How to See the World's Most Beautiful Destinations From Your Couch
These virtual tours are sure to soothe your wanderlust.
While we're all staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, arm-chair travel has never been more appealing or important. Sure, Netflix watch parties and Zoom happy hours can take your mind off of things for a few hours, but at some point in your self-quarantine adventure, you've likely encountered boredom and—if you're anything like us—travel-related despair. So, if you're mourning a canceled vacation or just trying to get yourself pumped for a future trip, check out the live streams and 360-degree virtual tours that will transport you around the world. From Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana Beach to Manitoba's dancing Northern Lights, these feeds offer a glimpse of the far-flung locales we're missing the most. And to spark more wanderlust, browse through these 27 Totally Insane Travel Photos You Won't Believe Are Real.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Dramatic peak views, lush emerald terraces, and fuzzy, slope-grazing alpacas: You Visit's virtual Machu Picchu experience has everything but the altitude. Follow along on the 360-degree tour, and you'll encounter residential ruins and burial grounds, Temple of the Moon, Huayna Picchu (the summit), and the Urubamba River. Make sure you have your audio turned on too, as the tour's narration will teach you a thing or two about the ancient citadel.
Tokyo Tower is already Japan's second-tallest structure, so you can only imagine the view afforded by a camera mounted 656 feet above the needle, right? Well, with this live stream, you don't have to imagine it—you can see it. The 24/7 feed pans from Mount Fuji to Roppongi to Ginza and then Shiodome every day, so you'll catch an all-encompassing picture of the city. Want to teleport back in time? Dive into these 50 Vintage Photos That Show What Traveling Used to Look Like.
Trevi Fountain, Rome
The Trevi Fountain is used to seeing 1,200 visitors per hour, but with all of Italy on lockdown, it's sat solitary for nearly a month. Show the world's most famous fountain some virtual love by tuning into Skyline's webcam, and you'll get a crystal-clear view of its Baroque design and soothing waters.
Scuba diving may be out of the question but you can still observe all the colorful fish and turtles in the Maldives' enviable waters with Skyline's underwater camera. More of a dry land person? Throw together your tropical drink of choice and queue up the site's Meeru Island live stream, which is trained on sugar-white sands, turquoise waters, and swaying palms.
The Maldives may be far, but there are some hidden atolls in your own backyard. See them all here with these 13 Secret Islands in the U.S. You Never Knew Existed.
Times Square, New York City
New York isn't quite New York without its throngs of visitors and steady stream of yellow cabs, but not even a global pandemic can grind Times Square to a halt. While EarthCam's live stream reveals that pedestrians are few and far between, you'll see that the big screens play on with blinking Broadway advertisements and daily headlines from the Good Morning America studio.
If you're stuck in cramped quarters or holed up in your childhood home with siblings you haven't had to live with for years, this Santorini live stream is a sight for sore eyes. The camera captures a panoramic scene from the village of Firostefani, panning the island's iconic whitewashed homes and glittering Aegean Sea. And for more eye candy, check out these 23 Stunning Photos of the Most Colorful Towns in the World.
Though no live stream can compete with the views from the London Eye or Parliament Hill, this is the best quarantine-approved option out there. The 360-degree experience from Visit London offers an on-the-ground glimpse of the city from more than 25 vantage points like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge.
Virtual Victoria—created by Localing, a private tour operator—brings some of Australia's most enthralling sights to arm-chair travelers around the world. A smartphone, tablet, or laptop is all you need to tour Melbourne's vibrant street art and Phillip Island Nature Parks' penguin burrows. Some videos include narration from local experts, historians, curators, and creators, too.
Put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones and pretend you're floating in the Dead Sea or making a pilgrimage to the Western Wall with Virtually Israel's tour of Jerusalem. The YouTube channel has dozens of tours—outside of Jerusalem, too— from balloon rides over Tel Aviv to panoramic views of the Tower of David. Once you've exhausted those videos, you can also check out Sygic Travel VR's 360-degree tours, which include narration for all you history buffs.
Great Wall of China
Right now, exercise consists of 10-minute YouTube workouts and short walks to the grocery store. But we still dream of the day we'll be able to lace up our sneakers and hike even a few miles of the vast Great Wall of China. Get as close as you can to the ancient fortification with The China Guide's 360-degree virtual tour which takes you from Jinshanling to Simatai and includes various bridges, passes, and beacon towers.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If irresistible online sales have you stocking up on post-quarantine swimwear, why not take a virtual break on Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana Beach? This live stream captures an enviable slice of the two-mile shore, and while there's no people-watching to be had, you'll still catch calm waves and a few bikers who glide down the beach's geometric promenade.
Soak in Hong Kong's stunning cityscape with this live feed from Skyline. The camera—which is perched atop the Harbour Grand Hong Kong—pans over Victoria Harbor, capturing the city's soaring penthouses and sleek skyscrapers, which are set against Victoria Peak to the west and Mount Parker to the east.
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Setting up a romantic date at home? Dig your HDMI cord out of storage and hook your laptop up to your TV so you can enjoy this live view of Paris' most iconic monument—the Eiffel Tower. Skyline also has the option to play a time-lapse of the previous day in which you can catch the sunrise, sunset, and nightly light show.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite Conservancy's live cam captures the top section of Upper Yosemite Falls—one of the world's tallest cascades. The 2,425-foot drop experiences peak flow come summer, but it's still a pretty sight to be seen now. If the feed had you jonesing for more national park vistas, check out Virtual Yosemite, too. The interactive VR tour offers 360-degree vistas (and environmental audio tracks) of more than 100 park locations including El Capitan, Mirror Lake, and Glacier Point.
For a true bird's-eye view of the nation's capital, give EarthCam's 24/7 live stream a go. The company partnered with the National Parks Service to embed a camera in Washington Monument's pyramidion—AKA the tippity top of the obelisk's capstone. The million-dollar vantage point overlooks the World War II Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial (reflecting pool and all).
Enjoy the magic of the aurora borealis without journeying above the Arctic Circle via Explore's Northern Lights live cam. The camera is positioned just below the aurora oval—a circular ring around the Arctic and Antarctic—in Churchill, Manitoba. Though the light show can be observed year-round, it's most pronounced in colder months, so catch it while you still can.
Full disclosure: This EarthCam feed will have you aching to break out your surfboard, but we think it's a worthy side effect. EarthCam and The Parrish Collection Kauai have partnered to offer a live stream of Poipu Beach, which displays every sunrise, sunset, and crashing Pacific wave. Aloha, Hawaii!
And to spark more wanderlust, browse through these 27 Totally Insane Travel Photos You Won't Believe Are Real.