BACKGROUND: Spending time in natural environments is beneficial for mental health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many elderly citizens, who would potentially gain from these beneficial effects, have limited or no access to natural environments. Virtual reality may provide the experience of being present in a natural environment without the need of transportation. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the present study was to acquire an understanding of how residents and staff at a residential care facility may use and experience different virtual natural environments, and thus aid the design of virtual natural environments. METHODS: We used qualitative method, collecting data through interviews and observations. The data was analyzed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Exposure to virtual natural environments provoked various emotional reactions, and promoted skill development and social interaction among participants. The staff perceived virtual natural environments as potentially useful for, for example, improving residents' anxiety. We identified several user interface improvements. CONCLUSIONS: The present study discusses how various aspects of virtual natural environments work in relation to the experience of a user and how this might affect wellbeing in older adults. These aspects may be valuable to consider in the design of virtual natural environments for use at residential care facilities.