The Art of Immersive Wandering (Walkable Cities)
Walking around a city with no particular destination is one of the best travel experiences. Immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, feel of a place yet undiscovered will often tune you into yourself again. So let’s go get lost…
Every new city offers an opportunity to explore, and I always say “plan for spontaneity” in making a rough guideline for your meandering. Walking on foot continues to be THE best way to know any place, and see all the many things you would miss moving too quickly. Safety first – always know you “no go” zones as solo travelers, but generally it will always serve you well. These cities below are best explored above ground, walking between attractions, coffee shops and boutiques – but if you need them, their various subway/bus/trolley stations are a gems and at times, a work of art themselves.
1. New York City, USA. As a New Yorker, I am telling you this is the only way to go. Every neighborhood change sin personality and architecture, and there are just too many details to catch. Just hop the subway when you have a big distance to cover (ie. Skip midtown. Trust me. unless you are going to a museum). And don’t skip Brooklyn – between the waterfront, shops, and food scene, it’s a gem.
2. Paris, France. Is there anything better than to wander this beautiful City? No. There are too many expansive parks and charming shops to miss. And some neighborhoods deserve exploring for at least a half day each. St Germain des pres, Montmartre and the Latin Quarter are all worth exploring, and so many more.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands. The city is incredibly well suited to walkers and even cyclers should you dare rent a bike and do as the locals do, as you pass by the many canals. Don’t be afraid to get lost at times, especially in idyllic neighborhoods such as Jordaan.
4. Venice & Florence, Italy. Considering the city of Venice doesn’t even have cars, your decision is made for you in wandering this magical city on water. Florence too has many parts where cars can’t go or fit, but overall the romanticism of walking these cities cannot be beat. And if you must, a gondola ride is a right of passage for visitors.
5. Brugge, Belgium: This charming town is unbelievably picturesque, also very flat and easy to get around on foot. The entire Historic Centre of Brugge is UNESCO listed, so you’ll find adoration at every turn.
6. San Francisco, USA. Yes, the hills will get you, but it will be worth it and the handy trolley system will help!
7. Copenhagen, Denmark: From the colorful seaside area of Nyhaven through to royal castles with impeccably dressed guards, there is so much to explore here on foot (Though you may want to rethink winter with its frigid temperatures!)
8. Lisbon, Portugual: If you are a photography fan too, you may be shooting forever here in this beautiful colorful City filled with friendly locals. Alfama is a great neighborhood to explore on foot for half a day, combined with some time in the city centre and heading up the coastline.
9. Stockholm, Sweden: The Swedish capital has a lot to offer visitors, though as it is surrounded by water you will need to add a few ferry rides in their in order to see it all. The Old Town, Gamla Stan, is the perfect place to spend hours wandering and people watching at one of the charming cafes.
10. Sydney, Australia: Often named one of the most walkable cities as well for the stunning water views and charming neighborhoods. If you need to, use their good public transportation for the hard bits (ie. eastern suburbs to the north shore)
11. Vancouver, Canada: Another hometown of mine, Vancouver have one of those most spectacularly beautiful backdrops for a city anywhere in the world – from the ocean to distant mountains. Bridges connect the downtown core to most anywhere else so you can easily, or hop a little ferry (sea bus) or the sky train. Also, bike Stanley park for epic views!
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)