We are now facing an extraordinary situation in which billions of people around the world are asked to stay-at-home, borders across the world are closing, schools and universities have transitioned their classes online, nonessential businesses are shuttering and companies are requiring their employees to work from home. The impact is noticeable at many top travel destinations, which are now converted into ghost towns we thought only exist in movies.
Keep scrolling to see how the world is facing this temporary standstill. From Las Vegas to Buckingham Palace in London, these before and after photos show how once crowded attractions have now emptied out, as part of the preventive measures.
New York City’s Times Square
From Broadway to Seventh Avenue, Times Square is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. Although it is now on standby, it is well-known for having some of the heaviest foot traffic in New York. According to its website, it normally sees around 380,000 pedestrians every day.
New York City went into lockdown on March 22, leaving the normally busy Manhattan with a ghosting aspect. Storefronts still shine in neon in Times Square, billboards blink and lights are still on, there is still magic happening there, but no crowd to enjoy it.
Pike Place Market in Seattle
Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market holds a special honor – that’s where the first Starbucks coffee shop opened! Pike Place Market is also the first and largest farmers market in the city and one of the most iconic destinations in Seattle, attracting over 10 million visitors a year.
The place is popular for its fresh produce stalls, fish markets, flower shops, butchers, more than 30 restaurants, etc. attracting over 10 million visitors per year. As seen on the after pictures, there has been a decrease in the number of people visiting the market.
Las Vegas Strip
They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but currently, nothing is happening in the always-exciting city. The world’s top trade show destination attracts people from all corners of the world and last year the ultimate playground welcomed over 42 million visitors, looking for an incredible nightlife experience.
What happens in Vegas? On March 17, all nonessential businesses closed in Nevada, including the legendary Las Vegas Strip, which has seen a decrease in the crowds, as tourists, workers and locals have been asked to stay home.
Eiffel Tower in Paris
What’s your first thought when you hear about Paris? Whether you are thinking about its café culture, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, pastries or fashion, the one must-see monument you can’t miss is the Eiffel Tower, perhaps Paris’ most famous man-made structure worldwide.
The most iconic architectural wonder of Paris welcomes over 7 million visitors each year, according to its official website. Locals and tourists enjoy their time on the grass near the Trocadero fountains from which they can appreciate the Eiffel Tower. However, this place that once was bustling, is now closed indefinitely.
The US Capitol in Washington DC
Have you been to one of the most symbolically important buildings in the US? The US Capitol does not only have an active use for Congress, but tourists from around the world can also visit the place. It is estimated that each year 3-5 million visitors from around the world come and enjoy the museum of American art and history.
This place is a must-see if you get to visit the US Capitol. One of its highlights is the spectacular rotunda, perhaps the main reason every visitor decides to take the tour. Due to the difficult times we are going through, the hub of the political world experiences a never-before-seen absence of presidents, journalists, visitors, representatives, etc.
Piazza San Marco in Venice
The most important square in romantic city of Venice, known as the St. Mark’s Square, is the amazing epicenter of Venice and hosts some of the most outstanding landmarks. With over 25 million tourists visiting the city each year, this tourist hot spot is worth seeing.
Nowadays, the tourism industry is facing a decline, as the places normally congested have now become ghost towns due to social distancing and other protective measures, affecting the tourism economy. As seen on the pictures from before and after, the lockdown has clearly affected the place negatively.
Charles Bridge in Prague
When in Prague, the Charles Bridge is a must-see; it is one of the most important bridges, due to its unique connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old town. It has been famous for decades for its importance as a trade route between Western and Eastern Europe.
With over 20 million people visiting Czech Republic each year, the heart of Europe is one of the main destinations in Europe for visitors from around the world. Its capital, Prague, welcomes over 8 million visitors per year and Charles Bridge, the solid-land connection, is a main attraction. Nowadays, however, we can see the bridge stands alone and the number of visitors is significantly reduced.
