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Every tourist attraction in the UK has now been closed for over a month due to COVID-19. With the ongoing travel restrictions, many of us miss the time when we could explore cities and villages around the country. While some people are posting throwback holiday photos online, the UK’s major attractions are sharing how to visit them through virtual tours for everyone staying at home.
Also being (quite happily) stuck in Wales, I’d like to post a mini-series of virtual tours in the UK! Let’s start with the famous destinations in London.
One of the first virtual tours to try is Buckingham Palace (click here). Explore the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II, by looking around the Grand Staircase, the White Drawing Room and the Throne Room. When you click each image, you can zoom in for details without losing high-quality resolution. This virtual tour doesn’t feel like you’re actually walking in the rooms though, since the rooms were photographed from a single spot in 360 degrees. The ‘i’ buttons give you quick explanations on each place.
The Globe, where you normally can watch Shakespeare’s plays live, is also offering a virtual tour page. Either from this web page or the screen above, enjoy the panoramic view inside the theatre. It’s quite impressive that they have even included images, videos and podcast materials in here for a highly engaging experience!
If you wish to explore the Globe Theatre further, you can download Globe 360 too. It’s a free app, available for Apple iOS.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in London always seems quite creative for engaging and memorable experiences like the Lates programme. Even with the currently difficult time, the Museum looks so well-prepared that you can virtually enjoy the Museum in 11 ways here!
This blue whale is the first thing that will catch your attention upon entry. Now is the perfect chance to find more about its new icon!
Have you wondered what scientists and the research team at the Natural History Museum do? If so, join live streaming on YouTube: Nature Live Online every Tuesday at 12 pm & every Friday at 10:30 am (British Summer Time). The team discusses various topics and you can even ask them your questions!
Listening to podcasts about the Museum can also help you get through this difficult time. It is Sir David Attenborough himself who will talk you through the displays in Hintze Hall on this podcast!
In a street view format, you can explore the Museum with 300,000 specimens and 14 digital exhibitions.
One of the Museum’s exhibitions, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, is available online. Check out the award-winning photos between 2010 and 2019, some of which are very, very impressive.
Check out the Hintze Hall balcony displays
Watch us on the small screen
Another way to explore the Museum is to watch movies and TV dramas that featured it. Click here and see the full list.
Examine a 3D model of Dippy’s skull
Before the Blue Whale found its home at the Museum, Dippy (a Diplodocus) had been its iconic symbol. If you miss Dippy, visit here for its close-up shot in 3D.
See illustrations from HMS Endeavour
Although dinosaurs may come to our mind first, the Museum has a vast array of botanical collections too. Sounds interesting? Then head to this web page and browse all the botanical illustrations from Captain James Cook’s first Pacific voyage, sorting by location or artist.
Besides the botanical collections, the Museum also presents amazing digital collections of important art, books, prints, and manuscripts.
Uncover highlights from the collections
For a highly interactive, virtual tour experience, the British Museum teamed up with Google Earth. Visit ‘The Museum of the World’ and learn about the Museum’s displays by period, continent and theme! You’ll find the page easy to navigate. In addition, its design is intuitive in that relevant objects are connected across the time period and the continents. You’ll have an amazing experience that’s unique from an actual visit, because this isn’t a 360-degree panoramic view or a street view of the exhibition rooms.
Are you an art person? Then head to National Gallery’s website for virtual tours.
You can see 360-degree panoramic views of Rooms 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, and Central Hall. Appreciate Renaissance masterpieces from Northern Italy, the Netherlands and Germany in a fairly high-quality resolution.
Another virtual tour takes you to Sainsbury Wing. Here, you can see over 270 Early Renaissance artworks (1200~1500). You can zoom in even more than the first virtual tour as well as read the brief of each painting.
In addition, you can use Search the collection if you have an interest in certain artists or artworks. The search function shows your favourite paintings in high-quality, digital.
Houses of Parliament
It seems that many tourists to London don’t know they can actually visit inside Parliament. So next time, rather than taking selfies with Big Ben and just heading to your next spot, try a tour to the Houses of Parliament! But for now, check this website out for a virtual tour.
Tower of London
Lastly, British historian Dan Snow guides you through the Tower of London for 42 minutes. Published on YouTube in 2016, this 360-degree video will make you feel like you’re exploring the attraction from home. 😉
Hope you’re excited finding out about fun alternative travel ideas during your quarantine time! In addition to these places, Visit London’s Virtually London provides many other ways to explore London from your home. Make your time now the most as the best chance to learn about London before you can travel soon! 🙂