At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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Traveling is one of the best ways to enjoy the arts and the vast array of cultures from around the world. It gives us first-hand experience that can teach us and move us in many ways.

But sometimes, traveling is not an option. Whether it’s for financial, health, safety, or work-related reasons, we have to stay home and postpone our trips. 

Of course, nothing compares to experiencing the world in person. Still, many museums, landmarks, national parks, and other attractions offer virtual tours which allow us to experience them almost as if we were there. 

Here are 45+ of the best virtual tours around the world in the following categories:


MUSEUM VIRTUAL TOURS


As a civilization, we’ve done a pretty good job of documenting and preserving some of the best art in world-class museums, and thankfully, many of them allow us to admire their art virtually.

The Louvre in Paris, France

The Louvre – Paris, France

Based in Paris, the Louvre is the world’s most famous museum and one of the most important, if not the most important, art museums in the world.

There you can see several masterpieces like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Virgin of the Rocks, The Coronation of Napoleon, and many more.

The Louvre’s free virtual tour takes you through the Egyptian Antiquities, the remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and the Galerie d’Apollon.

Guggenheim Museum NYC

Guggenheim Museum – New York, New York, USA

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum in New York is worth seeing both for its architecture and its art. In fact, the building was a key part of New York City’s architectural evolution.

Take a look at the museum from the outside to see its unique shape, then step in to see how that shape is reflected in its central space. The main gallery is a spiral ramp; you can walk up/down to see every piece of art in a fluid motion. 

Their virtual tour allows you to discover incredible works of art from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary eras.

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The MASP in Sao Paulo

MASP – São Paulo, Brazil

Located in São Paulo, Brazil, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) is worth seeing both for its architectural style and its artwork display.

This non-profit museum is not only Brazil’s first modern museum but also one of the most important art museums in the Americas. 

The artwork in this museum is displayed on clear perspex frames, making it seem like they are hovering in midair. Take a virtual tour to see them for yourself.

Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

If you’re a fan of this tragic, ingenious painter, then you must take a virtual peek at his museum.

The Vincent van Gogh Museum houses the most extensive collection of artworks by the painter, including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and over 750 personal letters. 

His most famous masterpiece, The Starry Night, is at the MoMA in New York City rather than the Van Gogh Museum. But there is this pretty cool VR/360 video that lets you experience the painting virtually. It’s worth checking out!

Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Also in Amsterdam, we have the Rijksmuseum – the country’s most famous art museum. Explore the masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age, including works from Rembrandt and Vermeer, among others.

Take Google’s Street View tour to wander its halls and see the best of Dutch art.

Pergamon Museum Berlin

Pergamon Museum – Berlin, Germany

As one of Germany’s largest museums and one of the most important historical museums in the world, Pergamon has a lot to offer. And guess what, the Pergamon Museum virtual tour is just as expansive.

Ancient artifacts, including the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Pergamon Altar (from where the museum gets its name), are kept here for us to admire.

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British Museum – London, UK

The British Museum, located in the heart of London, allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court, see Egyptian mummies, and take a look at the ancient Rosetta Stone that helped linguists decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Through their virtual tour, you can also see hundreds of other artifacts currently on display in this museum. 

The Venus de Milo at the Uffizi, Florence

Uffizi Gallery – Florence, Italy

The Uffizi is an interesting museum. It houses the art collection of one of Florence, Italy’s most prominent (and even famous/infamous) families from the Renaissance era, the Medici Family. 

Giorgio Vasari originally designed the building in 1560 as a palace for Cosimo I de ‘Medici, but today, anyone from around the world can wander its halls both physically and virtually.

Don’t miss checking out Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, The Annunciation by DaVinci, and the Self-portrait as a Young Man by Rembrandt, among others.

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National Museum of Anthropology – Mexico City, Mexico

Built in 1964, the National Museum of Anthropology curates the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic heritage. Wander through its 23 exhibit rooms filled with ancient indigenous artifacts, including many from the Mayan civilization.

