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The best virtual tours from the comfort of your home

By Nikita Vivek Pawar  |  May 19, 2020

The closing of hotels, resorts and restaurants have altered our lives to an extent we never fathomed. Being unable to travel and visit attractions doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be completely disconnected from the outside world though. The virtual world has been our connecting thread to our loved ones as well as the intriguing and breath-taking places around the world.

To encourage social distancing and to stay relevant many museums and cultural institutions have re-engineered the experiences to adapt to the situation we are in today, via the Internet. With virtual tours, videos, exhibits and performances abound, here are some of the best digital experiences to enjoy from home.

Museums and theatres

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt has been presenting it’s exhibits online. Image credit: Städel Museum

A lot of museums have now started live streaming or presenting their exhibits online. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC has taken visitors to the sky, showcasing the amazing technological achievements that have progressed aviation and space exploration throughout the last century. The historical objects on display are fundamental to the story of flight.

The attractions include the 1903 Wright Flyer, which owns the distinction of flying the world’s first successful flight and the Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, which was the first aircraft to complete a nonstop flight from New York to Paris. You will also spot the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, the only portion of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to return to Earth, along with the spacesuit astronaut Neil Armstrong wore and a sample of a lunar rock brought back from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt displays each of the major exhibitions of the museum since 2015, including Titian and the Renaissance, Matisse/Bonnard and Making Van Gogh, each richly documented to bring the images to life and reveal their exciting content. The crème de la crème of museums, the Louvre in Paris has offered free online tours of the famous exhibits like The Body in the Movement, Egyptian Antiquities and more. The Vatican’s virtual tour has the tours of the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and Raphael’s Room and, while we would have witnessed another glorifying year at the MET Gala, the museum arranged for a peak at the Costume Institute Conversation Lab for us to get our fix.

The MET Opera house might be closed for the public now but they are streaming performances, which are available on the Met Opera website. Another cult favourite, New York’s Broadway, offers a special encore series of two dozen or so recent star-studded performances from Broadway Backwards, where genders are swapped on famous show tunes. To enrich its audience, the YouTube channel is streaming the Broadway classics, including Cabaret, Once Upon A Mattress and Anything Goes.

Zoos and theme parks

Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has made their Facebook a behind-the-scenes guide to the adorable residents of the aquarium. Image credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

As we reminisce the beauty of the nature and wildlife, many zoos and national parks have brought them to you with a number of virtual tours. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C is a house to giant pandas, lions, elephants and many other animals, while Australia’s most sacred regions, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are offering a tour within the cultural history of the park. To further pump some adrenaline within viewers, the Illawarra Fly will speed you through the Australian treetops.

If you’re craving a sighting of sea life, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has made their Facebook a behind-the-scenes guide to the adorable residents of the aquarium. The National Aquarium gives us a walk through the icy tundra with its floor-by-floor tour of the famous Baltimore-based aquarium and the Georgia Aquarium is happily showcasing its residents, from sea otters and jellyfishes to beluga whales.

Disney World has some of the more exquisite virtual tours which include the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot, to name a few. There are also unofficial YouTube videos that take you on the famous rides like the Frozen Ever After ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!, and more. The Universal Studios offer the thrilling adventure of enjoying the Wizarding world of Harry Potter from the comfort of beds and couches.

Royal tours, landmarks and events

The Blarney Castle in Ireland, known for its mythical stone that every visitor kisses for good luck, has been closed but gives daily updates on the setting via social media

A lot of major events have been cancelled, one of them being the Watch and Wonders 2020, which was scheduled for the end of April. The organisers were able to shift gears quickly and the entire event was conducted on the same dates through the Watch and Wonders website. An elaborate description followed with every release and short videos were made highlighting every piece launched and showcased at the event. The website holds all the information of the participating brands and their respective features at the exhibit.

The royals have also used the opportunity to allow digital views of their magnificent castles. The Blarney Castle in Ireland, known for its mythical stone that every visitor kisses for good luck, has been closed but gives daily updates on the setting via social media. There are digital tours of the Buckingham Castle, Windsor Castle, and Catherine Palace in Russia to add to the list too.

Making it possible to see and virtually experience the marvel of the world, Google Earth and Google Arts and Culture have made more than 32 virtual tours of national parks in the US along with other renowned spots, enabling people to transport themselves to those stunning locations and landscapes. You can get a crystal clear view down from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the stunning Taj Mahal in New Delhi, or unwind with a glorifying view of the Sydney Opera House or the Grand Canyon National park. Some might even suggest that a lockdown has encouraged us to explore more than ever before.

Image credit at the very top of the article: bennymarty/