One of the best ways of exploring a new city is by ditching the car and strolling along the streets, taking in the sights and discovering hidden gems you may have missed while driving.
Instead it’s time to dig out your comfiest shoes and forget all about wasting hours stuck in traffic.
Nowadays there are a host of cities which are more pedestrian-friendly than ever, with dedicated roads where cars are banned, easy routes to take between landmarks, and plenty to visit on the way.
Booking.com has given us a major dose of inspiration as it unveils some of the world’s most walkable cities, from Florence to New York.
We take a look at the top attractions not to miss – and the best hotels if you want to stay central and make the most of your walks!
Munich is renowned for its walking-friendly infrastructure, with plenty of pedestrianised streets to wander through, packed with Bavarian scenes at every turn, not to mention the ornate public buildings waiting to be discovered (the Frauenkirche cathedral is particularly mesmerising).
For a really picturesque afternoon you’ll want to stop by the English Garden. One of Europe’s largest parks, it has everything from breathtaking lakes, historical tidbits, bustling beer gardens and even a Japanese teahouse!
Where to stay: The relexa hotel München is just 650 yards from home of Oktoberfest the Theresienwiese, not to mention it’s less than a ten-minute walk away from some of Munich’s most elegant shopping streets.
Rooms have soundproofed windows and flat screen TVs so you can really relax after a busy day of walking!
How much? Prices start from £92 per night based on two adults sharing. Click here for booking information .
This Japanese city uses a grid-like system making it really easy for tourists to navigate, not to mention despite being surrounded by mountainous landscape the city itself is quite flat.
Many of the biggest sights and highlights are nestled together in the Higashiyama district, so you can easily get around on foot if you’re looking to explore the best of Kyoto’s local culture.
Where to stay: The Kyoto Hana Hotel is located on Sanjo street in the heart of the city, less than a ten-minute walk away from the popular Gion district renowned for being packed with entertainment and art.
The spacious rooms have all the modern amenities you would expect, not to mention that the breakfast buffet offers up a wide array of delectable treats from Danish pastries to local Japanese cuisine.
How much? Prices start from £139 per night based on two people sharing. Click here for booking information .
Having previously announced a goal to make car ownership "obselete" by 2025 in the city, Helsinki’s city planners have been hard at work making it much friendlier for those walking or taking public transport.
In fact there are plenty of walkable and interconnected neighbourhoods that you can easily wander through, not to mention the biggest sights themselves – such as the iconic Cathedral – are surrounded by local shops, restaurants and bars for a jam-packed fun day out.
Where to stay: Go Happy Home Apartments offers a series of accommodation in central Helsinki, ideal if you’re hoping to explore the capital by foot.
Individually decorated, they each come with a fully-equipped kitchen as well as dining areas and flat screen TVs, perfect if you’re looking for a cosy night in after a long day out and about exploring.
How much? Prices start from £108 per night based on two people sharing. Click here for booking information .
If you’re tempted by Bordeaux to check out its world-famous wines, then ditching the car in favour of walking means you don’t have to miss out on a tipple!
Sunny weather, impressive historic monuments, intricate architecture and that must-have French food and wine are just some of the reasons why a stroll around the city makes for an idyllic break.
Where to stay: The Appartements Cathédrale are located in ideal walking distance from Bordeaux’s most popular attractions.
350 yards from Saint-André Cathedral, 650 yards from Great Bell Bordeaux and just 750 yards from the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, you won’t struggle to get around on foot!
How much? Prices start from £113 based on four people sharing one apartment. Click here for booking information .
Because of its small size, Florence is really easy to cover on foot. In fact, some tourists have walked from one end of the city to another in less than an hour!
Most of the streets in the historic centre are pedestrian-only, and only a handful of squares are open to car traffic at all so you really can take a leisurely stroll without having to plan too much of your route.
Where to stay: Room Mate Luca really is right by some of the biggest sights – it’s 450 yards from Michelangelo’s iconic David in the Accademia Gallery, ten minutes from the cathedral and less than a mile away from the stunning Ponte Vecchio bridge.
It’s picked up a four-star rating thanks to its stylish and modern rooms nestled in an elegant 19th century building, not to mention the 24-hour reception staff offer brilliant tips and advice on how to make the most of your time in the city.
