When we travel our preferred method of transportation is our own 2 feet. We absolutely love hiking and walking, and any excuse to explore a new city on foot is an opportunity we will seize. Typically, when we are traveling we will walk anywhere from 8 – 15 miles a day. A standard day is about 8 miles and a long day of walking usually puts us right up to that 15-mile mark. This is, invariably, the best way to see a city. It’s free, it’s great, exercise, and it’s a tour that introduces travelers to local neighborhoods and hidden gems while en route to the historical pilgrimage sites that travelers so often strive to visit. But what cities are the most walkable cities in the world, where you can actually explore the entire city on foot while still getting a decent bit of low-intensity cardio? Walking around cities, is, after all, an excuse to skip the gym and opt for an extra croissant or the large gelato, isn’t it?
All truly great thoughts are conceived while walkingFrederick Nietzsche
Of the cities that made our list of most walkable cities in the world, each has restaurants, bars, night clubs, sports stadiums/arenas, and popular tourist attractions within a reasonable walking distance. And guess what? The best benefit of all is longevity. Walking 1 hour per day is, arguably, one of the best ways to increase longevity.
Of the major Italian cities (Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, etc.), Florence is the most walkable by a long shot. With a series of bridges connecting the Center and the Oltrarno, there isn’t a place in Florence that can’t be reached on foot. The distance from the Arno River (near the Ponte Vecchio and Pitti Palace) to the northernmost areas of the city (near Caffè Libertà), is only a couple of miles – requiring no more than 40 minutes walking. Most of the major piazzas, sites, restaurants, bars, and markets are centrally located, no more than a 10-minute walk from Piazza Duomo.
When we lived in Florence in 2015, we owned bikes for a couple of weeks (until they were stolen), so 99% of our time spent exploring Florence has been as pedestrians. Virtually the only time we have taken a cab in Florence is when we are transferring from the airport with a number of heavy bags.
Firenze Santa Maria Novella (SMN) is conveniently located a 5-10 minute walk West of the Duomo, putting it at a comfortable distance from the center that makes the walk pleasant but ensures the hectic aspects of the train station are left on the fore of the city.
While in Florence we stay near San Frediano/Santo Spirito, so our typical day is spent walking from there to Caffè Libertà, across to Gusta Pizza, back to Ditta Artigianale, over your La Carraia, past the Duomo, along the river, up to Piazzale Michelangelo etc etc. This easily yields 8 miles and often closer to 15. You could, of course, stay near the center and avoid walking to the outskirts and easily see everything on your itinerary without walking more than a 5K in a day.
The city of lights an love is large, yet very walkable. During our time in Paris, we stayed quite near the Louvre and we were able to walk to the Eiffel Tower and most other sites we checked off our bucket list.
As a modern city, ride-sharing apps like Uber do have a presence and travelers can also leverage the metro, buses, standard cabs, and bikes. However, we chose to travel slow and see the city on foot.
Paris is certainly more expansive than Florence, but for a massive, global city, it ranks high as one of the most walkable cities in the world. Much of the city is already out, yet unlike cities like Los Angels, not sprawling.
Let us preface this by saying that the city of Sydney is very walkable. Even North Sydney is accessible by a nice stroll or jog over the Harbour Bridge. However, Bondi, Coogie, Manly, and other suburban areas aren’t walking distance from the center. The photo above is from Bronte Beach, which is about halfway between Bondi and Coogie beaches. This path makes for a great walk as well, but getting here from the CBD will require a car or some alternative transportation.
As far as the center/CBD goes, Sydney is awesomely walkable. It’s flat, with relatively few hills, and most of the important areas are encompassed by the boundary of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding harbors. You’ll find great restaurants, bars, parks, historical sites, schools, and sports venues all within the center.
The city that never sleeps is walkable 24/7 – well, maybe not during winter when there’s a deep freeze or a blizzard and you’re stuck inside because it’s 20 below outside. However, 90% of the time, NYC is an awesomely walkable city. However daunting the Sky scrapes and almost 10 million people on the island of Manhattan might be, the island is only a few miles long in each direction. You could run from the Brooklyn Bridge, past the Freedom Tower and on to the Hudson River in a matter of 30 minutes and athletic runners could easily go from Wall Street to Harlem in under an hour.
