Not many people can say they’ve been to the tallest mountain on the planet, and you probably can’t either. But this Google Maps tour will take you pretty close. You can hike your way through the South Base Camp in Nepal. The four travelers who created this experience also provide photography and some inside details on their adventure.
7. Isle of Skye
The Scottish Highlands has never been less of a workout. Skye360 offers this virtual tour through the Isle of Skye, famed for medieval castles and rustic fishing villages. You’ll be just a few clicks away from a Fairy Pool, numerous beachscapes, and the finest lookouts this tranquil region has to offer.
8. Rio De Janeiro
If you’re looking for somewhere more populated, walk through Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. Another popular pick from YouVisit, this series of hot spots includes the Botanical Gardens, Copacabana Beach, and the iconic Cristo Redentor you’re sure to recognize instantly.
9. Temples of Angkor
Another virtual tour from Google Maps, this trip to the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia highlights four temples, taking you through city streets and jungles along the way. Don’t miss out on the 10th century Banteay Srei temple, which is dedicated to Shiva, the principle “auspicious one” in Shaivism.
10. Groot Constantia
Perhaps by now, you could use a visit to Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in South Africa. The virtual tour surveys this massive Cape Town property, from the Manor House and the courtyard to the warehouse and Cloete Cellar, built over 200 years ago and birthplace to Grand Constance, a long-time choice wine for royalty.
That’s right; there’s even a website that takes you to various spots around Antarctica and surrounding islands. Walk by the ceremonial flags of the South Pole, or visit the 1,150-foot cliffs on West Point Island off the southern tip of Argentina. You’ll even find frozen huts left by early 20th century explorers, like Irish Secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society Ernest Shackleton.
Bonus: Kenai Fjords
We’ve got one more free virtual tour for you, if you’re looking for a trip slightly closer to home. This Arts and Culture project from Google will sweep you off your couch to the Alaskan Kenai Fjords, where we beg you to muster the courage to repel down into the crevices of a glacier. We swear you’ve never seen 360-degree Google Maps views like these.
About the Author/s
Tom Garback is currently pursuing a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College, where he is a Staff Writer, Blogger, Copy Editor, and Reader at various on-campus magazines. His fiction, poems, and essays have been featured in Thin Air, Blind Corner, Teen Ink, Oddball, The Magazine, Generic, Polaris, Gauge, and Sonder, among others.