Anyone who hasn’t been hiding in a bunker since 2019 knows that the world has changed drastically in recent months.
Travel is just one of many elements of our lives that have been put on hold, thanks to COVID-19. While some countries are starting to reopen their economies slowly, there’s still no word on when international or even domestic travel might become a possibility again, or what it might look like when it is. But there is a silver lining in all this uncertainty!
We’re lucky to have more technology at our disposal than any other generation in human history, which means you don’t need to leave your house (or even your bed!) to travel the world. So when you find yourself wandering around your apartment or house for the umpteenth time while sheltering at home, head to one of these websites for virtual tours of your favourite museum, aquarium or UNESCO site.
Armchair archaeologist, armchair marine biologist, armchair art historian – the possibilities are endless!
Walt Disney World
Missing your Disney fix?
While you won’t be able to see Mickey Mouse in person for a little while, you can access the next best thing online. Mesmerizing aerial shots of Walt Disney World parks, including virtual rides on your favourite theme park attractions and street-level panoramas, are all possible.
You’ve never seen Disney World like this before! Check out Visit Orlando for all the fun (and if you’re more of a Universal Studios fan, there’s a lengthy walk-through virtual tour that will make you feel like you’re actually there).
at the time of publishing this article, many WDW parks are slowly opening to in-person visitors
Great Wall of China
You may not be able to see it (with the naked eye) from space as per the long-held myth, but the Great Wall of China remains one of the most impressive structures on the planet – in fact, the longest one ever created by the human race. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. So why not save yourself the airfare, travel time and jetlag, and explore this breathtaking feat of engineering virtually? Visit The China Guide HERE to get an up-close look at this 2000-year-old treasure.
Have you ever wanted a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, but couldn’t afford a trip to Paris? You’re in luck – and you won’t even have to fight the crowds of museum-goers to get up close and personal! Check out Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting along with other cultural treasures for free, from your phone, using the Louvre’s VR – Mona Lisa APP.
At-Risk UNESCO Sites
Want to explore more UNESCO World Heritage sites? Google’s Heritage on the Edge brings you 3D maps of heritage structures around the world that are at risk of disappearing due to climate change. Whether it’s from floods, erosion, fire, or even wartime destruction, the loss of cultural sites happens around us every day. Thankfully, you can see some of these precious sites, including Edinborough Castle in Scotland, Mo’ai statues on Easter Island, and the disintegrating ancient city of Chan Chan, without even leaving home! Visit HERE to take a virtual tour to learn more about these at-risk structures, as well as their history and ongoing preservation efforts.
Ancient Egypt holds a special place in the hearts and imaginations of many travellers. Buried tombs full of treasure, towering pyramids, mummies – who wouldn’t be enthralled? And there’s never been a better time to brush up on your Egyptian history and tourism, now that Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has posted links to historical sites across the country on their Website.
These virtual tours just might inspire you to book a future trip to Egypt!
Architecture fans, look no further – Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic creations might not be open to visitors right now, but you can tour a dozen of them every Thursday at 12:00 pm Central. Each participating location shares a short video of a virtual tour via their social media sites at this time (#WrightVirtualVisits), giving seasoned architects and newbies alike a fascinating look at the site’s history and design. The virtual tours will run until July 15th, at least, and you can click here for a list of participating sites.
Check out our in-person visit to the Darwin D Martin House in Buffalo
Ahhh, the joy and relaxation of an aquarium! If your aquarium screen saver just isn’t cutting it anymore, there are plenty of aquariums offering virtual tours to keep you connected with all of your favourite underwater creatures. The Vancouver Aquarium’s website, for example, features animal cams that let you peer into the lives of various adorable and beautiful creatures, including otters, jellyfish, and penguins. Check out the fun HERE.
Even before COVID-19, a vacation to Mars probably wasn’t on your radar. But while you’re remotely exploring our own planet, why not take a look at a destination that’s truly – wait for it – out of this world? Bet you didn’t know that you can take a ride on the Curiosity Rover for a tour of a 3D replica of Mars! NASA and Google teamed up to offer the immersive experience, made possible by integrating the 200,000 images taken by Curiosity since 2012 when it landed on Mars. The 3D virtual experience will help scientists learn more about the Red Planet, and it’s also pretty cool for the rest of us! Start your virtual tour.
While tourism sites in Nova Scotia are not yet open, many of them do offer virtual reminders of why the province I call home is so amazing (in my obviously biased opinion, of course!).
So if you had a trip to Atlantic Canada cancelled this year, or you’re planning a post-pandemic itinerary, here are a few sites to get you started.
Visit CB ISLAND for virtual tours of the most breathtaking views along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. Discover the biggest and oldest maritime museum in the country by touring the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – in Google Street View! Of course, no list of virtual tours ideas in Nova Scotia would be complete without the iconic Peggy’s Cove, which can be virtually explored by clicking here.
The World Awaits
This is just the tip of the global virtual tour iceberg – there are many, many more destinations waiting to be discovered via your cell phone, tablet or laptop! Now’s the perfect time to do some digital exploration, whether you want to learn more about sites close to home, or gain inspiration for post-COVID international travel. After all, the pandemic will end, and the world will be waiting to welcome you back to all its amazing cultural and historical sites. In the meantime, happy virtual travels!