Sightseeing from Home: The Global Effects of Covid

Sightseeing and travel are at an all-time low. We do not know our travel plans will be able to take flight again, but we can still enjoy the wonders of the world and sightsee from the comfort of our homes. As a result of businesses closing and production coming to a halt, there has been less pollution, a cleaner atmosphere, cleaner waters and a return of wildlife to their natural environments (and they’re exploring ours). 

While our lives have changed, the world has too…and it’s worth taking a look, taking stock of how it’s improved and to see if this is something we can make sure continues even when everything goes back to normal. 

In honor of Earth Day 2020, here are some photos of interesting places from around the world that show how beautiful the world we live in is, under all that pollution and without all the crowds. These are images I found only from a handful of places – ones that have a lot of tourism and emissions; however, I hope it hammers home the need for us to take care of our planet and ensure that it’s around, and healthy, for a long long time. Hopefully, as time goes on and we slowly return back to normal, we will be careful to reduce our carbon footprint.

Enjoy your “sightseeing” trip around the world. I hope this gives you inspiration for future places to see that you may not otherwise usually visit.

United States

Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, the beach, and smog, is now clear. Tourists usually take a sightseeing bus around the city to see the Walk of Fame and catch glimpses of celebrities. Maybe going forward, they’ll be able to appreciate the skyline as well! Who knew it was also so pretty?

Photo via Business Insider

Yosemite national park is seeing more and more wildlife return to its natural habitat. Funny how it works out that way. Fewer humans, more nature. What we need to realize, is that our presence doesn’t have to affect them so much. We just need to be better about not disrupting THEIR HOMES when we visit.

Video via LA Times

In San Francisco the coyotes apparently have been found wandering the streets and exploring the city. And now they’re sightseeing as well, taking in the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo by @scottoller


There have been some sensationalized social media posts out there about dolphins and swans returning to Venice Canals: NOT true. Don’t always believe what you see online!

However, the canals ARE cleaner and the water clearer due to less human traffic and no disruption of sediment from the gondolas.

A gondola stands in clearer waters in a Venice canal on March 17, 2020 following the country’s lockdown due to coronavirus. (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO/AFP via Getty Images)

In Milan, I found this side by side comparison of a famous landmark and sightseeing stop that tourists usually visit:  the Piazza del Duomo. The photo without all the tourists look 100x more peaceful than the other. Don’t get me wrong, I fully intend to get back on the travel bandwagon once this pandemic clears up and we can safely travel again; however, I think it’s worth noting that tourism can sometimes overshadow the beauty of our monuments.

milan BI
Via Business Insider


In a nation one-third the size of the United States but with 3x the population, you’re going to have mega-pollution. I have extended family there and so am grateful that people are taking this seriously and sheltering in place.

Given the amount of pollution there at baseline, it’s only natural to see some drastic changes.

The Beach

While humans are on lockdown, endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles are making a comeback on Indian shores. Apparently, last year, due to the number of people on the beach, and garbage, these guys were unable to nest as they usually like to. Now, with everyone at home, they are able to do their thing.

Maybe, going forward, we need to let all species, especially the endangered ones, to complete their own cycle of life in peace.

turtle beach india
Via Times of India

The Mountains

Way back when on a family trip to India, we visited Darjeeling and got up super early for two days in order to catch some clear skies and we got a glimpse of the Himalayas. We got lucky. We were told that many people try and few succeed in actually being able to see them.

Now, you can see amazing panoramic views of the mountain range free and clear. With the drop in pollution, the peaks are clear as day. I can only hope that the locals realize the beauty in front of them and continue to minimize greenhouse gas emissions so that the future of sightseeing in India is improved, and preserved.

Scenic View from Pathankot, in the Punjab. Photo from the Times. Credit @PARASRISHI

The City

In Mumbai, there’s an annual flock of flamingoes to the wetlands nearby. This year there’s an increase in the number of birds seen. It could be due to the increase in algae that they feed on, but also because there’s just fewer people roaming around their neighborhood.

Flamingos in Mumbai. Pic from The Print


China has been locked down since the end of 2019. As a major manufacturing hub for the world, you can imagine it’s contribution to pollution levels.

NASA satellite images show, however, a drastic reduction since the pandemic hit. This obviously won’t last, but I hope it makes everyone think of the differences we can make going forward.

insider nasa pic of china
Via Business Insider

A Sustainable World

Much of the world is usually buried under pollution and tourism. Even nature parks have fewer animals in their natural habitats. Now, however, this situation we are in is unique. We are seeing places, seeing sights, that we otherwise would not be able to.

This sightseeing tour through photos is showing us what our effects on the world really are, and how the world could be if we took better care of it.

We can make a difference.

As travelers, we can do our part in preservation as well. I don’t think that we need to stop traveling, but we can change what we do at our destinations. Instead of a hop on hop off bus sightseeing tour, maybe we can stroll through the city (seriously, how many of us even listen to the narrated tour guide? we’re all too busy taking pictures). If you do want guided tours, then tons of places offer guided walking tours. It’s a great way to check out your destination and get your exercise in.

Another alternative is a segway tour. Segways are sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives to seeing those landmarks, and famous world heritage sites

The carbon footprint from flying is huge. Maybe, going forward, we can be more cognizant and try to avoid flying everywhere. I know this is not possible in every part of the world, but say in Europe, you can fly over and then take a train between cities or countries even.

In addition, whenever possible, we can try to avoid private tours (e.g. using private cars) and instead choose ones that travel in groups (carpooling at its finest!). Taking it a step further, we can be on the lookout for environmentally friendly options during our vacations. Every little bit counts!

In Summary

Climate change is real. The effects of pollution and human traffic are real. We are being given a glimpse into what the world could look like if we took care, and paid attention.

Let’s celebrate Earth Day by showing a new appreciation for where we live. Let’s take the time and the effort going forward so that we don’t make the same mistakes as before.

Let’s give ourselves the opportunity to sightsee our world’s greatness, clean and clear.

Featured and pinnable image courtesy of unsplash

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