With most travel plans now on hold indefinitely, it’s a great time to take advantage of the virtual travel opportunities of the internet! Google Earth and other sites make it easy to visit the wonders of the world without leaving your couch. Here are some of the best virtual tours to explore from home.
1. Grand Canyon
This mile-deep, 277-mile long canyon is the biggest and most impressive on the planet, and easily one of the most incredible wonders of the world. Google Earth allows you to hike its trails and see the best views virtually, while the National Park Service’s website provides all the information you need to understand what you’re seeing.
2. Egyptian Pyramids
Travel back in time to more than 5,000 years ago and visit the Great Pyramids of Giza online. They’re the only one of the original 7 Wonders of the World that still exist, and they continue to ignite the imagination. Explore the sites with Google Earth, and learn all about them at Discovering Egypt.
3. African Safari
Take a virtual safari to look for all of Africa’s legendary wildlife: lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, rhinos, and hundreds more. This collection of safari sites on Google Earth includes live web cams for 11 locations across Kenya, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All you need is an internet connection and a little patience to spot all kinds of amazing creatures.
4. Great Barrier Reef
Yup, Google Earth can even take you on an undersea adventure! Go for a virtual swim on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the most impressive natural wonders of the world. The interactive camera gives you close-up views of colorful corals, graceful sea fans, and plenty of fantastic fish. Plus, no need to worry about jellyfish or wear a wetsuit!
5. Yosemite National Park
America’s oldest national park is also one of its most iconic. See the famous views of breathtaking waterfalls, tree-studded mountainsides, and rocky monoliths on Google Earth’s interactive virtual tour. Then learn more about Yosemite from the National Park Service.
6. Great Wall of China
Journey through history when you visit dozens of spots along the Great Wall of China on Google Earth. See the panoramic views and admire architecture that has stood for more than 2,000 years. Stop by the Great Wall of China Travel Guide for more virtual tours and information.
7. Machu Picchu
Discover the city at the top of the world with Google Earth’s Machu Picchu tour. Set high in the Andes, this Incan city was built around 1450 and is like no other. For a different look, try this virtual Machu Picchu tour too.
8. Yellowstone National Park
One of the U.S.’s most popular national parks, Yellowstone is known for its gushing geysers, colorful hot springs, and bountiful wildlife. See them all with Google Earth, and visit the National Park Service’s site for webcams and more.
9. Mount Everest
The tallest mountain on Earth (29,029 ft) draws adventure seekers from around the world as they attempt to scale its unbelievably challenging heights. You can explore it all from the safety of your living room, though, using Google Earth or the Mount Everest 3D site.
10. Chichén Itzá
The famous complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula features a beautifully excavated towering pyramid. Nearby, other impressive ruins include a ball court, marketplace, and multiple temples. See it all on Google Earth or with HistoryView’s virtual tour.
11. Mount Rushmore
The massive faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln make up Mount Rushmore, a true wonder of the world. View it from multiple angles on Google Earth, and learn much more on the National Park Service’s website.
12. Taj Mahal
Perhaps one of most familiar sites on the planet, the Taj Mahal was built in the mid-17th century as a tomb for emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. Tour the extensive and beautiful building and grounds on Google Earth or via the Explore the Taj Mahal site.
Stonehenge’s mysteries have captivated visitors for centuries. Visit the ancient stones on Google Earth, and learn much more about them with this interactive virtual 3D tour.
14. Galápagos Islands
This collection of islands off the coast of Ecuador features some of the most fascinating wildlife on earth. Penguins that live on the equator, flightless cormorants, and swimming iguanas are just a few of the animals you might spot as you check out the Galápagos on Google Earth. Explore NOVA’s interactive multimedia map to learn more about how these islands inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution.
15. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of the most popular wonders of the world, and the American Falls and Horseshoe Falls each have their own unique draw. Check out the falls from both the American and Canadian sides with Google Earth, plus take a virtual tour of Niagara Falls State Park here.
Getting to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), a monolith smack in the middle of the Australian Outback, is a challenge at any time. Visit it on Google Earth instead and learn more with the virtual tour here.
17. Everglades National Park
There’s no place on Earth like the Florida Everglades. This slow-moving “river of grass” teems with life—it’s the only place on the planet where alligators and crocodiles live together. Discover its unique beauty on Google Earth, and learn more on the National Park Service’s website.
18. Penguin Colonies
Who doesn’t love penguins? These funny fellows in their formal suits are a favorite everywhere. Google Earth’s collection makes it easy to explore penguin colonies around the world, from the equator to the Antarctic.
19. Angkor Wat
This temple complex in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, it later transformed to a Buddhist center of worship, which continues to the present day. Explore Angkor Wat on Google Earth, or take a virtual tour here.
20. Appalachian Trail
At around 2,200 miles long, the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the world. Visit its most beautiful landmarks with Google Earth’s tour, or hike the whole trail virtually here.
21. Amazon Basin
The longest, mightiest river of them all is definitely one of the wonders of the world. Google Earth’s collection allows you to explore the waterways and surrounding forests that make the Amazon such a special place.
Anyone who’s seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade knows the iconic face of Petra in Jordan, carved into the side of a cliff. Explore the rest of these ruins with Google Earth, or take a virtual audio tour here.
When the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was decimated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, few could have imagined it would eventually become one of the most popular tourist sites in the world. Visit the excavated city and stroll its streets using Google Earth, and learn more about this location on the History Channel.
24. Sequoia National Park
Though it’s hard to truly feel the scale of towering giants like General Sherman on a screen, the virtual tour of Sequoia National Park on Google Earth is worth your time nonetheless. The National Park Service’s website has a lot of information too.
25. Mars … on Earth
Ever wondered what it would be like to take a trip to the Red Planet? Google Earth’s collection takes you to places around the world that most resemble various environments on Mars, giving you a chance to see for yourself what it would be like.
Looking for more places to visit from home? Check out this list of incredible virtual field trips.