The coronavirus pandemic has been a severe test for the mainstream travel industry. It was a major downtime. For their part, the adventurers had to suspend their globe-trotting projects. However, even with planes grounded and hotels closed, there are still other ways to experience the thrill and satisfy the wanderlust. Among these solutions are the opportunities offered by the booming world of virtual reality. In recent years, virtual reality (VR) travel has been on the rise.
Today, a slew of virtual reality companies are vying to create consistently unique experiences for consumers. Travel is one of the biggest growth categories in virtual reality. VR travel has become an essential escapeand often a downright captivating alternative.
When you cannot experience reality in person, virtual travel proves to be the best option. And, often times, it can be a perfect complement to that actual travel experience when you’re ready to go. Exploring a VR location or experience ahead of time lets you know how best to prepare. Read on to learn more about the best virtual travel experiences to have.
National Geographic Explore VR, a magical journey
National Geographic Explore is a magical VR experience, created in partnership with National Geographic. It is a world leading company in the fields of geography, cartography and exploration. The journey invites you to discover of them of the most iconic places on planet earth through VR technology.
Put on your explorer hat and head to Antarctica for an exhilarating expedition. Sail around the icebergs in a kayak. Climb a vast ice shelf and survive a blizzard while hunting a lost colony of emperor penguins. Visit the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru. Or, immerse yourself in amazing digital reconstructions of the legendary site.
During your virtual journey, raise a sacred shisha cup and meet cute and furry alpacas. And if you take photos, your best shots might even be in the prestigious national geographic magazine.
A virtual tour of UNESCO World Heritage sites
At last count, there were 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Even the most intrepid of travelers prolific would struggle to see them all directly in person. But you can easily embark on a VR journey to visit a few. Among the must-haves are:
- The isolated island abbey of Mont-Saint-Michelone of the most emblematic monuments of Normandy.
- The ruins of Pompeiia city preserved in ashes resulting from the tragic eruption of Vesuvius on August 24, 79 BCE.
- The site of the first hominid fossilan important place to understand human evolution at the Sangiran Early Man Site in Java, Indonesia.
- Petra, Jordanthe stone city built over 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans.
- Domica cavebased in Slovakia, shaped by limestone from the Middle Triassic era and an underground river (actually) named Styx.
- The limestone statue of the mythical half-lion, half-human creature known as Great Sphinx of Gizain Egypt.
- Genbaku Dome (Hiroshima Peace Memorial)the only structure left standing after the explosion of the first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 during World War II, preserved in the same condition it was in immediately after the explosion.
A VR journey to explore collections and exhibitions
There’s nothing like see a work of art up close, and VR technology also makes it possible to make this type of trip. Several museums have put some of their exhibitions and collections online. Here are a few :
- The rooms and galleries of the famous Louvre in Paris, rightly the largest art museum in the world. You can even see the Mona Lisa from your home in the Louvre’s first virtual reality project applying the latest scientific research on creative processes and Leonardo da Vinci painting techniques.
- The emblematic spaces of Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York such as the cloisters, the temple of Dendur, the golden sculpture of Diana in the Charles Engelhard courtyard, and much more.
- Saint PETERSBOURGthe State Hermitage Museum of Russia, the second in size after the Louvre.
- The world’s first entirely virtual art museum, the Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA)launched in September 2020, with galleries of works by dozens of artists such as Matisse, Manet, Li Wei, Bosch and many more.
Join the world of zombies with “The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners”
Now fans of the TV blockbuster The Walking Dead can join the zombie world in this new VR journey. Indeed, this experience brings together entertainment and discovery. Browse the new orleans ruins by fighting, scavenging, surviving and solving each day another mystery that hides in the historical districts of the city.
Whether you help others or take what you want by force, every choice you make has consequences. Collect all you can ; weapons, food, tools and clues. Beware of the living and the dead. Craft makeshift equipment from discarded materials; blades, guns, medicine, and more. Make difficult choices for yourself and for others. It’s all there, bringing the small screen to life in a big way.
