7 Great Virtual Reality Travel Experiences

Try VR travel to fulfill your bucket list without leaving the couch

Who says you can't see the world if you stay home? Virtual reality (VR) tourism experiences let you see places all over the world without ever leaving your couch. These aren't games; they're experiences, so the pace may be slower than you expect, but they are worth your patience. Here are some of the best VR tourist destinations to help you decide on your next virtual adventure.

Make sure your computer is beefy enough to handle the demands of virtual reality technology.

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The Grand Canyon VR Experience

The Grand Canyon VR Experience
What We Like
  • Very relaxing experience.

  • Excellent visual and sound quality.

  • Impressive attention to detail.

What We Don't Like
  • Predefined with little control.

  • Requires powerful hardware.

  • Short experience.

In The Grand Canyon VR Experience ($2.99 by Immersive Entertainment), you sit in a virtual motorized kayak ride through the Grand Canyon. Tailor the tour to your preferences by selecting either a sunlit or moonlit experience and controlling the ride's speed.

While you cruise along, you'll enjoy the sights and sounds of procedurally generated, artificially intelligent wildlife. Attract and feed the virtual fish as you navigate the waterways.

The ride is on rails, so you can't steer the kayak. However, you can stop at various points and enjoy the scenery by using the throttle speed controls of your motorized kayak or by exiting at scenic rest stops.

The tour is short, and there's no historical background information for history buffs. Still, it is a fun ride perfect for someone new to VR.

This tour requires one of the following virtual reality headsets: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index.

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The Realities VR travel app
What We Like
  • Explore amazing places.

  • Impressively detailed.

  • More locations are added to the library regularly.

What We Don't Like
  • Not updated recently.

Realities (free from Realities.io) is a VR travel app that allows you to explore scanned and modeled real-world environments. The environments aren't just 360-degree photos; these locations were captured with specialized scanning equipment, allowing for immersive rendering in virtual reality.

The user interface is a giant globe you rotate with your VR controllers. Once you decide on the place you want to visit, tap the area on the virtual globe, and you are instantly whisked away to the exotic locale.

One interesting destination is a cell in the infamous Alcatraz prison. When you arrive, you're greeted by an unseen narrator, presumably a former prisoner in the cell next to you, who recalls their experiences. It's museum-like and an educational adventure worth having.

There are other destinations of varying size and complexity, and the experience is updated with new realities regularly.

This experience is compatible with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality.

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Titans of Space PLUS

Titans of Space PLUS virtual reality experience
What We Like
  • Great soundtrack.

  • Detailed 3D visuals.

  • Impressive sense of scale.

What We Don't Like
  • Flying through space makes some users feel nauseated.

  • No improvements since late 2019.

Do you like planetariums? Have you always wished they were more realistic? If you've ever dreamed of riding in a spaceship and exploring the solar system and beyond, Titans of Space PLUS ($9.99 by DrashVR LLC) helps make this a reality—at least a virtual one).

The original Titans of Space was one of the first polished virtual reality experiences available; it created a lot of buzz about all the potential VR had to offer.

This app provides a theme park-style ride through the solar system and beyond, allowing you to control the pace of the experience. Factoids about the planets and moons are provided throughout your journey, as are distances and other measurements of interest.

The sense of scale of the planets and moons is truly awe-inspiring and gives a unique perspective only astronauts usually get to have.

This title runs in both standard and VR modes. It does not require a VR headset. It is compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality.

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What We Like
  • Impressive rendering technology.

  • Auto-tunes for your GPU.

  • Stunning visuals.

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel slow.

  • Mostly narration with little hands-on time.

Everest VR ($9.99 from Sólfar Studios) is an interactive Mount Everest VR tourism experience.

You'll experience Mount Everest in five iconic scenes. Prepare for your expedition at Basecamp, traverse the terrifying Khumbu Icefalls, spend the night at Camp 4, ascend the perilous Hillary Step, and finally conquer the summit of Everest.

After completing your first summit attempt, unlock God Mode to reach a unique vantage point of the Himalayas that's only possible in VR. Towering over the mountain range, this is a stunning VR diorama.

EVEREST VR is a must if you're into mountain climbing but don't like its possible death and frostbite aspects.

Requires one of the following virtual reality headsets: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index.

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The VR Museum of Fine Art

The VR Museum of Fine Art virtual reality experience
What We Like
  • Impressive attention to detail.

  • Lots of content.

  • Educational experience.

What We Don't Like
  • Hasn't been updated since its initial release.

  • No voice narration.

  • Only takes about 20 minutes to experience.

If you've ever wanted to peruse a museum at your own pace with no limits on how close you can get to the artwork, then The VR Museum of Fine Art (free from Finn Sinclair) is for you.

This free app holds amazing educational value with incredibly detailed scans of some of the world's most famous paintings and sculptures. Look at the brushstrokes of Monet's Water Lilies or take a 360-degree tour of Michelangelo's David. This is an art lover's delight.  

The experience makes you feel as if you're visiting a museum, complete with a pamphlet map to help you navigate your way around the exhibits.

Requires one of the following virtual reality headsets: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index.

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theBlu virtual reality app
What We Like
  • Great VR experience.

  • Incredibly realistic.

  • Contains three episodes.

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel slow.

theBlu ($9.99 from Wevr INC.) is a collection of virtual reality-based underwater experiences that make you feel as if you're literally in the tank of a huge aquarium exhibit.

Stand on the deck of a sunken ship while a gargantuan whale swims by and looks you straight in the eye or swim in a sea of bioluminescent jellyfish. There's no need for expensive scuba equipment or diving classes, or even to leave your living room, for that matter.

The level of detail in this app is amazing, and the sense of scale (especially during the whale encounter in the first episode) is jaw-dropping.

Compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality.

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Google Earth VR

Google Earth VR
What We Like
  • Amazing street view VR.

  • Travel the world virtually.

  • Impressive, vast experience.

What We Don't Like
  • Can be slow to load.

  • Lacks a search feature.

  • May cause motion sickness.

When Google Earth was released many years ago, everyone marveled at the novelty of finding and viewing their house from satellite imagery. Now, Google Earth VR (free from Google) lets you see your house from space and virtually fly to it and stand in your front yard or on your rooftop.

Change the sun's position, scale objects to any size you like, and fly around the world. The detail levels depend on what you're trying to view. For example, tourist destinations are likely to have more detailed geospatial imagery than rural areas. There is so much to see, and Google offers virtual tours to help you get started.

Google has even added several comfort features to prevent virtual travel sickness in this must-see virtual reality app.

Requires one of the following virtual reality headsets: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Valve Index.

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