A Thank You Letter to 10 of Europe’s Most Walkable Cities
Dear Europe: Whenever I arrive in a city and I am frantically trying to figure out how to use the metro machines or what side of the street to catch the bus on, I am always delighted when I discover that I just need my own two feet. So I just want to say a big thank you to these 10 walkable cities because I appreciate you and the fact that you allow me to explore your beauty all on my own. I love getting lost on your cobblestone streets and happening upon a street performer sing opera or play flamenco music on the guitar. I love that I don’t have to worry about spending money on transport or constantly worry about losing my metro pass or bus ticket. I hope to see you all again soon and that our relationship continues to grow into the future.
1. Venice, Italy
Probably the originator of the “getting lost” in Europe mentality, Venice is the ideal place to explore on foot. My personal favorite time of day is at dusk when the cruise ship crowds have left for the day and the majority of people are heading to dinner. The streets are quieter, the sun is setting, and the waters are calm. You never know what unique architecture you will find around the next corner! Of course, a gondola ride along the canals is a special treat; however, the true magic is in the streets along the canals. Grab some picnic food and wine and sit alongside the canal at night, people watch, and meet new friends.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
One of the main neighborhood’s in Lisbon is actually only accessible by foot. The Alfama neighborhood is a working-class fishing area as well as the birthplace of the fado. Aflama is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Europe and has a bohemian feel to it. Make sure that you do take the train to Belem and Sintra though on your visit to Lisbon to try some tasty pastries and explore a multitude of palaces and castles, respectively.
3. Florence, Italy
I had always imagined Florence to be a large city, but I was pleasantly surprised to arrive in the city and discover just how walkable it is. You instantly feel more intellectual as you roam the streets of Florence and professional opera singers and musicians are playing while you walk past. The Duomo, Ufizi, and the Ponte Vecchio are all just a short distance from each other, so grab a gelato (or three) and a prosciutto sandwich on the way to the sights and explore this culturally rich city.
4. Bruges, Belgium
The true essence of a fairy tale town, Bruges is the perfect size to get around on foot. The picturesque streets are filled with delicious chocolate shops, frite stands, and waffle stores which can all be washed down later with a Belgian beer at a quaint local bar. Check out all of the foodie goodness Belgium has to offer. Depending on the time of year, it can be quite cold so be sure to bundle up should you be walking around the streets in wintertime!
5. Sevilla, Spain
One of the most walkable cities in Spain, I quickly fell in love with Sevilla’s vibrancy and authenticity. The passion of the flamenco, the traditional tapas, and the stunning Alcazar and Plaza de Espana make this Spanish city an absolute joy to visit. Make sure to try the Agua de Sevilla drink and have dinner at Los Coloniales.
6. Tallinn, Estonia
Part of the reason that the city of Tallinn blew me away was because it was so unexpectedly awesome. Tallinn is a stunning, medieval city that is easily walkable; in fact, I urge you to take a free walking tour of Tallinn so that you can learn more about the history of the city. Make sure you do take plenty of walking breaks to eat because the food is some of the best in Europe. If you are going on a Baltic Cruise through Scandinavia, I have a bunch of port tips and shore excursion ideas.
7. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The old town of Dubrovnik is surrounded by walls, and consequently one of the most easily walkable cities in Europe. While walking the streets itself is a truly enjoyable experience, the best part of Dubrovnik is walking said walls and admiring the gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea and coastline. Having travelled to many places, I am not always affected by what I see anymore; however, walking the walls of Dubrovnik was a completely different story as I felt emotionally connected and just extremely lucky and thankful to have had that experience. Check out my 10 day Croatia itinerary here.
8. Montecarlo, Monaco
Wealth abounds in the Principality of Monaco which is situated right along the gorgeous French Riviera. Montecarlo is easily walkable as you journey past the Monte Carlo Casino, the Palace of Monaco, and admire the yachts along the Monte Carlo harbor. If you go in May for the Grand Prix, you will experience Monaco come to life with street parties and other festivities all for the race.
9. Prague, Czech Republic
There’s New Town, Old Town, and Lesser Town in Prague, but luckily it is all quite walkable and extremely beautiful. The main sightseeing areas are separated by the Vltava river with the Prague Castle in the Lesser Town area and connected to Old and New Town by the idyllic Charles Bridge. Bring some good, comfortable walking shoes for those cobblestones as you explore all of Prague’s stunning architecture and enjoy the magical atmosphere.
10. Amsterdam, Netherlands
While Amsterdam is probably one of the largest cities on the list, I was surprised and quite happy to learn that it is one of the very best walkable cities. Although it is also what I am arbitrarily determining as the biking capital of Europe, for those us that are bike challenged like myself, I was happy to know that I could walk alongside the canals and marvel at their beauty. I was quite surprised by Amsterdam’s charm as I had ignorantly believed it must be dirty due to their affinity for coffee shops and red light districts. You should also consider taking a canal ride which is another great way to see the city!
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