The ongoing rollout of Covid-19 vaccines means there is finally light at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel. But travel still won’t be easy anytime soon—especially to other countries. Thankfully, Google has something to tide us over.
The tech giant’s Arts & Culture app has just added virtual tours of dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites around the globe (h/t Engadget). Thanks to the new feature, you’ll be able to visit some of the world’s most awe-inspiring locations without leaving the comfort and safety of your home.
Were you thinking about spending a summer in Italy before the beginning of the pandemic? There are loads of virtual tours of renowned landmarks throughout the country, including of the Colosseum, Pantheon and Venice. Obsessed with palaces? You can explore royal residences in France, South Korea and Vietnam. More of a nature lover? You can roam Messel Pit fossil site in Germany, or Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia? Basically, if there’s a culturally significant site on the face of the globe, chances are you can now tour it virtually thanks to Google’s UNESCO hub page, accessible via the Arts & Culture app or desktop site.
The virtual tour has experienced something of a renaissance during the coronavirus pandemic. Last spring, as our new reality was starting to set in, cultural institutions around the globe were quick to open up their doors online, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the National Museum in New Delhi. And in the year and change since, they’ve proven to be invaluable for the culturally curious.
Of course, virtual tours will never be able replicate the experience of visiting one of the world’s great sites or museums in person, but they are a safer substitute at a time when our travel options are still limited. And, hey, the online tours just might prove to be a great planning tool for that first post-pandemic trip. Let the vacation research begin.