It is often said that the best way to imbibe the vibe of a new city is to walk around. You get to see it at your own pace, get lost in its alleys, eat like a local and do only the things that are of interest to you. Here is a travel list of places around the world that are guaranteed to be a walking pleasure; customise it even further with your tour guide to show you how to walk the walk, like a local!
1. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town has had an ever-changing reputation as a city. Burdened with the legacy of apartheid, the capital of South Africa has reinvented itself as a vibrant city with new and exciting restaurants opening constantly, trendy shops and a bustling art and culture events calendar. There is plenty to partake in and see around here, and the city centre is set up in a grid making it easy to get around without getting lost as you walk around. Take a guided tour to be sure you don't miss on the top attractions, from a visit to the prison that held Nelson Mandela to walking around the iconic Table Mountain in the Steenbrass Nature Reserve. And when you're done with walking around the city, make your way to one of the many vineyards to spend the day sipping wine (you can even combine the two with the Groot Constantia Wine Farm and Table Mountain Tour.)
2. New York City, USA
The city that never sleeps. New York has something different to offer at every corner. While public transportation is easy to figure out and available everywhere, the city is also completely walkable. In fact, an entire day can be spent just walking around Central Park, discovering all the different monuments and buildings there. But there is also a lot of history in New York City, some stories more known than others. New York has been the birthplace of many movements and has impacted culture in a way many other cities have not. With pedestrian crosswalks and wide sidewalks on every block, this city is the perfect one to take a walking tour to discover that forgotten history. From haunted tours to discovering the underground Harlem Jazz scene, the list of options is endless. And after a few long walks, you'll quickly discover why many New Yorkers haven't driven a car in years.
3. Paris, France
The best way to get to know the city of Paris is on foot. Each alleyway offering an enchanting cafe, to stop and sip a glass of wine or indulge in a fresh pastry or bread. Many would say the best way to experience Paris is through your mouth, as the food and wine here is unlike any other. But the history is just as enticing. Take a tour of all the prominent places in the city, from the Notre Dame to the Pantheon and Luxembourg Gardens, to the infamous cafes that lay claim to being the meeting places for famous artists of the past. Or head to Montmartre, for a walking tour of the places where Picasso, Van Gogh, and Renoir actually lived. By the end of your stay in Paris you will understand why so many artists called this city home.
4. Budapest, Hungary
You could travel around Budapest using the underground subway, but then you'd be missing most of the city. Stay above ground and truly discover everything Budapest has to offer on foot. Cross the Danube River and begin to understand the differences between the two segments of the city, Buda and Pest. Join a walking tour that will take you to all the major sites from the Hungarian Parliament, one of Europe's oldest government buildings, to the Chain Bridge, which was the first permanent bridge to connect the two sides of the city, as well as the collection of towers at Fisherman's Bastion. And after all that walking, don't forget to take a soak in one of Budapest's famous baths.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
From exploring the centre of the New Town at Wenceslas Square, to the centre of the Old Town at the Old Town Square, Prague is full of history that can easily be discovered by foot. Take the long stroll up to Prague Castle and take a half day to wander the grounds and walk through the Golden Lane where Franz Kafka came to write and ghosts are rumoured still to haunt.
6. Hong Kong, China
It's a great idea to come to Hong Kong to learn about the history, the economy, and the local cuisine by a local guide. If the culture here is very different from your own, and we're guessing it is, a local walking tour is the perfect way to understand all of the things you are looking at. The city seamlessly juxtaposes skyscrapers with incense filled temples, a fantastic business environment with great universities, treks into lush green paces with a legendary nightlife, and glitzy malls with wet markets that display unrecognisable sun-dried foods. If you've still got some energy left from exploring the attractions, add a few days’ worth of trips to the local amusement parks, Disneyland Hong Kong and Ocean Park.
7. Rome, Italy
Amongst its many epithets, Rome is also called the Capital of the world. One of the oldest continuously occupied cities, history and culture lurk at its every corner, just waiting to be discovered. Walk around Old Town to throw a penny in the Trevi Fountain, lounge on the Spanish Steps, take a stroll in Villa Borghese or grab a meal at Piazza Novona. If this your first time, cover all the major sights from the Colosseum to the Vatican. You can even explore how real Romans live, and head out on a tour with someone whose family has been living in the same area of Trastevere in Rome for nine generations.
8. Marrakech, Morocco
You're going to want to make sure you are walking to explore this city because any other way and you'd be going too fast to discover all the intricacies of this city. Top attractions such as the Koutoubia mosque in the city and its surrounding gardens, the Saadian Tombs that date back to the 1600s, and the Old Spice Market would feature on the tour itinerary of many a Marrakech tour guide. However, take a walking tour to witness all of Marrakech’s nooks and crannies, from visiting traditional public bakeries, where community members drop off their homemade dough to be baked each morning, to discovering beautifully decorated fountains with inscriptions.
9. Mumbai, India
Mumbai is the most populated city in India, which happens to be the second most populated country in the world, making it an extremely crowded place. Trying to drive or bike around town may prove to be more of a headache than a vacation, making this the perfect city for walking tours. Home to the award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, there are tours based just upon the movie and its impact. For a less niche tour of Mumbai that covers all the major sites, consider a walking tour that includes the Open Air Laundry, Thieves Market, Hanging Garden and more.
10. Tallinn, Estonia
Known to travellers as one of the most intact medieval cities in Europe, Tallinn is full of gothic architecture and cobblestone streets, that look like they came right out of a Tolkien novel. Taking a walking tour will provide you with the historical background you need to understand everything you are viewing, while you explore both the Upper and Lower part of the Old Town. Stops will include beautiful views over the roofs of the lower Old Town, as well as visits to several cathedrals. End your tour with a round of shopping of local products and souvenirs at the Main Tallinn Square, where you can even watch the local craftsmen make the goods right in front of you.
“Emily Meadows is the author of Emily's Guide to Kraków. She currently resides part of the year in Ocean City, Maryland and the other part in Aspen, Colorado in the midst of her travels.”