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Stay at home and see the world: five ways to explore during lockdown

Our ability to travel may be drastically reduced for the time being, but there are still plenty of ways to discover some of the world’s most enthralling destinations from the comfort of your home. We’ve grouped a selection together to see you through.

By Nora Wallaya
Published 25 Mar 2020, 17:11 GMT
Stay at home and see the world
It’s never been easier to open a window to the world beyond, without leaving the house.
Photograph by Getty Images

At present, we’re all armchair travellers. Phrases like 'self-isolation' and 'social distancing' that will surely come to define 2020 — if not the new decade — now dominate our conversations, but the necessity to set a social cordon amid a pandemic doesn’t have to mean we completely detach. We’re a society — for better or for worse — incredibly well-adapted to spending large chunks of our lives online. And with the tech and digital innovations of the past two decades, it’s never been easier to open a window to the world beyond, without leaving the house. Whether it’s a 360-degree visualisation of an ancient Angkor village or a white-knuckle spin around Rio De Janeiro’s favelas, creative curators have laid a path for curious minds to experience our planet, online.

1. Highbrow entertainment at your fingertips

From Mozart’s rip-roaring comic opera The Marriage of Figaro to a contemporary reimagination of Beethoven’s Fidelio, Austria’s world-renowned Vienna State Opera is now offering nightly streams of select performances. New York’s Met Opera has followed suit, broadcasting its popular Live in HD cinema series every evening, which is currently (at the time of writing) showcasing works by Wagner.

London’s Royal Opera House invites you to view performances by The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet, with the latter’s 2010 production of Peter and the Wolf set to be the first (again, at the time of writing).

Quarantine soiree? Every night, the Budapest Festival Orchestra will play ‘chamber music’ live from the BFO Rehearsal Hall, whereas the shuttered Berliner Philharmoniker has made its Digital Concert Hall publicly accessible— the high-definition performances give an online platform to some of the greatest conductors and soloists of our time.

2. Observe wildlife antics in real-time

Catch sight of a bald eagle rustling raindrops from its feathers in Iowa, or journey to KwaZulu-Natal to see elephants idling around a sun-drenched watering hole. The camera traps — the world’s largest network of live nature cams — are available to view on its website and on YouTube. Raw and unedited, the broadcasts reveal an authentic natural world — slow, steady, unscripted — where drama is certain, but fleeting. Choose from countless streams to explore our planet’s diverse landscapes.

3. Explore historic collections

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the ancient Greek statue, Venus de Milo, are the crowd-pleasers at the Louvre in Paris, but there’s more to the sprawling art gallery and museum’s treasure trove, as its virtual tours will reveal. Dive into its halls exhibiting Ancient Egyptian antiquities and explore the subterranean ramparts of the former fortress’s medieval moat.

Though notorious for queues, a virtual tour allows you to step effortlessly inside the Vatican Museums in Rome, home to some of the world’s most notable works of Roman-era sculpture and Renaissance art, and importantly, the Sistine Chapel. High definition 360-degree photography allows you to explore the chapel’s painted frescoes and elaborate vaulted ceiling, featuring its pièce de résistance, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam.

A sophisticated, interactive approach brings the countless collections held by the British Museum to life. Produced in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute, its Museum of the World allows you to journey through more than two million years of human history, spanning five continents.

4. Step inside the shoes of an adventurer

VR has rippled beneath the surface of mass entertainment for years, but it might be about to go mainstream. If you’re lucky enough to own a headset — or are inclined to buy one — there’s a whole world of adventure accessible via Google Earth VR. Highlights include a bird’s-eye view of the mighty Matterhorn in the Alps and the Hoover Dam, which borders Nevada and Arizona.

For the rest of us, full-screen mode, a set of headphones and a vivid imagination can bring the many hundreds of travel experiences Google Arts & Culture offers to life, the best among them made possible by 360-degree video capture. Hop on a moped and zip around the favelas of Rio De Janeiro, or explore five US national parks on The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks series, which includes the lava tubes of Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park and the icy crevasses of the Kenai Fjords in Alaska.

5. Discover ancient civilisations

Lost worlds can be enriched by the capabilities of modern technology; taking us further, showing us more. This series of 360-degree visualisations peels away centuries, simulating the lives of Cambodia’s Khmer civilisation inside the now jungle-tangled remains of the Angkor Archaeological Park

Rewind over a thousand more years on a virtual tour of the Acropolis of Athens, the ancient city complex perched high on a plateau overlooking the modern city below. The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, and the well-preserved Temple of Athena Nike are just two of the wonders ready to be explored at the click of a button.

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