We may all be temporarily grounded, but thanks to the miracles of the internet, we can tour this big beautiful world from pretty much anywhere — with the added bonus of not having to deal with lines and fellow tourists. Virtual tours can take you pretty much anywhere, from distant lands to historic museums to your local zoo. Through them, you can witness eye-popping natural phenomena, explore mountain tops and deep caverns, and tour cities you’ve always dreamed of visiting. And you can do all of this from the couch. Here are our favorite virtual travel experiences right now.
Take a virtual trip across Japan
Bummed that your Olympic dreams are on hold? Check out this 360-degree VR movie from the Japan National Tourism Organization, which takes you on a wide-ranging tour of the country that features everything from bamboo forests to sushi making. If for some reason you’re looking to introduce additional chaos to your life right now, you can watch this live feed of Shibuya Crossing, a popular Tokyo “scramble crossing” where pedestrians cross in all directions at once. You might also enjoy this live feed of a Kyoto cat cafe, or this live feed of white storks during hatching season, or this incredibly dope VR footage of port town Mochimune. Feeling like we’re forgetting something … hm. Oh! Cherry blossom live feeds. Lots. Of. Them!
Hike the Great Wall of China
Walking along the Great Wall has been at the top of many “vacation goals” lists for centuries before hashtags were invented. Now, you can take a virtual hike in lieu of actually exerting physical effort. This virtual tour spans six and a half miles of the wall between Jinshanling and Simatai, a stretch known for having some of the most quintessential views in China. Lots of handy educational material to accompany the view, too.
Get a glimpse of the northern lights
The upper reaches of Manitoba are a place where social isolation is kind of just the norm, but there’s a big tradeoff: It’s a prime viewing spot for the Northern Lights. And thanks to the folks at Polar Bears International and stream the spectacular natural fireworks show without trudging through the snow. In addition to blissing out to the ions dancing around your screen, you can finally learn exactly how they work, too., you can
Explore the natural wonders of Chile
You can now download Chile 360, a free app that will help you virtually explore wonders from the Torres del Paine to the Atacama Desert to Easter Island. The National Historic Museum of Chile is offering virtual tours, too. And in very excellent news, you can enjoy the European Southern Observatory’s virtual tour of the famed astronomical observatory in Santiago. If you happen to have a VR headset, there’s a whole other world of experience open to you there, but those of us doing this from our cell phones should jump to this link and choose from the VR options that follow — for soothing views of the brightly colored galaxy above, I recommend La Silla.