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8 Awesome Apps for Virtual Vacations

January 22, 2021

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With Coronavirus, very few of us are traveling for pleasure these days. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop exploring, as virtual reality apps can bring the world’s top destinations right to your computer or smartphone.

There are a few ways to do this. If you want a fully immersive VR experience, you're going to want to get a headset. You may have seen them—they look like big plastic binoculars you strap on to your head. They connect to PCs or gaming consoles and put your field of vision directly into display screens. You can pick up a high-quality VR headset for between $300 and $400.

But there's a much cheaper (like, 20 bucks cheap) way that works pretty well: Google Cardboard. Yup, just as it sounds, Google Cardboard is a cardboard headset that attaches to most smartphones to create VR experiences. And, of course, you can still enjoy images, video, and 360-degree experiences on your phone or computer the old-fashioned way.

Google Earth VR

Want to climb to the summit of Mount Everest? Maybe you'd like to explore the ancient streets of Rome, the powder-white beaches of Bali, or just revisit the house you grew up in. Google Earth VR takes the Google Street View most of us are familiar with to a stunning level of realism when combined with VR goggles. If there's a place on the planet you'd like to visit, chances are it has been captured by Google's cameras. 

Google Earth Virtual RealityPhoto Credit: Yassay / Pixabay


Sites in VR

Fancy taking trips to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks? Sites in VR delivers you to stunning landmarks across the globe, from the palaces of France and Belgium to exalted Moroccan mosques and the ancient wonders of Egypt. The free Android and iOS app offers 360-degree panoramic images that go from bustling cities to unspoiled nature and even into outer space. Use it with just your phone, or tap into VR mode to immerse even deeper with a headset.

Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
Photo Credit: HansJuergenW / Pixabay



For a getaway with a color-splashed dose of fantasy, VeeR lets you enter worlds rich with magical dreamscapes, using a smartphone, a computer, or a VR headset. Choose your adventure by theme, setting off into an anime reality or go on a spooky sojourn full of horrors. And don’t forget about Earth. With 4K VR videos and high-resolution images from over 160 countries, there are always new lands to explore.

Two people in fantasy cartoon virtual reality
Photo Credit: danmo / Pixabay



YouVisit started out with a focus on taking students on virtual visits to prospective colleges. And it's still great for that. But the app also takes you on 360-degree trips to historical sites such as Thailand's Ayutthaya Temples and the Louvre Museum in Paris. Up for something a little more adventurous? How about a helicopter ride over New York City or some surfing on the Pacific's wildest waves? Or maybe you'd like a laid back virtual vacation — then hop on board a Carnival cruise ship.

Louvre Museum in Paris
Photo Credit: Free-Photos / Pixabay


Ascape VR

Those looking for an adventurous virtual escape might want to check out this one. Skydiving? Swimming with sharks? Check and check with this immersive experience that takes you from Hawaii's Kaohikaipu Island to the picturesque canals of Amsterdam and on to more unusual, and not-so-easily-visited, locales such as Chernobyl. Ascape’s 360-degree filmmakers travel the world to capture content for the app.

Amsterdam Canals in the Evening
Photo Credit: 1919021 / Pixabay


Within VR

Within VR allows you to take an interactive trip with or without VR headsets, with a phone-rotation feature that offers perspective-shifting views into virtual worlds. Take off for real-world spots such as Rwanda, Hong Kong, and even North Korea. Up for a spacewalk? A virtual version awaits. Or you can dive into an imagined world with animated creatures who are waiting to take you on adventures.

Neon Signs in Hong Kong
Photo Credit: Philippsaal / Pixabay


Tour It Virtually

With a focus on the cultural heritage of India, the Tour It Virtually app takes you on trips to World Heritage sites and sacred places such as the Mallikarjuna Temple and the Taj Mahal. But the app also caters to nature lovers with trips to the Belum Caves, Talakona Waterfalls, and the Farahabad Forest. You can experience all of this both on their website and on your smartphone with 360-degree tours, or go for full immersion with a VR headset.


Chile 360

Get up close to the stunning Moai monoliths of Easter Island, cross the expanse of the Atacama Desert, and stare in awe at the majestic mountains of Torres del Paine with Chile 360. For use with or without VR goggles, the app takes you to Chile's top destinations with high-resolution images and 360-degree video.

Moai Statues in Easter Island
Photo Credit: voltamax / Pixabay

Have faith. The days of traditional travel will return. But until then, sit back, pick your desired destination, and enjoy a glorious VR experience.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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