Bypass COVID Travel Restrictions and Visit These Beautiful Destinations From the Comfort of Your Couch.
With the UK experiencing another major national lockdown, and many other countries experiencing the same isolation (all for a good cause, of course), many of us are starting to get an unbearable itch for travel that we just can’t scratch.
Luckily for the gaming community, developers have spent years working hard on creating beautiful worlds for us to explore at our leisure. Some of those locations just so happen to be part of the very same world we’re restricted from exploring right now.
So, what better way than to cosy up on the couch in the safety of your own home and let the hard work of these developers do what is intended and whisk you away to other countries and destinations, with a little action and adventure piled on for good measure.
In these dream itineraries that travel insurance companies would never condone, swing across New York’s Manhattan at dizzying heights, scale the walls of the Colosseum in Rome, or experience Japan from centuries past – all without a care in the world.
Check out our travel guide below, listing the many worldwide destinations you can visit right now. All you’ll need is a console, a TV, and a few spare hours.
Perhaps one of the most recreated parts of the world, North America’s sprawling expanse can be visited in many unique and exciting forms.
New York City, New York – Marvel’s Spider-man
Insomniac’s recreation of Manhattan is one of the greatest and most accurate ones there is. The city has been in many a Spider-Man game in many forms, but none so accurate as the realisation brought to us in Marvel’s Spider-man for PS4. This beautifully high-resolution rendering of the city is about as close as you can get without going there – if you’ll excuse a few of the in-universe additions to the skyline, such as the Avengers tower.
Besides, even if you did hop on a plane right now and travel on over there, you could never experience it the way Spider-Man can; swinging from building to building, perching on the Empire State building – and then diving off without a care in the world.
New York City, New York – Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Just when you thought the city couldn’t look any better, Manhattan is brought back for Miles Morales’ debut video-game and, on the new PlayStation 5 console, it looks more real than ever with realistic ray-traced reflections on every window.
The wintery snow-capped makeover the city gets in this title only helps to offer you a new way to experience Manhattan.
New York City, New York – The Division
If dystopia is more your thing, then this post-pandemic New York might entice you. In The Division, a biochemical weapon wipes out most of the population and the hauntingly quiet city is overrun by gangs and militarised groups in the dead of winter who all simply want to survive.
Team up with friends and explore a cold, unforgiving side of New York in this action-packed – albeit repetitive – RPG-FPS.
Los Angeles, California – Grand Theft Auto V
Perhaps the West Coast is a little more your style. In which case, why not visit the sandy beaches and super-modern culture of California’s most iconic city.
Though presented under a different name – Los Santos – the realistic re-imagining of Los Angeles featured in the latest title in Rockstar’s popular “Grand Theft Auto” series offers a satirical yet painfully accurate look on life in the City of Angels.
Everything from the famous Venice Beach to the Hollywood Hills is brought to life in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Consider it a caricature of the real city.
Los Angeles, California – LA Noire
Perhaps you’d prefer to go back in time. Back to 1947, to be exact. LA Noire is known to have been praised for it’s faithful recreation of a 1940s Los Angeles, from the very same developers who brought us GTA V.
This much more serious title will have you fall into the role of LAPD Detective, Cole Phelps. You’ll use the intricate facial animations of the suspects to determine whether they’re telling you the truth or spoon-feeding you a mouthful of falsities. Between these investigations, however, you’ll be free to get lost in the historical streets of LA.
San Francisco, California – Watch_Dogs 2
Head north along the coast and you’ll come to San Francisco, another town on the West Coast with a vibrant culture which sports some stunning architecture.
Become fully invested in underground hacking culture and immerse yourself in a technology-driven San Francisco. You’ll have the opportunity to drive, walk, even sail around this great city and take in its impressive skyline from any angle.
See fantastic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Japantown’s Peace Plaza.
Seattle, Washington State – Infamous Second Son
Explore Seattle in style as Delsin Rowe; one cool hipster with a whole array of abilities you can take advantage of to make your tour more exciting. Here, you’ll be able to get up-close and personal with some of Seattle’s most iconic locations, like the Space Needle.
The developers went so far in their efforts to make the city real, that some of the pedestrians are actually ordinary folk from the streets of Seattle who had their faces 3D-scanned into the game!
Montana – Far Cry 5
Moving east along the Canadian border, you’ll find yourself in Montana, known for its diverse terrain, sporting some of the best landscapes that America has to offer.
