Last Updated on 10/02/2021

The coronavirus pandemic has put many of our lives on pause and events including weddings, parties, festivals and holidays have had to be cancelled or postponed. While it’s been difficult adjusting to the tighter restrictions on our daily lives, we’ve also become more resourceful. Travel in its literal sense has become the stuff of fond memories and hopeful aspirations while we wait out this virus but its essence still lives on in virtual travel experiences. 

Since the pandemic, we have entered a new era of virtual reality. Our physical selves may be stuck at home but the virtual space has become a place where we can hang out with friends, run businesses and see corners of the world that we may not have access to otherwise. This new focus on virtual reality could even be the start of an alternative way to travel in the future. 

Virtual tourism makes the world more accessible 

It’s no secret that travel is expensive and the recent travel ban has also shown that it’s a privilege which can easily be taken for granted. Virtual travel brings the world within reach of those who might not otherwise get to see it. 

Of course, seeing all the seven wonders of the world may be better in person but for many of us, and especially now when travel is limited, that opportunity is just not an option. At least with these virtual travel experiences, we get a chance to see some of the world’s top landmarks even if it’s from our own homes. 

Can virtual travel help tackle overtourism? 

Once the pandemic is over and the world begins to go back to normal we will return to tackling the ongoing threat of climate change. We won’t be able to ignore our environmental impact as travellers and the tourism industry will need to become more sustainable. 

Many top destinations are already dealing with the effects of overtourism and are starting to introduce measures to control it. For example, Peru is limiting the number of tourists on Machu Picchu over concerns that human traffic is damaging the conservation of this ancient site. In the future, virtual travel could be used to help mitigate overtourism and it could become a real asset in the fight to preserve this fragile world. 

While virtual travel experiences may currently be limited to 360-degree interactive virtual tours, I look forward to seeing how virtual reality could develop in the future. Personally, I would love to see a virtual reality wildlife experience (if this already exists please do let me know!). In the meantime, while we get through this pandemic, here are 20 virtual travel experiences to satisfy your wanderlust at home.

1. Winter Escape in Swedish Lapland, Sweden

virtual travel experiences

Lights Over Lapland has created a series of virtual travel experiences in the heart of the Swedish Lapland for those in need of a relaxing escape. Available on YouTube and on their website, the 360-degree videos capture peaceful reindeer and dog sledging tours, a peek inside an ice hotel and even a compilation of the Northern Lights in action. 

Check it out here. 

Want to see more of the Northern Lights? This guide to at-home travel-inspired retreats reveals a way to virtually see them in Iceland with a professional photographer!

2. Sunset Over the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Ireland’s iconic landmark is now in reach thanks to this 360-degree virtual tour. Catch a sunset over the geological wonder from your living room and follow the arrows to O’Brien’s Tower for panoramic views at the top. It even has the capacity for virtual reality headsets if you’re looking for a fully immersive experience.  

Check it out here. 

3. Party in Ibiza, Spain

If you’re craving some part vibes, one of the best virtual travel experiences you can do is join #StayAtHomeSessions by Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, an open-air club in Ibiza. Here you can catch up on a re-stream series of some of the club’s top DJ sets from 2019. You can watch them all on Facebook and invite your friends to join in too. 

Check it out here.

4. Explore Central Park, New York

central park new york

New York City’s Central Park is inviting virtual travellers to explore its grounds from their homes. Starting from West 72nd entrance, you can wander through the park at your own pace and learn about the history of some of its most notable landmarks. Sites to look out for include Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Terrace and the Alice in Wonderland statue. 

Check it out here. 

5. Study Stonehenge, UK

See one of England’s most iconic landmarks up close with these two virtual tours by English Heritage. One tour allows you to experience a 360-degree tour of this neolithic monument. Or, you can switch to Skyscape and get a view from within the stone circle itself. Both these tours give unparalleled access to Stonehenge that you would never get in real life. 

Check it out here. 

6. Virtual Hike in Yosemite National Park, California

Transport yourself to the rugged landscape of Yosemite National Park in California. The park may be closed to hikers right now but virtual visitors can still enjoy its magnificent views online through a selection of webcams. Views include Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan. 

Check it out here. 

7. Marvel at the Great Wall of China, China

great wall of china

For an unbeatable experience of virtual tourism, you can mentally climb the Great Wall of China from the comfort of your sofa. Considered one of the great wonders of the world, the Great Wall has over 2,000 years of history and covers more than 3,000 miles. Discover the section of the wall from Jinshanling to Simatai and enjoy views of watchtowers and snow-dusted mountains. 

Check it out here. 

