Have you been longing to visit some of the world’s landmarks? If you can’t get there in the near future, the next best way to visit is via an awesome virtual tour.
You may find yourself turning to virtual tours to help you plan your travel bucket list. And you may enjoy an online tour of places you have been and want to see again, maybe in more detail than you were able to experience in person.
Along with the visual tours offered by the following landmarks, you can hear or read about the history of the site, which will enrich your “visit.” Read on to learn about the style of tour offered by each place. Explore these landmarks now from the comfort of your home to satisfy your wanderlust and inspire future adventures!
1. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower, iconic symbol of Paris, is a famous landmark worth visiting. It’s tall, unique, amazingly complicated in structure, and recently turned 130 years old. In honor of this anniversary, a special video tour is now available. This 360-degree virtual reality tour (accessible via the YouTube video) shows you the Eiffel Tower from both outside and inside. In just three minutes, you can “ride” the lift and enjoy the panoramic views of Paris. You will really feel as if you are there, with Parisian-style music playing, too.
Delve deeper into your exploration of the Eiffel Tower with two virtual tours called Explore and The Tower. The first is an experience of the tower, including a visit to its three different levels. The second offers a look at the history of the tower, with details about how it was built, how it is painted, and the illuminations each evening when the tower lights sparkle for five minutes on the hour.
These online tours are enjoyable, whether you’ve never visited the Eiffel Tower in person or have been there many times.
2. Palace Of Versailles And The Hall Of Mirrors
First a palace and then a museum open to the public, the Palace of Versailles houses more than 60,000 pieces of art that span more than five centuries of French history. The palace itself leaves visitors in awe. And the Hall of Mirrors is one of the highlights of a visit to the palace.
At the time of its creation in 1584, the Hall of Mirrors represented status and prosperity. The French lagged behind the Venetians in the manufacturing of mirrors. This room with its 357 large, luxurious mirrors showed the new might of the French economy.
Now you can tour this room virtually and then study the gallery of art one painting or sculpture at a time. Not only is this room beautiful, with light from the garden reflecting off the wall of mirrors, but it is also historic. Here, the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of World War I. Court festivities such as weddings took place here, and foreign dignitaries were bedazzled by the sparkling hall.
3. The Colosseum In Rome
A world-famous landmark in the middle of Rome, the Colosseum is visited by masses of people year-round. Now you can go on an hour-long virtual tour offered by the Colosseum’s official website.
Construction of the Colosseum started in 70 A.D. and was finished about 20 years later. Today, this grand structure is officially a ruin. Stones, bronze, and bricks were “borrowed” through the years, leaving the Colosseum without some of its top level. The roof over the gladiator dressing area is long gone. The ruined nature of the Colosseum adds to its romance and intrigue.
The virtual tour takes you with a tour group down into the lower levels where the gladiators dressed and prepared for their showdowns. It’s fascinating to look out into the Colosseum and see what they saw as they called on their bravery to enter the ring.
The same website has virtual tours of other amazing sites in Rome, including the Vatican, Capitoline Hill, and the interior of the Pantheon.
4. Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna is a top-of-the-list sight to see when you are in this city. The palace showcases the lavish lifestyle of royalty and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. Visitors to this palace included young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Napoleon Bonaparte. Marie Antoinette of Versailles fame spent her childhood here.
A virtual tour of Schonbrunn Palace allows you to take your time soaking in the elegance and beauty of the different rooms. When I took the audio tour in person, I did feel a bit rushed along. The opportunity to look as long as you please online is welcome.
What began as a hunting lodge in the 1500s grew into the palatial home and extensive gardens you see today. The estate remained a summer country house until Emperor Charles VI gifted it to his daughter Maria Theresa in 1728. Under her reign, Schonbrunn transformed into the center of court life. As many as 1,000 people lived here. The familiar yellow exterior color chosen by her is known as Maria Theresa Yellow.
On the virtual tour, you see 40 rooms of the palace. Be sure to look at the lovely Great Gallery. This served as a ballroom and banquet hall. The extravagant candelabras and chandeliers and the painted ceilings are an unforgettable sight.
5. Westminster Abbey
The history and beauty are rich and layered at Westminster Abbey. The church you see today, built in the 1200s, serves as the resting place for kings and queens, poets and statesmen. Royal weddings and funerals have been held here. And Westminster Abbey still serves as a place of worship.
The excellent virtual tour shows you a close-up and detailed look at some of the treasures of the abbey, including the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, the High Altar, and the Coronation Chair. You can also take virtual tours to delve into the history of the building of the abbey and objects related to the monarchy.