Cross-cultural VR journey steeped in literary and artistic history
Do you have a favorite author, artist or historical figure? A VR headset also gives you the opportunity to rediscover them through a virtual journey. Lovers of literature, art and history as well as wheelchair travelers can take part in these experiences.
- Virtually run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain during the annual San Fermin festival.
- Take an interactive virtual tour of the Jane Austen House in ChawtonHampshire, UK, to explore some of the rooms where she wrote her renowned novels.
- Dive into the immersive Van Gogh experiencewhich puts you inside many of his paintings such as “The Starry Night”.
- Take part in Bloomsday activities in Dublin with other superfans of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
- Come in in the Anne Frank House and the secret annex rooms, where the brave 13-year-old columnist, her family and friends hid for more than two years from the Nazis during World War II.
A leap into the VR documentary “Ecosphere”
Narrated by award-winning actress Anna Friel, this pioneering VR travel series opens the door to some of the wildest environments on the planet. It also redefines the limits of 3D-180 cameras. Meet those who protect our most precious wildlife. Explore the great savannahs of Kenya. Discover the ancient jungles of Borneo and dive into the rich coral reefs of Raja Ampat.
Meet elephants, orangutans, manta rays, all in stunning cinematic footage filmed from the air and deep in the ocean. Note that the series was produced in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
A VR trip to visit castles in the UK
Some of oldest castles in the world are in the UK. A few of them even offer virtual tours. You can go on a VR trip to see in particular:
- Edinburgh Castle, one of Scotland’s most impressive landmarks. This one was built in 1103 on top of a 350 million year old volcanic rock. It is an ancient fortress with a long and rich history as a fortress, prison and military garrison, as well as the royal residence of several kings and queens.
- Blair Castlean over 750 year old Scottish castle in Perthshire, in the central Highlands of Scotland, ancestral home of the Clan Murray and historic seat of the Duke of Atholl.
- Malahide Castleone of the oldest and most historic castles from Ireland dating from 1185, in the picturesque seaside town of Malahide, about 20 miles north of Dublin.
Alcove, a VR travel experience designed for the family
The world is yours with this interactive and immersive VR experience designed to be the whole family. Travels and adventures around the world await you on the Alcove social VR platform. Indeed, your friends and your family will be able to land in the Swiss Alps, take a hot air balloon rideteleport you to exotic places And much more.
Also, you can just relax, practice meditation and get back to nature – all in the company of a guide or solo, if you wish. Other features include the photo sharingsoundtracks, a range of fun games and media personalization.
An entertaining VR trip to national parks
Today you can virtually see some of these magnificent treasures:
- Yellowstone Park, established in 1872 and America’s first national park, spans approximately 3,500 miles of breathtaking views of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. It has many hiking trailshot springs and geysers like Old Faithful.
- the grand canyon national parka true wonder of the world and one of the geological spectacles of this planet.
- The magnificent National Mall and Memorial Parks Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington.
- the redwood national park is home to the tallest trees in the world. Some are even bigger than the Statue of Liberty. With specimens over 2,000 years old, this spectacular biosphere in northern California contains nearly half of the world’s ancient redwoods.
Take a virtual cooking class
You didn’t have the privilege of cooking in real life (IRL) with an authentic Italian or Italian-American grandmother? This VR trip is your chance to visit Italy. Take a virtual cooking class. Learn to make pasta from scratch with a real Italian grandma in this fun experience. You will also learn about traditional and authentic pasta techniques.
Share a virtual wine tasting
Take part in a virtual wine tasting in France, but also during a VR trip to Italy, the Pacific Northwest or California, all while enjoying the comfort of your own home. Famous winemakers, winemakers and other experts will share their knowledge with you via live streams. Discover specific wines, vineyards, the winemaking process, tasting notes, etc
Swim with sharks on a deep-sea dive
Finally, travel also rhymes with adventure, and with VR, you can experience exceptional moments. Take a virtual dive with the National Geographic marine biologist and explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey as guide. You swim off the coral reefs of Palau with manta rays, sea turtles and sharks. In addition, you will discover the magnificent coral ecosystems at the same time.
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VR travel: The best virtual reality travel experiences
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