8. Archaeological Exploration in the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Armchair travellers are invited to indulge in a virtual reality tour of the Grand Canyon. In addition, you can get a fascinating and in-depth insight into the history behind the canyon’s otherwordly rock formations. This tour is an absolute must for geology enthusiasts. 

Check it out here. 

9. Enjoy Birdsong in the Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado

It’s no secret that nature has therapeutic benefits. Studies have shown that birdsong makes us feel safe and secure – a lingering evolutionary fragment of our ancestors from thousands of years ago. Rocky Mountains National Park has brought the sounds of nature into our homes with a mesmerising sound library that captures the acoustic diversity of the park. Sit back, relax and let the sounds wash over you during this virtual travel experience. 

Check it out here. 

10. Virtually Visit Machu Picchu, Peru

virtual travel experiences

If Machu Picchu is on your bucket list then this tour is one of the top virtual travel experiences for you. This 360-degree tour allows you to explore the archaeological Incan settlement while learning about its incredible history. During this tour, you can get phenomenal views of the Andes and virtually climb to Machu Picchu’s highest point for panoramic views. 

Check it out here. 

Want to know how people across the world are dealing with life in lockdown? Read their stories here. 

11. Discover Petra, Jordan

Google Maps and Queen Rania of Jordan have teamed up to allow armchair travellers the chance to explore the ancient ‘rose red city’ from their homes. In this fully immersive virtual tour, you can learn about the history behind Petra’s iconic facade and the nomadic Nabataeans who built this city of stone over 2,000 years ago. 

Check it out here. 

12. Hike a Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

In the mood for a spot of mountain-climbing? Grand Teton National Park has brought virtual reality travel to the next level with its series of virtual hikes. You can climb all the way to the top of Grand Teton and admire the view from its 13,770-foot summit while discovering the surrounding geology and wildlife. If you prefer a more low-key virtual hike, try the eHike String Lake or the Moose-Wilson Corridor. 

Check it out here. 

13. Gaze at the Taj Mahal, India

virtual travel experiences at the taj mahal

The Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. For those who want to see this beautiful monument up close, this YouTube video gives you a fascinating high-definition virtual tour. Let the footage guide you while you marvel at the intricate designs that cover every inch of this architectural masterpiece. 

Check it out here. 

14. Feel Royal at Buckingham Palace, UK

Ever wondered what it’s like to live the life of a queen? Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the Queen of the United Kingdom and it’s inviting virtual visitors to try its three virtual tours. You can enjoy 360-degree views of the Throne Room, White Drawing Room and Grand Staircase. Be sure to look out for the information points embedded in the tours to find out more about each decadent room. 

Check it out here. 

15. Watch the Northern Lights, Canada

Explore is offering armchair travellers one of the most exciting virtual travel experiences you can do at home – the chance to see a live stream of the Northern Lights. Visitors can tune in to the Churchill Northern Studies Center in Canada at any point during the night to see the stunning natural light display in action. 

Check it out here. 

16. Expedition in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

virtual travel experiences at the great barrier reef

Fans of David Attenborough will love this interactive virtual tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you’re an experienced diver or just beginning to wet your feet, this tour gives you a thrilling glimpse into the Great Barrier’s underwater world. 

Check it out here. 

17. Soak up the sun in Greater Miami Beach, Miami

Spend a virtual day at the beach with Miami’s live webcams. From South Beach to Sunny Isles and Little Havanna to Coconut Grove, these virtual travel destinations offer visitors the chance to admire the sun, surf and sand from their homes. 

Check it out here. 

18. Hitch a Ride Up Mount Everest, Nepal

Ever wanted to see what it’s like at the top of Mount Everest? Usually reserved for the most experienced of mountain hikers, the world’s tallest peak is now accessible to all thanks to Discovery. Take this 360-degree virtual tour that follows rescue helicopter pilots on patrol and see breathtaking views of Mount Everest and its surroundings. 

Check it out here. 

19. Remote-control Adventure, The Faroe Islands

virtual travel experiences in the Faroe Islands

There may be a travel ban right now but the Faroese tourism board has come up with an ingenious way to attract virtual tourists to its eighteen islands. Each day a resident straps a camera to their heads and invites virtual visitors to direct their movements in real-time via an on-screen console. Depending on the weather conditions you can explore regions on foot, in a helicopter, on horseback and in a kayak. 

Find the next scheduled tour here. 

20. Make Pasta with Nonna Nerina, Italy

If you’re keen to try something different and pick up a skill while you’re at it you can join a pasta-making masterclass streamed live from Italy. Learn how to make mouthwatering pasta dishes under the instruction of 84-year-old Nonna Nerina and her sister and granddaughter. The class runs for two hours and it costs $60 to take part. 

Check it out here. 

In need of some more virtual travel experience? Check out this guide to the best virtual museum tours. 

 

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