Virtual tours are becoming increasingly popular, especially amidst this ongoing pandemic. While travel is on the rise, many people are still not comfortable with the idea of getting on a plane and being around a bunch of people.
So what is the alternative if you still want to explore and connect with a destination but aren’t comfortable traveling? Virtual city tours!
According to Digital In The Round: 50% of adult users on the internet rely on virtual city tours in their research and decision-making process. Customers spend 5 to 10 times more on websites with virtual tours. 67% of people want more businesses to offer virtual tours.
There are more than 5 million visits daily on worldwide virtual tours.
Have you ever taken a virtual city tour? A virtual city tour is a way to experience the beauty and splendor of another city from the safety and comfort of your home when you can’t physically travel or simply do not want to.
One of the perks of guided tours is you are able to chat directly with your local guide in real-time, and depending on the tour, ask questions about some of the things you are seeing on your screen.
There are all types of guided tours you can experience, it just depends on your personal tastes. There are driving tours, cooking classes, history tours, and walking tours.
You can even arrange to have a private tour with your family and friends if you’d like. NOTE: private virtual tours usually cost more.
Whether you want to see national parks or bustling cities like New York City or Hong Kong, you can now do that from the safety and privacy of your own home.
All you need is a stable internet connection and a way to stream your video which is usually done via a computer, tablet, or phone.
Are Virtual Tours Free?
There are a variety of virtual tours for you to choose from, and yes, many of them are free. There are several that even though they do not charge a fee, they are tip supported. When you tip your guides in person, use some of these tip envelopes
Meaning, they would like you to tip the tour guide after the tour is over. Of course you do not have to, but if you enjoyed your experience, why not show your appreciation to the guide?
One way to experience free virtual tours is to utilize YouTube. Type in “virtual tours” in the search bar and you will be shown a ton of options.
These tours are prerecorded which means you will not be able to intersect with the guide which also means you are only getting a one way experience. What is the difference?
By doing a prerecorded tour, you will of course be able to see what is on your screen, but if you have any additional questions regarding the area, those questions will go unanswered.
When you sign up for a free virtual city tour, one of the drawbacks is that cancellations are common. If not enough people have signed up to take the tour you want to go on, there is a good chance that tour will be cancelled.
How do I do a virtual tour online?
If you are looking for a virtual tour online, of course Google is your best friend. If you type in virtual tours in your search bar, you will get 432,000,000 results! Once you find the virtual city tours you are interested in, simply follow the directions of that website to register for the tour.
Most tours will require that you sign up with your email, and you will probably have to agree to their terms of service.You will be sent a link that will allow you to join, and you may or may not be sent a password that you will need to in order to start your tour.
Please make sure to pay attention to what instructions you are given in your email.
What Does a Virtual Tour Do?
A virtual tour gives you direct access to places you aren’t able to see. Whether this is because of Covid or your own travel preferences, a virtual tour allows you to venture into a foreign or domestic space without leaving your home.
Depending on the type of tour you take, you can get informative commentary from the local guide, and be able to learn about things you may have never imagined you would ever be able to see.
Depending on the country you want to visit, you may experience technical difficulties because of the internet connection. Please keep in mind that not all countries have the same level of Internet connectivity, and your start time may be delayed if your guide cannot connect to the internet.
Also, because of spotty internet, some tours may have been prerecorded. Even though I have already been to India, I wanted to take a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal. If you are thinking of going to India, you want to read about the things you need to keep in mind before going.
My guide was wonderful and extremely knowledgeable about The Taj Mahal. He taught me things about the architecture that I didn’t know, and also filled me in on the story of how the Taj Mahal came to be built.
Because of the Internet connection, he wasn’t able to be at the Taj Mahal while we were on the tour together. Which means he had already pre-recorded the path he would normally take and stopped the video from time to time to fill me in on what I was seeing.
Why Virtual Tours Are A Good Choice
Whether your concern is safety or not, choosing to watch a virtual tour is a great choice. It’s a way to see something different without jeopardizing your health or safety. A virtual tour allows you to enjoy the perks of travel without having to deal with the potential stresses of leaving your home.
Also, with Covid still being a real threat to our health and sanity, a virtual city tour is an easy and safe way to have new travel experiences without any of the possible safety concerns.
Best Virtual Tours
Here are my top choices for the best free virtual city tours around the world. Most of the free tours are of museums and such, but there are a few city tours you can enjoy.
HeyGo offers virtual city tours all around the world. These tours are free and the guides are paid through tips from their virtual customers. You can explore volcanic activities in Sikidang Crater, the Theban Desert on horseback in Egypt and Zanzibar Island, just to name a few.
Google Arts & Culture offers you a tour of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. You can zoom in and out on several different pieces of artwork throughout the museum.
While you are on the Google Arts & Culture site, feel free to explore the hundreds of tours available to you. They have taken all of the guess work out of virtual tours and offer you the luxury of browsing a plethora or options from the comfort of your device.
Be transported to China with this dynamic virtual tour of the Great Wall of China. This tour also have a paid version which gives you more scenes with higher resolution.
Let’s stay in Asia and enjoy these 4 different virtual tour options of Japan. These are short videos yet very inspiring.
Of course Paris is on the top of the list. One of the most iconic museums is The Louvre they offer several different rooms for you to explore. How wonderful to be able to take a free virtual tour of this magnificent museum.
The Louvre is just one of over 2,500 museums around the world that are currently offering FREE virtual tours.
Watch the majesty of a Beluga whale at the Georgia Aquarium. This, along with a few others, are web cams. Some of them are live feeds, some are prerecorded.
The Visit Orlando website offers an array of virtual experiences and they are all free! Whether you are heading to Disney World or not, you can have a fun experience with their options.
Discover Live has a few tour options that give you full HD virtual tours.
Have you ever taken a virtual tour?