San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf
The most famous waterfront community in the country has also experienced a decrease in visitors, whether these are local or foreigners. The after pictures seem as if they are taken out of an apocalypse movie, as one of the busiest tourist areas in the city now seems deserted.
The Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in the Western United States, receiving from 10-12 visitors annually. However, the Fisherman’s Wharf has suspended its operations for the time being, showing the place eerily empty.
The London Eye in London
When in London, a must-see attraction (though some would say it’s overrated) is the famous London Eye, one of the symbols of the modern London, charmingly hanging over the river Thames. Europe’s tallest cantilevered greets over 3.5 million visitors every year.
Known for being the only cantilevered observation wheel in the world, with a height of 135 meters, the wheel assures its visitors an unforgettable experience. Its incredible panoramic view of the city makes it unique, offering a view as far as 25 miles. The famous wheel is temporarily closed as a precautionary measure.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai
The tallest building in the world can be found in Dubai; spanning a height of 828 meters, the skyscraper is known to hold a few other world records. From having the tallest service elevator in the world to the highest number of stories in the world, Burj Khalifa surely offers one of the best panoramic views of Dubai.
With over 1.8 million visitors per year, Burj Khalifa is the most popular attraction in Dubai. Despite already having diverse world records, the skyscraper is not yet finished; although it was anticipated to be finished by the 2020 Expo trade fair, the current situation has halted the work and neither workers, visitors nor locals are seen around as much as before.
Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
From little kids to grownups, if there is something Disneyland does well, is making everybody feel welcomed and enjoy themselves, regardless of their age. The happiest place on earth promises an adventure, whether you go alone or with company.
Since mid-March, however, Disneyland closed its California theme parks for visitors and suspended new cruise ship departures, in an attempt to ease the current situation. Although tickets are still available for purchase from June 1, according to experts, Disney theme parks may not open until 2021.
The Colosseum in Rome
The Flavian Amphitheatre, located in the center of Rome, is one of the most iconic monuments of Italy, and we dare say of Europe. Owned and managed by the state, the UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts over 7 million visitors each year, hailing it the number one attraction in the world in 2019, according to Tripadvisor.
The after picture shows how normally dense with traffic areas surrounding Rome’s Colosseum are now empty, as the Italian Government has taken strict measures throughout the country, which force people to stay home, for their own safety.
Spanish Steps in Rome – Plaza di Spagna in Central Rome
Remember the proverb ‘all roads lead to Rome’? When in Italy, you cannot miss its capital and all it has to offer, from its unique fountains to its history, art, architecture, the Roman ruins, and most importantly – the delicious Italian food – Rome is a place with a lot to offer.
Italian attractions have been deserted in the last couple of weeks, as Italy is facing a nationwide lockdown. The Spanish Steps were always full of life, as people loved taking pictures of the place. Now the place, that was once busy with traffic, is oddly deserted.
Louvre Museum in Paris
Home of the famous Mona Lisa, the Louvre museum in Paris is the most famous museum in the world, with over 10 million visitors per year. It is said that visiting every room inside the museum would take around 3 days, which is why it’s a good idea to know beforehand what you would like to see once inside – an important trip in case you ever go there in the future!
All indoor gatherings of more than 100 people were banned by the French government in an effort to curb the spread. Even though the museum made various attempts to stay open, after the government’s directive the Louvre announced that it would remain closed until further notice.
Walk of Fame in Los Angeles
For most visitors and many locals, no trip to Los Angeles is complete without getting to see the Walk of Fame, one of its most popular tourist attractions, drawing over 10 million visitors each year, who are there to get a glance at these famous stars.
From Quentin Tarantino to Marilyn Monroe, the walk of fame runs 2.1 km on Hollywood Boulevard, from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue, and comprises over 2600 five-pointed terrazzo and bras stars holding the names of people who’ve changed the entertainment industry over the years. However, the streets are now noticeably empty, since Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order.
