10 of the World’s Best City Walks

BootsnAll, in association with Global Basecamps is proud to present Green Week. A week long tribute to sustainable travel, social responsibility and ecotourism. Global Basecamps is a specialty travel company that helps independent travelers research and book locally owned boutique hotels, off-the-beaten path lodges and multi-day excursions all over the world. Whether hiking the Inca Trail, experiencing a traditional Japanese Ryokan, or relaxing on the beaches of Thailand, Global Basecamps specializes in designing completely customized itineraries to meet each travelers specific priorities and match their travel style.

There’s no more eco-friendly way to explore a city than to pound the streets, and walking tours have become so popular that many cities offer endless themed routes to keep the tourists on their toes. From ambling the length of the Thames to clambering to the heights of Table Mountain, or trekking from coast to coast in an afternoon, these 10 cities offer incredible walking routes that marry urban backdrops with stunning natural scenery.

1. Auckland’s coast to coast trail

One of few places in the world where you can literally walk from one ocean to another in less than a day, it’s easy to see why Auckland’s coast to coast trail is so popular, running from the Pacific Ocean on one side of the city, to the Tasman Sea at the other side. The 5-6 hour marked route runs from a remote coastal region through residential backstreets and over the city’s two most famous landmarks – Manungawhau (Mt. Eden), with its impressive crater topping the 643 feet (196 m) summit, and Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), a 600 feet (183 m) now tree-less hill that nonetheless offers incredible views over the city with the cone-shaped outline of Rangitoto Island in distance. Finish your walk with a stroll through the city’s renowned Viaduct harbor, where you can enjoy a well-earned drink looking out over the ocean.

Check out the Auckland Indie Travel Guide and read Nine New Zealand Wine Regions You Should Know About

2. London’s Thames Path

Stretching a lengthy 182 miles (294 km) along the banks of England’s longest river, the Thames Path Walkway starts out in the Cotswolds countryside and runs through central London, before continuing almost to the coast. Most walkers choose to traverse a short section of the walkway, and with the route taking in a smorgasbord of London’s principal attractions, it makes a perfect alternative to traditional sightseeing. The road up from Greenwich to London Bridge is around 7.5 miles (12 km), passing by the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, Big Ben, and St.Paul’s Cathedral. Time your walk to finish in the early evening, and you can experience the twinkling nightlights of the London Eye from one of the many riverside bars and restaurants. Best of all, once your feet start aching you can always hop on a boat to take you back up or down stream.

Read the London Indie Travel Guide and find a flight to London

3. Istanbul’s old city walls

A little visited feature of Istanbul’s historic old city, the remains of Theodosius II’s city walls still stand proud for almost their entire original length. Originally built to protect the city back in Constantinople times, they remain one of the most complex and elaborate fortification systems in the world, featuring a double wall effect that kept the city virtually impenetrable until its final fall to the Ottomans in 1453. Today, the walls are in various states of preservation, but it’s still possible to walk much of their length along a 3.5 mile (5.7 km) trail running from the Marble Tower on the Propontis coast to the Blachernae quarter. Taking you through some of Istanbul’s rarely traveled districts, the walk also provides a glimpse of modern-day Istanbul, as well as featuring some impressive original gateways and towers that can be climbed to offer some great views of the city.

Catch a flight to Istanbul and read through the Istanbul Indie Travel Guide

4. Cape Town’s Table Mountain


Cape Town’s most prominent landmark is set inside a national park of the same name and is not only one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, but a popular hiking destination with some incredible lookout points over the city. The climb to the mountain’s peak at 3562 feet (1,086 m) is one of the most frequently attempted routes, and the easiest ascent is via Platteklip Gorge, a 2-3 hour walk. It’s a hot and hardy trail, with some steep, rocky pathways cutting through the gorge, but the vast alpine scenery and gentle trickle of the Platteklip stream make it worth the effort. Once you’ve made the trek uphill, you can reward yourself with a descent on the mountain’s famous cable car – a short 10-minute walk from the summit – which will drop you back in the city.

Book an adventure trip in South Africa and check out our Cape Town Indie Travel Guide

5. Dragon’s Back Trail, Hong Kong

Once voted by Time Asia as the best urban hiking trail, Hong Kong’s Dragon’s Back Trail has a stellar reputation to uphold. Located in the Shek O Country Park in the south east of Hong Kong Island, the trail is a mere hour away from the chaotic streets of the inner city, yet has all the tranquility of a mountain resort. Walkers pass through shaded bamboo groves, hilltops covered in wildflowers, and dense woodlands as they follow the Dragon’s Back Ridge down into the Shek O Village, ending the trail on the beach. The 19 mile (31.1 km) trail is also a popular mountain biking route and offers some great views over the Clear Water Bay Peninsula.

