With the time and expense required to travel being prohibitive to many, there are alternative ways of indulging your wanderlust – including via the burgeoning world of Virtual Reality.
There are a huge number of VR companies all vying to create ever more unique experiences for consumers – and one of the biggest growth categories has been travel. And what better time to get a taste of exploration and adventure from the comfort of your living room, equipped only with a VR headset, than now, when travel is a luxury that many just can’t stretch to? We’ve picked out 10 of the best virtual reality travel experiences currently on the market.
So which VR headset should you go for? Our favourite is the Meta Quest 3, which launched onto the market in mid-2023 and is the successor to the Meta Quest 2. For immersive games and travel experiences, we believe the Meta Quest 3 is destined to become the leading VR headset over the coming years. It’s pretty affordable, too, and unlike other headsets, doesn’t require cords or a computer. You can purchase the Meta Quest 3 at Amazon.com.
Guided Meditation VR
Developed by Cubicle Ninjas, Guided Meditation VR is designed to bring peace, joy, and calm back into your daily life by teaching you ancient meditation practices in a cutting-edge way. It features over 40 lush environments to escape the everyday, 30-plus hours of guided meditations on anxiety, depression, maternity, resilience, sleep and zen, and hundreds of hours of calming musical audio tracks to help enhance your meditation experience. Users can also customise their sessions to their own specific preferences and needs, including the option to switch into Motion mode and gently float through beautiful vistas like you would on a lazy river, leaving the worries of your life behind before returning calmer and stronger.
PRICE £10.99 HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
Be anywhere in the world with anyone, instantly, in this captivating game developed by Wooorld Inc. Visit hundreds of cities, architectural landmarks, natural wonders, and vacation spots in incredible 3D detail, and get tips about the best places to visit, the hidden gems, where to get the best food and all the tourist traps to avoid. You can also create your own 3D avatars with face and body tracking and test your worldly knowledge by guessing where you are after being teleported to 5 random locations, with only the landscape, flora, architecture, and road signs for clues. The game can played as collaboratively as you wish, with options to explore the world with friends and meet new people, or hop into a Solo World without any distractions.
PRICE Free HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
Blueplanet VR Explore
Highlighting sacred and fragile locations of natural beauty and cultural heritage, Blueplanet VR Explore is a collection of remarkable places across the world. With freedom to move around and explore, the virtual reality experiences are captured in volumetric 3D with great detail and accuracy. The scenes look and feel like these places do in real life, and enable you to freely move around to enjoy and explore these remarkable, fragile, and priceless environments. Concern for the environment often comes from direct experience, and being as close as we can get to experiencing a sense of actually being there, Blueplanet can help encourage people to appreciate and protect these treasures.
PRICE £18.99 HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
Travel to some of the world’s most amazing natural wonders in fully immersive 3D and feel like you’re really there in this awe-inspiring game by Brink XR. Step into a scene akin to a postcard as you visit a total of 28 (with more on their way) of the most breathtaking places on Earth. In-game highlights include room-scale walkable areas in each destination, a virtual guide and assistant to learn about where you’re visiting, and the chance to shoot photos to share with friends. You can either play the game solo or with friends and family in multiplayer mode.
PRICE £11.99 HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
National Geographic Explore VR
Created in partnership with National Geographic, a world-leading society in the fields of geography, cartography and exploration, this magical VR experience invites you to discover two of the most iconic locations on Planet Earth. Don your explorer hat and head to Antarctica for an exhilarating expedition. Navigate around icebergs in a kayak, climb a vast ice shelf and survive a snowstorm as you hunt for a lost emperor penguin colony. Visit the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru and get immersed in amazing digital reconstructions of the legendary site. Witness mummy worships, raise a cup of sacred chicha and encounter cute and furry alpacas as you match Hiram Bingham’s photographs from when he rediscovered the citadel. Be sure to take a camera as your best snaps may even make it into the prestigious National Geographic magazine.
PRICE £7.99 HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
Fans of the hugely popular TV blockbuster The Walking Dead can now join the world of zombies in this new VR adventure. Travel through the ruins of New Orleans as you fight, scavenge, and survive, each day unravelling another mystery lurking within the city’s historic quarters. Encounter desperate factions and lone survivors who could be friend or foe. Whether you help others or take what you want by force, every choice you make has consequences. What kind of survivor will you be for the people of NOLA? Scavenge for anything that you can; weapons, food, tools, and clues. Be wary of the living and the dead, with spatial audio drawing attention to any loud noise. Craft makeshift gear out of scrapped material; blades, guns, medicine, and more. Test your morals and make difficult choices for yourself and others. It’s all here, bringing the small screen to life in a big way.
PRICE £29.99 HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
Narrated by award-winning actress Anna Friel, this trail-blazing VR series opens the door to some of the planet’s wildest environments while redefining the limits of 3D-180 cameras. Meet the humans protecting 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. Encounter elephants, orangutans, manta rays and some incredible humans, all in stunning cinematic footage filmed from the air and deep into the ocean. The series was produced in partnership with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),
PRICE Free HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
The world is your oyster with this interactive, immersive VR experience that’s designed to be played by the whole family. There’s global travel and adventure in which your friends and family can join city tours, hot air balloon rides, back-country road trips, and plenty more. Or you can simply kick back and relax, practice meditation and get back to nature – all in the company of a guide or going solo, if you prefer. Other features include photo sharing, soundtracks, a range of fun games and media customisation.
PRICE Free HEADSETS Meta Quest 3
Rome Reborn: The Pantheon
Created by Flyover Zone, an American company specialising in virtual travel applications that present the world’s most important cultural heritage sites and monuments, Rome Reborn is one of five applications that present different areas of ancient Rome. This particular one transports users over the entire ancient city, focussing on the Pantheon, perhaps the best-preserved building from antiquity. In the company of two virtual guides, you’ll get to explore the exterior forecourt and interior sanctuary of the reconstructed complex as you listen and learn about the Pantheon’s design and decoration, as well as the nature of the religious cult once housed within it.
PRICE £3.99 HEADSETS Currently only available on Oculus Rift
Monte Fitzroy is Argentina’s most famous mountain landmark and is even used as the logo for outdoor retailer, Patagonia. It is a place that immediately evokes a sense of adventure. At the foot of the mountain is a beautiful and remote glacial lake known as Laguna Sucia. Most people who visit Monte Fitzroy view it from a location that is much easier to access. Laguna Sucia requires a much tougher hard-to-access trail that culminates in one of the most beautiful and remote glacial lakes in existence. You are rewarded with a sense of almost meditative stillness as you approach this untouched natural amphitheatre. This VR experience utilises Pterovision, a 3D technology that integrates computational photography, 360 Video, and gaming and allows you to take off like a bird, fly around the lake, visit the waterfalls along the edge, and fly over glacial formations beneath the mountain peaks. Numerous narrations will tell you about the challenges we faced when filming in this location, as well as educate you about the geology, culture, and history.
PRICE $2.99 HEADSETS Currently only available on Oculus Rift
Gala360 – Travel & Relax
Taking you on awe-inspiring virtual adventures across the globe, Gala360 is the result of the magic touch of an array of exceptionally talented photographers who have captured their globe-trotting trips in all their glory before being rendered into VR form. In professional 6K resolution, more than 300 tours around the world are featured, with some also including narration which allows you to listen to the stories behind the trips. Most of the tours are free, but you can pay a small fee to unlock more.
PRICE Free HEADSETS Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)