Riley’s Contributors share some of the best places to visit online when the hankering for some virtual travel takes a hold. We hope you’ enjoy our list of these top virtual travel sites.
Just because we may be spending a lot more time at home over these days, doesn’t mean we can’t still see the world from the comfort of our living rooms.
Thanks to the magic of technology, there are a variety of ways we can travel to our favourite museums, listen to our favourite musicians, or even visit our favourite landmarks with just the click of a button.
To help you get the most out of your ‘stay-at-home time’, we’ve put together our very own list of a few of our favourite places to enjoy some virtual travel. We hope you’ll join us and enjoy Riley’s recommendations of the best place to visit online through these top virtual travel sites.
Back in the USSR…
Located in Barrie Ontario, the MacLaren Art Centre has some amazing collections, including the largest collection of Stalin-era photos from the USSR anywhere outside Moscow. Get a taste of their collection online, and then plan to visit in person when things re-open.
Journey Along Canada’s Rideau Canal
Take a trip down the Rideau Canal, including a stop in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. Thanks to television station TVOyou can now enjoy a remarkable four-hour journey in real time along Ontario’s magnificent Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and North America’s oldest continuously operating canal system. Visit www.trippingtherideaucanal.ca/ to watch this fascinating show.
Go on a Safari!
Lions, tigers, and… spiders – oh my! Join WildEarth, an award winning broadcaster focused on connecting people with nature on various live wildlife TV shows, broadcasts, and encounters. Go on a live safari as they search for critters of the South African bushveld. Twice a day, expert guides take you on a virtual safari experience. Interact with your guide by asking questions through the comments section at .
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Take a ranger-led tour and witness stunning images of the rippling black rock formations and the still-fiery lava flows that feed them in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. You’ll also stand inside a rainforest, go underground to tour a lava tube, and take a helicopter flight over an active volcano – a vantage you’d be hard pressed to find on an actual visit. Check out this incredible virtual travel adventure here.
The Taj Mahal
Tour India’s Taj Mahal, one of the most lavish – and romantic – architectural tributes on earth. This UNESCO World Heritage Site sees up to 8 million visitors a year… and you can now be one of them. Check out this amazing video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=665AHTNpf2o.
Go Diving With National Marine Sanctuaries
Join a Ranger Tour in Bryce Canyon
The amazing topography of Bryce Canyon in Arizona is a sight to behold. Take a virtual ranger-led tour that takes you into the canyon’s corners and over its swells, accompanied by fascinating behind-the-scenes notes throughout the journey. It’s the next best thing to being there.
Witness the Northern Lights
Experience the wonder that is the Aurea Borealis while staying warm thanks to the Churchill Northern Studies Centrein Manitoba Canada. Watch this spectacular display here.
The Great Wall of China
Even though you can’t physically walk the 3,000 km of the Great Wall of China in person, you can enjoy your own trek with a virtual visit instead. See it here.
Visit the Louvre in Paris
If you have always wanted to see the Mona Lisa up close and personal, why not take the opportunity to check it out online? You can see it and hundreds of other amazing exhibits at the world’s most-popular museum by visiting www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne and joining one of their excellent on-line tours.
Explore the Musée d’Orsay
Also in Paris, take in 278 masterpieces – including a self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh and Éduoard Manet’s legendary nude Olympia – by visiting the Musée d’Orsay. All the pieces seen on-line have extensive descriptions and notations for your perusing pleasure.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
View exhibits and more than 42,000 works on display at Washington’s National Gallery of Art. Click here to start your journey.
Uffizi Galleries in Florence
Take a virtual walk through the Uffizi Gallery in Florence before stopping to admire some of the museum’s most famous inhabitants. During your visit, don’t forget to drag the screen and look up at the beautiful frescoes on the ceiling, painted by Alessandro Allori.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Browse more than 500 works at Johannesburg Art Gallery, Africa‘s largest art gallery. The museum houses works from Dutch and European artists, as well as an array of works from South African artists. For a more historical angle, browse their online exhibit about the role of photography and resistance in the era of Apartheid.
National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
The intimate nature of portraiture makes this museum a particularly great option for a home browse. Check it out here.
National Gallery Victoria
More than 75,000 works from the National Gallery Victoria in Melbourne Australia are available online for your enjoyment. In addition to viewing their impressive art collection, they also offer free curator-led virtual exhibition tours, which are added to regularly.
