When cabin fever sets in or if you fancy escaping for a bit, there are a host of brilliant virtual travel experiences to get stuck into ranging from trips to museums and national parks to searching for animals and glorious scenery. Embark on virtual travel experiences to simply while away some time, or use them to help plan your post-lockdown holiday… when hopping on a plane or jumping in the car are allowed once again. Read on to get clued up on some of the top virtual travel experiences out there.
Spend time with animals across the globe: head to our friends at Anantara in Chiang Rai and watch the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation at work, or tune into the International Wolf Center’s webcam and catch a glimpse of the elusive canines in Minnesota. And for a super cute option, peek at puppies at play at Warrior Canine Connection in Maryland, an organisation helping US veterans reconnect with society through service dogs. For more worldwide creature-spotting check out Explore: our top picks include Shenshuping Gengda Panda Center in China’s Wolong Valley Nature Reserve, brown bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, and gorillas at the GRACE Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Great Barrier Reef
Who doesn’t love listening to the soothing yet authoritative tones of Sir David Attenborough? Dive into the Great Barrier Reef with the nature veteran and nonagenarian and be taken on an interactive expedition through the fragile ecosystem off Queensland’s coast.
Search and you will find
The world is your oyster: don a virtual reality headset and use Google Earth VR to journey around the seven continents and visit wondrous sights such as The Colosseum, Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal. And for those without the gear, ‘travel’ using Google Earth to places like Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon, or simply click on a premade guide. Other possibilities? Use Instant Street View, go off the beaten path with Google Treks, or add the ‘Earth View from Google Earth’ extension and scroll through 1000s of images.
Great Wall of China
A section may have reopened to tourists, but it’s likely to be a while before many of us can even think about travelling there. So why not virtually hike from Jinshanling to Simatai here?
For a less strenuous virtual armchair outing, stroll the halls of Buckingham Palace: marvel at the White and Blue drawing rooms and the Grand Staircase.
Fancy a little culture? Tour a host of museums and be awed by the impressive exhibitions they have on offer. From the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and the Sistine Chapel in Rome to the Louvre in Paris, there’s something to suit all tastes. Oh, and a video has been released by the Tate Modern of their Andy Warhol showcase. For more online visits go to Google Arts and Culture where collections at the Van Gogh, Uffizi, Ohara, MASP, and more can be found.
It’s true: there’s nothing like seeing the magical sight in person, but checking out the VR options that are available is a rather good alternative. In Canada, a live cam at the Churchill Northern Studies Center films all night in the hope of picking up the aurora borealis. While over in Lapland, press play on the video to see a pre-recorded sighting of the atmospheric wonder or check out the webcam.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it? Wear your VR headset to investigate a 3D replica of the surface of Mars, and discover what it would be like to land on the fourth planet from the Sun. Bank down on Earth, it’s possible to see the facilities at NASA’s Glenn Research Center: just take their virtual tour. And Space Center Houston provides visitors with a mobile excursion when you download their free app.
Explore the Amazon in virtual reality (without the mosquitoes) with Conservation International. Even without a headset it’s still a pretty impressive view of the biodiverse, tropical jungle.
Missing out on taking a trip to the theatre? New York’s Metropolitan Opera is streaming free shows for viewers to enjoy from their settee. Dialogues des Carmélites, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Nixon in China, Don Carlo, and Norma are just a handful of those on rotation. And Shakespeare’s Globe in London has a number of comedies and tragedies that can be rented for a small fee.
360 Images & Videos
Both Airpano and 360 Cities have tons of panoramas to get stuck into while lounging on your couch: start with Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats, the Iguazu Falls straddling Brazil and Argentina and the Hong Kong skyline, then browse the world map. Virtually travel about and plan your next real-life holiday.
A number of conservation spaces offer stay at home sightseeing on Google Arts and Culture: get up close with a volcano in Hawaii, swim through a coral reef at Dry Tortugas in Florida, discover Kenai Fjords in Alaska, fly with bats in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns, and gaze at the night skies in Utah’s Bryce Canyon – don’t forget to turn the sound on. And Yosemite has a handful of live webcams with vistas of the 2,425 feet Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, and High Sierra – choose the best hours of the day to view, depending on your time difference with the States. Or check out the virtual tours, time-lapse sequences, and behind the scenes treks.
Follow Travel Curious and take note of the virtual itinerary, ranging from talks and walks to theatre suggestions – all from the comfort of your home.
Any thrill-seekers in your household? Get onto YouTube’s iThemePark, CoasterForce and EastCoasterGeneral pronto and ride the likes of Stealth at Thorpe Park, Oblivion at Alton Towers, the Magic Kingdom’s Thunder Mountain, GaleForce in New Jersey, and Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls. Guaranteed to make stomachs drop.