Worldwide icon-chevron-right In pictures: the beauty of empty cities around the world

In pictures: the beauty of empty cities around the world

City streets are falling silent all over the planet. Here are the most eerily beautiful pictures of cities in lockdown

Trafalgar Square in lockdown
Photograph: Andy Parsons
By James Manning and Time Out editors |

Right now, more than a billion people around the world are living a very different life to usual. Social distancing and self-isolation measures have transformed our cities. Bars, restaurants and cultural venues have been shuttered. Public transport is suspended or reduced. Many institutions are closed to the public (though you can still tour some major landmarks online). In some countries, even going for a stroll requires official permission.

The result, in dozens of the world’s greatest cities, is a city that looks, sounds and even tastes very different to usual. Check out these striking images of empty streets and other usually busy places around the world, and get a glimpse into what happens when the human world suddenly becomes human-free.

Striking pictures of empty city streets

Photograph: Courtesy @edmeetsgrace/Instagram
News, City Life

New York

With many NYC companies asking employees to work from home, the city's streets and transportation hubs (including the Oculus at the World Trade Center, pictured) are weirdly empty.

Empty Piccadilly Circus during London lockdown
Photograph: Andy Parsons
News, City Life


More than nine million people live in London, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the UK capital right now: normally crowded places like Piccadilly Circus (pictured) are empty following a compulsory lockdown order.

Sensoji Temple walkway is empty as snow falls
News, City Life


The governor of Tokyo urged citizens to refrain from unnecessary outings this past weekend, and the city took her advice – Tokyo became a ghost town, right in the middle of sakura season.

Empty streets in Chicago during coronavirus
Photograph: Courtesy @smithdidit
News, City Life


Major Chicago attractions like Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk and the 606 are all but desolate these days.

Photograph: Manuel Manso
Things to do


Portuguese citizens have entered isolation, and the streets are deserted except for queues outside supermarkets, pharmacies and post offices.

Deserted Melbourne Street
Photograph: Twitter/@br19800
News, City Life


Australians have been told to stay home and practise physical distancing, which means many of Melbourne’s usually bustling streets are pretty much empty.

Avenue du Parc
Photograph: @micomophoto / Michel Cordey / Instagram
News, City Life


Areas of the city that were once full of locals and tourists are now empty, including whole boroughs like Downtown.

Sydney Opera House during shutdown
Photograph: Maxim Boon
News, City Life


Some areas remain reasonably populated, but by and large, Sydney’s usually bustling city streets are pretty much empty.

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Photograph: Time Out Boston
News, City Life


With so many venues and businesses closed up, Boston's streets are at times completely empty.

Wynwood Walls in Miami, deserted
Photograph: @fuegzzz
News, City Life


Empty streets and desolate beaches are a sign of the times: Miami’s busiest places are practical ghost towns.

See more eerily empty places