10 of the best cities to explore on foot

Arno river and Ponte Vecchio
Arno river and Ponte Vecchio

Exploring a new city on foot is a great way to get a feel for a new place, discover great restaurants and hidden gems, and gives you the opportunity to interact with the locals. The United Nations labelled 2017 as the international year of sustainable tourism, so to get on board, why not go somewhere where you can ditch the rental car and take the shoelace express! Here are 10 of the world’s most walkable cities to get you started, based on data from Booking.com.

1. Perth

Perth could be one of the country's most underrated cities
Perth could be one of the Australia’s most underrated cities

Perth could very well be Australia’s most underrated capital city. Its cultural scene is thriving and the streets are buzzing with the sound of people enjoying new cafes and restaurants, which you’ll discover when taking a stroll through it’s easy-going streets. After a meal, you can wander through Perth’s lush urban parklands and take a walk by the bay. There are walking tours in Perth, too, if you’re interested in discovering the city’s history and hotspots.

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2. Munich

Munich is packed with beautiful buildings and gardens
Munich is packed with beautiful buildings and gardens

Munich has a pedestrian-friendly city centre that is full of history, gardens and Bavarian charm. Discover the thriving shopping scene at big-name outlets or pop into little stores selling traditional German garb. The English Garden is a highlight for walkers – it’s one of Europe’s biggest parks containing idyllic lakes, historic follies, beer gardens and even a Japanese teahouse.

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Read more: The world’s best cities revealed… but did your hometown make the cut?

3. Kyoto

Tourists walk on a street leading to Kiyomizu Temple
Tourists walk on a street leading to Kiyomizu Temple

Kyoto was made for walking. Japan’s old capital city is a fascinating blend of ancient history and modern hustle and bustle. The imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto’s temples, tea houses and flower arranging traditions are key to its longstanding culture – but it’s also a thriving metropolis. The main sights are fairly spread out so it’s best to get a train to the different districts, but once you’re there, hit the streets and wander.

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4. Helsinki

Scenic summer view of the Old Port pier architecture with ships, yachts and other boats in the Old Town of Helsinki, Finland
Scenic summer view of the Old Port pier architecture with ships, yachts and other boats in the Old Town of Helsinki, Finland

Scandinavia is famous for its liveable cities, as well as progressive attitudes towards sustainability. But Finland’s capital is full of beautiful and colourful Scandinavian design, both modern and full of Finnish heritage.

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Read more: Why Helsinki is a craft-lover’s paradise

5. Bordeaux

Bordeaux river bridge with St Michel cathedral in background
Bordeaux river bridge with St Michel cathedral in background

Oh, Bordeaux. Sashay through her streets and you’ll be absorbed by the laid-back and graceful mood. Squares with beautiful fountains, quaint cafes and neoclassical buildings line the French city’s pedestrianised boulevards. One of Bordeaux’s most spectacular attractions is the Place de la Bourse with its mirroir d’eau – the largest reflecting pool in the world. It’s also very bike-friendly, so rent a bike, buy some fresh flowers and tuck a baguette under your arm to re-enact that romantic French experience.

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6. Florence

Arno river and Ponte Vecchio
Arno river and Ponte Vecchio

Fortified wines, Italian soups and fresh bread will leap at you from the restaurants as you walk through the streets – many of which are too narrow for cars to reach. Much of Florence’s centre is open to pedestrians only, so it’s easily navigable – not to mention enjoyable. On foot and out in the open air is the best way to experience Italian life, from sipping on an espresso al fresco or crossing the Ponte Vecchi – the only bridge the German army left standing during the Second World War.

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7. New York

New York City skyline and Central Park
New York City skyline and Central Park

Despite all of its madness, New York could be one of the most logical cities in the world, with streets numbered and laid out in a grid formation. Make your way through the streets of Manhattan and discover the varied neighbourhoods from Soho to Little Italy. Funnily enough, many of the residents don’t own cars because there’s too much traffic – so the city is incredibly walkable. Of course, no trip to New York City is complete without a stroll through Central Park.

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Read more: Everything you need to pack for a winter holiday in New York

8. Vancouver

Vancouver is a beautiful city to explore on foot
Vancouver is a beautiful city to explore on foot

Facing the sea and overlooked by the North Shore Mountains, Vancouver is a splendid looking place. The combination of beautiful natural surroundings and flourishing cultural offerings make Vancouver a great place to explore on foot. Great walking spots include the promenade along the False Creek shoreline to Granville Island. You can’t miss a break in Vancouver if you’re visiting Canada

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9. San Francisco

The historic cable car in San Francisco
The historic cable car in San Francisco

If you can handle the hills, San Francisco is prime walking territory – not just because of it’s gorgeous Californian climate. The city’s vibrant personality is best absorbed by wandering around eclectic neighbourhoods, looking for colourful houses and characters. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk the 1.7 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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10. Montevideo

Independence Square, Montevideo, Uruguay
Independence Square, Montevideo, Uruguay

The capital of Uruguay is very walkable for such a big city, and has a distinctly beachy vibe. You’ll quickly fall in love with the city’s relaxed attitude, best experienced with lazy strolls around the Rambla esplanade at sunset. The colonial architecture and Art deco buildings will catch your eye and you’re almost guaranteed to be serenaded by a street musician at some point.

What’s your favourite city to wander by foot? Let us know in the comments.

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