Dozens of everyday people documented the sounds of their cities, forests, beaches, and homes.

Maldives for Soundscapes project by Orbitz
Credit: Courtesy of Orbitz

Ever wondered what it sounds like in Lillehammer? What about Kiev? Cancun? A new project by travel aggregator Orbitz lets you listen in.

To create Soundscapes, the company asked 36 people (in 33 countries on six continents, in huge cities and small villages, and even the most remote inhabited environments) to share what they love most about the place they live — through sound. The collaborators recorded the ambient noise around them to share with the world. Each clip is just a few seconds long, accompanied by a photo of the scene, but has an immediately immersive effect.

The goal of Soundscapes is to create a simulated “travel” experience that introduces people to new places in a more nuanced way than through photos alone. For example, we know in theory about the dizzying number of cyclists riding along the canals of Amsterdam, and can picture ourselves lounging on the sugary white beaches of the Maldives.

But to be able to close our eyes and actually hear what those moments sound like is a transportive event indeed.

Here are a few highlights from the groundbreaking project.

coffee shop in Banha, Egypt, recorded for Soundscapes project by Orbitz
Credit: Courtesy of Orbitz

Banha, Egypt

This small city just outside Cairo is mainly known as a railway hub for regional train transport, though the ruins of several ancient Lower Egyptian cities draw visitors to the outskirts of town. In the recording, we hear the familiar buzz from inside a coffee shop: metal clangs in the kitchen, orders being called, and snippets of overlapping conversations in Arabic.

River in Kiruna, Sweden, from Soundscapes project by Orbitz
Credit: Courtesy of Orbitz

Kiruna, Sweden

This town in Lapland is Sweden’s northernmost municipality, and though its population is just over 17,000, it welcomes more than 300,000 tourists every year seeking pristine national parks and the ethereal Northern Lights. The corresponding soundscape is particularly serene: all that can be heard is the roar of a glacial river and the whipping Arctic wind.

Mumbai, India

India’s most populous city also lays claim to many other superlatives; it's a constantly-humming megalopolis that is considered the country’s epicenter of education, finance, cuisine, and Bollywood. For their soundscape, one Mumbai local recorded a chorus of horns from the cars, trucks, motorcycles, and tuk-tuks in the city’s ceaseless flow of traffic.

You can explore all 36 destinations with their interactive map. Happy listening!