On the other side of the pond, the Tate Galleries in the UK are offering downloadable exhibition guides, including for the recently opened Aubrey Beardsley and Andy Warhol exhibitions, and their online collection, featuring nearly 80,000 pieces of art. Check it out at .
British Museum in London
Explore a stunning visual timeline of the world, with an array of annotated objects. Check out the exhibition A History of the World in 100 Objects, a podcast narrated by the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor.
African American History and Culture, Washington, DC
If you’ve ever wanted to visit an extremely popular museum but couldn’t seem to nab tickets, a virtual tour is the next best thing. This virtual tour of Washington’s African American History and Culture Museum can give you a small peak into everything it has to offer.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Washington, DC
Dinosaurs! Snakes in jars! Giant diamonds! The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is a great option for keeping the grandkids – or the kid in you – busy. Check out the Ocean Hall, The Hall of Mammals, or the Hall of Fossils.
Russia’s State Hermitage Museum: St. Petersburg, Russia
Enjoy a five-hour tour of Russia’s largest museum, the State Hermitage Museum, complete with 45 galleries and nearly 600 masterpieces.
Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors
If you missed one of the hottest traveling museum exhibits of the past few years enjoy a quick room-by-room rundown of the hypnotic, multi-faceted work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Check out the amazing Infinity Mirrors here.
Banksy Murals Around the World
If street art is your jam, why not go on an artistic scavenger hunt without leaving the comfort of your own home? Check out these amazing murals by graffiti artist Banksy.
Street Art tours
Go beyond Banksy and explore the stories behind street art across the world with audio-guided tours and online exhibitions, offered by the Google Cultural Institute. Check out these amazing tours .
Van Gogh’s Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City
Enjoy a close up look at some of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, including the remarkable Starry Night, at the online home of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The White House: Washington, DC
Want to hang out in the Oval Office? Don’t mind if we do! By the way, the online exhibit sections of Google Arts & Culture’s offerings are like having your own personal tour guide. Our suggestion: The Virtual Tour of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building will get you acquainted with stunning spaces you’ve only ever seen on TV.
Palace of Versailles: Versailles, France
Explore one of France’s national treasures, the Palace of Versailles, and enjoy its impressive collections of Baroque art, architecture, and so much more. You can even go outside the palace for a spectacular birds-eye-view of the palace grounds.
The Prambanan Temple: Yogyakarta, Indonesia
There’s so much to behold in the iconic Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This famous and intricate Hindu temple complex can be explored virtually as you step up to the spires with the arrow marks and drag your cursor to get a good look at the carvings. A simply breathtaking experience.
The Sistine Chapel: Vatican City
There are a lot of museum collections to explore on the Vatican’s virtual site. But first, go straight to zooming in on all of the detail on the Sistine Chapel. Click here to enjoy this amazing experience.
The Toronto Zoo
Follow the Toronto Zoo on Facebook and tune in daily at 1pm to experience a live component with their Wildlife Care team. You can also follow them on and for updates on how zoo keepers are caring for the Zoo’s 5,000 animals during the closure.
Ripleys Aquarium, Toronto
Ever wanted to be a risk taker and swim with the sharks? Well, now you can thanks to Ripleys Aquarium in Toronto. Tune in to the aquarium’s Facebook page at 1pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to see them feeding the sharks, or check out their shark camera anytime.
The Cincinnati Zoo
Every day while school is out, the Cincinnati Zoo (home of the famous Fiona the hippo), will be hosting a Home Safari on their Facebook Live Feed at 3 pm ET. They’ll have up-close animal experiences. Check it out at www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/.
The Shedd Aquarium: Chicago, Illinois
The Shedd Aquarium has already captured hearts with the antics of its resident penguins, which have been filmed roaming the now-empty halls of the aquarium, looking at all of the other exhibits. But animal lovers will want to follow their Facebook page, too. Here they’re sharing all kinds of behind-the-scenes videos and fun virtual experiences. Visit their website at www.sheddaquarium.org.
The San Diego Zoo
Want to have something fun going on in the background while you’re working, or merely to pass the time? Your favourite zoo probably has live cams so you can check in on all the animals. The San Diego Zoo is a great place to start.
The Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta also has live streams worth checking out, too! Best of all, you can pick what animal you want to watch at your leisure. Here’s a link to one of our favourites, the aquarium’s awesome African penguins:
Do you have favourite online places to visit when the urge to get in some virtual travel strikes? If so, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your top virtual travel sites.