National Gallery of Art – Washington, DC, USA

This famous American art museum features two online exhibits. The first is an exhibit of American fashion ranging from 1740 to 1895, including many displays of clothes from the colonial and Revolutionary eras.

The second exhibit is a collection of works by Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer.

Musée d’Orsay – Paris, France

See dozens of famous works from French artists from the late 19th century and early 20th century as you virtually walk through this popular gallery.

Take a peek at artworks from Cézanne, Monet, and Gauguin, among many others.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – Seoul, South Korea

One of Korea’s most popular museums can be visited through Google’s virtual tour, which takes you through six floors of both Korean and international contemporary art.

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The Getty Museum in Los Angeles

The J. Paul Getty Museum – Los Angeles, California, USA

The Getty Museum is the most important art museum in Los Angeles, and you’ll notice that the moment you virtually step into this architectural complex designed by Richard Meier. 

European artworks dating as far back as the 8th century can be seen here. Take a Street View tour to discover not only the building’s architecture, but also its vast collection of drawings, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, and photographs.

Anne Frank

Anne Frank House – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This small museum was the house where Anne Frank hid with her family during the holocaust in WWII. Look around the Secret Annex and find out more about what happened here.

Also, take a virtual stroll through the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary.

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MoMA, New York, New York, USA

This is one of my favorite museums in the world. Founded in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art was the first museum dedicated to collecting art from the modern era.

The museum showcases some of history’s most famous contemporary art painters like Van Gogh, Dali, Andrew Wyeth, Andy Warhol, Mondrian, and Picasso, among many others.

The Google Arts virtual MoMA tour may only present 129 of those artworks, but they are some of the most important masterpieces in the museum.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – Washington, DC, USA

The Smithsonian virtual tour is very comprehensive, allowing you to explore many current and past museum exhibits.

Go back millions of years to see fossilized dinosaurs, go underwater to see giant whales and other marine life, and learn about the origins of humans through the Neanderthals, among many other of the best exhibits the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has to offer.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, New York, USA

Last but not least (in the museum category) is arguably America’s premier museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This building is not only a New York icon, but it also has one of the most celebrated collections in the world.

Take a look at twenty-six virtual exhibits and over 200,000 documented works to learn about almost any era in history, including civilizations like the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Asian art, Medieval art, and contemporary art.

In addition to the museums mentioned above, Google Arts and Culture partnered with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours of their spaces.

Notable mentions of other world-class museums you should check out are:


NATIONAL PARKS VIRTUAL TOURS


For those who want to surround themselves with nature without traveling, many of the US’ most popular national parks are also providing virtual tours. 

Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, USA

Ready to explore Yellowstone? Well, You don’t have to take a trip to see the best of the first national park in the US – established on March 1, 1872.

You can explore now by virtually touring some of the main attractions around the park. There’s a lot of information about the geological formations, including Yellowstone’s iconic geyser, Old Faithful. 

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite National Park – California, USA

Most visitors are drawn to the Yosemite Valley by the stunning scenery, imposing cliffs, and spectacular waterfalls, and now you can also enjoy them virtually.

See iconic natural features like Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, and Half Dome. Walk through the densely forested trails and marvel at Yosemite Falls – the highest waterfall in North America. 

Kenai Fjords National Park – Alaska, USA

Kenai’s virtual tour lets you kayak through majestic icebergs, explore glaciers and descend into their icy crevasses, and get panoramic views of its fjords. 

Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah, USA

Despite its name, this national park is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters. Still, you can see the beautiful red and orange hues, and the changing hoodoos of this desert landscape from the comfort of your home. 

Their virtual tour, centered on Sunset Point, lets you enjoy the star-filled night sky. This night sky 360 view is gorgeous, and you can even learn about the visible constellations!

The tour also lets you get up close to the park’s unique rock formations, and even take a horseback ride through the canyon.

Kauai Island in Hawaii

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii, USA

One of Hawai’i’s most famous national parks is also accessible online. Their virtual tour lets you fly over an active volcano, enjoy the stunning view from the volcanic coastal cliffs, and see the effects of a volcanic eruption from 1959.