When in Italy, the Vatican City is a must-visit. It is one-eighth the size of New York’s central park; no wonder it is the smallest country in the world. Despite its size, it has a vast history and a mass of tourism, as it welcomes over 5 million tourists per year.
The Vatican City is not only the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church but it has a great cultural, historical and political significance. With Italy in lockdown, the Vatican is closed down, like all of Italy.
Broadway Show in New York
Broadway shows attract over 13 million tourist and visitors alike with its incredible plays and musicals. Any person visiting New York should at least once try to catch a Broadway show and its incredible live theatrical production of a musical, revue or play. If you’ve been to the Big Apple and haven’t seen a Broadway show, could you really say you’ve been to New York?
For decades, Broadway musicals have been very popular for visitors and locals alike. These performances are so well-crafted, some of them have won the very prestigious Tony award, which recognizes the excellence in live Broadway theatre. Although now theaters in the country and around the world have closed their doors, luckily for us, some Broadway shows can still be watched virtually.
Tiananmen Gate in Beijing
Also known as the Gate of Heavenly Place, Tiananmen Gate is a monumental gate in the center of Beijing and a national symbol of China. It is also of great significance for the Chinese culture, as it has been part of several important events in Chinese history. Although it counts with 440,000 square meters and has a capacity for 600,000 people, it always feels busy and crowded nonetheless.
As China rightfully put special safety measures in place at tourist attractions, the streets surrounding one of China’s most iconic landmarks, which are normally filled with people, have been left deserted.
Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan
Shopping-lovers around the world are shedding a tear over this one: Italy’s oldest active shopping mall, Vittorio Emanuele II, is one of Milan’s major landmarks. Milan is particularly famous as a city of fashion, and this particular mall is famous for being home to some of the oldest, and most prestigious, shops in the city. From Prada to Louis Vuitton, the mall is full with high-end boutiques.
Several international fashion brands were born in Milan, which is why it’s known as one of the world’s most important fashion capitals. Although it is one of the most visited cities in Europe, Italy is now on lockdown and strict measures are being taken. The after picture shows how some of the measures are being taken at one of Milan’s famous tourist destination.
The Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia
Mecca is considered one of the holiest Islamic cities and is of great importance for 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, millions of which visit the holly place each year. The Kaaba is the cube at the center of the great Mosque in Mecca and is known as one of the most sacred places in Islam.
Although it remained closed for a couple of days, it has now partially reopened, based on a royal decree by King Salman, to the people seeking to perform the Tawaf ritual, which consists on walking around the Kaaba. However, no visitors are allowed to touch the Kaaba.
Red Square in Moscow
The most famous and largest square in Russia, the Red Square is one of the main attractions in Moscow. Any visitor standing in the middle of the square will be able to see some of Moscow’s most iconic attractions, which are surrounding the square, such as the iconic GUM department store, the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, St Basil’s Cathedral and the State History museum.
You wouldn’t want to miss a colorful picture by the Saint Basil’s Cathedral or getting to know the interiors of GUM, the most iconic department store in Moscow. However, any plans to visit Red Square will have to be on hold, as Russia is now asking its 147 million citizens to stay at home and avoid traveling.
Trafalgar Square in Central London
One of the most lively spaces in London, Trafalgar Square, located in the middle of the city, is famous for being home of the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and the historic Nelson’s column. London has many attractions to offer, and Trafalgar square is definitely one of them. At any time of the year, you’d find the square packed with locals and visitors.
When it was still possible to go out freely, Trafalgar Square was a place in which visitors and locals were able to relax and watch the goings-on of the city, enjoy its surrounding, the fountains, sculptures, galleries and the Saint Martin-in-the-Fields church. The after picture shows how the restrictions implemented by the government have affected the liveliness of the city.
