Use Google Sightseeing to Travel the World

Google SightseeingEdinburgh brothers Alex and James Turnbull ask, “Why bother seeing the world for real?” They pull out interesting sites and stories from Google Earth and Google Street Views and present them here. Search their site by keyword or browse by country or category.

Google Sightseeing


See the Earth as the astronauts do

Astronaut photosVisit this searchable database of photos and videos of the Earth taken by astronauts. The shots date back to the early 1960’s with those taken on the Mercury missions. International Space Station astronauts contributed the recent images and videos. Watch as they fly over glowing orange cities while the horizon glows green with last winter’s spectacular auroras. Search by city to see your town from way up high. This database is maintained at the Johnson Space Center in cooperation with the International Space Station program.

The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of the Earth

Earthshots delivers glorious images from around the world

EarthshotsLondon wildlife photographer William Burrard-Lucas collects submitted photos from across the globe and then mounts them on this site so we can experience the beauty of our planet. Browse the daily entries (there are five years of them) or search the archive by keyword to find snaps of specific spots. Snag the RSS feed to have the stunning photos delivered to your reader. Are you a nature or travel photographer? Submit your shots for possible selection as “Photo of the Day.”


Travel the Globe from Your Chair with 360Cities

360CitiesCzech photographer Jeffrey Martin and his partners host this collection of “panos” or 360-degree panorama shots taken all around the world and even under the sea. To virtually travel the globe, just do a keyword search for your favorite destination or just browse locations on the world map.

To orient viewers, all panos are pinned to a location in Google Maps. This is helpful because some panos are disconcertingly fish-eyed, causing vertigo as you swivel in the photo by swiping your mouse across it.

360Cities not only showcases and indexes panos, it offers tutorials about how to make your own. It invites photographers to contribute their work. 360Cities is now integrated into Google Earth in the gallery layer. All the panos are interesting; many are stunningly beautiful.


Jump Back and Forth in Time with WhatWasThere

What Was ThereEnlighten Ventures, an Ann Arbor marketing firm, invites users to upload their scanned historic photos. The company then matches these contributed snaps to the current street view in Google maps. The photos are placed on a map and superimposed over photos of the buildings that exist today in the same location.

Search WhatWasThere to find the photos and then use the screen fader to change the transparency of the overlaid historic image. The effect is like moving backward and forward in time. Download the free iPhone app to have an “augmented reality” experience of the history that surrounds you as you travel. Join the site for free to upload your own historical photos.

What Was There

Map the Past with Historypin

HistorypinLondon’s “We Are What We Do” is a non-profit that aims to enable the public to help with environmental and social issues. In 2010, it partnered with Google to create Historypin, a database of user-supplied historical photos and information which they collect and superimpose over Google Street Views. The point is to connect people and their stories across geography and generations. Libraries, schools and historical archives are encouraged to scan and upload old photos to create virtual “tours”of the past and collections of memories. Historypin plans to add the ability to play sound and videos soon.

Sign in to Historypin with your Google password. Historypin is also available as a free Android app.