The 11 best virtual tours across the UK you can take right now!

11th March 2021
Two students have fun together sharing a laptop, while sitting in their student room

We’ve been busy thinking of ways to help keep you entertained through Lockdown 3.0 – including our Big Night In, which over 400 of you have taken part in so far!

And, if you’ve been around the banana-bread block a few times and have exhausted your Netflix watchlist, why not broaden your horizons with a virtual tour of a local place of interest? There are lots of cool options out there, from colourful street art to museums, and even castles.

If you haven’t had the chance to explore your local surroundings properly yet, these virtual tours will help you narrow down what you want to see in real life! Why not do the tours with your flatmates, and make a list of places you want to go?

To get you started, here are our favourite UK virtual tours!

1. Walk with dinosaurs in Liverpool

Chances are Jurassic Park will have reappeared on your radar during your lockdown film-watching! If you’ve rediscovered your love of all things prehistoric, why not check out this World Museum Liverpool exhibit, which explores the story of life on Earth through a collection of displays including dinosaur skeletons?

If dinosaurs don’t float your boat, the World Museum has plenty of interesting exhibits to explore virtually, including a Taki Katei Exhibition and a World Cultures exhibit, which will be changing soon, so this is the last chance to ‘see’ it!

Dinosaur's skeleton on display in a museum

2. Discover the amazing public art in Dundee

Public art has played a huge role in Dundee’s rejuvenation over the past few decades. The city has an exceptional collection of over 500 sculptures, murals, and even street furniture, with new projects popping up all the time.

If you’re in our student accommodation in Dundee, we’re sure you’ve already seen a few of these, but if you’re keen to find some hidden gems, check out these virtual tours at Creative Dundee and University of Dundee's Museum Services.

3. Have a ‘day in’ at Chester or London Zoo

Fed up of Covid being the “elephant in the room”? With these amazing virtual zoo tours, you can now invite a real-life elephant into your student room!

Chester Zoo’s virtual tours feature plenty of animal antics, including an elephant pool party and breakfast with the baby meerkats. London Zoo also has lots of adorable footage on offer – after all, who doesn’t want to ‘meet’ a baby sloth?! These fun tours give you a chance to see behind the scenes, plus get close with shy residents that might well be hiding when you visit in person – don’t miss the gorgeous okapi video by Chester Zoo.

Red panda on a tree

4. Take a stroll in Victorian London

This immersive 3D experience from the Museum of London recreates the winding streets of 19th-century London, with some fun challenges to complete along the way. You might even spot an old Victorian bicycle – can you imagine turning up to lectures on a penny farthing?!

And for a walk around ‘modern’ London, check out London Walk's virtual tours.

5. Bring the Manchester music scene to your sofa

Okay, okay, this isn’t a virtual tour as such, but music is the beating heart of Manchester, so a live-streamed gig is a brilliant way of recreating the city’s usually thriving live music scene until things return to normal. We think it’s a great activity for our students in our accommodation in Manchester.

This Free Acoustic Jam Night from The Lloyds is on every last Monday of each month, and even includes a downloadable songbook, so you can sing along with your flatmates. Who knows, you might virtually bear witness to the birth of the next Oasis or Stone Roses!

Close up of a man playing a guitar

6. Play ‘King of the Castle’ in Bradford

While we’re pretty proud of our accommodation at Sanctuary Students, we can’t compete with a real-life castle. If you’re a student based in Bradford, why not experience life as royalty with a virtual tour of Cliffe Castle? Originally the home of Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer Henry Isaac Butterfield, the castle’s steeped in history.

7. Get arty in Glasgow

Glasgow is home to some amazing art galleries, and you can now take a virtual tour of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, which is a firm favourite with local people and visitors. Choose from 22 galleries, which include everything from art to animals, and from Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

8. Scope out the major London museums

London is famous for its fantastic selection of museums and galleries, covering everything from art to history and science. Often free to enter, we recommend our students to visit these cultural delights during their time in our student accommodation in London. While their doors remain shut at the moment, why not take a virtual tour to see which exhibits you want to see in person?

You can also virtually visit the Houses of Parliament, ride the Mail Rail, or take a tour of the Tower of London with a Beefeater.

Exterior of the National Gallery in London

9. Discover fashion through the ages in Liverpool

And talking of iconic outfits, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool is home to a number of awesome exhibitions – our favourite virtual tour is ‘An English Lady’s Wardrobe’, offering an insight into shopping and style in Liverpool between the end of WW1 and the start of WW2.

Elsewhere in Liverpool, there are virtual tours at the Museum of Liverpool and International Slavery Museum.

10. Take a step back in time in Preston

Founded by Edmund Harris in 1877, the Harris Museum Art Gallery Library still operates as a local history and fine art museum. Take a virtual tour to discover a range of exhibits. Our favourite is the Preston Gallery, which features the stories and people that make Preston special, plus items from the museum’s history and archaeology collections. There’s even a 13,500-year-old elk that displays evidence of the earliest settlers in the Preston area!

11. Visit one of the ‘most unusual libraries in the world’ in Manchester

While there isn’t a virtual tour on offer, the fascinating Working Class Movement Library in Salford includes a brilliant choice of live-streamed free virtual talks, and collections to explore from home. It’s also a must-visit for Manchester and Salford students when lockdown ends!

Beyond the WCML, Manchester has a whole host of museums that we’d recommend checking out virtually:

  • The National Football Museum has also uploaded some online exhibits to its app, including the FIFA World Cup!
  • The People History Museum has some fantastic online exhibitions available, including ‘Ten Treasures’ and ‘Black Lives Matter Protests’.
  • Manchester Museum from Home has a number of online exhibits, including the ‘Wild Chorus’ sound commission, which the museum hopes “hope will energise and inspire you to reconnect with nature until you can visit us once more”.

And, for those who haven't had the opportunity to explore all of the great wonders of Manchester yet, check out this cool free virtual tour!

For further inspiration of things to do in lockdown, check out Sanctuary Students' recent blogs 18 ways to keep your flat entertained part 1 and part 2.