Gran Via in Madrid
One of the most hustled parts of Madrid’s city center is La Gran Via, place that has a vast variety of things to see and do. Also known as the city’s own Broadway, the many venues of the Gran Via offer its locals and visitors places to enjoy watching the Cirque du Soleil, Les Miserables, the Lion King, ballet, stand-up comedy, among others.
In what seems like a ghost town, the streets of Madrid are left abandoned these days. Shops and schools are closed and the city remains quiet, not because people are out of town enjoying a vacation, but are constrained to stay home.
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida
The happiest place on earth that attracts millions of people every year closed indefinitely on March 15. With a very active web page, Disney updates its loyal customers on its operations and upcoming plans.
March 16 was the date in which, for the very first time all six Disney parks around the world, they’ve announced the closing of the park until further notice. At the moment, Walt Disney World continues on monitoring the situation in order to see the future reopening dates.
The Forbidden City in Beijing
Located in central Beijing, The Forbidden City is known for having been the former Chinese imperial palace and the political heart of China. Are you wondering why is it called the ‘Forbidden’ City? Back then, only imperial families and invited high officials could enter the city, while commoners were not allowed to enter without a special permission.
The Forbidden City is one of Beijing’s most visited attractions, seeing an average of 14 million visitors annually. However, as many other Chinese attractions, On January 25, it was closed to the public until further notice.
New York’s Grand Terminal
The historical commuter rail terminal located at 42nd street and Park Avenue is one of the busiest spots in New York City, which on a regular day sees about 750.000 visitors. This landmark is famous worldwide due its rich history, which involves great engineering and wealth.
The current situation has given this once crowded terminal an unusual ghostly aspect. With the new regulations adopted, people are staying home in self-isolation, which results in a decrease in the use of public transportation. According to the New York Times, the ridership on commuter railways has decreased in almost 90%.
The Piazza del Duomo in Milan
The Catholic Church in Milan, the Duomo di Milano, is the second-largest cathedral in the world and one of Milan’s top attractions. Covered with statues of saints and gargoyles, it allows its visitors to visit the rooftop, where they can enjoy the view of the bustling city beyond.
People from Milan are not used to see the city so devoid of life, as the current situation has brought the country to a standstill. The Duomo closed its doors to visitors on February 25 and the reopening date is not clear yet.
Buckingham Palace in London
The Queen’s official and main royal London home, the Buckingham Palace has been the British Monarchy’s official London residence since 1837. It is by far the most popular attraction in London, as it sees about 15 million visitors each year.
One of the main characteristics that attracts hordes of tourists is the changing of the guard at the Buckingham Palace, which takes place on its exteriors on certain days from 10:45 and has an approximate duration of 45 minutes. Nonetheless, the stay-at-home order issued by the Prime Minister has temporarily stopped this historical activity.
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland
The Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland, has some of the largest glaciers in Europe and some of the most active volcanoes. The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s number one attraction and is famous for its amazing skin treatment. It is also said it helps with skin diseases such as psoriasis.
On a regular day, The Blue Lagoon attracts up to 4000 guests who seek to benefit from the warm waters, which are rich in minerals. However, this number has considerably decreased, as new measures were put into place, affecting travel and tourism in Iceland.
The leaning tower of Pisa in Italy
You must have seen a picture of someone pretending to hold up the leaning tower of Pisa. Have you ever wondered why is it leaning? The answer takes us back to 1173, when its building started on a soft ground, which eventually led to a slight leaning of the tower, after builders were done with the second floor in 1778.
Every year around 5 million tourists visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa who are curious about its history, how was it built, to explore the city or just to take a picture. Things have changed, as now the only people seen around this historic attraction are the workers in charge of spraying disinfectant solutions around these public areas.
Souq Waqif in Doha
The famous marketplace in Doha, Souq Waqif, has also been affected by the current situation, as it is experiencing a decrease in its number of visitors. Although there have been news on social media regarding the upcoming reopening of the market, the Souq Waqif management has denied this information.
