12 icons of the world to explore online

Travel experiences you won’t want to miss

Travelling the world provides many life-enriching experiences. Amazing wildlife, incredible views and historic monuments are all waiting to be discovered. These wonders provide the motivation for us to travel – moments to be savoured and memories to be made.
But when you can’t travel, or just need some inspiration, you can still explore the world using the wonders of virtual technology. We’ve rounded up a selection of travel experiences that would make most travel wish lists and looked at how you can explore from your armchair. Just click and be transported. And OK, you can’t feel the warm breezes and smell the scents around you but it’s almost as good as the real thing. Almost.

1. MACHU PICCHU, PERU
Hindu Kush

Machu Picchu is an instantly recognizable landmark – the distinctive ruins stradling a ridge surrounded by vertiginous cliffs is common to all of us, but you can now get closer and more in depth by taking a virtual tour filled with fascinating insights. With 360-degree views, you can explore areas of the site and get an alpaca-eye view of the Inca settlement and surrounding Andean landscapes from your armchair while learning more about the history, architecture and theories behind the ruins from a helpful voiceover.

2. ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA
Hindu Kush

The vast religious complex at Angkor is made up of countless temples and sacred sites. Originally dedicated to Vishnu it became the centre of Buddhism in the second half of the 12th century. Walk among some of the temples on a virtual tour and take in the five towers of Angkor Wat itself, the pink sandstone of Banteay Srei and the ruins of T A Prohm, bound up in tree roots and vines where nature has reclaimed the site

3. TAJ MAHAL, INDIA
Hindu Kush

Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal in Agra stands as a symbol of eternal love for his beloved wife. Escape the crowds that throng there and instead stroll the interactive pathways around the mausoleum to take in the Persian, Islamic and Indian architecture, ornate mosque, tranquil gardens and reflecting pool. There are even 360-degree aerial views that soar over the white marble lotus-topped dome and minarets to look out over the Yamuna River.

4. PETRA, JORDAN
Hindu Kush

The spectacular sandstone city has been the backdrop to films from Indiana Jones to the Mummy Returns. Built by Nabatean Arabs in the 3rd century BC, it’s a marvel of design and engineering. Although a large majority of the site is still unexcavated and buried underground, you can access the site via the narrow Siq gorge and take an interactive walk around tombs, temple ruins, a vast monastery and of course Al Khaznah, the most immediately recognizable structure with the elaborate façade carved in to the gorge wall.

5. CHRIST THE REDEEMER, BRAZIL
Hindu Kush

Stood on top of Corcovado’s Mount, the giant art deco statue of Christ the Redeemer is Rio de Janeiro’s, and Brazil’s best-known image. Below the 30m tall statue, with arms open wide over Guanabara Bay, the hillsides drop away. Use Google’s street view technology to walk around the site and look out across Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, or across to Sugarloaf Mountain.

6. PYRAMIDS OF GIZA, EGYPT
Hindu Kush

Built about 4,500 years ago on the edge of the desert where Cairo now gives way to the sand, the pyramids were the final resting place of the pharaohs. Get up close and explore the grand tombs with walking routes around the site, taking in the incredible structures and setting. Make sure to visit the Great Pyramid and the Pyramid Khafra, two of the largest pyramids ever built, and detour to the Great Sphinx for an alternative type of Egyptian marvel.

7. CENTRAL PARK, NEW YORK
Hindu Kush

The large green rectangular centerpiece at the heart of New York might be well-known to you from films and TV series but you can now stroll through it yourself from wherever you are. Starting at the West 72nd entrance, step foot inside the 843 acre green space and stroll the elm-lined walkways, through manicured gardens, rolling meadows and boulder-studded outcrops, taking in the main sites and uncovering the significant events in the park’s history from a virtual guide who accompanies you.

8. GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
Hindu Kush

The Grand Canyon is another landmark that’s been photographed and filmed countless time but rather than just standing on the rim to drink it all in, you can go a little deeper on a virtual archaeological tour that descends into the canyon to uncover the history of the great rift, learn how it was formed and discover facts about the geological features, all without the crowds and effort of having to climb back up out of the canyon after.

9. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
Hindu Kush

Yosemite is a stunning wild space full of awe-inspiring nature; it’s the jaw-dropping head-turner of America’s natural park. You can escape to this natural wonder via its webcams. With a simple click you can be transported to the floor of the valley to gaze upon the granite walls and haughty profile of Half Dome, stand in the constant mist of Yosemite Falls and revel in the vistas of the wilderness from the High Sierra.

10. EIFFEL TOWER, PARIS
Hindu Kush

Instantly familiar, the Eiffel Tower is a must-see site on any trip to Paris. Now though you can ascend to the viewing platform of the 324-m tower virtually on an interactive tour There are digital exhibitions that explore its construction in the years 1887-89 and images of the first Parisian visitors, all suitably glamorous as you’d expect.

11. COLOSSEUM, ROME
Hindu Kush

Rome’s enormous Amphitheatre once hosted up to 80,000 spectators who came for sporting events and to watch gladiators do battle. Step inside the third or so of the structure still standing on a virtual walk and climb up and down through the different levels.  Take off and fly overhead in these these 360-degree images too.

12. CLIFFS OF MOHER, IRELAND
Hindu Kush

Take a virtual tour of this Irish geological landmark. The entirely vertical dark limestone cliffs rise from the broiling Atlantic Ocean to over 200m, in a rigid formation. Views stretch to the Aran Islands and the rolling hills of Connemara and you can gaze out over the landscape courtesy of 360-degree views of the picturesque peaks. Then settle back to watch the sun set over them, when the sky turns a kaleidoscope of amber, amethyst, pink and red.