Six of the best virtual attractions you can enjoy from your sofa

If your next holiday feels like a mere blip on the horizon and you’re in need of a travel fix fast, we might just have the solution for you. Forget the long lines, gift shop queues and crowds of snap-happy tourists, there’s now a way to see your favourite sights without having to set foot outside your door. Whether you’re in the mood for some fast-paced family fun, a foray into classical music or a free pass to some of the world’s greatest galleries, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best virtual attractions you can visit from the comfort of your living room. 

Culture vulture

Museums and galleries are off limits for a while, but there are still plenty of ways to appreciate your favourite artistic masterpieces from home. Thanks to the magic of streaming, you can tour some of the world’s biggest art institutions with just the click of a mouse. Sign up online and embark on a free cultural whirl through everything from The Louvre to the British Museum or browse a host of amazing exhibits on the wide-ranging Google Arts & Culture site. From this easy-to-use platform, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the mighty monolithic Machu Picchu, gawp at Monet’s famous Water Lily Pond from mere inches away and even take a virtual stroll around the majestic grounds of Yellowstone National Park.

The Louvre, Paris. Image: istock/JLGutierrez

The show must go on

New York’s Broadway and London’s West End may have ground to a temporary halt, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favourite productions. Through streaming services such as BroadwayTV you can take your seat in the stalls and enjoy pre-recorded versions of everything from Kinky Boots to Les Miserables. Shakespeare fanatics can get their fill of the Bard’s best by renting major productions of everything from Hamlet to As You Like It on GlobeTV and there’s even a dedicated Social Distancing Festival site, featuring amazing performances from comedians and artists around the world. Is classical music more your jam? The Met is putting on nightly opera shows via its website, the Royal Opera House has launched an initiative to stream a major ballet or opera every Friday at 7pm, or you can enjoy past concerts of the ethereal BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on YouTube.

Times Square, New York City. Image:istock/aluxum

Theme park thrills

For kids and kids at heart, nothing beats the magic of Walt Disney World in Orlando, but if you can’t physically get to the theme parks, you can still experience the thrill for yourself thanks to an unofficial YouTube site. The aptly named Virtual Disney World offers its viewers exclusive backstage access to the resort’s myriad of rollercoasters, rides and attractions from the comfort of your own home. Fancy embracing your inner Indiana Jones, meeting Winnie the Pooh and co. in the Hundred Acre Wood, hitching a ride on a runaway mine train or travelling on the Hogwarts Express? Simply log-on, buckle up and enjoy the ride, no seatbelt required.

Rollercoaster. Image: istock/apomares

Wildlife watch

Ever wanted to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most colourful sea creatures? Now’s your chance. The world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium in California hosts a live stream service of some of its most weird and wonderful underwater dwellers on its website, from cuddly sea otters to mystical jellyfish and sullen sharks. You can even take a peek at the pre-recorded Open Sea exhibit to watch Pacific Ocean animals swimming along in their natural habitat. Back on dry land, a host of zoos offer live webcam footage on their websites, so you can enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse of everything from pandas in Edinburgh, to koalas in San Diego and giraffes in Dublin.

Monterey Bay, California. Image: istock/Serbeck

Action replay

While sport may be on the backburner for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t mean you can’t still get behind your favourite team. There may not be any brand-new fixtures to watch, but a quick YouTube scroll will grant you access to a library of past games to enjoy. You may already know the result, but it won’t stop you from cheering on your number one team or athlete, practicing your chants and soaking up the atmosphere. Pick a winning game or race, and you can relive the glory time and again. Or dip into Netflix’s ever-growing pool of fitness documentaries and discover a new sport altogether.

Camp Nou Football Stadium, Barcelona. Image:istock/VvoeVale)

Escape to outer space

Embracing your inner explorer has never been easier, thanks to Kennedy Space Center’s new Facebook Live series. This Florida institution is bringing astronomy-led education videos to the masses, covering everything from whether there’s life on Mars to behind-the-scenes tours of its iconic space shuttles. While you’re orbiting the site, be sure to watch some of their historic #AskAnAstronaut interviews to find out what it’s really like to live in outer space. For more stargazing, take a journey through the galaxy with a host of online resources from the Royal Museums Greenwich, or sneak a peek at the former winners of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year online at rmg.co.uk.

Kennedy Space Center. Image:Getty/Mouser Williams mouserphoto.com