While the story in Far Cry 5 isn’t exactly a positive one, the fictional Montana-based locale does an excellent job of showing off the natural landscapes and beautiful vistas of the state.
Everything from the rivers and lakes to the mountains and forests of “Hope County” are based on real landscapes of South-West Montana.
Chicago, Illinois – Watch_Dogs
Continuing our easterly trajectory, we find ourselves in one of the US’s largest cities; Chicago, Illinois. Situated on Lake Michigan, this bustling city is renowned for its museums.
While proving to have been a pretty disappointing start for the Watch_Dogs series, Ubisoft got at least one thing right in this hacker-themed game; the city.
Though the developers had changed a lot of things about the Windy City’s structure to make travel less of a headache, you’ll still find iconic locations such as the Millennium Park, although the big silver bean thing has been replaced with a glowing donut thing instead… To-may-to, To-mah-to.
Vermont – Hitman 2
Perhaps travelling the world isn’t something you’d exactly consider when you think of Hitman, but the episodic adventures of Agent 47 actually feature many a diverse and well-constructed locale.
One of these is found in Episode 5: Whittleton Creek. This mission, in sharp contrast to others in the series, takes you to an idillic setting for those looking to find the American dream. Colourful wood-panelled houses with picket-fenced gardens give you a taste of American suburb life as you… You know, do general Hitman-like things… But still – the locale is charming and wholesome if you can just overlook the neck-snapping.
Washington D.C. – The Division 2
Though ravaged by the same post-apocalyptic chaos that ravaged New York City in the game’s prequel, The Division 2 still offers us a look at some of the iconic landmarks in Washington D.C.
The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol Building, and even the White House are realised in impressive detail among many other tour-stopping locations from the US Capital.
Miami, Florida – Hitman 2
Once again finding ourselves following the questionable actions of Agent 47, we’re back in Hitman 2.
Though this mission is situated within a race track on the edge of the water in Miami, we’re still able to enjoy the sun bouncing off the cobalt-blue waters as it peers over the Miami city skyline. If for nothing more than the atmosphere, the palm-tree-shaded heat of Miami and excitement of the racing event is conveyed well enough through the hard work of Square Enix’s developers.
Leaving the shores of North America, we move over to Europe, first stopping in for a visit with America’s cousins over in England before making our way east.
England – Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
England; my Homeland and home to some of the most beautiful views in the world. Though it is a small country in comparison to the rest of the world, the cultural diversity in such a small space is mind-boggling. Just 20 miles out from where you started you’ll find a whole new accent, and a different word for “bread roll”.
Through Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we’re able to experience the Viking perspective of 9th-century life in England. But that isn’t why it’s on this list.
Ubisoft have done an excellent job bringing to life the hills and moors of England. From fantastic vantage points you can simply watch and admire as cloud-shaped shadows roll over the gorgeously uneven landscape of the country. You can find landmarks such as the White Cliffs of Dover and even visit an ancient version of London (or Lunden) which still wears its Roman origins proudly.
It’s just a shame that they’ve hidden Yorkshire (Eurvicscire) under so much snow!
London, England – Watch_Dogs Legion
Honing in now on England’s capital city, the bustling city is filled with iconic imagery which you just don’t find in the same intensity anywhere else.
For the third instalment of this series, Ubisoft moved away from the shores of North America and brought their black-mirror-esque story to London. Though told in a dystopia-bordering future with emphasis on surveillance, the foundations of London 2026 bear the same familiar visuals we know and love.
From the red buses to Big Ben, you’ll find all the usual tourist traps of the Old Smoke.
London, England – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Maybe modern London isn’t what you were hoping for?
Well, through Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, you can travel back to London in the height of the Industrial revolution and see how it earned the name “The Old Smoke”. You’ll get up-close and personal with many iconic buildings such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, all while experiencing Victorian-era London’s rough street-life.
Shropshire, England – Everybody’s Gone to Rapture
Perhaps the South of England isn’t the experience you were hoping for? Moving north, you’ll find more rustic and peaceful representations of British life in Shropshire.
The country-side destination of Shropshire is perfectly represented in this charming game with an eerie story. You’ll explore the streets and homes of an everyday northern-english village in search of the truth about the villagers’ sudden and unexplained disappearance.
Isle of Skye, Scotland – Uncharted 4
Heading even further north, we end our stint in the UK at the Scottish Isle of Skye.
