We’ve all been in this situation. You book a city break for a long weekend and proceed to cram it full of frantic sightseeing to try and get the most out of your short visit. But the cost of all of that whizzing around on public transport soon adds up, leaving you with less money to spend on all the fun stuff.
So what’s the alternative?
The best way to really see a city is to walk around it. And, believe it or not, the world is full of surprisingly walkable cities, where you can see all the top sights without it taking forever and without those hefty train or tram fares. Oh, and it’s just as good for the waistline as it is for the wallet, so it’s good news all round.
We have calculated which are the most walkable cities in the world based on their top five attractions, plus the number of calories you can burn on each trip. So let’s get going:
Starting in the vibrant urban hub that is Thailand’s capital, Bangkok is famously packed with things to see and do. But if you only have limited time to explore the city then this walking route will help you get round all the must-sees in a timely 1 hour and 40 minutes.
This four mile walk, starting at the stunning Wat Phra Kaew temple, follows the banks of the Chao Phraya river, encapsulating the unmissable sights of the Grand Palace, the Wat Pho Buddhist temple, and Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha), before winding up at the Jim Thompson House museum on the Eastern side of the city. Adding an hour or two to explore each destination, you could easily tick all these off your bucket list in two days if you wanted to, while burning a not-too-shabby 462 calories. And if you’re limited to just one day? You can hop in an Uber for a tiny 10 Baht (23p) base rate and 4 baht per additional km.
If you’re thinking along the staycation lines, London might surprise you on just how walkable it can be. The Tripadvisor list of top places to visit includes all the big ones, from the Tower of London and the British Museum to the National Gallery, Big Ben and the V&A – all well worth a look and walkable in just over two hours.
As well as loading up on the best of the UK’s history, heritage and culture, this educational walk will also burn a hefty 588 calories; much better than rattling around on the Tube all day, and you’ll get to see an awful lot more of the city. Alternatively, you can hop on one of the city’s Santander hire bikes to slash your journey time by over an hour and still keep the healthy travel element.
Hopping across the Channel now to Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world and our most walkable yet. Much more compact than London, the centre of Paris is a network of beautiful, café-lined streets bisected by the Seine river, and you can walk around its 5 top-rated attractions in an efficient 1 hour and 7 minutes.
Starting at the breathtaking Notre Dame cathedral you can walk across the river to the gothic Sainte Chapelle and visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre before heading back across the river to see the Musée d’Orsay and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. You could also choose to be extra Parisian and hire a bicycle (baguette and basket are optional) to complete this 3.3-mile route in just 27 minutes.
While most will hire a car to explore the shimmering desert oasis that is Dubai, you might be surprised at just how walkable this city can be. Traditionally known as a very non pedestrian-friendly place, Dubai has more recently acquired a great deal more footpaths and walking zones to help you along. It also helps that Dubai is practically one big straight line, so it’s very difficult to get lost.
Sticking mainly to the seafront paths you can walk to the stunning Dubai Fountains, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, the Burj Al Arab and the Aquaventure Waterpark at the Jumeirah Palm in 5 hours, burning a whopping 1398 calories (but make sure you protect yourself from the sun!). Split the journey across 2 or 3 days and you’re laughing, or alternatively you can hop in an Uber for a base rate of 10 AED (£1.93) and roughly 1.9 AED (30p) per km.
If you’ve ever felt the searing heat of the New York subway stations you’ll agree that walking around NYC is a far more pleasant experience. If you haven’t, take our word for it: it’s hot. Luckily you can walk around the city’s top 5 attractions in just 2 hours, burning a healthy 556 calories in the process. You’ll also be glad to know that the journey is practically one straight line, starting from the leafy vistas of Central Park and heading downtown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the Met), the Top of the Rock observation deck, Grand Central station and finishing up at the very moving 9/11 memorial.
If your feet are protesting too much you can make some of the journey by flagging down one of NYC’s iconic yellow cabs, which will set you back $2.55 (£1.81) as a base rate plus $1.75 (£1.24) per mile. Be prepared for the likelihood of heavy traffic and potentially higher costs, though.
One of the world’s most walkable cities is Rome, and boy is it worth the walk. What helps the most is that all the most popular attractions are fairly close by one another, resulting in a walking round trip of just under an hour; easy peasy.
The quickest route to take is across the city from east to west, starting at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. From there, head to the iconic Colosseum followed by the Roman Forum, before visiting the beautiful Trevi Fountain and finally ending your walking tour at the Pantheon. As well as seeing the most jaw-dropping sights this beautiful city has to offer, you’ll have burned a tidy 222 calories and saved yourself a few Euros on taxi fares, which certainly aren’t cheap.
Tokyo is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, and is also one of the most exciting to visit. It’s a metropolis of bright lights and incredible sites, all of which are best seen by walking and exploring. Be prepared, this is one big city, but its top 5 attractions can be walked to in around 3 hours and 26 minutes – a real bonus if you’re only in the city for a day or two.
Starting at the Sens?-ji Temple - Tokyo’s oldest and most important buddhist landmark – you can venture south to wander the fish and food stalls of the lively Tsukiji Market and explore the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden before visiting the tranquil Meiji Jingu Shrine and finishing up at the impressive Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. All this exploring will help you shed an incredible 804 calories, and you can also cycle the route in around 50 minutes if you’re in a bit more of a hurry.
Back to Europe now and into the gothic architectural paradise that is Barcelona. Like Rome, this city is very compact, meaning it is perfectly walkable. You can lap every one of the city’s top 5 attractions in just 54 minutes, burning a satisfactory 211 calories in the process.
Starting at the mind bogglingly complex and beautiful Sagrada Familia Basilica in the north of the city, you can make your way down towards the coast stopping to admire the brilliantly colourful Casa Batllo and the Palau de la Música Catalana music hall, before goggling up at the cavernous ceilings of the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and finally finishing up wandering the narrow medieval streets of the charming Gothic Quarter. If you’re keen to get to the beach faster you can also cycle this route in an impressive 9 minutes by hiring a bicycle from one of the many by-the-hour rental outlets dotted around the city.
If you love sunshine, history, culture and music then Budapest needs to be next on your travel itinerary. This is the most walkable city on our list, with all top 5 sights accessible on foot inside a tidy 52 minutes.
Starting at the imposing and historical Parliament buildings in the north of the city, you can stroll along the picturesque Danube where you’ll find the thought-provoking ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ WW2 memorial. From there you can visit St Stephen's Basilica – the largest church in Hungary – before heading across the river to the Buda side of Budapest, where you’ll find the beautiful architecture of the Fisherman’s Bastion and finish your adventure outside the breathtaking Matthias Church nearby. All of this will help you burn around 210 calories, not bad at all for such a short and educational walk.
Last on our walkable cities list is Berlin, one of the world’s most popular city break destinations. Another fairly compact city, Berlin’s top 5 attractions can be walked round in just over an hour, leaving you plenty of time to explore each location.
From the Memorial of the Berlin Wall – a must-see for sure – you can venture south to admire the imposing structure of the Reichstag building and the iconic Brandenburg Gate, before taking a moment of reflection at the Holocaust Memorial and exploring the Topography of Terror museum, the former site of the Secret State Police and Gestapo during the Nazi regime. Walking it will help you burn a good 242 calories, but you can also cycle this route in a leisurely 21 minutes if you’re pushed for time.