• Virtually a holiday: our top 8 virtual destination tours

    Virtually a holiday: our top 8 virtual destination tours

    Aside from being an overall stressful and unusual time for us all, we know Covid-19 has put a hold on many holiday plans. We hope to continue inspiring you during this period with new and exciting travel ideas, so that when the world eventually gets back to its old self, you’ll be ready to take it on! 

    Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, for some of us, the most exciting commute we’re treated to is the 5 metre breakfast commute to the kitchen with sights such as the washing machine, and the living room rug to marvel at. We need a holiday, or at least a change of scenery, and luckily, you still can have one!

    But, how is this possible? The answer is: the incredible possibilities of virtual reality. Landmarks from around the world have opened up a variety of virtual tours, games, and online experiences for people to use to be transported to another part of the world without the air-mileage. So, get ready to teleport…

    Here’s the best and most interesting eight examples we could find that will help you travel, without the travel!

    1. Tokyo, Japan – a 3-minute tour

    Got time for a quick tour of Japan? Three minutes to be precise, and from the comfort of your own living room? Amongst your busy lockdown schedule, we’re sure you do!

    This 360-degree Virtual Reality (VR) video experience by the Japan National Tourist Organisation let’s you do something that most superheroes would be proud of. Wrestle a sumo, make acquaintances with a robot, become the soul of a Pikachu doll and be plucked from a games machine by a giant mechanical claw, all in a matter of seconds. You’d think we were lying, but strangely we’re not – it’s just an amazingly immersive VR experience. 


    2. California, USA – Yosemite National Park

    Green luscious shrubbery, tranquil shimmering pools, towering ominous crags of rock, and cascading ferocious waterfalls: we’re sure you’re practically salivating. Make a change from staring at your favourite wall and go visit the world-famous, beautifully stunning Yosemite National Park. No, really, do! 

    With the park recently closing due to lockdown restrictions, pioneering VR photographer Scott Highton’s incredible website, VirtualYosemite, is coming in handy for anyone who wants to escape their home (without actually escaping). Tour the park, complete with sound, and visit some of Yosemite’s iconic natural attractions, including the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Half Dome, and the stupefying Yosemite Falls.


    3. China – The Great Wall of China

    Move from the Great Wall of south Bedfordshire, or in other words, your garden fence, to the Great Wall of China with this amazing VR travel tool!

    This wall is a little more exciting and is possible to visit with just the click of a button. TheChinaGuide offers virtual tours of some of the most visited sections of the wall, 3000 miles of which are walkable (without actually having to put in the effort of walking!). With quarantine in place, it’s surprisingly quiet too.


    4. Andes Mountains, Peru – Machu Picchu

    Machu Picchu means ancient mountain and, with the current lockdown, sounds just like the place we need to escape to. So, why not take a 360-degree virtual venture across the globe to Peru, and the wondrous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu?

    Here, you can visit every popular vantage point and learn more about the history of the famous site thanks to a helpful voice narrator. Set your fan to a moderate setting, crank up the central heating, and put on some walking boots – it’ll practically feel like the same thing!


    5. Wyoming, USA – Yellowstone National Park

    As we’re all nationally parked on our sofas during the current lockdown, it only makes sense that a lot of us would delight in a visit to any of the world’s greatest National Parks at the moment. Yellowstone is certainly no exception!

    Luckily, the National Park Service website contains an array of virtual tours and closer looks at Yellowstone’s most treasured natural sights. This includes Mammoth hot springs, famous geysers like Old Faithful, the mud volcano, and hydrothermal 3D models.   


    6. Rome, Italy – The Vatican

    When bad times come around, many often turn to prayer. So, what better place to pray than God’s own holy house on earth – the Vatican. 

    Packed with astounding architecture and historic monuments, The Vatican is within your virtual reach, with a variety of museums providing online tours. Put on a VR headset for a spectacular firsthand experience (and this time you’re allowed to touch the artwork), or use your smartphone or laptop to explore the city’s attractions. Wander into the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms of magnificent artwork, then take a quick stop off for an archaeological dig at the Necropolis of the Via Truimphalis. 


    7.New York, USA – Tom Clancy’s The Division

    Start spreading the news, but not the virus, by heading on a virtual tour of Manhattan. Except this time it’s in a fictional universe where you’re a hero exploring the city in order to rescue it.

    The PS4 and Xbox game, Tom Clancy’s The Division, provides you with the chance to head into a virtual replica of New York and complete missions with a gang of simulated characters. It may not be as realistic as photographic VR, but with the creators making Midtown Manhattan on a 1:1 scale, you might as well be in New York as distances and times walking are identical with key landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building, towering over you as they would in reality. Just don’t expect the wait time for a bagel to be the same.


    8. Paris, France – The Louvre or Assassin’s Creed: Unity

    Fall in Louvre with Paris. We thought we would chuck in a wildcard and give you two to choose from here, after all it is Paris! 

    If you fancy the famous Parisian attraction of the Louvre, visited by millions of tourists in person every year, the Museum has created a selection of virtual tours based on its permanent collections to marvel at. Explore Egyptian antiquities, the Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and the decorative arts of the Galerie d’Apollon. 

    Want a different, more comprehensive tour of the city? Perhaps travelling back in time to view Paris as it was during the 1790s French Revolution will be worth the virtual airmiles. Ubisoft’s very own Assassin’s Creed: Unity fashioned the city according to numerous academic historians and the current layout, as well as modelling icons such as Notre Dame down to each individual brick (after the fire it was thought this could even help with Notre Dame’s reconstruction). Therefore, you can freely grab a control and clamber to the highest points of France’s most iconic ancient buildings to get an insight like no other – maybe even better than if you were actually there!

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