These are wonderful tours to take virtually, even if you have visited Westminster Abbey. I have toured the church twice, but photos are strictly forbidden, so I have no visual memories to remind me of my trips. The in-depth virtual tours bring to mind all that I’ve seen and may not remember.
6. Tower Of London
Experience being transported back in time with a tour of the Tower of London, a complex of different towers and a palace. The Tower of London also houses an exhibition of the official Crown Jewels. William the Conqueror built his home here after his military victory in 1066. He considered the tower’s spot on the Thames River ideal for a fortress. The tower expanded through the next five centuries, with kings and queens living in the White Tower and prisoners cast into the forbidding tower just across the walkway. The most famous of all who lost their heads in the courtyard was Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of Henry VIII.
The virtual tour of the Tower of London shows you a variety of 360-degree views while a detailed narration talks about what’s happened here. For example, you can see the actual spot of Anne Boleyn’s execution while listening to the story and learning what she did to protect her daughter.
7. Giant’s Causeway
Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is a natural landmark that draws visitors from around the world. The causeway is made up of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns deposited on the coastline by volcanic eruption. Some of the columns are as high as 39 feet, though many are much shorter. A charming Irish story claims the Giant’s Causeway was built by, yes, a giant.
If you can’t get to Northern Ireland, you can still place yourself right in the middle of the columns of the Giant’s Causeway with this multi-part 360-degree virtual tour. Be sure to turn on the sound so you can hear the gentle ocean waves as you watch.
The Acropolis (the commonly shortened reference to the Acropolis of Athens in Greece) is an ancient citadel built on a short, rocky hill and made up of several buildings. The most well-known of its structures is the Parthenon, with its marble Doric columns. The Parthenon is one of the newest parts of the Acropolis and was completed in 432 B.C.
Once built, the Acropolis served as a center for intellectual teaching and theater. According to the Acropolis’s official virtual tour page, today, it is a “global symbol of the human ability to know and understand,” as well as a symbol of beauty and harmony in the world.
The virtual tour is a flowing look at the Acropolis from every angle, both overhead and inside. During the four-minute tour, you’ll see the crumbling columns, weathered sculptures, and the setting of the Acropolis over the city of Athens.
9. Taj Mahal
This white marble building, recognizable far and wide, is the mausoleum commissioned in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan when his wife Mumtaz Mahal died. It also is the tomb of Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal complex includes a guest house and formal gardens. Construction employed about 20,000 artisans. This stunning landmark was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, as it is “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”
You can view the Taj Mahal up close with this Google Arts and Culture tour. Click on the small numbers on the right-hand side of the screen for different viewpoints, then click and drag or click the arrows on the compass to look around each area.
If you want to know more about the Taj Mahal and its history, its official website offers a wealth of information. You will be inspired reading about this “immortal poem in white marble,” also called “the finest expression of love of an emperor for his queen.”
10. Great Wall Of China
Stretching more than 3,000 miles, the Great Wall of China is a wonder of the world. You can tour parts of the wall virtually and imagine what it’s like to walk along this structure that’s more than 2,000 years old. The wall served as defense against invaders, so it features ramparts, trenches, and fortresses. It was also a way to control duties collected for goods transported on the Silk Road. Most of the well-known parts of the wall were constructed of brick from the 1300s to the 1600s, during the Ming dynasty.
A virtual tour of the portion of the wall from Jinshanling to Simatai is free. If you want to go on to tour other parts of the wall, you can pay $5 for access. The wall at Beijing is considered the main entry point, so you may want to pay this small fee to see that area.
11. Statue Of Liberty
The lady who welcomes people to the U.S. gateway of New York City stands tall as a landmark representing democracy and freedom. The statue of Liberty Enlightening the World came as a gift from France to the U.S., dedicated in 1886. It is now a national monument cared for by the National Park Service.
You have two worthwhile ways to tour this landmark online. The e-tour of the Statue of Liberty (requires Flash and may not cooperate on all computers or devices) presented by the National Park Service is quite impressive. An introduction and 18 sections acquaint you with the history and meaning of the colossal copper lady. And the virtual tour on the official website takes you inside the torch and her face, allowing you to look out on New York Harbor.
You will see nearby Ellis Island, where immigrants were processed into the U.S. for decades, as you look out of the Statue of Liberty. You can also take a virtual tour of Ellis Island and venture inside this historic building.
Which of the landmarks caught your attention? Did any of these tours whet your appetite to visit in person? One I’ve been wanting to visit for years is the Acropolis. Taking the tour online and delving into the history has me more determined than ever to go someday.