Going on foot is one of the best ways to really immerse yourself in a destination, allowing you to interact with locals and admire architecture in a way that wheeled transport just doesn’t quite offer. There’s also the fact that you can travel entirely at your own pace, pausing whenever something takes your fancy (or tempts your tastebuds!) Pack a pair of flat and comfortable shoes and hit the streets in one of these pedestrian-friendly cities.
1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Walking is by no means the only way to see this charming European city - biking is hugely popular, and drifting along the canals to view the city from the water is also an idyllic way to explore. That said, your own two feet can get you around with no trouble - Amsterdam is compact and relatively flat, with many of the city’s most popular attractions within easy reach of one another, and the cobbled, winding distances between them enjoyable in their own right.
2. Venice, Italy
As a car-free city, it’s hard to think of anywhere more walkable than Venice. Naturally, a gondola ride will probably form at least a part of your experience of The Floating City, but when it comes to really exploring, take to the narrow streets, charming bridges and atmospheric alleys to really get a sense of place. Get lost willingly: some of the best and most unexpected gems in this magical city are hidden deep in its folds, away from the known tourist attractions.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is beautifully compact, with the bulk of the city’s most visited attractions located within a 30 minute walk of the Old Town Square. Obviously the Castle, set up high atop a hill, is the exception to this, but what with all the beer and dumplings you might be glad of an opportunity to exert yourself somewhat in reaching it.
4. Oxford, England
Set your sights further afield than the sprawling capital if you want to cover a lot of ground on foot and head for Oxford’s dreaming spires, where you’ll find an ancient university town boasting gorgeous architecture, as well as all of the modern appeal (read: buzz) that you’d expect from a town so richly populated by students.
5. Bruges, Belgium
Small and extremely walkable, you can cover Bruges in next to no time - but it’s completely likely that you’ll stretch your hours out with endless stops for photos and chocolate. A network of canals and just two main squares - Market and Burg - link your peregrinations and allow you to fully imbibe that postcard-perfect experience, regardless of what time of year you visit.
6. Melbourne, Australia
Australian cities, being relatively modern in comparison to European ones, tend to be somewhat sprawling, but Melbourne has an old world charm that’s complemented by its walkability. Many old backstreets, previously used for the dumping of trash, are now prime spots for browsing, eating and coffee-drinking - and given that Aussie coffee is literally epic, this just shows how unmissable ‘the laneways’ are.
7. Galle, Sri Lanka
For such a small town, Galle really packs a punch, with gorgeous colonial architecture alongside a scenic coastline. In the context of its Sri Lankan setting - a country often characterized by bustle and pace - Galle is remarkable for its leafy streets, lack of traffic, explorable-on-foot ramparts and Buddhist temples within a whistle of Catholic churches. Small wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one that’s definitely worth a comfortably-shod visit.
8. Kyoto, Japan
It’s not only quite flat, but many of its most popular attractions are to be found within the Higashiyama district, making pedestrian explorations entirely feasible. If you need a challenge and some from-a-height views, head for the hiking paths that trail through the surrounding mountains, which in themselves have limited the city’s ability to sprawl beyond a walkable size.
9. Avignon, France
The Provencal cuisine is just one reason to spend some time in this small medieval city, which was once home to the Papacy and is now UNESCO-listed. Wander the narrow medieval streets and admire views of the Avignon and Rhône Rivers from the top of the city walls; other unmissable sights include the Pope’s Palace and the 12th century Avignon Bridge. The buildings around the Place de l’Horloge are more modern but their 19th century architecture is lovely.
10. Manhattan, USA
For a place with so much going on, Manhattan is surprisingly petite; its 13-mile length means that you can feasibly walk from one end to the other in the space of a day. Not that you’d necessarily want to, of course - there are such dawdle-worthy neighborhoods to be enjoyed that you’re best to just spend some time on foot immersing yourself in them. Manhattan’s grid system is also incredibly easy to navigate, making it almost impossible to get lost as you make your way between sights.
11. Lucca, Italy
This traditional Tuscan town has a 16th century wall encompassing its historical center, which enables you to walk above the city and admire it from a height. Down below, cobblestone streets and lively piazzas lead to landmarks like the Torre delle Ore, the San Frediano Church and the Cathedral of San Martino, with medieval architecture to admired along the way.
12. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is actually two separate cities, each with a distinctly historical (Buda) or more contemporary (Pest) feel. Since the sides are linked by eight picturesque bridges crossing (and offering lovely views of) the Danube, it’s easy to amble around soaking up everything that this charming destination has to offer. Rich in architecture and with the added benefit of an elaborate bath house culture to ease the aches of your exertions, it’s a wonderful place to explore on foot.
13. Salzburg, Austria
As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salzburg is also the birthplace of Mozart: you can visit the house in which he lived for part of his life. Hidden alleyways and charming streets characterize the Old Town, so be sure to spend some time wandering through them; fans of The Sound of Music won’t want to miss the Mirabell Gardens and Palace, which boasts a menagerie of mythical statues and lovely Baroque architecture.
14. Porto, Portugal
Wending your way along the river is a great place to start your exploration of this northern Portuguese city, where Moorish and Roman influences meet. Porto Cathedral and a clutch of Baroque churches punctuate the streets, along which you can stop at any number of cafes and bars to refuel. Even the main train station, covered in azulejos- decorative tiles - is a sight in itself, as are the port wine producers across the river, (spanned by the striking Ponte de Dom Luis), where you can sample the fortified wine that historically formed such a large part of Porto’s trade.
15. Charleston, South Carolina
Southern charm and old-world elegance abounds in this confection of cobblestones and sherbet-colored homes. Start your explorations at the market to enjoy artisanal crafts and browse local artworks; there’s even more to tempt you along the nearby main street, which bristles with antique stores, galleries and boutiques. A rooftop bar will give you great views of the harbor; once refreshed, don’t miss the historical neighborhoods on the south side of Broad Street and the fort views from White Point Gardens.
16. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The atmospheric Old Town is compact and easy to cover on foot; if you can handle heights and uneven surfaces, explore its walls for incredible Adriatic views. The city’s central promenade also affords exciting opportunities for diving off into the cobbled lanes which veer off from it: be prepared for stairs and steep inclines. For those who like a challenge, there’s the winding footpath that leads to Mount Srd, some 400 meters above the city.
17. Paris, France
Covering a mere 65 square miles (more than 11 of which are wooded) it’s very easy to explore the City of Light on foot. Some areas are distinctly different from others - the streets of the Marais, for instance, are medievally narrow and complex, unlike the broad boulevards that surround many of Paris’ best known sights - while some arrondissements may enrapture you for longer than others, such as the streets around Montmartre, around which street artists throng. Either way, a wealth of cafes ensures that you always have options for resting and refuelling.
18. Marrakech, Morocco
The bustling pace and joyous assault on the senses that is the Medina is, without doubt, best experienced on foot, not least because its labyrinthine passages are not in the slightest bit suited to just about anything else! Take your time over every sensory experience, engage with the colorful locals and smell, touch and taste the vast array of goods and products on display. Nearby, the Jemaa el-Fna is more like an open air theater than a city square, buzzing with life and performance. Even outside of the medina, the city is easy to get around and thrilling to explore, with elaborate gardens and bathhouses to be discovered.
19. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Huge and sprawling, this doesn’t necessarily make the ‘most walkable’ grade if you’re thinking in terms of cities you can explore every nook and cranny of without ever having to take public transport or hail a taxi - but its grid-like structure makes it easy to navigate, especially if you limit yourself to one or two neighborhoods rather than trying to tackle the entire city. Recommendations? La Boca is vibrant and colorful (although its authentic charm has perhaps been somewhat diluted by catering for tourists) while San Telmo and Barracas definitely deserve to be on your radar.
20. Kanazawa, Japan
Fortunately, this city wasn’t bombed during World War II, which has left much of its historical architecture intact. Some of Japan’s most beautiful landscaped gardens - Kenrokuen - are located here and, with sights ranging from teahouses to waterfalls, merit several hours of peaceful wandering, regardless of season. Nearby, there’s a park dotted with castles - both genuine and reconstructions - as well as museums highlighting the area’s samurai past.
