You can practice social distancing and still explore some of the world’s best destinations and attractions – from the comfort of your lounge, of course.
Most of us might be in lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), but it shouldn’t prevent us seeing the world.
In the midst of my own 14-day self-isolation, I’ve managed to swoop over Ireland’s windswept Cliffs of Moher, visit the Guggenheim Museum in New York and take in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s latest performance, without even leaving the lounge.
For those who’ve had to cancel overseas holidays, or who are in lockdown, now’s the ideal time to take a virtual tour of some of the world’s iconic landmarks, museums, art galleries, parks and zoos.
Although most are physically closed to the public right now, you can still tour theatres and opera houses, including the icon Sydney Opera House or New York’s Carnegie Hall online through Google Arts & Culture.
Perhaps you’d rather take a virtual hike through one of 31 national parks in the United States, or trek Mount Fuji in Japan, the Pyramids of Giza or the Eiffel Tower in Paris – all are possible through Google Map Treks.
Maybe music’s more your thing? No problem.
Head over to Instagram to catch Aussie Keith Urban performing live from his basement studio, as part of Urban Underground series. Nicole Kidman sings along also.
As you can see, there’s plenty of live streaming experiences to keep you entertained during lockdown.
Here are some of my favourite virtual reality travel sites to explore.
You might not feel the wind whipping at your neck or smell the sea spray in the air, but an interactive tour of the Cliffs of Moher – the majestic sheer cliffs on Ireland’s west coast – is as close as you’ll get right now.
The Cliffs of Moher have faced the Atlantic for over 350 million years, but have been closed to tours until at least March 30 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The shutdown is likely to be extended as infections continue to rise in Ireland and around the world.
One of Ireland’s most visited tourist attractions, the cliffs stretch for 8 km along the Atlantic coast of Clare, reaching 214 metres at their highest point.
I was planning to visit the cliffs later this year. It’s a trip that’s now uncertain.
For now I’ll have to be satisfied admiring the dramatic landscape from the other side of the world.
Lone Pine Sanctuary, Australia
You might not be able to get up close and personal with a koala right now, but at least you can sit and watch them for hours on end thanks to the webcams at Lone Pine Sanctuary in Queensland.
There are eight different webcams in the koala habitat, as well as three in the dingo enclosure and many others for kangaroos, platypus, reptiles and birds.
Night vision cameras mean you won’t miss a minute of their secret nocturnal life either.
Lone Pine Sanctuary, in Brisbane’s south, is actually still open for locals to visit.
The rest of us will just have to watch on our laptops as the state of Queensland closes its borders with the rest of Australia to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australia
Given the ban on large public gatherings in Australia, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has decided to live stream its scheduled performances at Hamer Hall – for free.
The first live stream was viewed by 50,000 people worldwide.
It’s unclear how long these broadcasts will continue given the number of musicians in the orchestra, which itself is a large gathering. If they are forced to pull the plug, you can at least watch previous performances at MSO’s YouTube page.
With ticket sales revenue affected by the coronavirus ban, the Not-For-Profit MSO is urging viewers to consider making a tax-deductible donation via this link to ensure its longevity and support staff and musicians.
Sistine Chapel, Italy
The national lockdown in Italy has brought the country to a standstill, with streets and piazzas empty and even the Vatican shut down.
But you can still take a virtual tour of the interior artworks at Rome’s Sistine Chapel – a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope.
All of the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are the work of Michelangelo, who spent four years painting the vault between 1508 and 1512.
“The Creation of Adam” is the best-known image from the Sistine Chapel. It is located in the central part of the vault and represents the story from Genesis in which God gives life to Adam.
Tower of David, Israel
Jerusalem’s Tower of David – the picturesque fortifications beside the Old City’s Jaffa Gate – will allow visitors to tour the famous holy site from the comfort of their living rooms during April.
For the first time since 1992, Passover, Easter and Ramadan are all set to take place in the same month this year.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish, Christian and Muslim pilgrims were expected to arrive in April – until coronavirus swept the world.
To compensate, a free online tour of the Tower of David will be available from April 9-24. Outside of those dates the virtual reality experience will only be available for paid download.
Cyber visitors will be able to take in panoramic views of Jerusalem while walking among remains from the Hasmonean, Roman, early Islamic, Crusader, and Turkish periods of Jerusalem’s history – 2,000 years of fortifications layered one on top of the other.
The Great Wall of China
You can take a virtual tour of some of the most popular sections of the Great Wall of China – China’s most-visited tourist attraction.
With much of the country in lockdown, the virtual tour offers a reprieve from the crowds who normally flock to see the 2,000-year-old marvel.
Around 3,000 miles of the Great Wall are walkable. Check out what we wrote in this blog.
Zoos Victoria, Australia
The Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo are live streaming baby snow leopards, as well as giraffes, a penguin and lions.
One baby snow leopard was snoozing when we checked in on them, as you can see in the screenshot above.
If the animals aren’t active, you might be lucky enough to spot the dancing zoo worker, who last week gained global notoriety on Twitter.
The Nature Conservancy, Australia
Watch for long enough and you just might spot Nemo. But most of the time, the live under water Reef Cam at a reef in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay is little more than seaweed and algae.
Set up by the Nature Conservancy Australia, it’s Australia’s first ever rocky-reef, live-feed.
The camera provides a unique view of the submarine habitat that is home to fish, seals and even dolphins.
There’s also an above water camera at Pope’s Eye, within Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park.
The webcam shows birds that roost or nest in the area, including Australasian Gannets and Black-faced Cormorants.
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We’ll all be travelling again when the time is right.
© 2020 Bernard O’Riordan (Travel Instinct). All Rights Reserved.
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