“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home." This quote by Edith Sitwell is more relevant this year than ever before. Luckily, our modern technology allows us to experience the world from our warm, safe homes.
Websites such as AirPano offer beautiful photos and videos from all over the world. It is definitely possible to travel the world for free while relaxing at home with family and friends. The following are just a few of the many destinations that we can take virtually this winter.
Winter is probably the absolute worst time to travel to Mt. Everest. The already brutal altitude sickness and one of the hardest climbs in the world is only made harder with freezing temperatures. However, the Himalayas are most beautiful when covered in snow. You can now experience the views without making the dangerous trek. You can enjoy Everest, Himalayas, Nepal, Part I in January, 2012 and Part II in December, 2012 on AirPano. Make sure to turn up the music for the full experience.
You can also enjoy a virtual experience of the snowy Himalayas on Google. The 360° views were filmed by two single-lens tripod cameras as well as a 15-lens custom-built “Trekker” unit designed for backpacks. Teams of people travelled on foot in order to capture over 45,000 images depicting the panoramas of the remote villages inhabited by the Sherpa community members ethnic to the eastern Himalayas.
Known for it’s chilly winters and vodka-guzzling locals, Russia is the epitome of a winter wonderland. They have been on top of their virtual tourism and there are many wonderful opportunities to explore Moscow from the comforts of your home – whether you want to explore the Kremlin, Moscow River, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, or the Red Square. You can also check out this snowy scene at the Yuri Gagarin Monument, celebrating the first man in space. Less seasonal, but still along the winter-theme, you can ‘visit’ the Winter Palace at the famous Hermitage Museum.
There are other museums and places in Russia that you can explore here. One of the most amazing natural sites in Russia is Lake Baikal, Pearl of Siberia. It is not an easy place to travel to when you’re going in person. It is now possible to book an online hour-long virtual tour for just $5. This ticket price is per household and gives you access to tours at specific times. Finally, check out this YouTube video by Firebird Tours of a compilation of snowy Russian scenes!
A trip to Antarctica remains to be a unique experience reserved for those who have the money and time flexibility to make the journey. Tours to Antarctica are typically either cruises or involve helicopter or small-plane flights. The cheapest cruises start at $1,799 for 14 days and that covers just the basics. Plus, all Antarctica tours risk being postponed due to weather conditions so it can be tough to take time off work. Finally, these tours can also be dangerous. Luckily, there are various opportunities to experience Antarctica cost and risk-free.
You can do a virtual tour on AirPano. There are so many different types of experiences. There’s 4K aerial video, stunning 360° photographs and even a close-up with penguins. There is also the possibility to see what it’s like on board a cruise ship on History View. You can see it in motion, complete with authentic sounds on National Geographic. They also have another video that isn’t three-dimensional but is still amazing. Finally, enjoy this interactive map and pick the location you want to explore on Shackleton 100.
The Alpine region of Switzerland offers some of the most coveted views. This popular tourist destination looks amazing all year round, but there is a particular magic during winter time. There are various ways to enjoy Switzerland from the warmth of your home. Just grab a hot chocolate and enjoy one of the many experiences such as a peaceful train ride from Linthal – Zurich. You can also enjoy other scenes; you can even pick from several locations on this map to enjoy panoramic views, videos and more from all over the country.
AirPano also has a great selection of 360° photos and videos from the region. Their selection covers breathtaking mountains, cities and castles in Switzerland, as well as information about each location. You can also check out some mountain views on 360×360 Switzerland. From the beautiful blue skies, to the snowy mountain tops, these panoramas make you feel like you’re truly there just without the frostbite!
Japan isn’t the first place you think of when picturing a snowy scene. However, Mt. Fuji is definitely the place to go. You can see various views, sunsets and seasons on the mountain on Japan City Tour. Make the climb virtually on Matcha, these Google street view shots may not be taken during winter, but it still shows the unique scenery. For more wildlife, check out these relatable monkeys. They like to see snow but they prefer to do it from the warmth of Japan’s natural hot springs in Nagano.
Mt Fuji is just the (literal) tip of the experience iceberg that Japan has to offer. Of course, there is amazing local cuisine that is popular all around the world. While you can’t taste the food through your screen, you can enjoy the artful preparation of sushi from a freshly caught fish in a 360° video. You can also take a $15 online class to learn about Japanese Sake and the history of other alcoholic beverages as well as the drinking culture from locals in Japan. Finally, check out this list of other to-dos in Japan including zoos, museums and more.
Virtual travel has always been a great way for people to transport themselves to exotic locations without breaking the bank. Today, more than ever, it can be a great way to travel without risk and to learn more about the beautiful planet we live on. Online travel isn’t the same as visiting a place in person, but there is technology to make it feel authentic. Plus, we can also connect with locals from these places over social media to further enhance our virtual experience.
Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney
Want more ideas for travelling during this difficult time? What about these?
All your donations will be used to pay the magazine’s journalists and to support the ongoing costs of maintaining the site.