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.

So which VR headset should you go for? Our favourite is the Oculus Quest 2, which just launched onto the market. The Quest 2 is the successor to the popular Oculus Go, which is no longer available. For immersive games and travel experiences, we believe the Quest 2 is destined to become the leading VR headset over the coming years. It’s pretty affordable, too, and unlike other headsets such as the Oculus Rift, doesn’t require cords or a computer. You can purchase the Oculus Quest 2 at Amazon.com for $399

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 Antartica 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 Oculus Quest

(Photo: Force Field Entertainment B.V)

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 Oculus Quest

(Photo: Skydance Interactive)

ecosphere

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 Oculus Quest

(Photo: PHORIA)

Alcove

The world is your oyster with this interactive, immerse 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, sound tracks, a range of fun game and media customisation.

PRICE Free HEADSETS Oculus Quest

(Photo: AARP Innovation Labs)

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 Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(Photo: Flyover Zone Productions)

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 Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(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 Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(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 Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(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 Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(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 Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(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 Currently only available on Oculus Go (soon available on Quest 2)

(Photo: Aurel Manea)

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)

(Photo: Gala 360)

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