Bring the world into your home: The best virtual experiences that let you travel without stepping outside

PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/PlayStation

With the increasingly stringent measures that we're grappling with in the face of travel restrictions, social distancing, and even quarantines, we find ourselves having to continually adapt and manage our expectations.

While there may be some great staycation options like those in London and Singapore, those of you wishing to see more of the world should definitely try out these virtual experiences that can take you around the world.

Historic Monuments

The Vatican

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Vatican (@ilvaticano) on Jun 25, 2016 at 3:03am PDT

The home to the Catholic faith and priceless artworks, Vatican City is full of treasures and unsurpassed beauty. The city's museum department, which showcases such incredible and storied pieces, offers up free virtual tours for you to explore from the comfort of your home.

Marvel at The Last Judgement by Michelangelo in the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, or tour the iconic Raphael Rooms filled with magnificent frescoes by the legendary Rafael.

The Great Wall of China

One of the greatest feats of human engineering and most significant pieces of architecture to this day, the sheer scale of the Great Wall of China alone is enough to strike admiration.

While the wall stretches almost 14,000 miles, only parts of the wall are walkable as much of the rest are in various states of disrepair. While you may not currently be able to visit these parts, why not consider visiting the incredible monument virtually?


The Louvre

The title for the most visited museum in the world goes to the Louvre, and it's easy to see why - from its stunning contrasting Renaissance buildings with the modern additions done by I.M. Pei to the countless priceless treasures the museum holds.

A victim of its own success, the Louvre, just like many other tourist hotspots, has been plagued by over-tourism. While it is now closed, their virtual tours remain open where you can continue to marvel at the museum's iconic Egyptian Antiquities and its historic moat.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

View this post on Instagram

Does this look familiar to you? You may remember seeing this museum in the movie “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, where some scenes were filmed. . Your visit to Washington D.C. is not complete until you’ve visited “the world's most popular natural history museum”, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. . Reserve an hour or two to tour the museum as it’s larger than 18 football fields and is home to the largest natural history collection in the world. . This museum is just one out of 20 museums, galleries plus the National Zoological Park of the United States' Smithsonian Institution. There are 17 of these collections in Washington D.C., so a day tour is certainly not going to be enough. The remaining collections are in New York City and Chantilly, Virginia. . For the ladies, slides 5-6 is a video and photo of the 45.52 carats Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous jewels in the world, with ownership that dates back to four centuries. Its estimated value is between $200–$350 million USD! Another reason why it’s famous? The diamond is said to be “cursed” by bringing misfortune and tragedy to persons who own or wear it. It’s believed that this was made up to arouse public curiosity, as publicity usually enhances the stone's mystery and appeal, thereby increasing the gem's value. So much drama for this bling! 💎 ☺️ . . #smithsonianmuseum #smithsoniannationalmuseumofnaturalhistory #washingtondc #washington #MempintTravels #travel #vacation #USA #travelblogger #trip #wanderlust #vacation

A post shared by Jhoane "Anjho" Bernal-Mempin (@anjholific) on Mar 22, 2020 at 2:29am PDT

Part of the Smithsonian Institute, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers up self-guided virtual tours to all who want to see it. The museum hosts truly inspiring pieces and installations in its collection, from fossils to taxidermy, human evolution to space science.

These installations consist of a mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions, including the now-iconic Smithsonian Elephant, and best of all - you can not only see current exhibitions but past ones too.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Widely regarded as one of the most critical and influential museums in the world for modern art, MoMA is a definitive institution that is integral to the movement of modern artworks.

Known for its extensive collection, which ranges from Vincent Van Gogh's legendary Starry Night painting to the radical genius of Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31. The museum has collaborated with Google Arts & Culture to bring you an interactive virtual gallery, showcasing its pieces with detailed information.


San Diego Zoo

America's most-visited zoo, the San Diego Zoo sees over 4 million annual visitors on its sprawling grounds spread across 99 acres. It homes thousands of animals, which are mostly housed in spacious, open-air habitats allowing them to roam freely.

