Cities just made for walking
Designated by the United Nations as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, countries the world over are working hard to promote sustainable travel.
There’s nothing like exploring a city on foot for getting a real feel of the place. But how can you know if a destination is truly walkable? There’s a lot more to consider than just scale, including what there might be to look at along the way and whether there are public transport options and cycle lanes should your feet get weary.
To help you find the perfect cities for a car-free holiday, the travel website Booking.com has delved into internal endorsement data from millions travellers to find the world’s ten most walkable destinations had to be recommended for city walks, public transport, cycling and walking, while also scoring highly for each endorsement. The ten best choices are as follow;
Munich: In terms of sights to see en route, wandering through Munich’s pedestrian-friendly city centre you’ll find pretty Bavarian scenes at every turn. Of all the delights to stumble upon, the English Garden is a highlight. One of Europe’s biggest parks, it contains idyllic lakes, historic follies, beer gardens and even a Japanese teahouse. Beyond this urban oasis, it’s easy to while away hours window shopping and enjoying the ornate public buildings and the Frauenkirche cathedral.
Kyoto: A city to lose yourself in for days, Kyoto is a fascinating blend of ancient history and modern hustle bustle. It was the imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years and is known for its temples, tea ceremony and flower arranging traditions. A particularly interesting walk is around the Kiyomizu-dera temple, where shrines and stalls selling snacks make up a lively hub of activity.
Helsinki: It often scores highly in global rankings of most liveable cities and has been heralded for its dedication to creating walkable neighbourhoods and a car-free population. It’s also famed for forward-thinking Scandi design, so feast your eyes as you go on cutting-edge aesthetics, blending seamlessly with Finnish heritage.
Bordeaux: Glorious neoclassical buildings line pedestrianised boulevards and fountain-filled squares. Of the latter, Place de la Bourse is probably the most spectacular with its “miroir d’eau”, the largest reflecting pool in the world, giving it a dreamlike appearance. As well as being great for walking, it is also very bike-friendly and has an impressive public transport system.
Florence: Fortified by fine wines and some Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro, you’ll be ready for the sensory treats that come from walking around Florence. Many of the enchanting cobbled streets are too narrow for cars and much of the centre is open to pedestrians only, so it’s easily navigable.
New York: Laid out in a grid formation and with streets numbered, there’s little chance of getting lost in New York however far you wander. Make your way through Manhattan on foot discovering the hugely varied neighbourhoods, from SoHo to Little Italy, and of course Central Park.
Perth: It isn’t just appealing for pristine beaches and bright blue skies, it’s also home to a creative cultural scene. Take your pick from all sorts of restaurants and bars as you stroll the city’s easygoing streets or relax to the sound of wind whistling through the gum trees in lush urban parkland.
Vancouver: Facing the sea and overlooked by the North Shore Mountains, this is a truly splendid city. The combination of stunning natural surroundings with a flourishing cultural offering makes it a pleasure to explore on foot. A few particularly good walking spots include the promenade along the False Creek shoreline to Granville Island and the walk through Ambleside Park.
San Francisco: The city’s personality is best absorbed by wandering around its eclectic neighbourhoods, looking out for colourful houses and characters. You can also walk the Golden Gate Bridge (or just to the first tower and back again) or step down to Pier 39 for fresh crab or an ice-cream.
Montevideo: The capital of Uruguay is surprisingly walkable for such a big city. With a distinctively beachy vibe, it’s hard not to absorb its relaxed attitude with lazy strolls along the Rambla (esplanade) at sunset. The many leafy plazas and grand colonial architecture will no doubt catch your eye, a charming melange of colonial, Art Deco and ‘70s concrete towers.