With travel bans now in place, public venues forced to close and self-isolation in full swing, finding ways to stay entertained might soon become a challenge in itself. However, what many people don’t realise is that there are actually plenty of things you can do and places you can visit from the comfort of your couch. As the coronavirus causes havoc across the globe, many businesses in the tourism industry are doing whatever they can to adapt. And for many this means the introduction of new virtual experiences and tours.
So for all the curious adventurers out there, why not do a little bit of virtual travel? You can get a feel for what it’s like to walk the Great Wall of China, be on safari in Africa, navigate through national parks or immerse yourself in the history and culture offered by some of the world’s best museums.
To give you inspiration, here are some of the best virtual experiences we’ve found so far:
Some of the most iconic tourist destinations are giving you the opportunity to travel virtually during this coronavirus crisis. And while it may not be as good as the real thing, it certainly gives you a feel for what it’s like to be there.
Luxury experiential travel company andBeyond is now offering virtual safaris as part of their Bring Africa Home initiative encouraging you travel to Africa from the comfort of our own living room. You can watch footage of a Great Migration crossing, a lion looking for his pride and other once in a lifetime safari experiences. There are also recipes, playlists and movie recommendations for those that are suffering from a serious case of wanderlust.
Witness the spectacular Northern Lights dancing across the sky as they get live streamed from Churchill Northern Studies Center in Manitoba, Canada. The camera has been placed directly underneath the aurora oval–one of the best places on earth to watch the aurora borealis (known as the Northern Lights). If you’ve ever tried to capture the Northern Lights on camera, you would know that it is quite difficult, so to see them so easily on your screen is pretty special. Better yet, early spring, aka now, is one of the best times of the year to view them.
A virtual vacation in Washington DC might just inspire you to plan a trip to the USA. Their 360-degree youtube videos will take you through neighbourhood hot spots, awe-inspiring musuems, and world famous landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial.
If hiking The Great Wall of China is on your bucket list, you can now get a feel for what it would be like thanks to The China Guide’s interactive virtual tour which takes you along the 10-kilometre Jinshanling to Simatai section.
Explore Ireland’s famous Cliffs of Moher from all the best vantage points thanks to their 360-degree, interactive drone imagery.
Ever fancied taking a cooking class from an authentic Italian Nonna? Well the Italian grandmother behind Airbnb’s “Handmade Pasta with Grandma” experience is making her cooking classes live so you can cook along at home instead. The new virtual experience Nonna Live, organised by Nonna Nerina and her granddaughter Chiara, costs just $50 for 2 hours of cooking, stories, laughs and pasta. Once you’re registered they will send you an ingredients list, wine pairing suggestions and any utensils you may need to cook with to help you prepare.
Museums & galleries
Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the globe to provide virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world.
You could plan the ultimate museum itinerary, perhaps starting at the British Museum in London before admiring the works of Vincent van Gogh in Amsterdam, followed by the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and ending at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The choice is yours – check out the full collection here.
Zoos & aquariums
Many zoos and aquariums around the world are setting up live streams to brighten our days with a little bit of animal love during these tough times.
Currently, Zoos Victoria is streaming the giraffes, lions, penguins and snow leopard cubs from Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo.
Meanwhile, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is running live streams of some of its sea creatures, featuring a coral reef cam, jellyfish cam, penguin cam, shark cam and a even a sea otter cam so you can keep up to date with their five furry friends – Abby, Selka, Rosa, Kit and Ivy!
To help you get in touch with the outdoors while you stay indoors, Google Arts & Culture has also teamed up with National Parks around the United States. The virtual tours follow guides as they kayak through glaciers in the Alaskan Kenai Fjords, fly over an active volcano in Hawaii, and dive a shipwreck in Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park. Check out the adventures here.
As another option, Yosemite National Park in California also offers a great, interactive virtual tour on their website to give you a good sense of what it’s like to actually be there.
With crowds of over 100 people no longer allowed, concerts, operas and festivals have all had to cancel. Yet for some, the show must go on – only this time, in virtual format.
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra have set up a YouTube channel to provide you with free live streams of them performing over coming days and weeks.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York city is streaming live performances at 7:30pm (local time) every night and keeping recordings available for 20 hours after each show. Their website also offers a collection of resources to enhance your knowledge and viewing experience.
The city of Memphis is hosting a virtual music festival that aims to not only provide entertainment relief for people around the world, but also raise funds for entertainers affected by the devastating impacts of the virus. The free event will be streamed as a live Facebook event, hosted from the Memphis Tourism website and will run from 26 to 28 March. Check out the event page to see the line-up.
The Philharmonie Berlin are offering a ‘Digital Concert Hall’ where listeners can find over 600 orchestral concerts from the Berliner Philharmoniker and enjoy them free of charge for 30 days.