Being unable to go where and when you please amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may have you feeling a bit claustrophobic around the home front. The good news is that, these days, there are more ways to travel virtually than ever before.
Thanks to an abundance of live webcams and video feeds from around the globe, travelers can now visit the world’s most famous sites, beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, and more, all without leaving their home. Tour Venice’s famous canals, watch the waves at Rio’s Copacabana Beach, or even witness the Northern Lights over Manitoba—and then get busy planning a future trip to see it all in person. Below, our favorite ways to escape from the comfort of our couch.
Cities & Sites
Some of the world’s most heavily touristed destinations have also been the hardest hit during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the city of Venice, though thankfully you can still visit virtually through I Love You Venice, a YouTube channel featuring 19 live streams of the city’s most scenic areas. Take in views of the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Basin, and Campo Santa Maria Formosa, or tune into the rolling camera that switches between sites. Many feeds are even set to classical music for an especially transporting experience.
Maybe you’d prefer to unwind with a live stream of the Eiffel Tower? It’s particularly calming without the usual crush of tourists blocking your view. For more rare glimpses of other famous sites without the crowds, check out webcams positioned over Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing or New York City’s Times Square.
Elsewhere in the world, Zurich is on display through a series of feeds that offer live looks at the city, along with its scenic lakes and mountains. You can also get a gander at the Bavarian Alps via the destination resort Schloss Elmau, which streams views of the Wetterstein Mountains from its property.
No matter which beach is on your bucket list, you can probably sneak a virtual peek to help satisfy your temporarily hampered wanderlust. Start with a digital trip down to Brazil to enjoy the sand and surf at Rio’s famous Copacabana Beach.
Closer to home, you can take in views of Carbon Beach—known locally as Billionaire’s Beach for its rich and famous residents— thanks to the live beach cam at Malibu Beach Inn on the Pacific Coast. For another stunning hotel vista, use the webcam at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, which overlooks a pristine, private beach.
Hundreds more options are available on LiveBeaches.com, whether you want to see the ocean, stroll the boardwalk, or daydream about sunbathing on the sand. Search by country or just head straight to the list of the 50 best beach cams in the U.S.
You may be stuck indoors, but there are still a number of ways to watch wildlife from the comfort of your home. Japan’s Jigokudani Monkey Park offers live streams of Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, indulging in the country’s famous hot springs; Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium features a series of webcams that capture its resident dolphins; and Switzerland’s Arosa Bear Sanctuary regularly streams its three rescued bears, Nappa, Meimo, and Amelia.
When in doubt, check the abundance of wildlife webcams available on Explore.org. The site has hundreds of options for your browsing pleasure, along with info on who’s providing the feed, where they’re from, and the best times to watch. With everything from gorillas and elephants to bald eagles and puffins on display, you’ll never get bored.
For a truly out-of-this-world experience, look to the sky or gaze down on Earth from above. Fans of the aurora borealis will want to take advantage of the Northern Lights cam from Polar Bears International in Churchill, Manitoba. Thanks to its positioning beneath the auroral oval in the Northern Hemisphere, Churchill has approximately 300 nights of auroras each year, making it one of the preeminent viewing areas for the natural light displays. For even more, head to SeeTheAurora.com, which provides a list of more than a dozen different webcams and updated photo streams from Norway to New Zealand and beyond.
If you’d rather see our planet in all its splendor, know that the International Space Station maintains a live feed via its high-definition Earth-viewing cameras as it breezes past entire continents and oceans. NASA TV also has its own streaming service, offering a live look at missions, spacewalks, and other events, plus educational programming in between the action.