No matter how big or small, how efficient a public transport system or how cheap a local cab, we’ll always advise that the best way to see many a city is by foot. Whether by organized tour or aimless wander, walking through a city allows travellers the view of that city’s true personality–the same view that local residents get every day. Spend time soaking in the local architecture or noshing at sidewalk cafes. Either way, we’re sure you’ll feel like a local in no time.
Sprawling Paris may not seem like your ideal walking city at first. The wide streets and boulevards that the city is known for like the Champs-Elysees lend themselves more to car travel then to pedestrian crossing, but dig a little deeper and Paris’ parks, gardens, bridges and neighborhoods are all more than suitable for exploring by foot. Stroll through the hilly Montmatre area, a former home to many famous artists–many tiny side-streets are cobbled and see limited automobile use. Ramble along the Siene River along water-level promenades and love-lock lined bridges, or prepare a picnic to take in one of the city’s many parks. Or, take a seat watch the rest of the world walk by from one of what seems like a never-ending number of sidewalk cafes.
Manhattan and its outer boroughs have always been reasonably walkable due to their grid-patterned, numbered streets and avenues, but in recent years, the city of New York has taken other actions to make the city pedestrian friendly. Sections of the street have now been designated for use by pedestrians only in popular tourist spots like Times Square. Not to mention large parks like Central Park, Washington Square Park and Union Square that give tourists and locals alike a place to stretch their legs without leaving the concrete jungle. Most recently, the city acted on a plan to turn an abandoned elevated railroad into a walking park. The High Line, once used by meatpacking industry trains, runs from Gansevoort St. in the West Village all the way up to 30th street in Midtown, and provides walkers with a bird’s eye view onto the city streets below. The High Line is landscaped with plants and trees native to the region and features interactive public spaces like an amphitheater, many different types of benches and chairs, food vendors and art installments.
The metropolitan area of Hong Kong may stretch over several mountainous islands and part of the mainland, but that doesn’t mean the city is hard to navigate on foot. Cheap ferries that run until midnight and a comprehensive metro system, the MTR, means that getting between Hong Kong Island and mainland area of Kowloon is easy at any time. Hong Kong island itself is mountainous, which makes it a great place for hikers to follow trails around the peak with great views down onto the skyscrapers below. For those more inclined to shop than hike, the Mid-Levels Escalator is helpful. It’s the world’s longest outdoor, covered escalator and makes scaling the city’s steep terrain a breeze. Besides the upscale shopping that the city is known for, Hong Kong is also ripe with street markets. The Mong Kok area in Kowloon offers many markets such as the Ladies Market, the Goldfish Market and the Temple Night Market, where tourists and locals shop and eat late into the night. During the day, many streets lend themselves to wet markets, where HKers shop for fresh produce, meat and seafood, and where tourists can slurp on noodles or take advantage of the great photo-opp.
Melbourne has embraced its hidden little laneways to become a city of surprises. While taking a turn off of a busy street into a narrow alley may not seem like the smartest thing to do in an urban area, explorers in Melbourne are rewarded with tiny cafes, bars, boutiques and restaurants. Several lanes open up into impressive indoor arcades with upscale shops and restaurants, like the Block Arcade between Collins and Little Collins streets. Then there’s brunch. Even on the surface Melbourne’s cafe culture is impossible to miss, but dig deeper down seemingly abandoned lanes and you’ll find top notch eateries like Manchester Press, Hardware Societe and Bowery to Williamsburg. Many lanes are covered in street art–the city government has embraced urban art and allows artists to use wall space in alleys with the blessing of building owners–talk about a photo-opp. Besides Melbourne’s laneways, the city’s center is laid out in an easy grid plan, and other areas like Southbank and St. Kilda have long promenades where walkers can enjoy restaurants and shops or the beach.
An obvious reason that Venice is great for walking: no cars. The city is known for its iconic canals winding between crumbling buildings and arched bridges traversing them, and there may not be another spot in the world where pedestrians can enjoy such a picturesque view (and not have to worry about the dangers of crossing car traffic!). It’s almost impossible to not get lost in Venice, but that’s a good thing. Many times stepping off the beaten path leads to exciting findings like tiny cafes, quiet squares and beautiful churches.
In the center of Florence, many streets are narrow and cobblestoned, making auto use all but impossible. That means tourists on foot can have their run of the town. The city is fairly walkable from one side to the other and why wouldn’t you? The beautiful architecture of Firenze is something we could look at all day. Grab a prosciutto sandwich at the San Lorenzo Market and head on towards the Duomo, the city’s most iconic church that towers above the rest of the skyline. Florence’s streets are full of leather vendors and gelato shops, and many an alley lead into sunny squares. In the Piazza Santo Spirito, Gustapanino makes an amazing focaccia sandwich, perfect to bring to the beautiful nearby Boboli Gardens for an afternoon picnic. Most of Florence’s museums and art galleries are located in the center of the city, so don’t worry about cab fare or public transport.
In Marrakesh, its impossible to avoid the pull towards the medina, the city’s old fortified center that’s home to the famous square Jemaa el-Fnaa and what seems like miles of winding souks around it. The Jemaa itself is an impressive square home to exotic moneymakers like magicians, snake charmers, musicians, monkey trainers and more, not to mention all of the amazing food smells that waft up from the square’s center. After a good look around the square itself, delve into the souks that radiate out from the square. Here you can buy leather, carpets, pottery, baskets, clothing, Moroccan ingredients and anything else that you could possibly want as a souvenir.
Barcelona’s tourism and some of its night life is based around Las Ramblas, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with street-performers, shops, restaurants and markets, including the famous Boqueria. Las Ramblas ends down at the port, but heading northeast off of the wide road will put you directly in the Barri Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter of the city. This area is home to winding streets with seldom a car passing by, that lead to hidden plazas and impressive 15th century churches. Come night time, find the Harlem Jazz Club in this maze for an authentic evening with great music. Besides Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona is scattered with other attractions, like the architecture of Gaudi. A day alone could be spent walking around viewing his masterpieces like Casa Mila, Casa Battlo, Park Guell and, of course, the Sagrada Familia. The promenade along the beach is worth a visit, too, especially during the warm summer months when Barcelona’s beach scene heats up.
The walled center of old Dubrovnik is strictly pedestrians only, so this is one city where if you DO have a car, you’re missing out. Besides casually strolling past palaces and Baroque churches, the city offers walkers plethora of sidewalk cafes, laid-back Mediterranean seafood restaurants, shops and aimless alleyways to explore. Renaissance buffs will especially appreciate the Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace, and the tiny St. Saviour Church. Take some time to walk the walls of the city to observe life from above, and don’t miss the pristine beaches the area offers. The small old city is mainly laid out in a grid pattern, so if you do get lost, it won’t be for long.
Boston has taken the nickname of America’s Walking City for a reason. The city is compact and pedestrian-commuter friendly and the Charles River offers beautiful banks to stroll, but its the four kilometer Freedom Trail that really ups Boston’s walking factor. The trail, outlined in brick or red paint, links 16 historic sites from the American Revolution including burial grounds, the Old State House, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall and Paul Revere House. Over three million people visit the trail annually–that’s a lot of walkers. There’s a related trail that breaks off to go through Beacon Hill, a historic neighborhood with narrow streets and brick sidewalks.
We negotiate the best price so you don’t have to
A Luxury Escape is lot more than just a bed in a room
Choose your dates now or decide when to travel later