Explore the world from home

Tick off your virtual travel bucket list with 12 great wonders of the world


With lockdowns in force once more, there’s no better way to cheer up January than some virtual travel — and with more and more destinations offering online visits since the pandemic began, it’s never been easier to tick off some of your bucket list. Virtually.

Whether you’re looking to revel in the wonders of nature or discover the globe’s manmade treasures, you can spot fabulous wildlife, dramatic landscapes and iconic landmarks without setting foot outside.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The last standing wonder of the ancient world, there are few more recognisable sights than the pyramids of Giza, enduring for around 4,500 years in the shifting sands of Egypt.

Get an overview of the ancient tombs with a string of 360-degree photos showing the pyramids themselves, as well as the Sphinx and some of the less familiar ruins nearby, before virtually strolling around the stones, for a sense of the staggering scale of these ancient tombs.

The Great Wall of China

Stretching for around 4,000 miles across China, a chance to walk the Great Wall is on many bucket lists, whether it’s part of a visit to Beijing or an adventure in one of the more remote sections.

It’s often more of a climb than a stroll, but you can enjoy views of the wall and its towers snaking off through the hills, all without any effort, on this virtual walk from Jinshanling to Simatai.

Taj Mahal, India

There are several different VR tours to help you explore this gleaming white symbol of eternal love, created in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Start with a 360-degree tour through the grounds, wandering along the pathways that lead past the pools to the iconic buildings before taking a closer view of some of the ornate details on Google Street View.

Machu Picchu, Peru

The lost city of the Incas is a firm favourite on travel bucket lists — so much so, that visitor numbers to the site have been restricted over recent years.

There are no limits on how long virtual visitors can spend exploring though, and there’s even a virtual guide to explain the history behind the site, as well as pointing out some of the little details along the way, in a series of 360-degree videos.

Colosseum, Rome

Built to seat up to 80,000 spectators, the world’s most famous amphitheatre has been the site of spectacles galore. And while you can’t watch a virtual gladiatorial combat, you can wander through the ancient passageways and look down on to the arena.

Start with a view you’d struggle to enjoy in real life, soaring over the structure with a series of 360-degree aerial views, before heading inside, including a peek into the areas where people and animals waited before the games began.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The biggest and most spectacular of the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, Angkor Wat near Siem Reap is only one of the historic sites which you can explore virtually. Take a virtual tour to Ta Prohm, famous for appearing in Tomb Raider, as well as Banteay Srei and Beng Mealea, still half lost in the jungle, before walking past the huge statues of Angkor Thom and into Angkor Wat, to gaze at the intricate carvings and virtually ascend the steep staircases.

As a bonus, you can bring your visit — and the temple remains — to life with Virtual Angkor, a collaboration between historians, archaeologists and other experts to show what the ancient city would have looked like during its heydey when it was inhabited, in the 12th and 13th century.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Not all the world’s wonders are man-made, and among the most glorious of Earth’s natural treasures is the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef.

Stretching for more than 1,400 miles off the coast of Queensland, it’s actually made up of 2,900 reefs, the world’s largest coral reef system.

Get a taste of what lies beneath the waves with a 360-degree video from Tourism Australia or try a special virtual tour with Google “underwater” Street View.

The Northern Lights

Even if you head to the Arctic Circle, there’s no guarantee of spotting the Northern Lights — so rather than risking frozen fingers night after night, you can search for the Aurora Borealis while comfortably snug at home.

The See the Aurora website has a string of webcams showing the skies across Scandinavia, including Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as others in Iceland and Canada.

With around 300 days of aurora activity every year, one of the best is Churchill, Manitoba — also known as the polar bear capital of the world — and there’s a live video stream to help you see those eerily beautiful green swirls.

The Grand Canyon, USA

One of the world’s great bucket list destinations, it’s hard to appreciate the sheer scale of this natural spectacle from a photo alone.

But with virtual tours, treks and viewpoints on the north and south rims, along with the river valley, it’s easier than ever to soak up the splendour without even needing your walking boots.

The National Parks Service has a string of virtual ways to explore, from a virtual hike to a virtual raft trip as well as countless videos, not to mention several extra ways to view the canyon on Google — from the Google Arts and Culture project to Google Earth and a virtual hike on the Bright Angel trail.


Getting to Antarctica is no easy feat even in normal times, but there are few places which deserve to be on a bucket list more — home to 90 per cent of all the ice on earth, as well as penguins, seals and whales. You can also see the flags at the ceremonial South Pole.

The virtual tour from Shackleton100 lets you enjoy a 360-degree view of some of the key spots, as well as taking a peek inside Shackleton’s hut.

Yellowstone, Wyoming

Old Faithful continues to erupt in Yellowstone National Park whether the crowds can flock to it or not, and this geyser is one of the highlights you can see without having to set foot on a plane.

The National Park has nine different webcams from around the park, including one which live-streams Old Faithful (along with predictions about when the next jets are due to spout).

There is also a series of virtual tours to see the falls, hot springs and Dragon’s Mouth Spring at Mud Volcano, as well as learning about the park’s unique geothermal features, such as the bacteria which cause the striking colours at the Grand Prismatic Spring.

Go on safari

Seeing the Big Five in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience — and with live-streamed safaris and webcams set up around Africa, there’s a chance to do this without leaving your armchair.

Explore’s livecams include a series of “Africams”. You could watch animals drinking at watering holes and by rivers at dawn and dusk, spy gorillas and elephants, as well as the continent’s big cats.

Or join a safari live-streamed from South Africa, from WildEarth and travel company andBeyond. The partnership shares twice-daily live safaris lasting around three hours, the first starting around sunrise, the second designed to coincide with sunset.

With commentary from the guides, you can also interact via YouTube and on Twitter, along with a 45-minute children’s version at the start of the afternoon game drive, and (paid-for) private virtual safaris.


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