hoodoos at sunrise at bryce canyon national park

Bryce Canyon National Park. (Photo: Eloi_Omella / E+)

Tips + Trends

Level Up Your Armchair Travel: Go on a Virtual World Tour

As much as we wish it weren’t true, we don’t always have the ability to travel — at times due to forces well beyond our control. But even when we’re homebound, it doesn’t mean we can’t see the world. Thanks to the wonders of technology, some of the most storied cultural landmarks, natural wonders, and famous museums and galleries around the globe offer virtual tours so you can explore from the comfort of your own home.

Although nothing can replace experiencing these sites and destinations in person, virtual tours, webcams and 360-degree panoramas are the best way to build anticipation and inspiration to check them off your bucket list when it finally is time to hit the road.

A Day at the Museum

Google Arts & Culture teamed up with more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to bring virtual tours and online exhibits to anyone with an internet connection.

View the Renaissance era art collection of the Medici family at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, more than two million years of history and culture at The British Museum in London, and 6,000 years of visual art at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The Louvre, arguably the most famous museum in Paris, offers virtual tours of its Egyptian Antiquities collection, the remains of the building’s moat (the Louvre was originally a fortress), and the gilded vaulted ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon. However, if you want a peek at the Mona Lisa, you’ll have to see it in person.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Photo: Smithsonian Museum)

Over in Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Magazine offers an online interactive tour with thoughtful factoids about the building design and exhibition halls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Famous Cultural Landmarks

Have you ever dreamed of strolling the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles? Well, thanks to Google Earth, now you can. Sort of.

The site lets you drift your way down the opulent hall that is dripping in gold, marble and crystal chandeliers, as well as explore the famed Versailles Gardens.

Google Earth gives you the ability to stand under cloudless skies next to the Great Pyramids at Giza, walk the perimeter of the Roman Colosseum and take in multiple views of the majestic Taj Mahal (the best being an aerial view of both the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb).

the great wall of china
The Great Wall of China. (Photo: zhudifeng/iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Photography-centric website AirPano offers 360-degree aerial photos and videos of landmarks around the globe and panoramic shots of the world’s most vibrant cities. Check out remarkable photos of the Great Wall of China, the glittering lights of Dubai and the rose-red walls of Petra.

Natural Wonders

Many of the world’s most stunning natural wonders are inaccessible to the average human being, but thanks to technology like satellites and drones, we can now see nature in a way that goes beyond the naked eye.

sand dunes in the sahara desert
The Sahara Desert. (Photo: Joe Regan/Moment)

Take in the sight of golden sand dunes at sunset in the Sahara Desert and the otherworldly green glow of the Northern Lights in Norway thanks to AirPano. Take a virtual tour through Yellowstone’s most populated landmarks like the Upper Geyser Basin (where Old Faithful is located) and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Or have an up-close look at five National Parks (Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, Hawaii Volcanos National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida) through the Hidden Worlds of the National Parks film and interactive series from Google Arts & Culture.

Australian sacred site and massive sandstone, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, offers 360-degree visuals as well as virtual walks accompanied by audio clips of Aboriginal Australians sharing cultural knowledge and folklore of the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people.