It’s almost Easter. And that means that the Easter holidays are just around the corner. Yesterday, we were supposed to take a train to Brussels where we would stay for five days. We were looking forward to meeting up with friends, eating fries and taking day trips all over Belgium (in particular to Brugges, which everyone says is insanely beautiful).
Then, on Good Friday, we had a flight to Mallorca, where we would meet with my parents and my brother to spend a relaxing long weekend. Despite being Spanish, Daniel had never been to Mallorca. And while I had spent a weekend in Mallorca a while ago, there were so many places left to explore on this beautiful island! Plus, I love the idea of meeting up with my family somewhere random in Europe.
So as you can see, we had lots and lots of plans for Easter. And instead of eating Belgian waffles, we are currently at home where we will have to stay for a while. There’s no way we can go to Brussels or to Belgium. Brugges will have to wait at least a few months, if not longer. Nobody knows when we’ll be able to fly again.
Despite everything, we can count ourselves lucky. While we’re still waiting for Ryanair to transfer the money we spent, we will likely get most of it back. But more importantly, we are healthy and both able to work from home. Right now, that is not a given. Hearing from people who lost their jobs, seeing the death rates go up all over the world, we know that we can’t complain about our failed travel plans.
But after three weeks of staying at home and only going out for groceries, we have started to think about travel again. Because eventually, this pandemic will pass and we will go back to living our lives to the fullest. This is why we will keep publishing articles about our recent trip to the Baltics. We want for this blog to serve as a travel resource you can use while staying at home, a place that inspires you to dream about future trips.
But we want to go even further. All of this dreaming is amazing, but what if you want to see new places right now? Then you’re in luck. A lot of tourist attractions all over the world allow you to visit them online. Virtual tours are becoming more and more popular. Here are some that you can visit right now, to help you overcome the time of self-isolation and waiting.
#1 The British Museum, London
One of the best museums to visit online is the British Museum. Yes, seeing those exhibits on a screen is not the same as standing next to them. But wow, this museum put a lot of work into making their exhibits available on the internet and giving you lots of information about them.
Plus, you can find many different ways of exploring the museum. My favourite one is this timeline, which highlights the museum’s most important exhibits. Plus, it sorts them not only by time but also by continent and by topic. It’s a lot of fun to click on the different objects and listen to the audio to learn more about them.
With Google Street View, you can also take a virtual tour through the museum. Be warned. This place is giant, so you will most likely get lost.
The British Museum has a great overview on their website about all the things you can look at while stuck at home. We urge you to go and explore. The Maya special exhibition is also pretty cool. It even allows you to go and take a virtual tour of the Mayan ruins of Palenque! In fact, this museum has so many different things listed online that you can easily spend a day or two just exploring everything they have to offer.
#2 Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
The British Museum is great. But sometimes, it’s nice to get outside.
We have “see a volcano erupt” on our bucket list. And wow, that’s a huge item and we have no idea when that’s going to happen. Especially now, with everything in lockdown. And while it’s going to be very hard to see a volcano erupt, even online, we can at least go and see the volcanoes in Hawaii. On your online visit, you will go into the rain forest and into a lava tube. And you’ll even fly over an active volcano!
Go and check out the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park!
#3 Sistine Chapel, Vatican
We should probably call this the Vatican Museums. But the highlight of these museums, the one room that everyone comes to see, is the Sistine Chapel. To be honest, when I visited, I found it a bit underwhelming. It was packed with people and we weren’t even allowed to stop and take our time to properly look up at the ceiling.
The good news is, now you have the chance of visiting the chapel online and exploring it properly. And you can even go and take virtual tours of other parts of the museum. Or you can just look at the exhibits in the catalogue and read up on their history.
#4 Stonehenge, UK
Did you know you can visit Stonehenge online? The website is really cool, offering you different experiences. First, you can explore the site by day. While you look around the stone circle, you have the chance to click on various objects. Videos will pop up and explain to you more about those parts of Stonehenge.
My favourite part by far, though, is the skyscape. You can get a really great look at the skies and the stars above Stonehenge. If you visit at night though, as we did, you should quickly clean your screen. Those stars were quite hard to see with all that dust! Oh, and if your timing isn’t right and it’s during the day? Don’t worry. You can just skip to whatever time of the day you prefer. Morning, midday, night, you can select everything.
Once you’re done with that, make sure to also check out the virtual maps. There are lots of them. By the time you’re done, you’ll know as much about Stonehenge as if you had been there.
#5 Louvre, Paris
The Louvre might be closed right now but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. Your online tours are just one click away! My favourite one is the Petite Galerie, which, unfortunately, is only available in French. It’s really well-made though, giving you the option to explore lots of paintings in detail. And if you have a VR-headset, you can even explore it there!
Since we seem to have a problem with Flash on this computer, I have only been able to open the Galerie d’Apollon one, but not the other two. If you have, please let us know how they look and if they’re as fun as the other ones.
#6 San Diego Zoo
What’s better than watching cute animal videos? Watching animals live, as they enjoy themselves at the San Diego Zoo! Yes, we are aware that this section is titled “For Kids”. But come on! Even adults can enjoy watching a koala munch on eucalyptus leaves. And don’t get us started on the cute penguins! Or the owls.
