Ever wanted to explore the world, but never had the budget to be a dashing globe-trotter? Never fear. Virtual tours of an increasing number of global destinations are genuinely hotter than ever before.
They are also fun, often educational, and easy to find on the internet. Google Arts and Culture offers limited access to about 2,500 museums globally. Some sites offer single destinations with enhanced offerings like historical asides; others offer a whole world, literally, at your fingertips.
Here is a (brief) list of some of the coolest virtual tours by continent!
It’s a fascinating part of the world, and there are plenty of virtual tours and immersive experiences to choose from.
The UK has a plethora of virtual tours online. From Buckingham Palace and Arundel Castle to Stonehenge and The Tower of London, all you have to do is get a pint of Guinness and you’re there! It might even be better than going in person. The tour of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland is also well worth the time.
There are multiple amazing tours you can take of Amsterdam, including tours of museums, art galleries, and even regional castles and windmills.
Belgium has an increasing number of virtual tour sites that range from the cultural to the historic, if not the simply cool. Check out the Atomium in Brussels or this very interesting look at the city from its highest vantage points.
City of love and home of the Eiffel Tower, you can explore France’s top cultural and tourist attractions from your laptop. For example, the Louvre, home of famous paintings like the Mona Lisa, is visited by millions of tourists every year. This site offers a vast selection of virtual tours that take you on a trip through well-known permanent exhibits as well as exhibits like “Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader”. Don’t miss the intriguing tour of the Louvre’s first moat. And, of course, the virtual Mona Lisa experience.
Tired of museums with “just” art? Take this stunning tour of the Palace of Versailles “Hall of Mirrors” to reflect on the past. And for a truly comprehensive virtual visit, check out the official website of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. A walking tour of France’s most famous city has never been so easy!
Using one of the most comprehensive city virtual tour sites, you can visit Hamburg (by day and night), the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, plus popular sites in Muenster, Munich, and Dresden. For a super interactive experience of one of Germany’s coolest castles (Neuschwanstein Castle), be sure to visit this site. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s hard to go wrong with a tour of the country offered by My Switzerland. This one has it all, from nature and adventure experiences to national landmarks (yes, castles too) and city tours.
Spanish history is increasingly coming online. From the Thyssen and Picasso Museums in Malaga to Gaudi’s unfinished basilica in Barcelona and the Prado in Madrid, you can surf them all with your slippers on.
For the more nature inclined, check out this pilgrimage to the Way of St. James, aka the Camino de Santiago. Or even skip to Segovia to explore one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world (although you will need Adobe Flash for this one).
Portugal’s historical sites (like the Castle of the Moors) open themselves up to the armchair traveller easily. And, of course, be sure to check out the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (one of the most important Portuguese museums).
What tour of Italy would be complete without checking out the Vatican? With stunning views of Urban VIII, the Alexandrine, and Papyri Halls, as well as the intriguingly named “Profane Museum”, perhaps you can cross this one off your bucket list without ever going in person.
Ever dreamed of strolling through the Acropolis? If so, you can now do it without the plane ticket. A wondrous walk through history has never been easier than this virtual tour of one of the most famous Greek artefacts on the planet. As an added plus, this site has virtual tours of other famous archaeological sites like the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the theatre of Dionysus.
For those more in the mood for a taste of Greek culture outside of museums, this site is a must-visit for tours of everything from the Castilian Spring where supplicants came to consult the Oracle, to a stunning look at the Bay of Galaxidi.
There are a few online finds that the armchair traveller can easily start with. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is worth a visit, simply because of its location. The Winter Palace is also stunning. Another must on your digital roadmap should be the exhibits at the Virtual Russian Museum. You will be there for hours. And, of course, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow is worth a gander for its masterpieces by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Rubens.
2: NORTH AMERICA
It’s two countries, with lots of terrain to cover. Here is a brief list of cool immersive experiences to help you begin your virtual journey in the most fun way possible.
With so many to choose from, choose wisely. But the live webcam experience at the Monterey Bay Aquarium should be top of your list. Watch sea otters frolic, or get hypnotised by the placid floating of jellyfish. Also at the top of your “wild west” experience, be sure to check out the San Diego Zoo site, which features the Panda, Hippo, and Platypus “cams” among others.
Be sure to also take a sneak peek at the NASA space centre app, which includes interactive tours, selfie filters, as well as digital explorations of the Moon. Seriously out of this world! The National Museum of the US Air Force is also pretty cool and even includes a virtual cockpit visit!
Then there are the virtual tours of America’s National Parks (all of them) with cool history and trivia to go along with stunning views. And for some good ole American Museum culture, check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which offers virtual tours that you can’t even access in person. And don’t forget the virtual tours offered by the Smithsonian.
There is plenty to choose from in North America’s northern half. For example, Attractions Ontario offers virtual tours that range from helicopter experiences to multiple museum exhibits and even a roller coaster ride! The Virtual Museum of Canada is also worth exploring, with exhibits covering history, science, art, and nature on this very cool tour site.
3: SOUTH AMERICA
South America also offers the wonders of its worlds virtually these days. Start with Machu Picchu, home of the legendary ancient Peruvian Incas, which comes alive in this immersive tour. Breathtaking landscapes and ancient ruins are all at your fingertips.
For some of the most stunning interactive videos of the region, also be sure to check out the National Geographic site. The Galapagos is highly recommended just for appetisers, but expect to want to eat a full meal here! You’ll enjoy hours of interactive fun for the entire family.
It’s a big continent, with many different countries. To get an absolute leg up on some of the culture, be sure to check out this site. From the National Museums of the Philippines, Korea, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok, Thailand to the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, this is a great place to start!
Don’t miss this cool experience at the Great Wall of China. And for a superb site that covers everything from the Taj Mahal to the ruins of Karnataka, let your mouse do the walking at this absolute find.
Wild Earth is an award-winning, expert-hosted live safari in your living room. This is a great place to start when virtually exploring this large continent. The safaris come right to you from Djuma Private Game Reserve, Chitwa Chitwa in the Sabi Sands, and andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve. Viewers can join up to two live safaris a day, each lasting three hours.
Australia offers a plethora of cool places to visit virtually. Be sure to start by checking out the Australian National Surfing Museum. Then, step inside a real ship museum on board the replica of the HMB Endeavour that James Cook sailed. The National Archive of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, and the National Gallery of Victoria all are online, offering a bit of Aussie culture.
The British Antarctic Survey offers a stunning site with virtual tours that cover just about everywhere. From Ascension Island to King Neptune’s Court, this site has it all. One of the more interesting tours is set at the Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice shelf. It takes you into the different pods for interesting, interactive tours that let you leave the huskies, if not the frozen tundra, far behind. It’s a highly intriguing look at a scientific community at work in one of the most remote areas of the world.