You can also explore the Nahuku Lava Tube, which is a cave formed by flowing lava and is used to drain the lava during an eruption. 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico, USA

Located in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, the Carlsbad Caverns National Park is famous for its over 100 caves.

During the Carlsbad Caverns National Park virtual tour, you can take a walk through their fascinating caverns, take a look at the incredible rock formations, and even see the bats that live in the cave system. You can also experience their “life as a bat” simulation – which is one of the most unique virtual tours I’ve come across.

The Fort at Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park – Florida, USA

This remote and underrated park is located 70 miles west of Key West, but thanks to this virtual tour, it is now more accessible than ever.

Visit the Civil War-era Fort Jefferson, dive into a shipwreck from 1907, and swim through the third-largest coral reef in the world.


LANDMARK VIRTUAL TOURS


There are a few landmarks around the world that offer free virtual tours, including:

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace – London, UK

Explore the iconic building and official residence of The King. Buckingham Palace has been at the center of many moments of national celebration, from Jubilees and weddings to VE Day and the annual Trooping the Colour, which marks The Queen’s official birthday. 

The Buckingham Palace virtual tour will take you to the Grand Staircase, the White Drawing Room, the Throne Room, and the Blue Drawing Room.

The Statue of Liberty – New York, New York, USA

This virtual tour will give you unprecedented access to one of the world’s best-known, beloved, and inspiring symbols; The statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

Learn about the Statue of Liberty through 360-degree tours, videos, and photographs.

Can’t Travel? Here are 45+ of the Best Virtual Tours Around The World 1
All cool at the Great Wall!

Great Wall of China – Beijing, China

Considered a wonder of the world, and China’s most famous attraction, the Great Wall of China is an essential stop on any trip to the country.

It boasts a history of over 2,000 years and stretches over 3,000 miles across several provinces of northern China, making it one of the most impressive ancient structures on the planet.

The Great Wall of China virtual tour allows you to see several points along the wall, or you can enjoy this quick timelapse video I made walking along the Mutianyu section of the wall.

The White House – Washington, DC, USA

Thanks to Google Maps Street View, we get to see the interiors of the most famous address in the United States; 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, or The White House. 

Walk the public spaces, see the artwork and portraits of past presidents, enter the red room, green room, and more. 

Rome's Colosseum, Italy

The Colosseum – Rome, Italy

Step inside the most famous Roman Colosseum. See the ruins of this magnificent world wonder and take a 360-degree tour around its pit.

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Stonehenge – Wiltshire, United Kingdom

As one of the most mysterious places in the world, the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge is one you should not miss virtually visiting.

Its rings of standing stones and burial mounds still baffle scientists as to its real purpose. Through these Google Street Views, you get to see the circles from within.

Pharaoh Ramesses II Tomb – Aswan, Egypt

This 360-virtual tour is pretty amazing! In it, you’ll see the long corridor full of hieroglyphs and huge statues leading to the burial chamber. It’s quite impressive!

I visited this tomb in Aswan and other burial sites in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and I have to say it brought back memories of when I was there.

Ramesses was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty of Egypt and ruled the kingdom for 66 years! 

Giza Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt

Giza Pyramid Complex – Cairo, Egypt

Of course, I could not make a list of virtual tours without including the most famous pyramids in the world.

Built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (around 2500 BC), these pyramids served as the necropolis for the pharaohs and elite of the time. Still to this day, they hide many of their secrets under sand and limestone. 

While there’s not an “official” virtual tour, you can see many points of view of the necropolis, including the Sphinx, by using Google Maps Street View. (Move the little man to other blue dots to see the different views.)

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Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower – Paris, France

Similar to the pyramids, Google Maps Street View allows you to place that little man all over the place in and around the Eiffel Tower so you can see it from above, below, around, and from every point of view imaginable. 

It’s interesting to note that when the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair, the public hated it, and it was supposed to be just a temporary structure. Today, it is the symbol of France, and is recognized all over the world. 

