A growing focus of urban design, walkability is a measure of how easy it is to access the amenities and culture of a place on foot. Not only is improving a city’s walkability better for the environment, but also it promotes social cohesion, healthier people and, ultimately, more vibrant communities.
For travellers, more walkable cities make destinations more exciting, as well as far easier to navigate. Here are five of the world’s most walkable cities:
1. Edinburgh, Scotland
With its relatively compact size, Scotland’s capital is easy to traverse. The city’s Georgian New Town is thoughtfully laid out, while the Old Town offers a multitude of nooks and crannies for curious travellers to explore. The North Bridge and South Bridge connect the two, making it extremely easy to find a way across town. A destination overflowing with history, figuring out the direction your next point of interest only requires a look at the skyline. But be prepared for a climb; Edinburgh is particularly hilly.
2. Melbourne, Australia
Located in the southeast of the country, Australia’s second largest city enjoys a temperate climate. Melbourne also boats a huge variety of world-class walks only a short distance from the central business distract. The Tan Track is a 3.84km-long walking trail around the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens that often edges along the banks of the Yarra River. St Kilda beach is a far more relaxed affair, offering stunning views of Port Phillip Bay. Travellers can also spend entire days exploring the city’s famous network of graffitied alleys and shopping arcades.
3. New York City, US
New York’s walkability is legendary, with many of its residents easily going their entire lives without ever owning a car. The city’s density means it is constantly bustling with life, while public transport is never more than a 15-minute walk away. Central Park – the most visited urban park in the country – is also available to provide some respite from the skyscrapers. New York is a breeze to navigate, with its main streets serving as arteries for the many neighbourhoods that branch off from Manhattan. For urban exploration, there is no better destination.
4. Marrakech, Morocco
Morocco’s fourth largest city is best traversed on foot, as any other mode of transport could cause visitors to miss out on the majority of what the city has to offer. While the ancient meeting square Jemaa el Fna is a highlight, navigating the city’s famous covered markets will take up most of your time. The souk boasts myriad exotic products for sale, including spices, leatherwork, textiles and traditional Moroccan fashion, while Majorelle Garden offers a more relaxed atmosphere for when the shopping gets too much. Just beware of the occasional dead end; Marrakech’s labyrinthine layout has left it with more closed off roads than the average city.
5. Venice, Italy
The fact that Venice is deemed one of the world’s most walkable cities should come as no surprise; there isn’t much of an alternative when it comes to getting around. While the canals may make boat travel an easy option, the greatest joy of Venice comes from what you stumble across while navigating the perilously narrow streets. One of the few cities where it is actually enjoyable to get lost (and you almost certainly will), hundreds of years of history are on display in both the buildings and culture. While the streets are chaotic, a waterway that leads back to the Grand Canal is never too far away.