I’ve haven’t really embraced the virtual tours, armchair travel trend on here, not least because all the ones I’d seen seemed a bit normal for this site, but the other day I was updating some links on a post and started browsing the Online Airbnb Experiences section on their website – and there I saw something a bit strange
The tour was called ‘Explore Prague with a Plague Doctor‘ and it was led by someone in this natty little number.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.
I was intrigued, this wasn’t your normal wander around a museum from your sofa tour I’d seen everywhere else – so I started looking at what other intriguing online Airbnb experiences were on offer. About four hours later, the list of fascinating ideas was getting a bit long.
There were intriguing city tours, fortune-telling via your coffee cup, cute animals and behind the headlines glimpses into the lives of some really amazing people. I literally need to spend the next week in front of my computer watching them all – and so I decided to share them on here too
First up though, what exactly are Online Airbnb Experiences? Well, they’re tours, talks or events that you can stream into your home – and the idea of them is that you get a local’s view of a place – or something relating to it. The people who run the experiences aren’t all normal tour guides, they are people passionate about the subject they’re telling you about – and many of them are real local experts. As I discovered, this makes their offerings a bit more niche than the other virtual tours – or even real-life tours come to that – that I’d seen.
I can’t believe I hadn’t explored more of them before as there’s some really cool ideas on there.
Actually, that’s not quite true as I know why I hadn’t really looked at them. When they first launched the in-person Airbnb Experiences the selection was pretty pricey and so I never really checked them out again – but, the online tours are at a very different price point with most being super affordable. They take place on Zoom, so you and a few friends can also be on the same call if you like.
So, what’s on my wishlist….
1. Prague: Explore the City with a Plague Doctor
This was the experience that sparked this whole post.
In it you spend 90 minutes wandering around the deserted backstreets of Prague, following in the footsteps of Dr Alexander Schamsky who tackled the plague epidemic in the city in 1713.
Guides David and Lucie will help you virtually explore Prague’s famous sights including the Charles Bridge and the old Jewish Quarter learning all about the pandemics of old and how the doctors of the day protected everyone – apparently, drinking three litres of garlic beer a day was one of their recommended solutions.
The tour also takes you to a few areas of the city you might miss doing normal research, so, if you’re planning a trip to Prague in the future it might be worth getting an insider’s heads up from your sofanow!
The tour takes place online at least once a day. Click here to see times, costs and availability.
They also run the Plague Doctor tour daily in the real world, so if you are going to Prague, check out the link to see times, costs and availability of the actual physical tour.
Oh, and the natty outfit was what the plague doctors actually wore at that time – and people now think a paper mask is bad!
2. New York: Have a Turkish Fortune-Coffee Reading
Turkish coffee-ground reading believes that the shape in the leftover grounds from your cup of coffee can tell you some things about yourself and your future – and during this experience, not only will, your host, Uluc explain how it all works, he’ll also read your grounds for you.
Uuc is a bit of a New York celebrity. I’ve read reviews of his work in articles and apparently he’s uncannily accurate – the story of him asking a young couple about their pregnancy (before even she knew she was expecting) actually gave me chills.
Times vary, but he’s normally online once a day, so check it out here if you’re interested in discovering what you cup has to say. NB: you don’t need to have real Turkish coffee for it to work, Uluc says any ground coffee will give results.
Uluc’s tour is hte most expensive one I mention and costs AU$45 a session (when I wrote this) but considering it normally costs US$275+ to see him, it’s a bargain!
3. Portugal: Drink Sangria with Drag Queens
What’s not to love, you’ll learn how to make authentic Portuguese sangria while being entertained by some of Lisbon’s most fabulous drag queens.
Your host is Pedro, in the guise of his alter ego Teresa Al Dente, and the seven drag queens he lives with (imagine the glitter in that house – not to mention the bathroom queue!). There are also puppets.
They promise cabaret, fireworks and glamorous outfits – plus, booze! Yay.
Up to 30 people can be on each session so, get friends to Zoom in too and make a socially distanced night of it.
Sign up in advance as you’ll need to go and buy a few ingredients to make the sangria.
4. New Zealand: Meet Some Adorable Sheep
I know, I know, it’s a cliche to have a Virtual Sheep Experience as my NZ entry but they’re adorable (although, having lived in NZ for a long time, I did see more cows than sheep).
So, in this experience you get to connect with the sheep on Angie’s farm in Rotorua.
You’ll spend a hour meeting the sheep (and lambs if it’s lambing season), then learn all about wool and shearing and a bit about life on a farm in NZ.
5. London: Take a Harry Potter Walking Tour
There’s heaps of these in London, but this one doesn’t involve schlepping yourself on the tube to Leicester Square.