Uncharted games are well-known for the globe-trotting antics of Nathan Drake, and in perhaps their biggest game yet you’ll get to spend a couple of chapters in this very Scottish setting.
From exciting hexagonal cliffsides to haunting abandoned Abbeys, you’ll be taken on a linear story-driven tour through a snowy Scotland-inspired setting by the masters of storytelling; Naughty Dog.
Paris, France – Hitman
Once again we find ourselves trailing the hushed footsteps of Agent 47. In the 2016 Hitman mission “Showstopper”, you’ll find yourself experiencing the glitz and glamour of a Parisian fashion show.
Though the “Palais de Walewska” isn’t a real place, it’s setting is heavily inspired by the many large manor houses to be found in France’s capital city. Set right on the northern tip of the Île Saint-Louis, its surrounding views are almost like the real thing.
Paris, France – Assassin’s Creed: Unity
For those looking for a more historical representation of the city, Assassin’s Creed: Unity takes us back in time to Paris at the height of the Renaissance. Though you’ll be there pre-Eiffel-Tower, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to see. You’ll get to walk the halls of Parisian manor-houses in their prime and – in sheer contrast – the developing streets of 18th century Paris.
The star of the show here, however, is the painstakingly accurate recreation of Notre Dame. After the roof burned down just a few years ago, this game’s popularity spiked due to the accuracy of the in-game version.
Rome, Italy – Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection
The Ezio Collection collates remastered versions of three of the series’ most popular games. Following the life of Ezio Auditore de Firenze, you’ll visit many of Italy’s great locales such as Florence, Monteriggioni, and Venice.
The most impressive stop on this tour, however, is the city of Rome. There, you’ll be able to get very hands-on with an impressively accurate (though now somewhat technologically dated) recreation of the Coliseum or scramble up the pillars of the Pantheon for a better view of the City.
Amalfi Coast, Italy – Hitman
Continuing South we head now to the sunny Italian shores of the Amalfi Coast, for some Azure waters and gorgeous golden architecture.
Though the fictional town of “Sapienza” is not a real city in the Amalfi Coast, the influences of real Amalfian architecture and culture in the setting cannot be ignored. Here you can enjoy the blending of historical buildings and high-end luxury lifestyles with a beautiful beachfront view over the ocean.
Greece – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Keeping gorgeous sandy beaches and blue mediterranean waters in mind, we move further east to Greece.
Any trip to Greece simply isn’t complete without some exploration of its historical significance as the cultural capital of the world, so why not simply dive straight in to Ancient Greece?
Here, you’ll not only be able to enjoy the views and vistas of the Grecian Archipelago, but you will be able to explore the real and rich history of the country. From the real-life battle of Brain vs Brawn as Athenians struggle against the rising threat of the Spartan armies, to the cultural beliefs that led to incredible tales like those of Medusa or the Minotaur.
Czechia – Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Our last european stop is something which is perhaps a little unexpected; 15th Century Bohemia.
KCD’s developers have received some praise for their efforts in faithfully recreating 15th Century Bohemia for their game. Featured within are some of Bohemia’s most recognisable and historically significant landmarks; Nový Dvůr, hrad Pirkštejn, and Kostel Sv. Matouše – to name but a few (no idea how to say them though…)
Leaving behind familiar European coasts, we sail across the Mediterranean to Africa, where we’ll experience a few of the continent’s cultural hot-spots.
Egypt – Assassin’s Creed: Origins
A country which has history seeping out of every sand-filled pore, Egypt is known for some of the most impressive man-made marvels on earth.
Once again, Ubisoft act as our tour guide on another journey into the past, this time taking us to Ancient Egypt. Here, you will find yourself exploring the secrets of vast deserts, beautiful oases, and incredible buildings devoted to the Egyptian Gods.
From the Pyramids, to the Sphinx and everything in-between, you can find it all in AC: Origins.
Marrakesh, Morocco – Hitman
Marrakesh is known for its busy markets filled with hand-crafted goods and colourful products. So what better way to experience the city than to visit one such market.
While blending into the crowds to monitor the movements of your target, why not take the time to also enjoy the atmosphere of the market and just take in the sights and sounds before you get on with all the Hitman stuff.
Madagascar – Uncharted 4
One of the largest sections of Nathan Drake’s adventure takes place here in Madagascar, where you’ll also find the series’ first open-world section.
