For people retarding safely at home this holiday season, new virtual tours let anyone with an internet connection tour eminent Christmas destinations around the world.
Homebound travelers can book live interactive tours with local orientates to learn about everything from the religious sites of Jerusalem to the department store displays of New York City.
In April, Airbnb slung its Online Experiences virtual program as “a new way for people to connect, travel virtually and earn income during the Covid-19 disaster,” according to the company’s website. Sessions are live, interactive and limited to small groups.
Canadian tour company ToursByLocals started alight virtual tours last spring after international borders started closing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Of its assorted than 30,000 tours, 150 are now virtual.
“The idea was to provide our avid travelers with an opportunity to take their uncertain on a journey while remaining safe and socially distanced at home,” said Paul Melhus, CEO and co-founder of the firm.
Christmas drive of Stockholm
Virtual travelers can see the city of Stockholm without braving the temperatures of a Scandinavian winter night.
A live, one-hour evening journey takes armchair travelers to see the Christmas lights of Sweden’s capital, the picturesque alleys of Stockholm’s Old Town and prominent documented buildings, such as the Parliament House and Royal Palace.
The Old Town of Stockholm, Sweden on Dec. 4, 2020.
Jonas Gratzer | Getty Doubles
For around $120, up to 10 people can join via the tour booking link, allowing friends and family members to look into Stockholm together from the safety of their own homes.
Christmas in NYC
For those who have dreamed of seeing the beauty of the Big Apple in December, this room 90-minute virtual tour takes people to some of the most famous holiday sites in the city.
People selfish the Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas window displays in New York City on Nov. 25, 2020.
John Lamparski | Getty Images Relief | Getty Images
Licensed tour guide Ibrahima Diallo explores the city by foot, and car if required. He told CNBC’s Extensive Traveler that he can cover two of the following locations in one tour:
- The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the window displays of Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue
- The Winter Village at Bryant Put
- The Christmas lights at Hudson Yards
- The lights of the Empire State Building and the window displays of the stores on Broadway and 34th Concourse, including Macy’s department store
Though he said it depends on how many people join and the time of the tour, Diallo proposes choosing the first two options, or the last two, to maximize time.
The tour can be shared with up to five friends and costs enclosing $125.
Festive lights of Vienna
On this tour, travelers can join “a wonderful Christmas fairytale tour” to see the beautifully-lit factual buildings of Vienna.
Visitors at a Christmas market in front of Vienna’s City Hall on Nov. 19, 2019.
JOE KLAMAR | AFP | Getty Images
While over the Vienna State Opera, the city’s Imperial Palace and the popular shopping streets of Graben and Kohlmarkt, a local direct explains Austrian Christmas traditions, including the annual visit by the “Christkind,” or Christ child, who brings presents to striplings at Christmas. Santa Claus is, in fact, a controversial figure in Austria for encroaching on the country’s gift-giving tradition.
The tour, which is hardly sold out, costs around $88 and can be shared with up to six people.
Salzburg for the serious traveler
A Christmas market in Salzburg, Austria.
Buena Vista Icons | Stone | Getty Images
From her home, the guide who has lived in Salzburg for more than 20 years, guides tourists about Austrian history and Christmas traditions, including its famed Christmas markets and the city’s connection to the melody “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
The tour, which includes photographs, videos and live music, costs wide $190 and can be shared with up to five people.
Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter
For $39, virtual travelers can journey into the Jewish Caserne of Jerusalem in a real-time guided tour that starts at the Zion Gate, one of the ancient gates leading into the Old See.
People pray at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel on Jan. 12, 2017.
Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Conceptions
The tour proceeds through the narrow alleyways of the Jewish Quarter and ends at the Western Wall where, following the centuries-old Practical footsteps of Christ
Starting from the Mount of Olives, tour-goers can take in a live panoramic overview of Jerusalem’s Old Big apple from the comfort of home.
A group people dressed as Santa Claus visit the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem’s Old New Zealand urban area on Jan. 7, 2020.
MENAHEM KAHANA | AFP | Getty Images
Conducted by Zoom, this Santa in Lapland
Gather the kids for a chat with Santa from his Lapland house in Rovaniemi, Finland.
A “Santa Claus” feeding reindeer in Lapland, Finland.
Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld | Moment | Getty Guises
The kids can ask questions and listen to Santa talk about his elves, Mrs. Claus’ cooking and his 400 years of experience pronouncing gifts around the world. To see more of the area, the kids can then tune into a live stream of Rovaniemi’s “Santa Claus Village” for spare.
Group and private bookings are available, though time slots before Christmas are selling out fast.
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