Eager to explore the world? So am I! I started going on a bunch of virtual tours of famous places and loved them so much that I thought I’d share my favorites with you. Here are the 15 BEST virtual tours of historic sites I found from around the world. These top tourist destinations will wow you!
This post is part of a series of best-of virtual tours. Visit beautiful places around the world with the best virtual tours of NATIONAL PARKS and WATERFALLS. Or get a thrill with EXTREME TRAVEL and ADVENTURE TRAVEL or close-up WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS!
Historic sites make for the best museums and the best storytellers, hey? By simply standing in a room or overlooking the ruins of days past, you’re immediately transported to another time. Another person’s experiences. And these interactive virtual tours take you right there … past the tourist ribbon and face to face with history. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do!
Now, if you don’t see a virtual tour of the famous place you’re looking for, continue to the Summary and Resources section at the bottom. There you’ll find links to sites with more virtual tours of other amazing tourist destinations.
But first, a WARNING. I started this list of best virtual tours to satisfy my desire to travel. It did the opposite. Now I’m more eager than ever for that next trip! But I also discovered that virtual tours are the best way to figure out where to visit next.
As you read through this list, start creating your travel bucket list … you’ll feel very productive getting all that drooling in ONE place.
Or, go ahead and plan your next trip. (Or a few … I have!)
This is my list of the best virtual tours of historic sites out there. Enjoy!
1. Xian Warriors Historic Site Virtual Tour (China)
Oh. My. Goodness. Let’s start this list of the BEST virtual tours of historic sites with one incredible famous place.
Even in Chinese, this Xian Warriors virtual tour is AMAZING. Jump down from the tourist walkways to “walk” among the 8,000 some warriors and hundreds of chariots and horses, all in battle position. Zoom in to see traces of colorful paint on their unique expressions. Pan around to the rock and ponder what lies beyond.
This massive mausoleum was created around 210 B.C. All of this was to protect China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. WOW.
2. Great Wall of China Virtual Tour (China)
Here’s another top tourist destination in China. Given how famous the Great Wall of China is, it isn’t surprising that you can find a few virtual tours. AirPano’s Great Wall of China virtual tour is my favorite.
Start at Dragon’s Head and click on the informational markers to learn more about this famous place. Move up the incredible climb at Sky Stairs. Enjoy incredible aerial views of destroyed towers and pan around to the great mountain ranges surrounding you. And “look” down to the incredible, ancient wall ruins beneath your feet.
3. Angkor Wat Historic Site Virtual Tour (Cambodia)
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex is incredible. It’s one of my happy places, and the Angkor Wat virtual tour from Google Maps Street View is pretty great. Explore a number of the Angkor Wat temples and learn a bit about them through the information icons. There’s a bit of a glitch when I try to zoom in with my mouse, but the +/- buttons work.
If you’d prefer a video tour of Angkor Wat, check out this 360 video virtual tour from VR Gorilla. They walk you through a few of the temples, take you on a boat tour past floating villages, and then give you a taste of Siem Reap’s night life.
Interested in Cambodia? Check out my related articles:
4. The White House Virtual Tour (United States)
Okay. Let’s jump aaaall the way across the Pacific Ocean to the most famous home in the world: the White House. Google Maps takes us inside this top tourist destination with the White House virtual tour. Sadly, it only includes the public rooms on the main floor. I was really curious about the stairs heading down, but no luck. This virtual tour is pretty basic, but the location is pretty cool.
Don’t think this is cool enough? How about 360-degree videos of Washington DC’s top tourist destinations? Open these up in your YouTube app and have fun!
Interested in getting a VR headset? Check out Google Cardboard … a cheap way to enjoy the view!
5. Anne Frank’s House Virtual Tour (Netherlands)
Now we’ll jump again … over the Atlantic Ocean to some of Europe’s famous places.
My goodness, now this is such a treasure. The Anne Frank House virtual tour takes you into the house to see what their lives looked like before and during the Second World War. Climb up to the bookshelf that disguises the Secret Annex. This is where the young girl lived for more than two years, before being discovered. She was sent to the concentration camp, where she died.
Wander through the Anne Frank House virtual tour online. Or, download the free virtual reality app.
6. Palace of Versailles Virtual Tour (France)
WOW. The Palace of Versailles is certainly among the most grand palaces in the world. And now Google Arts and Culture takes you on a Palace of Versailles virtual tour! Stroll along the stunning Hall of Mirrors tucked in between the War Room and Peace Room (use the Street View in the link above to enter the side rooms). Don’t forget to look UP!
Then check out the Royal Opera and wander through the gardens. Videos help round out this incredible historic site virtual tour.
7. Prague Castle Virtual Tour (Czech Republic)
The Prague Castle virtual tour takes you up the hill overlooking the most beautiful city in the world. There are lots of 360-degree images to fall in love with!
Explore the gardens and courtyards. Pan up to the buildings towering all around you and zoom in for more detail. Make yourself dizzy spinning in circles under St Vitus Cathedral’s stained glass windows or the Old Royal Palace ceiling. Enjoy the views from the East Gate and Southern Gardens. It’s too bad they didn’t include the view from the steps near Hradcany Square.
Even wandering through the Prague Castle virtual tour leaves me turned around. This is one of the things I really didn’t like when visiting Prague. If you’re planning a real-life visit to this famous place, study the map!
8. Vatican Museum Virtual Tour (Italy)
Have you dreamed of seeing the Vatican’s stunning rooms for yourself? The Vatican Museum virtual tour takes you through Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms, along with other incredible halls and museums. When I took a tour of this famous place in person, I fell in love with Raphael’s Rooms. Can you find him watching you wherever you stand? He’s in all of his rooms! (Like a much more sophisticated Where’s Waldo!)