Left to your own devices, you’ll be free to openly explore the jungles and muddy outbacks of the nature-rich island. With lush vegetation hiding ancient ruins, there’s no better way to get lost than to do so in this tropical paradise… Just try not to get shot at.
Before all that, though, you’ll get to explore a small Madagascan market, and even meet a Lemur!
Heading back to the northern hemisphere, we enter the eastern land of Asia, filled with cultures that can, at times, seem alien to us Westerners.
Western Ghats, India – Uncharted: Lost Legacy
In the south-eastern part of India, this water-filled locale contains a beautiful blend of naturally-formed and human-carved structures.
The Uncharted series’ second open-world exploration segment takes place here in the Western Ghats, where you’ll have the opportunity to uncover hidden secrets, gawk at beautiful waterfalls, and climb gorgeous structures.
Mumbai, India – Hitman 2
Staying in India, we head more northerly to the city of Mumbai. Though not a totally faithful recreation, the Hitman 2 level efforts to capture the essence of Mumbai with busy streets, new development construction and even the shoot of a Bollywood movie.
The really interesting part of this stage is that there’s a full guided tour that you can take part in! Just follow the person in the green hat and they’ll show you everything this mini-Mumbai has to offer.
Nepal – Uncharted 2
Now heading northeast, we cross the border into Nepal, where colourful flags and impressive mountainside villages are brought to mind.
In Uncharted 2 you’ll spend a short moment of your time here in a war-torn version of Kathmandu where the culture is unfortunately a little buried under civil war, but you’ll eventually get to explore the Himalayas. After a short stay in a charming mountainside village, you’ll go exploring icy caves and frosted peaks in search of secrets and treasure!
Bangkok, Thailand – Hitman
Heading now into Thailand, we visit Bangkok through Agent 47’s globe-trotting role as Hitman.
Though most of this stage takes place in a gorgeous Thai palace, there’s plenty to see in the surrounding area, with a sprawling lake adorned with beautiful singaporean sailboats, at the opposite end of which you’ll find be able to spot some impressive temple structures.
Hong Kong – Sleeping Dogs
Stepping into the shoes of Wei Shen, we now move north-east into Hong Kong, China. Though this city has been the site of heated protests in recent years, you needn’t worry about that as you enter the world of Sleeping Dogs.
This Grand Theft Auto-esque look into life as an undercover cop on the streets of Hong Kong gives you the perfect opportunity to appreciate how beautiful the city looks at night. Enter the excitable food markets where you’ll constantly be getting told that you need a Pork Bun, or take a moonlit drive by the water and soak in the sights.
Tsushima, Japan – Ghost of Tsushima
In one of the greatest games of recent years, Ghost of Tsushima sees you battling your way across the Isle of Tsushima to push back the Mongol Horde.
But that is not without stopping along the way to appreciate everything from ideal meditation spots, natural spas, and mountain-top shrines. A love for the island and a connection to its nature are strong themes in this gorgeous game from the team at Sucker Punch. It’s absolutely a destination not to be missed.
Interestingly – following the game’s success – fans were actually able to come together in support of the real Tsushima islanders who were able to use crowd-funded donations to repair some recently damaged shrines, keeping the history of the island alive and well.
Tokyo, Japan – Yakuza Series
Another series of games which follow the Grand Theft Auto formula of life as an up-and-coming street gangster. The Yakuza series all takes place in the streets of fictional parts of Tokyo, though the influence – much like GTA V’s Los Santos – is very much there. Depending on the game you play, you’ll get a different kind of Tokyo. Such as the 80s-era Tokyo featured in Yakuza Zero.
You’ll be able to enjoy food at local sushi bars, head out for a night on the town to take part in some karaoke, or waste away the hours in SEGA Arcades. There’s more to just furthering the cause of Japan’s mafia in these thrilling games filled with action, side-content, and a heaping spoon of that good old Japanese sense of humour.
It’s a big old world out there and, as we have seen, videogame developers have only just started to scratch the surface. But lets take a moment to appreciate the effort and care that these developers have put into bringing real-world locations to life in their games with a clear appreciation for the cultures and history of each locale.
Naturally, it’s a lot of work to bring a completely non-existent location to life in the many thousands of games we have on our shelves, but given the state of the world right now, it’s nice to know that some of them can take us away to lovingly-crafted clones which are about as close as we can get right now.