New York City HAS to be walkable. It’s an island where most locals don’t own a car. Sure, there is a great subway system, taxis, bikes, and buses, but you’ll see millions of locals and tourists alike walking around the city – easily able to find anything needed with a radius of no more than a few blocks.
The center of the city hosts major train stations, Madison Square Garden, some of the best restaurants in the world, and bars/nightclubs that are open until the wee hours of the morning. There is always something to do in New York and it’s always within walking distance if you’re ambitious.
Perhaps the cleanest, safest, city in the world, Singapore is one of the most walkable cities in the world and certainly the most walkable we have visited in Asia. An elaborate network of underground tunnels make the city walkable even when it’s 90 degrees and humid or pouring rain (2 things that happen almost daily in a Singapore).
The streets aren’t really ever crowded, yet the country has something like 6 million residents. You’ll find that the population density of Singapore is one of the best in the world. The city truly is built for efficiency, and walking is often the most efficient way to get places from the CBD to Marina Bay Sands and up to the shopping areas in the north.
Singapore also has a subway called the MRT, a ferry on Marina Bay, an Ubers if your feet get tired, but you can definitely walk anywhere in this futuristic city.
There is little to see in Munich outside of the center. Pubs, restaurants, and of course the grounds of Oktoberfest are all a short walk from the cathedral at the heart of the city.
Munich is flat, and with a great blend of modern and historical architecture, exploring the city on foot is easy and enjoyable. From the Munich HBH central train station, travelers can visit each of the major sites, walk to Oktoberfest, and explore the Old Town all by foot. Germany has great public transportation, but for very adventurous walkers, you can even reach Allianz Arena (where Bayern Munich play) with a nice 11km walk.
In just a few minutes, you’ll walk from Ben Franklin’s house to the Liberty Bell, over to Steve’s Steaks for a cheesesteak, and down to Broad Street for an Eagles game (Go Birds!).
City Center (or Siddy Sener as it will sound when locals pronounce it) has it all. Gentrification has been an impetus for a Renaissance of sorts, giving rise to a rebirth of a city that gave birth to the United States.
With a number of amazing restaurants (all affordable), just around the corner from some of the best sports complexes in the world, Philly easily makes the list for most walkable cities in the world.
Like many of its European sister cities, Brussels is small, quaint, and built around a cathedral at her center. You’ll easily walk the whole of the city in a couple hours and you can justify stopping for waffels, frites, and a plethora of chocolate along the way since you’re walking, right?
Brussels has the perfect marriage of history and modern aspects: horse drawn carriages explore the cobblestone streets of the city where the current leaders of the Europeans Union meet to discuss the continent’s political and economic policy.
Just on the edge of the city you’ll be able to reach the train station on foot, providing access to the surrounding towns of Bruges, Gent, and Antwerp.
There are some cities around the world that just seem easier to walk around than to opt for public transit. As our welcome to Prague was our Uber getting pulled over by the police, we resigned to be pedestrians as soon as we ditched our bags at the hotel.
Charles’s Bridge connects the Prague Castle with the old town – both a metaphoric and physical portal from the old world to the new.
Walking miles around Prague will help you easily justify some amazing beer and trdlo, allowing you to indulge in some local favorites.
If Singapore isn’t the cleanest and safest city in the world, Zurich might be. With such crisp air, 1200 water fountains spread intermittently throughout the city, and incredible chocolate shops on every corner, why would you want to be on the tram or in a car? Owning a car in Switzerland is extremely expensive, as the country aims to lower carbon emissions and preserve the city’s natural beauty.
There truly isn’t an area in Zurich that you can’t walk to (at least not that we found). Switzerland, in general, is absolutely spectacular: well built so that the juxtaposition of modern civilization and nature seem to blend more than contrast, and cities that invite travelers and locals alike to get out and walk.
If you break Budapest into 2 words, you’re left with the 2 areas of the city: Buda (to the West of the river) and Pest (to the East of the river). From Buda Castle and the Citadel, elevated on the West side of the Danube River to Parliament on the East, you can easily walk this city.
Pamper yourself while you’re in Budapest. Walk around the city and soak in the rich, Hungarian culture, and then stop by a bathhouse and soak your feet (and whole body for that matter) in a lovely bath.
In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.John Muir