How much? Prices start from £143 per night based on two people sharing. Breakfast included. Click here for booking information .
Europe City Guides
6. New York
With its grid formation and numbered streets, there’s little chance of getting lost in New York. You can make your way through Manhattan on foot from SoHo to Little Italy or Central Park – and Times Square itself is pedestrianised.
However, if you do want to cross the city and avoid having to spend the whole day on your feet, avoid the Big Apple’s traffic and ditch the yellow cab in favour of the subway.
Where to stay: Club Quarters Hotel Wall Street is just one block away from the bustling world of Wall Street, not to mention it’s near sights including Ground Zero, Trinity Church and a subway station that takes you straight to Broadway.
How much? Prices start from £112 based on two people sharing. Click here for booking information .
This Australian hotspot isn’t just popular because of its glorious weather and pristine beaches: the city itself is a cultural hub!
Wander through the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets packed with restaurants and bars, or take a scenic calm walk through the luciously green urban parjs.
Where to stay: Tucked away in the heart of the city is the Alex Hotel. A ten-minute walk from Hay Street Shopping Area and with a roof terrace offering unparalleled views of the skyline, it’s a must for those wanting to see a whole new side to Perth.
How much? Prices from £123 based on two people sharing, breakfast included. Click here for booking information .
Not only does Vancouver face the sea, but it boasts the spectacular North Shore Mountains as its breathtaking backdrop – so it’s no wonder the Canadian city continues to be a hit.
An ideal mix of the urban and natural, there are plenty of scenic walks to enjoy during your stay – try the promenade along the False Creek shoreline to Granville Island, and make sure to stop by Ambleside Park.
Where to stay: The Blue Horizon Hotel is perfect if you’re after a city break with a beach, as it’s just a 12-minute walk from Vancouver’s sandy shores.
Corner rooms offer balcony views of the city unlike any other, while the English Bay and Maritime Museum are just a stone’s throw away.
How much? Prices from £150 based on two people sharing. Click here for booking information .
9. San Francisco
If you can brave a few hilly roads, then San Francisco makes for an ideal walkable city. It boasts California’s sunny weather but thanks to its oceanfront location there’s a breeze, while the ecletic neighbourhoods and colourful buildings make for an unforgettable stroll.
Feeling particularly energetic? You can walk the 1.7 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge, or if you’re short on time then just the first tower and back again.
Where to stay: The Golden Gate hotel is just a five minute walk from Union Square and the Theatre District, or just ten minutes from Chinatown.
As well as the daily continental breakfast there’s a complimentary afternoon tea, ideal for a rejuvenating boost between a day of sightseeing and a night out making the most of San Francisco’s world-famous nightlife.
How much? Prices from £117 based on two people sharing, breakfast included. Click here for booking information .
Uruguay’s capital city may be big in size, but it’s surprisingly easy to walk around. There’s a distinctively laid back vibe, and the Rambla is particularly popular at sunset for couples on a romantic walk.
Expect leafy plazas, awe-inspiring colonial architecture and Art Deco towers, as well as street musicians always on hand to serenade you as you stroll!
Where to stay: The BIT Design Hotel offers panoramic views of the city, not to mention it boasts some seriously chic and elegant rooms.
It’s also right by the capital’s busting Punta Carretas Shopping area, and just a stone’s throw from Montevideo’s World Trade Center.
How much? Prices from £98 based on two people sharing, breakfast included. Click here for booking information .
More walking holiday inspiration
It’s not just city breaks that are ideal for getting your steps in – and the best part is you don’t necessarily always need to go abroad for a walking holiday with a difference.
The UK is jam-packed with walkable hotspots whether you’re exploring the countryside’s rolling green hills, picturesque parks or colourful autumnal hotspots.
Whether you want to spend an afternoon in the fresh air or looking for a week’s stay, we’ve narrowed down some of the best destinations you won’t want to miss…
- The prettiest autumn walks in the UK
- 10 beautiful winter gardens not to be missed
- The best autumn walking holidays for an unforgettable break
- The best cottages to stay at for a walking holiday
- Britain’s 20 best-loved walks revealed
You can also find more inspiration on our dedicated Walking Holidays page .
This article was first published in April 2017.
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