Times Square is void of its frenetic shuffle. Selfie stick-wielding tourists are absent from the Eiffel Tower. Bourbon Street is eerily quiet.
All over the world, amid government shutdowns and travel restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, the most bustling tourist spots are deserted. While the lack of crowds is by no means surprising at this point — it’s a good thing people are staying home, after all — the photos are certainly stark.
Here’s a rare glimpse at what 10 beloved tourist spots around the world look like without tourists.
The Colosseum (Rome, Italy)
As Italy’s top tourist attraction, this ancient gladiatorial arena has a commanding presence in Rome. During the Roman Empire, crowds of more than 50,000 gathered in the arena for gladiator fights. Today, 6 million visitors a year pay the nearly 2,000-year-old Colosseum a visit. Italy is one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, with the entire country on lockdown and landmarks like the Colosseum, Pompeii and museums temporarily shut down.
Times Square (New York City)
The only other time you’ve likely seen Times Square this empty was in the 2001 Tom Cruise thriller, “Vanilla Sky.” That eerie scene took a lot of planning and early-morning shooting to pull off but it’d be pretty easy to accomplish amid the coronavirus outbreak. Times Square draws 50 million visitors a year and, on a normal day, 340,000 pedestrians pass through this tourist destination lined with stores and restaurants. The coronavirus has hit New York City especially hard.
Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)
The Eiffel Tower is a defining symbol of France, with its twinkling lights defining the Paris skyline at night. Every year, 7 million visitors — 75% of whom are foreigners — visit this famed landmark. France is another European country that’s been heavily affected by the coronavirus, and landmarks including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum have been shut down to tourists. At least you can still take virtual tours of that latter site.
Bourbon Street (New Orleans)
A month ago, New Orleans was packed with revelers celebrating Mardi Gras. Now, Bourbon Street’s wild bustle is as tame as a Sunday church service. The city’s mayor issued stay-at-home orders as coronavirus cases skyrocketed there. With the revelers gone and restaurants shut down, rats are reportedly taking to the streets to forage for food.
Grand Central Terminal (New York City)
More than 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Terminal on any given day. The century-old architectural gem is more than a central hub for transit; it houses shops, restaurants, a European-style market and a famed opal clock that’s estimated to be worth about $20 million. With New Yorkers on lockdown, the terminal is strangely quiet and travelers have plenty of room for social distancing.
Fremont Street (Las Vegas)
The lights are still flashing, but a sign on Fremont Street says: “Stay Home for Nevada.” Usually Fremont Street in historic downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip are packed and thrumming with energy as about 43 million tourists visit the city in any given year. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Nevada’s governor ordered casinos, hotels and restaurants to close earlier this month, leaving as many as 350,000 Las Vegas workers whose jobs rely on tourism wondering what’s next.
Shibuya Crossing (Tokyo, Japan)
While this photo isn’t nearly as barren as others, this is still just a fraction of the hustle and bustle at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing on a normal day. Billed the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, 2,500 people cross at a time and the nearby Shibuya Station accommodates nearly 2 million people per day. Japan’s lockdown measures, to date, have not been nearly as restrictive as they are in other parts of the world.
Fisherman’s Wharf (San Francisco)
Barking sea lions, souvenir shops, clam chowder and views of Alcatraz typically draw droves of tourists to the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. The must-see stop for visitors to the city sees an estimated 16.4 million visitors every year. The Bay Area was the first in the United States to issue “shelter in place” orders as the number of coronavirus cases began to surge, so this destination has been all but empty for weeks.
Vail Ski Resort (Vail, Colorado)
Coloradans are known to ski well into April. But because of a quick coronavirus spread in the state’s mountain communities, ski resorts shut down early this season. In operation since the early 1960s, Vail is America’s most popular ski resort, seeing more than 1.6 million skiers every year. Despite plenty of snow just begging to be tackled, you can see how eerily calm the hills look in this shot, which includes empty ski lifts.
Space Needle (Seattle)
With a statewide stay-at-home order in place in Washington, Seattle’s Space Needle is shut down and the surrounding streets are quiet. The iconic tower, which has been open since 1962, typically sees more than 1.3 million visitors every year. Despite the current shutdown, armchair travelers can get 360-degree city views from the Space Needle’s live cam, which shows just how desolate the area is at the moment.
Which tourist destination are you most excited to visit once travel resumes?
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