Webcams: we’ve all got one, eyeing us from our computer screen. But don’t forget that there are plenty further afield too, set up in staggeringly beautiful spots around the world. Here, we bring you 10 places that you can visit by webcam – while actual travel is still off the cards.
It should come as no surprise that dramatic Yosemite is usually one of the USA’s most visited national parks. Its huge granite cliffs grace screensavers everywhere; towering Bridalveil Fall is equally iconic, while its giant sequoia trees are as ancient as the day is long. Although Yosemite is currently shut due to coronavirus, webcams are placed at various spots around the park, meaning it’s still possible marvel at the scenery and wildlife until you can visit again in person.
Ever wonder what it would be like to visit Venice without the crowds? The good news is that now you don’t have to. Several webcams are up and running around the city, giving unparalleled views of world-class landmarks including St Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and the Rio di Palazzo. As Italy’s lockdown starts to lift, watch the city come back to life.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Google Street View was confined to city streets. In fact, you can travel far and wide using the service – including penetrating deep into the Amazon Rainforest. Cameras were attached to bicycles and boats to capture the images, and even on zip lines. The results are sublime.
Catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights is the stuff bucket lists are made of. Seeing them in real life is obviously impossible right now (unless you live beneath them), but – with plenty of time on your hands – why not tune in and try and spot them via webcam. There are plenty of Northern Lights cams to choose from, set up around the world from Lapland to Canada.
We’ve seen plenty of epic sporting feats achieved during coronavirus, even without access to the outside world. In France, a man ran an entire marathon on his 7-metre balcony, while in the UK a 99-year-old war veteran raised more than £23-million for the NHS by completing one hundred laps of his garden. Now, a man named John Griffin has scaled the equivalent height of Mount Everest on his stairs at home. For the real thing, explore Everest Base Camp in Street View and marvel at the views that inspired Griffin to count his steps.
There are few views as instantly recognizable around the globe as Sydney Harbour, with its stunning opera house. Gorgeous by day or night, you can watch the city’s lights glittering and its water traffic coming and going in real time.
There’s something surreal about witnessing tourist hotspots around the globe devoid of their usual hustle and bustle. One of the most surreal of all is Times Square in New York. Manhattan’s most iconic square – full of bright lights and depicted in countless movies over the decades – might be eerily empty, but that’s all the more reason to sneak a peek. A number of webcams are up and running around the square, so tune in and pick your angle.
Cape Town’s scenic heavyweight, Table Mountain is sure to take even the most jaded traveller’s breath away. The Table Mountain webcam releases a live image of the mountain – refreshed every ten minutes – while a helpful photograph with all the landmarks labelled helps viewers to make sense of what they’re seeing. Compare the images by day and night, and start dreaming about a real-life visit when it’s safe to travel again.
The scenery in New Zealand is some of the most dramatic on Earth. Milford Sound, a deep fjord with plunging cliffs and hanging valleys, is particularly enchanting. It was used as a filming location in Lord of the Rings, a production that turned audiences around the world on to the raw beauty of New Zealand. Tune in to the Milford Sound webcam to savour the views once more.
Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is splashed across the pages of tourist brochures the length and breadth of the country, and for good reason. It’s one of Japan’s most iconic symbols, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s known for its near-perfect symmetry and picture-postcard dusting of snow. See what the fuss is about for yourself by plugging into one of the webcams set up on the mountain.
Top view: Sydney Harbour live webcam
Helen worked as a Senior Travel Editor at Rough Guides and Insight Guides, based in the London office. Among her favourite projects to work on are inspirational guides like