Read the Hong Kong Indie Travel Guide and check out flights to Hong Kong

6. Rio de Janeiro’s Corcovado Mountain

Rio’s ubiquitous Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer statue has long peered down on the city’s white sand beaches, and the 124 foot (38 m) statue of Jesus perched atop the Corcovado Mountain is easily the city’s most recognizable landmark. A pilgrimage to the mountain’s 2,329 foot  (709 m) peak has become a staple among Rio’s many tourists, but while the journey is easily undertaken via the Corcovado Rack Railway, it’s also possible to walk the 2.3 mile (3.8 km) trail to the summit, winding through the Tijuca Forest National Park. The walk from Santa Teresa to Christ the Redeemer is around a 2 hour climb and passes by many of the hillside favelas, so take care en route – occasional robberies have been reported in the area. A final 223 steps will take you to the constantly crowded observation deck, where you’ll finally be able to secure that snapshot with Cristo himself.

Check out the Rio de Janeiro Indie Travel Guide and find a hostel in Rio

7. Mt Esja, Reykjavik

Reykjavik is well renowned for its ethereal landscapes and eerie snow-capped mountains, but for a walk right on the doorstep of the city, Mt.Esja, just east of the city centre, is a popular hiking spot. A trek to the 2360 foot (720 m) high Thverfellshorn peak affords spectacular views over Faxaflói Bay, Reykjavík city and the Mosfellsdalur Valley, as well as the chance to sign the mountain’s guestbook, located at the summit. At least 3 different trekking options are available from short and steep, to long and meandering, each culminating in a steep climb to the summit.

Find a flight to Reykjavik and read 10 of Europe’s Most Eco-Friendly Cities

8. Prague’s Royal Route

Following the traditional coronation route of Bohemian Kings, Prague’s most popular walking tour has become a popular choice for tourists looking to tick a number of key sights off their to-do lists. The walk crosses through the Old Town, over the Charles Bridge into the Lesser Quarter, and winds up to the Prague Castle (Prazsky Hrad), where you can stroll the castle grounds and marvel at the St.Vitus Cathedral. On route, you’ll pass the Powder Tower, one of the Old Town’s original gates, the famous House of the Black Madonna with its attached museum of Cubist art and design, and the Old Town Square with its numerable key landmarks, including a gothic town hall and Middle Age Astronomical Clock. Staring down at the landscape from the final castle viewpoint, you’ll be able to trace the outline of your route around the city landmarks below.

Read the Prague Indie Travel Guide and find a flight to Prague

9. New York, Central Park

Perhaps one of the world’s most famous city parks, New York’s Central Park has been immortalized on screen so many times over the years that most of us feel like we know it intimately. 843 acres stretch over a few city blocks in central Manhattan, complete with an extensive network of bridle paths and walkways, a reservoir, the Central Park Zoo and wildlife sanctuary, a natural forest, and an outdoor concert venue. The park first opened its doors back in1857 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, cementing its legendary status among tourists and residents alike.  Visitors can skateboard, boat, cycle, roller-blade, or take a horse carriage around the park, but for those looking to escape the urban sprawl without losing sight of quintessential New York, a simple walk through the park should suffice.

Catch a flight to New York and read the New York City Indie Travel Guide

10. Vancouver’s Seawall

Stretching for a scenic 13.6 miles (22 km) along the waterfront, the Vancouver Seawall walk is the city’s most popular walkway, and a hotspot for local joggers, cyclists, and inline-skaters. The seawall itself was constructed around the perimeter of the waterfront Stanley Park to protect against coastal erosion, but its accompanying walkway fast became a destination in itself. The route can be attempted in either direction, running from the convention centre on Burrard Inlet (Coal Harbour), tracing the outskirts of Stanley Park and False Creek, past Granville Island, and finishing off at Kitsilano Beach Park. Crashing waves, freshly mowed lawns, rugged woodlands, and sandy beaches make this one of the most varied city walks in the world.

Find a flight to Vancouver and read the Vancouver Indie Travel Guide

Read more about ecotourism around the world:

As humans, cities are where we keep much of our story and much of our culture. City tours are an essential part of our custom Japan tours, Moroccan Imperial Cities tours, and our custom Peru tours. For city lovers, there is no better way to explore an urban jungle than on foot, tasting its food, hearing its noises and seeing its diversity. Global Basecamps hires local guides that know the most popular locales as well as the least known nooks and crannies of cities all over the world.

Photo credits: Chris Gin, IDS photos, kiwanc, féileacán, countries in colors, kitetraveller, Thorlakur, moyan_brenn, asterix611, Duane Storey

Filed under: Eco Travel, featured