While regular travel may be off the cards for the foreseeable future, virtual escapism is open to everyone with an Internet connection.
Some of the world’s leading galleries, museums and national parks are all just a few clicks away – here are some of the best VR travel experiences to keep you sane during lockdown.
Le Musée du Louvre, Paris
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The Louvre Museum, the world’s largest art and antiques museum, was forced to close its doors as Paris went into lockdown mode. While you can no longer waltz into its famous glass exterior, you can learn something of the phenomenal collection via a number of virtual tours, charting everything from Egyptian antiquities to the Galerie d’Apollon.
British Museum, London
The UK capital’s famed museum has hooked up with Google Arts & Culture, along with more than 2,000 other leading institutions, to offer an interactive tour. Wander through time and click on different artefacts to see them up close, read up on their history, and hear more information with an audio guide.
Stuffed with masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, the Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions. Online, it offers the chance to explore 11 “exhibits”, where you’re able to interact with various works from the museum, read about their history and see close-ups of the pieces. They include Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and a breakdown of the work of Jan Steen.
Musee d’Orsay, Paris
Housed in the fabulous former Orsay railway station, the Musee d’Orsay displays art dating from 1848 to 1914. An online tour goes through the history of the building, first constructed for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Viewers can also explore some of the most famous pieces in the collection, including Van Gogh’s self-portrait, plus take a virtual wander through the galleries.
Guggenheim, New York
NYC’s iconic gallery has a Google street view tour where you can “amble” its winding corridor and view work up close, including Catherine Opie’s daring Self Portrait/Pervert triptych; Ivan Navarro’s installation Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker; and Ovitz’s Library, by Jonas Wood. On top of that, you can also simply gaze upon the building’s remarkable architecture.
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
This gallery houses the art collection of the de’Medicis inside a 16th-century building. Online, there are four exhibitions that take viewers through various works, explaining their significance and showing close-ups of important parts within the paintings. See works like Andromeda freed by Perseus, by Piero de Cosimo, like never before.
Central Park, New York
NYC’s green centrepiece is available to tour online. Not only does it show you the sites, it also comes with a guide who talks you through significant events in Central Park’s history as you “travel” from the West 72nd entrance.
The Royal Parks, London
If the government decides that a full lockdown is the only way to go in the UK, it might not be as easy to get out to the capital’s green spaces. The Royal Parks offer a virtual tour of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens courtesy of Google street view. Take a turn about the grounds at your leisure.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
There are plenty of pictures of the famed canyon online, but get a little deeper with an archaeology VR tour. This allows armchair travellers to explore and learn more about the history behind the canyon’s formation by clicking on different geological features.
Yosemite National Park, California
Experience this natural wonder in real time by clicking through to its webcams. The views include Yosemite Falls, the view from the Half Dome from the floor of Yosemite Valley, and vistas from the High Sierra captured at 8,000 feet.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
One of the best things about being in the Great Outdoors is the way you experience it with all your senses. Rocky Mountain National Park has allowed virtual visitors to use their ears rather than their eyes, with an online “Sound Library” featuring an array of birds and wildlife found in the park.
Fancy climbing a mountain? You can try out an e-climb with Grand Teton National Park, navigating your way to the 13,770-ft summit (minus the effort). Viewers can also discover the geology and history of the Grand Teton massif along the way, plus learn more of the native plants and wildlife.
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