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Planes, trains, and automobiles all have their rightful place in travel, but many travelers still love getting around town on their own two feet. Of course, some destinations are more walkable than others, but that makes them even more attractive to globetrotters who are self-sufficient, health-minded, and environmentally-friendly. A city planner and author named Jeff Speck actually wrote a book, Walkable City, which describes how cities that are less dependent on cars can be healthier, more sustainable, and more economically resilient.
While walking around a new city, you have the opportunity to leisurely explore historically significant architecture, peaceful green spaces, and unique local attractions along the way. Walking is also a great way to meet local residents and engage in conversations with other interesting travelers. These are some of the most walkable cities around the world – perfect destinations to travel by foot!
Not only is Amsterdam a wonderful city for boating down canals and bicycling, it’s very walkable as well. Most of the major sites are located near the city center, and Amsterdam also has an excellent public transportation system. Just be careful not to walk in the bike lanes to avoid getting hit because bikes have the right of way! Another highly walkable city in the Netherlands is Maastricht, which is a great place to wander around without a guidebook.
Travelers who love finding pleasant surprises around every corner will love walking around Antigua. This Guatemalan city is well-suited for exploration and local flavor in all directions. Antigua is a small city and most of the top attractions are in close distance from one another. Many of the hotels and hostels in town are in walking distance to restaurants and bars, so it’s usually not necessary to book a rental car to explore the core of the city. But be careful and wear sturdy shoes, because some sidewalks are narrow and have become cracked from years of weathering.
The Scottish city of Edinburgh is compact, making it easy and fun to explore on foot. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of historic architecture and modern buildings, with plenty of quaint and festive pubs to stop at along the way. The café and restaurant scene is particularly inviting for locals and tourists alike.
Munich is a pedestrian-friendly city that has lots of ornamental buildings and architecture best seen on foot. Make sure to take a stroll through the English Garden, the pedestrian mall at the Marienplatz, and walk past the Frauenkirche Cathedral. There are many art museums to stop in during you visit, as well as lots of sidewalk cafes, bars, and restaurants.
There are several nicely walkable cities in Canada, including Vancouver, Toronto, and Quebec City. However, Montreal is perhaps the most pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly. There are over 20,000 restaurants and cafes in the city that are all in short walking distance from one another. It’s easy to hop from bar to bar and shop to shop while exploring this region of Canada with strong French influences.
New York City, New York
In the United States, New York City always tops the “most walkable” lists. This is a city where vehicle traffic is congested and parking is difficult to find and expensive. These factors have greatly contributed to the city’s walking culture. Walking around New York City is practically an attraction all its own, even if you have no destination in mind! Pair this with an efficient public transportation system and rental cars become practically obsolete. To get a great overview of the city, start in Battery Park in lower Manhattan and travel through the Financial District to the West Village, Chelsea, and the Upper West Side.
Venice is one of the best walking cities in the world, largely because the streets are often too narrow and crowded for cars. Walking around Venice gives you an authentic feel of the city and allows you to experience the little things that make it so unique. If you aren’t looking to walk down sidewalks packed with tourists, avoid traveling to Venice between April and September.
Another wonderfully walkable Italian city is Florence. The cobblestone streets are narrow in Florence, so foot traffic is favored over cars. Walking is the best way to discover the soul of this city, so take your time and get a little lost if you have time to wander for awhile. There are lots of restaurants with outdoor seating, cafes, and architectural masterpieces to see, as well as six main bridges along the Centro Historico. Some top sites to see by foot include Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, and the Boboli Gardens.
Paris is one of Europe’s most walkable cities, and there are lots of things to see and do in the area. Some of the walking highlights in Paris are the Latin Quarter and the Luxembourg Gardens. Take a stroll through artists and produce markets from Sacré-Coeur Basilica to Montmatre as well. There are several beautiful walking routes that also lead to the Eiffel Tower after passing by Pont de L’Alma and the Left Bank.
The large city Marrakech is a walkable destination in Morocco, with a population of about two million people. However, the city is fairly compact and situated at the base of the beautiful Atlas Mountains. This is a place where old meets new. The new city is very modern and perfectly complements the desert atmosphere, while many of the main historical attractions are located in the old city of Medina. Make sure to check out the Koutoubia Mosque, the Badii Palace ruins, Djemaa el Fna Square, and sample local food on the street.
Melbourne, Australia has a little bit of everything – big city sights, lush green spaces, and views of the beautiful bay. Both tourists and local residents travel this city by foot on a regular basis. One of the best sites to see on foot in Melbourne includes the St. Kilda Foreshore beach, where you can explore local, markets and bistros while people-watching and relaxing.
Cities around the world are constantly changing and evolving, and many places are putting effort into making their cities more walkable. In the United States for example, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. are ranked as the most walkable cities. However, Miami, Detroit, and Denver stand to jump to the future top 10 because of planned investments and public transportation upgrades. What’s your favorite city to explore by foot?