Michelin may be known for “Red Guides” full of restaurant recommendations, but we’re equally passionate about travel. Our long-running Green Guides travel series covers more than 50 destinations—cities and countries across North America, Europe, and Asia. In these guides, we spotlight some of the best, and most iconic, cultural establishments across the globe—from museums to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks.
Though many of the world’s cultural sites are closed to the public, they’re still open for visits through your screen. Thanks to Google Arts & Culture you can take incredibly in-depth virtual tours of more than 2,000 museums worldwide and of dozens of cultural and historic sites. So if you feel like dropping in on, say, Christian Dior’s ball gowns (at The Met in New York) or wandering around Petra, you can—and you don’t need to move an inch.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) - São Paulo, BrasilThis architecturally striking museum in downtown Sao Paulo has a rich collection of more than 8,000 pieces, including Brasilian paintings, prints, and drawings. Don’t miss MASP’s textile exhibition and portrait photos by Gustavo Lacerda.
National Gallery of Canada - Ottawa, CanadaRight on the Ottawa River is this enormous museum, which has nearly its entire collection online, spanning the 15th century to the present. Hop on StreetView to see Louise Bourgeois’s Maman, a 30-foot-high, 33-foot-wide bronze, stainless steel, and marble sculpture of a spider before stepping inside to peruse photographs, prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and more.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, USAThe 15th century BCE Temple of Dendur is one of The Met’s most popular installations and is always packed, but in the museum’s 360° video tour, you’ll have it entirely to yourself. From Ancient Egypt, it’s a single click to the Costume Institute’s impressive Coco Chanel: Romanticism show.
Getty Museum - Los Angeles, USASee artwork of every medium from the 8th century to the present at this museum, housed in a building designed to look like the ancient Roman Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, Italy. There are a cool 16,000 pieces in its virtual collection, from Renaissance paintings to a Walker Evans’ photo from Havana, 1933.
British Museum - London, UKThis expansive central London museum’s superb virtual tour whisks you back in time. See historic relics like a Viking-era comb made of antler or a 16th century ivory salt cellar from Sierra Leone, as well as the museum’s more famous inhabitants: the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, and the rather controversial Elgin Marbles.
Musée D'Orsay - Paris, FranceAcross the Channel, the former Orsay Railway Station (1900) is one of Paris’s iconic museums, showcasing paintings, drawings, and sculpture from 1848 to 1914. Explore the museum’s handsome exterior before spending some time with Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Bonheur.
Palace of Versailles - Versailles, FranceThe French court and royal residence housed France’s royalty from 1682 until the French Revolution a century later. The enormous palace positively drips in gold, an absolutely over-the-top excess of riches. On your virtual tour of this blinged-out space, sashay (virtually) through the staggering Hall of Mirrors and the lovely sculpture garden.
Rijksmuseum - Amsterdam, NetherlandsFollow Google StreetView through the galleries of Amsterdam’s iconic Rijksmuseum. The museum has more than 8,000 pieces in its collection, 165,000 of which are on Google. Look out for Dutch masterworks, widely represented here, including paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
Uffizi Gallery - Florence, ItalySee Michaelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece David without waiting in the Uffizi’s legendary queue. Also featured in the Uffizi’s virtual tour are myriad Renaissance and Baroque sculptures and paintings, including Canaletto’s oil paintings of Venice (looking nearly as crowded in 1730 as it does today).
MMCA - Seoul, South KoreaImmerse yourself in the best of modern and contemporary Korean art at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which has four branches, including one in Seoul. Click through the colorful geometric work of Yoo Youngkuk, a pioneer of Korean modern and abstract art, as well as the other visually-pleasing collections.
Kyoto Costume Institute - Kyoto, JapanThere are nearly 300 pieces in Kyoto Costume Institute’s virtual collection, from the 18th through 20th centuries. Every item of clothing—from a delicate florid silk robe (1750) to a technicolor Thierry Mugler blazer from the 1980s—is a work of art.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Edinburgh Castle - Edinburgh, ScotlandBrew a cup of Scottish breakfast and plate a piece of shortbread for a virtual tour of Edinburgh Castle—27 buildings atop an extinct volcano, in use as royal residence from the mid-12th to mid-17th centuries. The Scottish capital’s most popular tourist site sees two million visitors a year, but you’ll have the place to yourself.
Gombe National Park - Kigoma, TanzaniaFollow in the footsteps of Jane Goodall in the lush national park where she did her chimpanzee research. The English primatologist spent 200,000 hours there, but you won’t need quite that long to walk virtually behind chimps like Glitter and her young daughter Gossamer. When you’re done, take a spin through Goodall’s house, her books and research materials spread all around.
Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona, USAHike the rugged trails of the Grand Canyon without lacing up your boots on Google’s comprehensive tour of this natural wonder. As you traverse its steep canyons and trot through the bush, you’ll practically feel the crunch of dirt under your feet and the sun warming your back (and with no risk of sunburn!).
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park - Hawaii, USAPut on headphones for this awe-inspiring virtual tour of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park . The aerial shots of oceans, rock cliffs, and lush rainforest, walk through a deep-red lava tube, and views of an active volcano at dawn will give you chills.
Mosque City of Bagerhat - Bagerhat, BangladeshSpread across 50 sqk. where the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers meet is a remarkable city from the mid 15th century. There are 360 mosques here, some of which are still active, and you can explore their domes, learn how they were built, and better understand how severely climate change is impacting Bagerhat and Bangladesh as a whole.
Petra - Petra, JordanYou don’t need anything except headphones for this guided trek through Petra, the ancient archaeological site in southern Jordan. The historic city is always packed (more than a million people visited in 2019), but on this tour you’ll step right into ruins without encountering another sole.
Rapa Nui (Easter Island) - Chilean TerritoryWing your way to this beautiful and remote island in Polynesia whose most famous residents are 1,000 monolithic human figures called moai. These statues of worshipped ancestors, carved between 1,200 and 1,500 CE, average 4 feet tall. Get up close and personal with them and learn about the impact of climate change and what’s being done to stop it.
GREAT OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES
Northern Lights - Manitoba, CanadaSeeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) outdoors is astounding—and cold. See these dreamy neon lights from home with Explore.com’s livecam, set up at subarctic research station Churchill Northern Studies Centre. The best time to watch is at night (10pm-4am (GMT-5). For bright lights a bit earlier, tune in to Lights Over Lapland’s livestreams in Lapland, Sweden (GMT+2).
Bryce Canyon - Utah, USAGrab headphones again for this virtual tour of Bryce Canyon whose aerial views are simply breathtaking. Gaze at an expanse of stars and the Milky Way, learn about hoodoos, the tall, thin rock formations that fill Bryce Canyon, and ride on horseback on a narrow path down into the canyon.
Samburu National Reserve - KenyaWalk with the more than 1,400 elephants of Samburu National Reserve (a great place to go on safari), who’ve been GPS-tracked by Save The Elephants for a whopping 845,000 hours. Among the elephant families you can meet are the Swahili Ladies and the Clouds, pictured with several cute, tiny babies.
Port Phillip Bay - Victoria, AustraliaThe tranquil sound of life underwater makes this reefcam in Port Phillip Bay in southern Victoria great as background noise or for getting lost in your thoughts. Watch bubbles pop, seaweed and algae wave back and forth, and fish swim by (see this guide to identify who’s swimming by).
Read more and get inspired for future travel at travelguide.michelin.com or with one of our Green Guides, available at your local bookseller.
Hero photo: Bryce Amphitheater, Bryce Canyon National Park © FilippoBacci/iStock