Follow host Mark as he wanders around the streets of London that inspired locations like Diagon Alley and Platform 9 3/4.
He says he aims for everyone, no matter how big a Harry Potter fan, to walk away with a fact they didn’t know before.
The virtual Harry Potter tour takes place numerous times a day so no matter what you’re time zone, you’ll find one to suit it – it takes 90 minutes.
Click here to book a slot or just to find out the prices or see some pictures and reviews.
6. South Africa: Chat to a Shark Scientist
I’m of the opinion that, even when you can travel, the best way to get up close and personal with sharks is virtually – and if you agree, then check out this experience with South African shark scientist Justin as he explores the waters of a marine reserve in Mozambique.
Not only will you follow him out on a past mission tagging Bull Sharks, you’ll learn all about how these creatures really act in the wild – and get the chance to ask Justin all your shark-related questions.
If Shark Week is your favourite week – or, you have kids who love all things big and bitey – you’re going to want to check this one out.
Experiences happen a few times a week so have a look at the schedule to book in.
7. Italy: Cook Pasta with Grandma
There’s heaps of cooking experiences on the site, but I loved this one as it’s hosted by five granddaughters – and their nans!
They share their homemade pasta secrets with each daily session offering a different recipe (Monday and Friday, for example, is Lasagne, Thursday is Gnocchi and Pesto).
You get a list in advance of the ingredients you need if you want to cook along with them.
Times for the experience vary (although there is only one session a day so if you’re in Australia, you might find yourself cooking up a storm before breakfast). Click here to see what sessions are available.
If you’re going to Rome in the future, you can also learn to cook with Nonna in person.
8. Sydney: Meet and Draw a Llama
Forget virtual tours of the Opera House for my hometown tour I’m choosing to meet Cadbury the llama and his owner Noeliine, a former animator for Disney at their farm near Sydney.
She’ll take you to meet Cadbury (and a few of his other friends) where you’ll learn about all things llama – and then, she’ll teach you how to draw the perfect cartoon llama.
There’s one session a day so, click here to check times and sign up. You’ll need to have plenty of paper and some thick black pens to create your own pics.
9. India: New Delhi Street Art Tour
I have a lot of images in my head of India – and while most of them include vivid swirling colours, I don’t think about it as a street art destination, which is why I loved the look of this virtual tour of Delhi’s murals with host Keshav.
Much of the art comes from the Lodhi Art district which launched in the city in 2019, and Keshav will tell you about the paintings and the artists who created them. He also checks out the local tagging scene and invites you to share your favourite street art from your travels too.
There’s plenty of tour times throughout the day to choose from and Keshav is a super entertaining host.
This is another one of those tours that it would be great to take if you have a future trip to Delhi planned when we can travel again to get some fantastic insider tips.
10. Tokyo: Make Cartoon Bento Boxes
Kyaraben is the art of making food into cartoon shapes – and, not surprisingly, it came from Japan – and so does this experience.
You join Noriko in her home in Tokyo’s Shinjuku to make super cute cartoon-inspired bento boxes with rice and fresh vegetables.
Like the other food and drink orientated experiences on here, you’ll get a list of ingredients to buy in advance (don’t worry if you don’t live near a Japanese supermarket, you’ll find all of them sold in a normal large supermarket).
Note the picture above is not one of Noriko’s bento – here are even more ornate. Some people even made Totoro ones!
11. Amsterdam: Red Light Secrets Tour
Amsterdam’s red light district is well known around the world and this fascinating experience allows you to find out the naked truth (as they put it) about what goes on.
You’ll hear the history of the area, go inside the world’s first NGO brothel and chat sex, stripping and more with Sunny who has worked in the red light district of Amsterdam.
When things are up and running normally, host Alexandra also runs Munchies – the world’s first cannabis food tour!
12. New York: Enter a Traditional Hasidic Home
There are some cultures I’m really intrigued by and the Hasidic Jewish community is one of them so the chance to be welcomed into the home of Rabbi Yoni Katz and his wife Rivky, really stood out to me as a not-to-be-missed opportunity.
They’ll tell you about living in their community, their faith and answer any questions you might have.
When the world is ‘normal’ again, Yoni also runs tours around the Jewish community in Brooklyn. If/when I get back to New York at some point, this one will be a must do for me… in the meantime, online will work.
Unlike many of other tours, Yoni isn’t online daily so check his experience page to find out when the next session takes place.
Not seen an experience here that floats your boat, not to worry – there’s over 700 more on the site you might like. Get a cup of drink and your diary and have a browse – who said Wednesday nights need to be dull!