21. Vienna, Austria
A destination rich in everything that a food, culture and history lover could want: wander along the Ringstrasse and admire the architecture, allowing yourself frequent pit stops in traditional coffee houses for coffee and cake - well you are burning all of those calories with walking, after all! Explore the mile-long Naschmarkt on foot, sampling local flavors as you go and, on Saturdays, picking up some flea market bargains as mementoes of your trip.
22. Vientiane, Laos
The capital of Laos may be less beautiful than Luang Prabang but its streets are easily navigable and are lined with French colonial villas over which bougainvillea tumbles when in season. There are also temples - don’t miss Wat Si Saket, the city’s oldest existing temple - as well as the Lao National Museum and Patuxai, a victory gate in the French style. The city’s position - on the banks of the Mekong - means that sunset activity is unmissable: try open air exercise sessions and then refuel with food from the night market.
23. Munich, Germany
Packed with historical interest and brimming with welcoming charm, Munich’s pedestrian-friendly city center is just the start of it. Idyllic gardens abound; if you only manage one, make it The English Garden. Despite its distinctly (and unfortunately) non- local name, it’s one of Europe’s largest parks and contains a wealth of attractions ranging from lakes to follies.
24. Vancouver, Canada
As well as being ranked Canada’s most walkable city for residents by Walk Score, a US-based company that looks at, among other things, how easy it is to run errands on foot, Vancouver is also an pedestrian joy for visitors. There’s its location, flanked by sea and mountains, which makes it visually pleasing from an ‘exploring in the fresh air’ point of view - but many of the most popular sights and loveliest neighborhoods are within walking distance of one another, too.
25. Helsinki, Finland
Finland’s capital is both charming and navigable, with most of its sights situated within a leisurely distance of the city center, and the design aesthetic for which it is renowned most visible on foot. Compact but lovely - and brimming with culture - you can admire its forested islands from the SkyWheel, as well as browsing the delights (both edible and otherwise) of the the Market Square. Kaivopuisto, the oldest park in the capital, is also a must - wander up to the 18th century fortifications for the views and be sure to immerse yourself in the city’s sauna culture - just be prepared for some nudity, your own included!
26. Oaxaca, Mexico
Simply watching the world go by is one Oaxaca’s greatest joys - and there’s no end of places from which to do this. One of the best is undoubtedly ‘the Zócalo’ - more formally called The Plaza de la Constitución - which has been a focal point of activity for over 500 years. The Macedonio Alcalá is one of the city’s most charming walkways, with cultural attractions as well as boutiques and restaurants providing ample reasons to pause on a route fringed by gorgeously colored buildings.
27. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Despite the sprawl surrounding its charming adobe-style center, most of what makes Santa Fe as uniquely wonderful as it is stems from its artistic, artisanal - and very walkable - heart. Canyon Road is a must-do for those who want to browse the galleries and studios of the makers for whom the town acts as a siren song, while the Palace of the Governors and the St Francis of Assisi Cathedral are also within easy reach of the center.
28. Stockholm, Sweden
It’s spread across 14 different islands, which makes it sound somewhat tricky to navigate, but Stockholm is actually quite compact by modern city standards. Nosing around in its cobblestoned alleyways and exploring its lovely old town, Gamla stan, is an enjoyable must. Pick up some street food on your wanderings and soak up some of the creativity that makes this city one of Europe’s greatest design hubs. In summertime, the parks spring into activity, with live performances and festivals.
29. Montevideo, Uruguay
Founded in the 18th century, Uruguay’s capital is relatively young for a South American city and boasts a laid-back vibe, with wonderful colonial architecture and art deco buildings to admire from street level. Its center and Old Town can easily be explored on foot; head up the 18 de Julio (the main street that runs through the city), taking in the picturesque squares as you go, and make for the port and its market via the buzzy and pedestrianized Calle Sarandí.
30. Québec City, Québec
The only North American walled city north of Mexico, exploring storied Québec on foot is a delight. Its Old Town, in the lower section, beckons you with narrow, angled streets and small squares, all lined with charming shops and small restaurants; the European influence is very apparent here. The Upper Town boasts the expansive Plains of Abraham, plus the Parliament Building, Citadelle and incredibly photogenic Château Frontenac, all within easy walking distance of one another. Wander the city walls, which are about 3 miles in length and open to the public.