Special

10 of the best virtual reality travel experiences

by Paul Joseph  |  Published April 27, 2020

With the mainstream travel industry experiencing a period of major downtime amid the Coronavirus pandemic, adventure seekers are having to put their globetrotting plans on hold. But even with planes grounded and hotels shut, there are still some alternative ways of experiencing the thrills of wanderlust – and among them are the opportunities afforded by the burgeoning world of Virtual Reality.

(Photo: Lyncconf Games via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

There are a huge number of Virtual Reality companies all vying to create ever more unique experiences for consumers and one of the biggest VR growth categories has been travel. And what better time to get a taste of travel from the comfort of your living room, equipped only with a VR headset, than now? We’ve picked out 10 of the best virtual reality travel experiences currently on the market.

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 Google, Oculus, Vive

(Photo: Flyover Zone Productions)

Guided Meditation

The growing interest in meditation as a practice that can provide real benefits to people’s lives has now found its way into the realm of Virtual Reality. Created by digital agency Cubicle Ninjas, Guided Meditation VR invites users to escape everyday life and immerse themselves in the mindful lifestyle through over 100 breath-taking environments. The award winning app offers over 20 hours of guided meditations, complete with over 50 audio tacks designed to enhance your meditation experience, allowing you to leave the worries of life behind and find your happy place.

PRICE Free HEADSETS Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Microsoft Mixed Reality HMD

(Photo: Cubicle Ninjas)

The Great Pyramids of Egypt

One of the Escape Now seven-part virtual travel series, The Great Pyramids of Egypt transports viewers to one of the world’s most iconic destinations – the ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures of Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, that date back to the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. Filmed and hosted by award-winning VR filmmaker, Tarik Mohamed, the tour features full commentary and background that provides viewers with fascinating and immersive insights into the experience. Mohamed is also working on expanding into online educational curriculums for middle and high schools dealing with social studies and history.

PRICE Free HEADSETS Oculus Store, Samsung VR channel, Youtube VR app, AmazeVR

(Photo: Captivision Media)

Olympia in VR

Australian-based start-up Lithodomos have rapidly gained attention in the VR world for their archaeology-focussed applications that recreate the ancient world for tour operators, educators, and consumer entertainment. Among their most popular apps is Olympia in VR, which allows users to embark on a self-guided tour of ancient Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. Highlights include the chance to explore painstakingly recreated versions of the Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus and Temple of Hera, as well as many other monuments and buildings. During the virtual adventure you’ll get to interact with artefacts to hear their stories and gain a unique perspective on this historically iconic site.

PRICE £2.29 HEADSETS Oculus Go

(Photo: Lithodomos VR)

Patagonia

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 immediate 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 amphitheater. This VR experience utilizes 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 Free HEADSETS Oculus Go, Gear VR

(Photo: Specterras Productions)

Crater Lake

Explore the beautiful and serene Crater Lake in Oregon, USA. Full 360 immersive virtual reality, 18 images to view, an interactive map to jump to different locations and animated scenes depicting the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama and the creation of the caldera we see today. Interact with pop-up windows showing detailed information on 18 local wildlife and listen to their call sounds, plus in depth details on the Crater Lake bathymetry and other main features.

PRICE $2.99 HEADSETS Oculus Go, Gear VR

(Photo: Cicada Studio)

Redneck Road Trip

Rod Edwards is an international award-winning stills photographer and an interactive content creator who uses the VRdirect platform to create and publish his unique VR projects. The Redneck Roadtrip gives viewers the chance to become armchair virtual reality visitors and experience his tour in the comfort of their own home. When shooting Redneck Roadtrip, he enjoyed the excitement of just waiting to see what lies around every corner. It’s a wonderful way to travel, experiencing life and meeting fascinating people along the way. It’s almost as good as being there in person…

PRICE Free HEADSETS iOS & Android smartphones (2D mode & cardboard mode), Oculus Go

(Photo: Captivision Media)

Window to the World

Aurel Manea is a photographer and VR enthusiast committed to capturing the moment when reality and photography converge. From this mission has come Window to the World, A stunning showcase of his best landscape pictures through a remarkable 3D effect, created manually from original 2D photographs using a spin on traditional parallax techniques. The result is a beautiful piece of artwork that delivers a truly immersive experience.

PRICE Free HEADSETS Oculus Go, Gear VR

(Photo: Aurel Manea)

AntarcticOcean

Produced by NetDragon, a leading innovator in China’s online gaming and mobile internet industries, Antactic Ocean invites users to explore a vivid underwater world full of life including Diatoms, krill, orcas, squids, Antarctic cod, and even Antarctic cod by embarking on a deep sea diving adventure in the virtual world. This game has helped reaffirmed NetDragon’s standing as a major creative force in Chinese gaming.

PRICE Free HEADSETS Oculus Go, Gear VR

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 Oculus Go, Gear VR

(Photo: Gala 360)

World Traveler

The brainchild of Budapest-based video game development studio Nemesys Games, World Traveller VR is geo guessing, hidden object VR game that challengers players to figure out which city you are in. On each level of the game you are “teleported” to an unknown street or location somewhere on earth and you then need to uncover the mystery. This game was nominated for the Best VR category at the Indie Prize USA 2016

PRICE £1.49 HEADSETS HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index