The marketplace is known for selling traditional garments, souvenirs, animals, spices and handcrafts. One can also go there for a relaxing pastime, as it is home to Shisha lounges and a variety of restaurants.
The British Museum is one of the world’s largest and most popular museums of art, human history and culture. It holds over 7 million objects from all over the world, from the Mummy of Katebet to the Easter Island Head – it’s no wonder the museum is so popular among tourists.
The museum, which doesn’t charge for entrance, sees over 6 million visitors annually. The British Museum has temporarily closed its doors to the public, as a result of the global crisis. It is said that Britain hasn’t seen similar restrictions to these since the end of World War II.
Plaza de Armas in La Paz, Bolivia
Approaches and strategies around the world to deal with this worldwide crisis have differed from country to country. In Bolivia, the new measures allow people to leave the house once a week to stock up, and whether a person is allowed to go out or not is decided by the last numeral in his ID number.
The Government has now extended its lockdown until May 10, planning to move to a more dynamic stay-at-home restrictions from May 11. La Plaza de Armas is the central plaza of the city and the space most connected to the political life of Bolivia. As seen in the after pictures, the new restrictions have changed the number of visitors the Plaza sees, leaving it deserted.
Paso Internacional los Libertadores in the Andes
Also known as Cristo Redentor, it is a mountain pass in the Andes Mountains between Chile and Argentina. It is the most important transport route out of Santiago de Chile into Mendoza city in Argentina and so it is best known for carrying heavy traffic.
While the first image shows how heavy the traffic in this mountain pass was between the two capitals, the after picture shows how the roads have cleared after each country has set its own restrictions for the public.
Santa Monica in Los Angeles
If you’re looking for some of the best beaches, restaurant and clubs, Santa Monica is the place to go to, as almost everyone in the country could verify. The Pier is also a good reason to spend some relaxation time there, as you can enjoy of the concession stands, the small amusement park and areas for beautiful views and fishing.
On March 27, the Los Angeles department of public health ordered the temporary closure of all public trails and beaches, including the famous Santa Monica Pier, in an attempt to deal with this worldwide crisis. The closures are part of protecting the public’s health, reminding the people to stay home and stay safe.
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
The absolutely breathtaking and unfinished Roman Catholic Basilica is the most visited tourist attraction in Barcelona and each year it welcomes over 3 million visitors. Although its construction began in 1882, it is yet to be finished – which gives it some of its unique charm – and it is believed to enter its final stages of construction in 2026.
Given the current situation, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia has closed its doors to visitors since March 13. The lockdown in Spain is keeping travelers away, going from over-tourism to no-tourism.
One of the most scenic and popular destinations of the Balearic Islands is Ibiza. Even though it is small in size, it has a lot to offer to its visitors, from its lively nightlife to its amazing sights, Ibiza promises an unforgettable experience.
Although Ibiza is still on lockdown, the Spanish Government has announced to ease the situation over a period of 2 months, which consists on reducing the rules gradually. If it wasn’t for the current crisis, it could have been the ultimate place to spend our summer vacation! However, our balconies and backyards will have to do for the time being.
Although it has been home for Queens and Kings for many centuries, now the historic fortress serves as a military station. Edinburgh castle attracts around 2 million visitors each year, who are also interested in visiting the Scottish National War Memorial.
Given the current situation, Edinburgh has now canceled some of its most important events that usually take place during the month of August. Likewise, the castle remains temporarily closed, encouraging its visitors to stay home.
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Around 13.5 million tourists visit the capital city of Germany every year and although it is a popular destination in the European Union, it has seen a decreased on its tourism these past couple of months.
The Brandenburg gate, Berlin’s most famous landmark, which once represented division, is now a national symbol of peace and unity. Although it is normally filled with people, it is now for the first time featuring empty streets, since new health and safety measures were put in place on March 16.
Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station in Berlin
Although Germany is not on complete lockdown, gatherings of 2 or more people are banned, and accordingly, museums, schools, shopping malls and restaurants were ordered to close until further notice.
