I don’t know about you, but I need a vacation. One that doesn’t include the four walls of my home. And while at the moment we’re still stuck in isolation, unable to go farther than the grocery store, there are still virtual ways to see the world – and indeed, the universe. So curl up on the couch with your beverage and snacks of choice, and let’s go on our very own magical mystery tour.
A global view
Before we start going around the world, let’s have a look at the globe itself. Specifically, a collection of 3D model globes that you can rotate and examine from all angles. There’s also a wonderful 1602 celestial globe showing the constellations, featuring a nova that the artist had observed. And if you happen to have VR glasses of some sort, many of the models allow you to view them in VR mode.
Creator Mack Grenfell began building his site with links to virtual tours of museums worldwide at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, hoping that by placing the tour links on a map he could recreate a small part of the joy of travel. He’s got a nice collection of more than 30 tours so far, including Seattle’s Museum of Flight, The London Transport Museum, and the Bode Museum in Berlin. And if you’ve discovered a museum that should be featured, there’s a link on the page that allows you to submit it. Image by Public Co from Pixabay.
Out of this world
Bored with being stuck on terra firma? How about taking NASA’s virtual walk on Mars? Or, if you find Mars a bit of a yawn, check out the 4K tour of the moon or NASA’s documentary on the flight around the moon in Apollo 8.
Japan 3 ways
If you have a hankering to visit Japan, here’s your (virtual) chance: three productions by the government that provide a taste of the country. First, we have an interactive VR experience, then a couple of interactive slideshows (though they call them movies). Finally, when travel bans lift, have a peek at this trip planner, complete with travel notes from previous visitors.
The beautiful city of Venice, Italy has had its challenges of late, what with flooding and lockdowns. If you want to see it in its full glory and have an hour to spare, take a look at this documentary walking tour of the city. It’ll have you longing to spend time there for real. And since YouTube compresses video files, which affects image quality, the filmmaker provides a link to download the film in its full 4K glory. Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay.
Bread and Circuses
Ancient Romans were master builders as well as warriors. One of their crowning achievements was the Flavian Amphitheatre, which we know as the Colosseum, a huge arena where gladiators fought wild beasts (and each other) to the death. Roman emperors even had it flooded so they could stage sea battles for the masses. Take an hour to enjoy this virtual tour of the ruins. Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.
The Indian city of Agra is home to one of the most romantic venues in the world, the Taj Mahal. The complex was built over 22 years starting in 1632 to immortalize the emperor’s favourite wife, who died in childbirth. The emperor’s tomb is also housed there. Google offers the ability to take a stroll around the complex and admire its splendours. Image by Dave Parkinson from Pixabay.
Lost city of the Incas
Now let’s head off to Peru, where fifteenth-century Inca citadel Machu Picchu sits high in the mountains. YouVisit.com offers a narrated virtual tour of the site. Image by mailanmaik from Pixabay.
The last crusade
Indiana Jones fans will recognize our next location as the place where the knight guarded the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In its heyday, Petra, located in the Jordanian desert, was home to 30,000 people. Carved directly into the sandstone rock faces, Petra’s Treasury is the façade we know from Indy’s adventures, but there’s much more to be seen in Google’s amazing virtual tour. Click on the dots to hear about each location in the city. Image by Heidelbergerin from Pixabay
Oh to be in England
If you fancy a little wander around London, UK, we’ve found several virtual tours of interesting sites. If you’d like a look at how the other half lives, check out this virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, or this one of Hampton Court Palace. If art is more your cup of tea, the National Gallery offers several tours. During World War II, Churchill War Rooms was the global hub of information and the place where the government officials ran operations. And of course, the Tower of London tour will let you have a look at the Crown Jewels and meet the famous ravens. Legend says that the Tower – and the Kingdom – will fall if the ravens leave the Tower, so they’re under Royal protection. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.