The zoo is perhaps also well known for its live streams of its magnificent creatures, including koalas, elephants, and polar bears. They also have historic footage of its now-defunct iconic Panda Cam, after the People's Republic of China seized the giant pandas.

National Aquarium

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the National Aquarium is a sprawling aquarium widely regarded as one of the best aquariums in the country with over 20,000 specimens and virtual tours.

The aquarium spreads across seven floors, accommodating various intricately recreated habitats, including an Indo-Pacific reef which houses sharks, stingrays, and a green sea turtle and a reconstruction of the Umbrawarra Gorge with birds and lizards roaming freely around rock formations and a 35ft waterfall.

National Parks

Yosemite National Park

Easily one of the most beautiful places on earth, Yosemite National Park brims with never-ending wonderment. One of the most popular spots in the park is Glacier Point, due to its easy accessibility, expansive views, and the iconic Overhanging Rock.

There's also Mariposa Grove, where the thousands of years old towering giant sequoias stand, and there are majestic falls, cliffs, and lakes sprawled throughout the spectacular park.

Great news: the park has a virtual tour that comes complete with sound!

Yellowstone National Park

View this post on Instagram

News Release: Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are announcing modifications to operations at the request of local county health officers from Park County, WY, Park County, MT, Teton County, WY, and Gallatin County, MT. The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are closed to all park visitors until further notice. There will be no visitor access permitted to either park. State highways and/or roads that transcend park/state boundaries and facilities that support life safety and commerce will remain open. Both parks will cooperate on the implementation of the closures. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels. “The National Park Service listened to the concerns from our local partners and, based on current health guidance, temporarily closed the parks,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and Grand Teton Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail. “We are committed to continued close coordination with our state and local partners as we progress through this closure period and are prepared when the timing is right to reopen as quickly and safely as possible." The parks encourage people to take advantage of various digital tools available to learn about Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on ( Please check with ( and ( for specific details about park operations. Full release at: #Covid_19 #CoronaVirus

A post shared by Yellowstone National Park (@yellowstonenps) on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:56am PDT

Yellowstone National Park is not merely a jaw-dropping beauty, it's also a testament to the remarkable feats of nature.

Well-known for its geysers (of which are 60 per cent of the world's geyser population) painted in spectacular vividness, these extraordinary wonders put on spectacular shows for visitors, bubbling, steaming, and erupting.

The park is also home to striking vistas of forests, mountains, and canyons, as well as rich free-roaming wildlife, all explorable through its virtual tours.

Virtual Reality

Now, for those of you who own your very own VR gear, or have access to one, can take advantage of some truly immersive experiences this breakthrough technology has to offer to make you almost feel like you're actually there.

The Grand Canyon

While The Grand Canyon VR Experience may not show you the actual natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, it's easy to appreciate the fully digitally constructed world in this programme. It functions like a game - a kayak ride along a river in a fully digitally reconstructed environment.

You can control the speed as you move through the game, and choose between day and night modes, giving you tons of unique experiences as you meander through the waterway amidst rock formations and water features.

Mount Everest

While a vast majority of us aren't likely to summit Mount Everest (or perhaps even visit it at all), Sólfar Studios and RVX bring vivid accuracy to its EVEREST VR programme through the hyper-realistic graphics.

You'll start at the base camp, from which you'll start your climb expedition through the Khumbu Icefalls, Lhotse Face, and Hillary Step, before making the final trek to summit the highest peak in the world.

Considering how dangerously overcrowded it has been in recent years, this is certainly safer.

The Earth

Perhaps the most comprehensive resource for travelling in virtual reality is Google's state of the art Google Earth. While most of the world is now in lockdown or in stringent isolation measures, Google Earth is still up and running.

While you might not be able to fly to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower or Japan to see the Osaka Castle at the moment, you can do it from the comfort of your home using Google Earth's virtual reality capabilities.

It's free, safe, and perfect for you to start planning your post-Covid-19 trips.

This article was first published in Wego.