Just standing on the doorstep looking into the Sistine Chapel is spectacular. Pan up, spin around and zoom in for a closer look of everything that intrigues you. It’ll be a LOT! The only negative to having it all to yourself? No audio, at least what I could find.
Note: The Vatican Museum virtual tour is compatible with WebVR. So put on a virtual reality headset for an even more epic virtual tour of this top tourist destination!
9. Roman Colosseum Virtual Tour (Italy)
One of the most stunning architectural feats of its time, and one of the most gut-wrenching historical sites to visit in person. In nearly 400 years of providing “entertainment,” it’s estimated that nearly 400,000 people died here. Plus almost 1 million animals.
Courtesy of Google Maps, the Roman Colosseum virtual tour takes you inside this top tourist destination. Although you can’t sit on the crumbling steps and absorb the heavy atmosphere, you can “walk” around the public areas and imagine what it would’ve been like. Thundering with cheers and chants of the crowd, lion roars and screams cut short.
10. Acropolis Virtual Tour (Greece)
Now how about a trek out to Greece? The Acropolis virtual tour takes you up the ancient steps to this famous place overlooking Athens. Not all images give you 360-degree views and some of my favorite real-life views are missing, but it’s still the Acropolis. And there are detailed descriptions with each image … in English, yay! You also get to see it lit up at night.
My favorite real-life and virtual view from this historic site is looking back over your shoulder as you climb up. Can you find Mars Hill? Step carefully on the uneven paths, especially as you near the East Facade of the Parthenon. And take a deep breath as you gaze out over Athens from the Parthenon Through Time spot (near the West Facade).
But I must confess that I found the Acropolis virtual tour a bit frustrating to navigate. Instead of finding a “next” button, I kept going back to the map. But, the detailed descriptions and zooming function make it very worthwhile to check out this top tourist destination.
11. Holy Land Historic Sites Virtual Tour (Israel)
The Holy Land virtual tour takes you through a long list of 45 historical sites. With so many famous places, I found it a little overwhelming. To pick and choose where you want to go, click on the images in the top left.
The Holy Land virtual tour of these incredible historic sites is SO insightful. Bright, colorful churches. Lovely architecture and the Dead Sea. I was surprised by how tall the wailing wall is. And the color of the River Jordan. You can almost imagine walking those sandy stone paths and running your hand along the stone walls.
12. Petra Virtual Tour (Jordan)
Ahhh … yes!! You HAVE to check out the Petra virtual tour from Google Maps. Start your virtual tour of this top tourist destination at the gateway, and wander all the way into the famous monastery at the end. This place is spectacular.
Google’s Street View gives you an audio tour, ambient sounds of the area, and informational icons to learn more. Pan around and move along the path’s arrows (but you can’t zoom in). Climb up the sandy rock steps, gaze down at the desert canyon below and wander in and out of ancient temples. My only complaint is that I couldn’t figure out how to stand back from the monastery for that classic photo op. Or find a camel. Can you?
13. Pharaoh Ramesses VI Tomb Virtual Tour (Egypt)
Okay, this site is very cool. Check out the Pharaoh Ramesses VI Tomb virtual tour. It takes you along a beautiful, ornately decorated tunnel into a room dedicated to Pharaoh Ramesses VI. Step over the railing to look closer at the broken tomb and hieroglyphics on the wall. SO. COOL.
Now, you can also take a virtual tour of the Pyramids. But I found Google Maps’ Street View virtual tour a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t figure out how to get inside! (If you know the trick, please share in the comments!)
14. Taj Mahal Virtual Tour (India)
Here’s another incredible historic site to explore online. The Taj Mahal virtual tour takes you around the grounds and inside this top tourist destination. You can pan around and zoom in for a closer look. Listen to videos for information on various pieces. And the views of the gardens and Yamuna River are wonderful.
But I’m sad to report that the Taj Mahal virtual tour has disappointing limitations. You can’t pan up to look at the ceilings nor down when you’re on top of the buildings. The most annoying thing for me, though, was not finding a “next” button and having to go back to the map every time. That said, I still love that I could “see” this famous place for myself.
15. Machu Picchu Historic Site Virtual Tour (Peru)
One of the top tourist destinations in the world, Machu Picchu is definitely on my bucket list. Yours, too? The Machu Picchu virtual tour will make you want to go now!
This Machu Picchu virtual tour is easy to navigate and the narration is short and pleasant. The disadvantage of this setup, though, is you can’t just go wherever you want (like you kinda can with Google Maps Street View). I really wanted to go inside the ruined buildings. And sit on the edge and run my fingers through that sand! This historic site virtual tour really only makes me want to go more.
INCREDIBLE. What a way to end this post of the best virtual tours of historic sites!
Summary and Resources
Which of these virtual tours of historic sites make your best-of list? Which top tourist destination are you eager to travel to next?
Other posts you may be interested in:
If the famous place YOU were looking for isn’t among my best virtual tours of historic sites, here are two other fun websites to explore:
- AirPano has tons of virtual tours from locations around the world, both by 360-degree photos and HD videos (built for VR headsets). Germany’s famous Neuschwanstein Castle. The Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge in China. Russia’s Saint Petersburg. AWESOME.
- Google Arts & Culture has a huge variety of virtual tours for you. More palaces, castles and museums. Aquariums. Melbourne Cricket Ground. Many historic sites can be toured with Google Maps Street View, but not all with audio or information icons.
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And now that you’re feeling the travel bug …
Feature photo credit (Xian Warriors): Aaron Greenwood from Unsplash.