Also, there’s a live webcam stream where you can see the Eiffel Tower at any time of the day. But make sure you tune in on the hour from sunset to 1:00 am (Paris time – GMT+2) to see the majestic light show (similar to what you see in the image above).

Remember to take into consideration your time zone when tuning in to see the light show. It starts on the hour and lasts 10 minutes.  

The Catacombs – Paris, France

The Catacombes De Paris has been the final resting place of millions of souls since the late 18th century when major public health problems tied to the city’s cemeteries led to the exhumation and transfer of the bodies to an underground site.

The first evacuations were made from 1785 to 1787, transferring the remnants from Paris’ largest cemetery, the Saints-Innocents cemetery.

Back then, the catacombs were located outside the capital city, in the former Tombe-Issoire quarries under the Plain of Montrouge.

On April 7, 1786, the site was consecrated as the “Paris Municipal Ossuary,” and from that time forward, took on the popular name of “Catacombs,” in reference to the Roman catacombs.

Since 1809, people have been able to visit the Catacombs, but now, thanks to technology, you can do a virtual tour!

Versailles in France

Palace of Versailles – Versailles, France

As the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI, the Palace of Versailles is a French icon that should not be missed. 

Walk the lavishly decorated rooms, see the art, and learn about the royal family that lived there.

Mount Vernon – Virginia, USA

Take an interactive and informative tour of George Washington’s home in Virginia. Learn about all its details, from its development and construction, its dimensions, the architectural details placed by Washington himself, and much more.  

Israel

The Holy Land – Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and more.

Virtually visit some of the most important religious spots in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, including the Wailing Wall, the Sea of Galilee, the Church of Flagellation, the Tomb of the Virgin, the Resurrection Tomb of Jesus, and many, many, many more. 

These are just a few samples of places you can virtually visit with Google Maps. Have a favorite landmark you’d like to check? Search it on Google and hit the Street View icon to peek inside.


ZOO AND AQUARIUM LIVE WEBCAMS


Need the company of a furry friend, at least virtually? Several zoos and aquariums such as the San Diego Zoo, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Houston Zoo offer live webcam viewings of penguins, pandas, beluga whales, elephants, gorillas, chimps, and many more. Check out the following:

Assiniboine Zoo Polar Bear

360 PANORAMAS OF CITIES AND NATURAL LANDMARKS


Here are some more nature spots and cities you can explore from home.

360 Cities – All over the world

360 Cities allows you to peek at thousands of 360-degree panoramas, videos, and images from all over the world. 

This other site, Sites in 3D, offers a similar panorama experience but mostly of ancient sites in the Middle East, and Central Asian Region.

AirPano is also great, as most of their 360-degree photos and videos are taken from the air.

Wilson Island – Queensland, Australia

Wilson Island is one of the eight vegetated coral cays in the Capricornia Cays National Park, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. 

This Google Maps Street View allows you to go underwater and see the beautiful corals surrounding this cay. The photos are stunning!

Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest – Nepal and China

Explore the tallest mountain in the world through this interactive 3D map of Mount Everest. The map includes the two most-traveled routes to the summit of Everest, all historical routes, and the most famous trekking routes in the Khumbu region.

Mars – A whole different planet

Who said we need to stick to earth? Thanks to NASA and Google, we can now take a virtual tour of a 3D replica of the surface of Mars recorded by the Curiosity rover. How cool is that?

This list is a perfect example of how much of this world we can see from the comfort of our homes via virtual tours. Of course, this should just serve as an inspiration and a primer to get us on the road to experience them firsthand soon!

Can't Travel? Here are 44 of the Best Virtual Tours Around the World

Dry Tortugas photo from Flickr Creative Commons.

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7 Comments

  1. Wow, I didn’t know that virtual tours can also be used to see certain historical sites all over the world. I’m interested in learning more about virtual tours because I’ve been traveling a lot less these days. Finding ways to still be able to have some freedom when looking through areas can be possible through virtual tour technologies.