If fitness is your goal, the factors determining the walkability of a city changes. Take safety, scenery or the general fitness habits of people who live in the area. Having off-road pedestrian-only trails dramatically decreases the likelihood that walkers will cross paths with a car. Beautiful walking trails make getting outside more enjoyable. What’s more, doing so in an active city means you have the camaraderie of fellow pedestrians. All of these things add up to extra motivation to get you out and about.
Keeping this in mind, we’ve rounded up our favorite cities. While there are plenty of great metropolitan areas that are ripe for exploration on foot, these eight have that little something special that makes them stick out.
8. VANCOUVER, CANADA
With a mission to become the “Greenest City” in the world, Vancouver enacted a number of important initiatives via their Healthy City Strategy. Among them are a network of map stands throughout the city to help support a culture of walkability. These pedestrian signs will point you in the right direction and help you identify a wide range of destinations around town. With breathtaking waterside views and places like Stanley Park, one of the biggest urban parks in North America, there’s plenty to see on foot.
While you might want to steer clear of Minneapolis in the winter months, it’s consistently ranked as one of the healthiest and fittest cities in the United States. Known for having the best urban parks in the U.S., miles of scenic off-road trails will take you along parkways, around lakes and over the mighty Mississippi. The metropolitan area also plays host to the “Most Beautiful Urban Marathon” and is the only U.S. city to make the cut on the worldwide index of bike-friendly cities.
6. MUNICH, GERMANY
Marked by its pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, Munich offers a great place to walk for both locals and tourists alike. Known as the “city of short distances,” it is easily navigable on foot and offers plenty of beautiful parks and great architecture. If you go, be sure not to miss the 900-acre English Garden, one of the biggest urban parks in the world. From beer gardens, to shaded paths, sports fields and a Japanese teahouse, it is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll.
5. SAN FRANCISCO
Walkability scoring consistently ranks San Francisco as one of the best cities in which to hoof it. If you’re looking to burn some extra calories, the city’s steep hills will provide an extra workout as you navigate around town. Looking for an urban adventure? Check out Chinatown or the Financial District — both of which have stellar walkability scores. For a more peaceful jaunt, however, head north across the Golden Gate Bridge to the trails that meander through the stunning Marin Headlands.
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4. NEW YORK CITY
There’s a good reason New York City is consistently ranked one of the top most walkable cities in the U.S. Walk Score has dubbed the Big Apple’s neighborhoods of Little Italy, Chinatown and NoHo all to be “walker’s paradises.” What’s more, Central Park offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city sidewalks and streets. With nearly 40 million visitors each year, there are plenty of other walkers and runners around to keep you motivated as you put one foot in front of the other.
3. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
A city best explored on foot, this South American hotspot offers stunning architecture, tree-lined roadways and an impressive arts and culture scene. For self-guided walking tours, be sure to get your hands on the Golden Map available at most hotels and tourist locations. If you go, be sure to check out the Rose Garden Walk, a serene path that takes walkers past more than 1,000 species of roses.
2. WASHINGTON, D.C.
Washington D.C.’s highly touted reputation for walkability is largely thanks to its pedestrian-friendly boulevards. That’s not to mention the mostly free monuments, memorials, and malls that beg you to lace up your sneakers and explore. Indeed, the city was recently named one of the top major cities in the U.S. for biking and walking to work, with around 16.7% of people commuting.
A short stroll along a scenic canal and you’ll understand why this city is the perfect place to explore on foot — not just by bike. Amsterdam is always actively improving infrastructure to make it one of the most walkable places on the planet. Along with low speed limits for cars, they are also working to separate biking and walking paths for the benefit of all. That’s not to mention the city’s many gardens, parks and green spaces. Walking tourists should be sure to check out the city’s largest park, Sloterpark, which is characterized by over 200 acres of natural winding paths, pools, a zoo and a disc golf course.