Are you preparing for a trip to London? Or are you just a Londonphile looking to experience the UK capital in a digital format? We have created a list of 10 London attractions that you can enjoy without leaving your living room. Virtual tours might not be the same as the real thing, but it offers an accessible way for everyone to explore the world.
What is a virtual tour?
Virtual Tours consist of images or videos stitched together, letting the viewer look 360-degrees in all directions of the place they are “visiting”. You can experience Virtual Tours via different types of devices such as laptops, smartphones, or dedicated head-mounted VR headsets. In our overview below, we have listed links to both 360-degree videos and images.
How close are Virtual Tours to the real thing?
Virtual experiences let you observe, listen to and interact, but you cannot touch anything which is important for kids, especially the younger age groups. The truth is that a virtual tour does not come close to visiting and experiencing places in a real person. However, it’s a handy tool when it comes to learning more about the destination and planning your next travel or excursion. What we really like about 360-degree experiences compared to looking at standard images and videos is that it gives the viewer more control. Our kids can move and look around from any angle or direction, and they can quickly go from one scene to another.
Many of London’s most famous attractions are extremely busy to visit, making it hard to concentrate and explain for children while surrounded by crowds. What we like about virtual tours is that the kids can take their time to explore the location without disruptions.
A reminder of wonderful London
During times like this, it’s great with a reminder of how wonderful and interesting our dear city of London really is. Take a moment to explore locations that you might have taken for granted earlier, and plan your next trip around the iconic London landmarks. Available for everyone with an internet connection, virtual travelling is the new summer holiday. Visit some of London’s most famous, buildings galleries, museums and monuments with a click of a button.
Several sections of the Queen’s Buckingham Palace can be seen online, with guides to the White Drawing Room, the Throne Room and the Blue Drawing Room. With an art collection showing work from artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Canaletto, this is one of the most notable and famous landmarks in the city. Still, the State Rooms are only open to visitors during the summer months, and precious few get to experience the Throne Room in person even during “normal” times. Get a taste of the Royal Palace by taking a virtual tour.
Houses of Parliament
Visit the Houses of Parliament through a digital tour featured on their official website. Starting from the central lobby, you can take a virtual walk inside the House of Commons and the House of Lords. You can also get a good peek and explore the Prince’s Chamber, the Royal Gallery and many other rooms and corridors inside the labyrinthian building. Take the time to watch the many objects in detail, like statues, murals and paintings.
Tower of London
An audio-guided 360-degree tour of the Tower of London is an excellent way of getting a sense of the scale of this iconic London bastion. You get to see scenic views of the battlements, peeping out from the Beauchamp Tower and the Princes Tower towards the Thames. There are several 360 shots of the crown jewels, as well as a collection of archive photographs from Queen Elizabeth II using them.
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street is usually closed to the public all year round unless you are lucky and get a ticket during Open House London. During the virtual tour, you get to see the great staircase, the cabinet room, the Prime Minister’s office and the Pillared Room. Get a taste of this famous address which has helped shape the future of Britain since 1735.
The Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms are hidden under Westminster, and this was one of the most critical locations in Britain during World War II. It was in these claustrophobic corridors that Churchill walked around smoking his cigar planning the allied victory and the defence of Britain. The virtual journey takes the viewer around the network of tunnels, with Churchill leading government and the war efforts from deep underground.
Hampton Court is one of the most important sites from Tudor times, originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 16th century. It’s a must-see for Tudor buffs, but the short and interesting guide is well worth taking for most with interest in history. Start in the Grand Hall with incredible stained-glass windows and walk through to the Great Watching Chamber. When visiting in person, our kids always enjoy two Great Kitchens, which you can also see on the virtual tour.
Museum of London Docklands
Living in the middle of the former Docks of London this is one of our favourite museums learning about the local history of where we live. London Docklands was the epicentre of trade in its glory days with ships arriving from all the corners of the world. Taking a virtual tour to Museum of Docklands is not as good as being there in person, but what’s good about it is that you can take your time to study the different objects in detail from the comfort of your own home.
Natural History Museum
With a toddler fascinated by dinosaurs, there are not a lot of London museums that can beat the Natural History Museum. The NHM is one of our most frequently visited London museum, and it’s nice for the kids to get a reminder that the museum is still there waiting for them when times get better.
Virtual Tour of the Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum
The British Museum
We love the British Museum, but visiting the museum with pre-scholers, we often end up frustrated because of the crowds and the limited amount of interactive exhibitions. With that in mind, we think this is a museum where a virtual visit actually adds a lot of value. By enjoying the museum from the comfort of your home, you can take the time to explain and talk to your children. Which is much better than constantly being pushed around by the crowds.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum
Whether passionate about WWII warbirds or fascinated by the Battle of Britain this virtual guide is excellent for anyone into planes. Explore the Royal Airforce Museum’s Bomber Hall, Historic Hangers, and former airfield controller — AKA Grahame White Watch Office from the comfort of your living room.