Planning a holiday online used to just involve reading reviews or flicking through photos of your intended destination. Recently, however, the travel industry has woken up to the benefits of virtual reality tours and the options for planning your holiday online have multiplied.
For families with young children, travellers with anxiety conditions hoping to get a feeling for crowds, or those trying to cram an entire city into a few hours, these tours are invaluable. In the last few years, virtual reality or online tours have been created for cities, landmarks, galleries, and hotels.
Whether you want to check out the view from your hotel balcony, see if the distance to the beach is walkable, or just get a feel for a new city, VR can do all of that and more. Here are the best online tours to help research your next trip.
Udaipur City Palace and Lake Pichola
Cities and countries:
The team behind GeoVegas have picked up on all the different reasons travellers love virtual tours and offer five different “journeys” around Las Vegas. With names like First Timers, Foodie Fantasy, Vegas by Day, and What’s New? there’s a tour for every traveller type, or the option to take over the tour and explore on your own.
While Vegas is known for it’s ‘go big or go bigger’ attitude: some companies have taken things even further. India VR Tours cover all of India’s major cities and online tours from Haroko Studio detail the all the cultural delights of Singapore, China, and Hong Kong.
The White House, Washington DC, USA
Using virtual reality tours to enhance a visitor’s experience has also proved popular with famous landmarks. At South Africa’s Robben Island Prison, the prison complex that once held Nelson Mandela, a virtual tour allows visitors to explore Mandela’s cell.
When the Barack Obama administration left office they created a virtual tour of the White House, narrated by the departing President and housed online for everyone to access. Meanwhile the Parisian Musee de art et metiers hosts a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty’s construction.
A spring afternoon at the Louvre
It takes 100 days (at only 30 seconds per item) to see everything in the Louvre, so why not break it up a bit? Pause the famous Museum’s virtual reality tour and have a cuppa before popping over to see the Galerie d’Apollon without the crowds.
Other famous tourist attractions using virtual reality tours include Florence’s Galleria degli Uffizi and the British Museum (two of the busiest museums in the world in 2016). Although it’s a trend that isn’t restricted to the big names as intimate London galleries like the Courtauld Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery are also offering virtual retrospectives.
art’otel Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Finally, once you’ve used virtual reality to plan where you’re going and what you’re seeing, there is the question of where to stay. Chain hotels were some of the earlier adopters of virtual reality tours (something bookers with mobility issues have found especially useful) and the independents weren’t far behind.
Just like their tourist attractions: French hoteliers are very keen on virtual reality with some of the most sophisticated tours appearing in Monte Carlo. Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo and Monte Carlo Beach are standout examples but other highly-rated accommodations with virtual reality tours include Marina del Rey Hotel in Los Angeles, The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra in India, art’otel Amsterdam, Lotte Hotel Seoul, Strand Palace Hotel in London and The Chedi Muscat.