Virtual vacations

It was inevitable: Humankind has found a way to combat the Covid-induced travel hiatus—using Google Maps and virtual reality technology. So, get ready to experience the world’s most popular tourist destinations from the comfort of your home. Here are five options to get you started:

Northern lights

Patience and luck were prerequisites for anyone who wanted to enjoy these unpredictable, luminous, atmospheric displays. Not anymore. The virtual tour by the Lights Over Lapland project features every detail, at your convenience.

Louvre Museum

The world’s largest art museum has a collection of about four lakh pieces; though only a tenth of it is on display. Still, it is said that it would take three days and two nights to walk through the entirety of the Louvre, if you do it non-stop. Now, with the virtual tour offered by the museum’s official website, take all the time that you need to study every exhibit, including the iconic Mona Lisa.

Machu Picchu

Peru’s most famous landmark; a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu continues to reveal the mysteries of the Incan Empire. Be sure to check out the 360-degree street view of the Inca Trail (a 4-day, 3-night hike to Machu Picchu) by Google Arts & Culture.

Great Barrier Reef

The Australian tourist attraction is the world’s largest coral reef system, made up of close to 3,000 individual reefs. Google, in collaboration with Catlin Seaview Survey, now allows people to explore some of the top dive sites. Although filmed for 3D, it is worth a watch even without a virtual reality headset.

Giant’s Causeway

One of Northern Ireland’s best-known natural wonders, Giant’s Causeway is famous for its hexagonal interlocking stone columns of layered basalt. A tourist hotspot and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country, it has been called “a portal into the Earth’s most ancient past”. Step into the mythical land of giants with the 360-degree panoramic tour by the National Trust for Ireland.