World's best walking tours: 5 cities to explore on foot

Whether it's getting lost down a maze of backstreets or touring grand boulevards, these are our favourite cities in the world to explore on a walking tour, at our own pace, with our own two feet...
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. Photo: Shutterstock
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. Photo: Shutterstock


There's nothing quite like discovering a new city, especially if it's one that's easy to navigate on foot. Lace up your sneakers! Here are five of the most walkable cities in the world

1. Galle

Some cities are so massive (so frenetic and bustling) that a leisurely stroll is simply out of the question. This description is the complete opposite of Galle, a colonial town in Sri Lanka that offers up some of the best boutique shopping in Asia. Steeped in history, old-world Galle is made up of slender streets and leafy paths; a snapshot of a time-warped island with the Indian Ocean lapping in the distance. Galle Fort particularly embodies this feel. Insight Guides' Explore Sri Lanka guidebook has the perfect walking tour of Galle Fort, find out more here. The streets are low, quiet, and free of traffic. Meanwhile, old churches and villas of the Dutch era punctuate the Unesco World Heritage Site. Do yourself a favour and spend some time wandering through this lovely part of Sri Lanka. Get your fill with this Sri Lanka Deluxe luxury tour package.

2. Florence

I can tell you from first-hand experience that Florence is an utter delight where walkable cities are concerned. The narrow, high-walled streets are quintessentially Italian, glowing with the romantic spirit that so attracts tourists to Tuscany. You can literally spend days walking through this charming cityscape, grabbing to-die-for plates at little restaurants, people-watching along the Arno River, getting lost in the colourful street markets, standing in awe at the medieval architecture, mingling with locals. Get some tips with Insight Guides' Explore Florence guidebook, which offers walking tours inclusive of restaurant stops along the way. Renting a car would be a pity as you'd miss out on Florence's most intoxicating charms. See it for yourself with Insight Guides' aptly named vacation, Florence: A Trip Back In Time, which includes guided walking tours of the city. 

Ponte Vecchio in Florence.Ponte Vecchio in Florence; the perfect addition to a walking tour in the city. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Paris

The City of Light offers itself up as a prime destination for pedestrians. Paris is anything but a small town, but there's a certain intimacy that comes with paring down (or, better yet, extending) your travel itinerary to discover the city at a less hectic pace. Our experts recommend strolling along the Seine's ever-enchanting Left Bank. Here, you'll find a 2.3-km stretch that spans all the way from Pont de l'Alma to the Port de Solférino. Insight Guides' Explore Paris guidebook includes the best routes around this romantic city and its environs. The landscape is dotted with floating gardens, play areas, restaurants, and sunny terraces not to mention fabulous views of Paris itself. While away the hours hopscotching the city before settling into one its many enchanting little bistros. Walk to your heart's content with Insight Guides' Luxury Paris trip.

Typical French street in Montmartre district.

Typical French street in Montmartre district with small houses are located cafes, restaurants and art galleries. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Amsterdam

Friendly, romantic, and quintessentially European, Amsterdam stands on its own as a remarkable place to plan your next holiday. Its many delightful canals, impressive museums, and colourful locals make it one of our most-loved walkable cities around as it offers up views you surely won't come across anywhere else. Use the best routes in Insight Guides' Explore Amsterdam guidebook to make sure you don't miss a sight. As Brooke Saward of World of Wanderlust boasts, the city is both expansive and relatively flat, making it all the more desirable to take in over a few days.

5. Manhattan

I called New York City my home for almost a decade. The charming streets of the West Village and the loveliness of Central Park during any season were two reasons why. Another? I rarely needed a car. In my book, there is nothing better than wandering down a Manhattan street, whether it's familiar or totally unknown. The island is absolutely bursting with diversity at every turn, meaning that no two walks – even down the same street – are ever really the same. Take self-guided walks with the help of Insight Guides' Explore New York guidebook which points out places of interest along the route, find out more here. The city itself is also laid out in a grid network, making it very easy to navigate. If you want to explore the culture, take to the streets.

This article was originally published on 23rd November, 2016

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