When you are overseas, you gain so much from walking around your destination. Strolling through a city on foot is a great way to discover all those hidden gems that are easily missed by car or public transport. If walking is your style, you’ll also know how much you benefit from the exercise – it makes the recovery from long haul flights easier, as well as balancing the scales when new food is on offer.
One of the best source of great travel information is from the recommendations of others. Recently, Booking.com compiled data from over 26 million travellers and came up with some of the most walkable destinations in the world. They gathered ratings on each city’s public walks, transport and the ease of cycling and walking. Here are the top picks – consider them next time you are planning a holiday!
In terms of sights to see en-route, Munich’s city centre is very pedestrian-friendly – 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 is a fascinating blend of ancient history and modern hustle bustle – it a city you can to lose yourself in for days. 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. But it’s also a thriving, forward-thinking metropolis. The city’s many sights are relatively spread out so you’ll need to catch public transport in between but the best way to explore each area is on foot. A particularly interesting walk is around the Kiyomizu-dera temple, where shrines and stalls selling snacks make up a lively hub of activity.
Helsinki often scores highly in global rankings of most livable cities and it leaders have been acknowledged for their dedication to creating walkable neighbourhoods and a car-free population.
It’s also famous for forward-thinking Scandinavian design, so feast your eyes as you go on cutting-edge aesthetics, blending seamlessly with Finnish heritage.
Sauntering through Bordeaux you’ll be able to sense its laid-back but graceful mood. Glorious neoclassical buildings line pedestrian-friendly 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, so getting around is a breeze.
Florence offers a truly sensory experience – fortify yourself with fine wines and some Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro and set off.
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. The Italian lifestyle is best enjoyed on foot also happens to be the best way to experience Italian life, from sipping on an espresso al fresco or enjoying dappled sunlight in the magical Boboli Gardens, to crossing the Ponte Vecchio – the only bridge the retreating German army left standing during the Second World War.
The Big Apple is laid out in a grid formation with numbered streets, so there’s little chance of getting lost, 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. The majority of residents don’t own cars and the city is incredibly walkable – New York rated extremely highly for city walks – and even Times Square is pedestrian-only. But should you need it, you can always hop on the subway.
Perth isn’t all 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.
If you want a helping hand to point out the significant historical or secret gems, popular walking tour company, Two Feat and a Heartbeat, was set up by two young locals to show you the highlights.
Vancouver is known as the most walkable city in Canada. Facing the sea and overlooked by the North Shore Mountains, it’s a splendid-looking place too.
The combination of stunning natural surroundings with a flourishing cultural scene make 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.
If you can handle a few hills, San Francisco is prime walking territory, not only thanks to its sunny Northern Californian climate.
The city’s distinctive personality is best absorbed by wandering around its eclectic neighbourhoods, looking out for colourful houses and characters.
You can also walk the 1.7 miles of 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.
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 combination of colonial, Art Deco and ‘70s concrete towers. The Old Town, Ciudad Vieja, is especially captivating – you can weave between historic buildings with crumbling facades serenaded by street musicians before tucking in to some Uruguayan cuisine from a street vendor.