Did you know, by the way, that owls are one of the most stupid birds out there? Yeah, we know, it’s very sad. Believe us, we were just as shocked when we learned that in Costa Rica.
Talking about learning. The San Diego Zoo website has lots of resources if you want to learn more about animals. From educative videos to fun websites about lots of different animals, where I learned that there’s a species of kangaroos that lives in trees. It’s really worth checking it out.
#7 Yosemite National Park, California
If you’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite National Park, then this is your chance. This virtual visit is one of the best park visits we’ve found. You can easily spend hours just clicking through the park and exploring the beautiful scenery. It almost feels like you’re walking amongst the giant sequoia trees. The nice sound effects also help to make you feel like you’re really there.
The views are amazing but my favourite place is the Mariposa grove because it makes me feel as if I’m really in the middle of a forest. And if you click through it enough, you will also end up at a really cool viewpoint, I promise!
One day, when we can travel again, I’m sure we’ll go here. This online tour has definitely inspired me to visit Yosemite at one point in the future.
#8 National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
It took me a moment of walking through this museum online before I realized that I had already been here. The National Museum of Anthropology, located in Mexico City, is a brilliant museum if you want to learn more about indigenous culture from Central America. In here, you can find relics from all over the country, including the famous Stone of the Sun (click on Street View once you’re done reading up on it, to see it inside the museum).
You can also see relics found at Chichen Iza. And while you’re at it, why not quickly visit the Mayan ruins themselves in a virtual tour?
But back to the museum. Make sure to go up to the second floor. I found that one very interesting because you can see a lot of cultural items here, from baskets to clothes and even reconstructed houses. Most of the labels are, unfortunately, not digitalized. But some of the big signs are such a good quality that you can actually read them and learn lots of interesting facts about the people from Mexico.
#9 The Metropolitan Opera, New York
Right now is not the best time to go to the opera. But you are lucky because these days, you can watch performances without even having to change out of your pyjamas. The Metropolitan Opera has always had an on-demand service, where you can watch performances for a monthly prescription fee. These days, however, they also offer a daily stream of one of their top plays. That video is available for you to watch for 23 hours, so you can look at it whenever is convenient for you.
I watched a bit of Macbeth and both the sound as well as the picture quality were amazing. Tune in at the right time next week and you’ll be able to watch Aida. So far, we’ve only seen pictures but the costumes looked absolutely amazing.
#10 El Prado, Madrid
I was a bit conflicted about whether or not I should add the Prado to this list. It does offer a virtual tour, and it’s pretty innovative. On Instagram, once per day, the museum puts up a video where they focus on one item in their collection and explain it in detail. You can even watch them live, from 9:50 – 10:00 am local time. Unfortunately, this tour is only available in Spanish.
And explaining art in Spanish is complicated! While I’m able to have basic conversations with Daniel’s parents and can understand lots of what people talk about, this one is really hard.
If you’re still brushing up on your Spanish skills, take a look at the Prado’s collection online. Here, you can find suggested “itineraries”, highlighting the most important pieces of art shown in the museum. When you click on them, you can take a look at the painting and read up on it. And some of them even link to very informative videos, in English this time.
#11 Yellowstone National Park
If you want to visit a landscape very different from what most people can see outside their window, you should visit the Yellowstone National Park online. This website has many features, including guided virtual tours through different areas of the park. While it isn’t quite as interactive as Yosemite National Park, it is still lots of fun to see.
With many geysers and thermal activity, Yellowstone is a very unique area. The website will explain to you where all of this activity comes from. Not just that, you’ll also learn that you can see lots of different natural phenomena here, with different names, appearances and causes. It’s a great inspiration and makes me want to visit as soon as we can travel again!
#12 Guggenheim Museum, New York
We included lots of museums on this list, and we wanted to include one more that is very famous all over the world. The Guggenheim Museum in New York shows impressionist, early modern and contemporary art and receives more than a million visitors every year. Of course, that number will go down for 2020, but you can still go on a virtual tour through Google Arts and Culture. It’s worth it already for the interesting architecture.
You should also go to the museum’s website where you can find lots of information about the museum and its expositions. Here, you can also find videos in which staff members explain about the museum and show you their favourite pieces of art, as well as short interviews with artists.
Bonus: Northern Lights live cam
Did you think this was it? We happen to have a bonus for you! While not directly a fixed tourist attraction, this natural appearance is one of the most impressive sights in the world.
We’re talking about the Northern Lights! We were lucky enough to see them on our recent trip to the Arctic Circle. Even if you don’t have a chance of going there right now, you can still watch them from the comfort of your house. Just tune in to the live cam in Churchill, Canada! You do, of course, need to be lucky to see the lights. It’s just like in real life. You’re going to spend lots of times waiting and then, suddenly, they will be there! So have fun with this one and good luck!
The 12 attractions mentioned above only represent a fraction of the museums and natural sights you can see online at the moment. If you go to Google, you will find lots more and almost all of them are very well made. These ones were our favourites, though, and we hope that we covered a wide range of topics, from national parks to operas and art.
Which one is your favourite? Or hasn’t it made it on the list yet? We know it sucks, being unable to travel. But maybe these virtual tours will allow you to forget about coronavirus for a moment. Have fun exploring and remember to stay safe and at home!
If you need more inspiration on what to do while you can’t travel, we have put together a list of ideas.
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