As seen on the before picture, the famous Alexanderplatz plaza used to be packed with commuters moving around,only a short number of weeks ago. Now, with the new restrictions, it looks isolated as most people are rightfully staying home.
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, one of Istanbul’s biggest mosques is best known for its bluish decoration and for being the most important mosque of Istanbul. It attracts between 4 to 5 million visitors per year.
Regarded as one of the most emblematic religious buildings, the mosque has seen a reduction in its number of visitors, as mosques remain open to worshipers only for individual prayer.
State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg
Considered the second largest museum in the world, the Hermitage Museum holds almost 3 million objects, including the extraordinary collection of painting assembled by Catherine the Great.
From Michelangelo’s Crouching Boy to the Statues of Atlantes, the museum has a vast variety of articles to admire and learn about. It is said that if a visitor decides to spend 2 minutes per item, then they will need a total of 48 hours to finish watching the entire Museum’s collection. Today the Museum is temporarily closed to the public.
Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
The historical Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest surviving shopping centers in the world and due to the new measures taken by the government, it has closed its doors to the public since March 24th.
Known as one of the oldest and largest markets in the world, which used to attract between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors every day, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is now only open to business owners and employees.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam, which used to welcome about 20 million tourists per year, is now taking a break from its visitors, as the government has issued new measures that are to be followed until 20 May. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and at one point, locals were complaining they can’t enjoy their city anymore because of the constant tourism.
Although the country is not in total lockdown, many of the city’s sights, bars, attractions and restaurants have closed as a preventive measure, leaving the streets deserted of tourists and locals alike.
Johor Singapore Causeway
The Johor Singapore Causeway is a 1,056-metre causeway which links Malaysia and Singapore. Over 450,000 people cross the Malaysia-Singapore border every day, making it one of the busiest land borders in the world.
The after picture was taken after Malaysia imposed a lockdown on traveling. The emptiness in the Causeway reflects the new health regulations and curfews the entire world is experiencing at the moment.
Known as the Jewel of the Mediterranean and Aphrodite’s birthplace, Cyprus offers its visitors an extraordinary holiday destination packed with unforgettable memories, incredible sights and arguably one of the best Mediterranean cuisine.
It is the 40th most popular destination in the world, with almost 4 million tourist arrivals per year. Despite its popularity, this year the famous island will not welcome as many tourists as usual, as gatherings are banned, a nighttime curfew has been imposed and schools remain closed.
The MET, New York
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United States. With over 7 million visitors per year, it is the fourth most visited museum in the world. New York is famous for many things, including rats and Brooklyn pizza, but the MET is one of its top attractions.
Home to antique weapons, vast collection of musical instruments, costumes, accessories and armors, whether you are a fan of museums or not, the MET offers an unforgettable experience. In accordance to the new regulations, the MET is now closed for the public until further notice.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Also known as LACMA and located in Los Angeles, the County Museum of Art is home for around 100,000 works of art, making of it the largest museum in the western United States.
With nearly 1 million visitors per year, the museum is always up for giving its public the best experience; that’s why it not only holds more than 150,000 works of art, spanning the history of art, but also features music concert series and films.
Edinburgh Zoo, known for housing penguins in its collection, with its first 3 being king penguins, is now closed to public due to the lockdown, with only essential staff working at the zoo, to look after the animals.
It is said that some of the animals within the zoo have noticed the emptiness of the place; although the majority of animals have barely or not noticed any change, its chimpanzees have been looking for people through the windows, as well as the penguins, who have not been able to participate in their traditional parade.
Located in central Anatolia, Cappadocia is best known for its cave churches, underground cities, landscapes and houses carved in the rocks. The colorful balloon rides in Cappadocia allow its visitors to enjoy the fairy tale scenery from different angles.
Now archaeological sites and museums are closed to visitors, due to the new restrictions, leaving Cappadocia without new visitors this year .