Traveling on foot is one of the best ways to experience any destination. First, it’s not only a great way to get some light exercise, it’s also the most eco-friendly way to get around. Secondly, walking is free. If you’re still not convinced, consider that walking literally brings you closer to sights, sounds, smells, and more for the most immersive, authentic travel experience possible. If you do need to get around using a faster mode of transportation, you can easily live like a local by using public transportation like bike share programs and light rail systems.
What makes a city walkable?
Technically, just about anywhere is walkable, barring legal and physical restrictions. However, some destinations, like the ones on this list, are uniquely more enjoyable on foot. In these walking cities, infrastructure supports pedestrian safety and efficiency, from large, well-maintained sidewalks to restricted vehicle access areas. Ditch the car and get ready to enjoy the world’s most walkable cities.
1. Riga, Latvia
The first stop on our list of the most walkable cities in the world is Latvia’s capital city of Riga. The pedestrian-only Old Town section of the city makes this a must-stop for step counters. Like many medieval cities, Riga’s streets have maintained their old world wonder sans automobiles. This eastern European city is often overlooked for its more popular counterparts as a cultural and architectural epicenter, making it a true hidden gem of Europe.
2. Braga, Portugal
Spoiler alert: People sleep on Portugal. This incredible country is full of flavor and natural beauty, from world-renowned outdoor activities to vibrant cities. Yet, for great wine and weather, people tend to head for the overcrowded streets of Spain and Italy. We’re not sure why, considering Braga, Portugal’s third largest city, is also one of Europe’s most walkable cities. The local university keeps streets lively, but the pedestrian-only lanes and plazas lined with historic architecture maintain plenty of alluring romance.
3. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Next, we head across the pond to North America and Quebec City, Canada. Don’t let the term “city” fool you. Quebec City is considerably smaller than its neighbor, Montreal. Despite its size, Quebec City still attracts plenty of tourists each year (pro tip: visit in the off season.) However, due to its distinctly French-European vibes, Quebec City deserves a spot on the list. Here, streets accommodate people before vehicles, an absolute must of any great walking city.
4. Savannah, Georgia, USA
Now, let’s head south to the United States where you might be surprised to find one of the most walkable cities in the world. No, we’re not talking about New York City or Washington, D.C. In fact, we’re headed for the Deep South to Savannah, Georgia. Oozing with genteel Southern charm, coastal cuisine and historic highlights, Savannah was named one of Time magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places of 2021.” Plus, it’s one of the nation’s largest urban historic preservation communities. Beat the Georgia heat and sip your favorite libation while you walk thanks to the city’s unique open container policy.
5. Marrakech, Morocco
The next stop on our tour of walking cities is Marrakech, Morocco. It’s one of the most densely populated cities on the list but a conveniently compact place for getting around. In fact, the ancient walled center of the Red City, known as the medina, is only navigable by foot. Good thing, because you’ll want to take your time wandering the winding open air markets, arcades and alleys.
6. Valletta, Malta
Moving along, we’ll venture to the Mediterranean nation of Malta to explore its capital city of Valletta. This tiny island nation packs a big punch in walkability points due to its size. Make no mistake—there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Valletta. Retrace the steps of thousands of years of historic significance as you walk the streets of the Citadel City.
7. Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias, or Cartagena for short, is located along the Caribbean shores of Colombia. A major port city, it’s a place where old world charm makes modern connections. Colombia as a nation is redefining its reputation and is quickly catching the eye of world travelers as one of South America’s most desirable and beautiful destinations. Lush tropical forests, gorgeous beaches, friendly people and unparalleled culture are what you’ll find in this Colombian treasure.
8. Vientiane, Laos
Another one of the larger metropolitan areas on this list of walkable cities is Vientiane, Laos. Just a short walk across Vientiane reveals an array of Loatian cultural influences, from French colonial architecture to ancient Buddhist temples. You’ll also find incredible markets, shops, street food stalls, and cafes that stretch along the Mekong River.