What makes a city walkable? Safe streets, open spaces, a variety of architecture and a sense of discovery. Below are cities designed for pedestrians, plus an essential packing list so you arrive prepared.
If you’ve ever wandered around the Melbourne of an evening, you’ll understand why this city is best explored on foot. The restaurants emit a warm, inviting glow, with tables spilling out into the famous laneways under heaters; the air is filled with the sound of happy chatter and clinking glasses. It’s a magical sight. On top of that, the best boutiques and cafés tend to be tucked away up otherwise unremarkable streets – Fitzroy, Footscray, Brunswick and Thornbury are great areas to meander through.
Peaceful, flat, compact – all qualities that make Kyoto an excellent city to discover via walking. Spend a day in Northern Higashiyama – starting at the Nanzen-ji Temple, one of the city’s finest, and make sure to check out the secret waterfall 200 metres up the hill behind it. The Path of Philosophy is nearby, a pedestrian walkway following a canal, which is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in spring. At the end of the path is another much-loved temple, Ginkaku Temple – try to visit near closing time, as it gets busy.
To properly soak in the architecture and admire the impeccably dressed locals, one must walk slowly with eyes wide open in the French capital. There is, of course, the city’s famous boulevards but a truer version of Paris can be found in its less touristy arrondissements, such as the area around the Canal St-Martin. Visit the Marche Saint Martin, a covered fresh produce and specialty goods market and stroll along the Quai de Valmy (including all the side streets) to the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont for a picnic.
Although you’ll hear New Orleans residents complain about the city’s sprawl, there are certain neighbourhoods along the river (especially The French Quarter, CBD and Marigny) that are ideal to discover on foot. If you’re seeking art and culture, start with a gallery crawl along Julia Street in the Warehouse district, with a stop at The National World War II museum and lunch at Root, which takes an innovative approach to Southern cuisine. End the day at Circle Bar, a divey bar with a rotating roster of gritty rock bands.
A breathtakingly beautiful city, the longer you can spend getting to know one area, the more rewarding your visit will be – the charm of Florence lies in the architecture, the details and neighbourhood gems that take time to find. The Oltrano is particularly charming: walk between the Ponte Vecchio, past Pitti Palace to Santo Spirito square to sit in the sun and people watch (or visit the flea markets every second Sunday). Make sure to stop in at Sbrino for gelato and get lost in the antique stores and leather shops.