The world's 10 best cities for walking

BEN GROUNDWATER
Last updated 09:14 29/05/2014

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No one walks in LA. Tell people you've decided to stroll even a few blocks and they'll look at you like you just announced you're swimming to Hawaii. You're what? Just take a taxi.

It's a city of long distances over shimmering hot concrete. The car rules in LA, and there's little point trying to fight it.

I find that pretty disappointing, given my love of a stroll. I feel at home in cities that allow you to walk from place to place. I feel comfortable knowing I don't have to rely on a public transport system, or tangle with the local cabbies. 

A few weeks ago I listed my favourite cities for cycling, so this time I thought I would go for the ones that are best for travellers who like to get around on two feet and heart beat.

Istanbul, Turkey

The Turkish metropolis might just be the ultimate walking city, a place where numerous major, bucket-list attractions - sights like the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar and Galata Bridge - are all within a very short stroll of each other. And there's more to discover outside the suburb of Sultanahmet, a whole city of small alleys and pedestrian thoroughfares, tea shops and cafes, bars and restaurants. Best thing to do is walk it. 

Barcelona, Spain

There's a reputation for pickpockets in Barcelona, and there are certainly a few parts of town that you'll want to avoid. But get to know a little about the city and you'll find it's ideal for walking - its huge tree-lined streets in the newer parts of the town and the narrow alleys in the Gothic Quarter and El Born will give you days of enjoyment on foot. 

Fes, Morocco

There are some cities in which you're told you might get lost. In Fes, the ancient city of winding alleys in a labyrinthine medina, you will get lost. Without a guide, the chances are 100 per cent. But that doesn't mean it isn't worthy of your efforts, because to get lost in Fes is to become immersed in another culture and another time, among spice sellers, camel butchers, leather tanners, and everything in between. 

New York, USA

There's a bizarre feeling of recognition as you walk the streets of New York, the scenes so familiar because they've appeared in hundreds of movies you've watched since you were a kid. Forget the "I'm walkin' here!" stereotype of foot traffic in NYC - it might be busy, but it's always exciting, and usually friendly. New York is huge and its subway system extensive, but the best way to see it is on foot.  

Buenos Aires, Argentina

From the colour and edginess of La Boca to the classic streets of San Telmo, the busy pavements of Recoleta to the tree-lined boulevards of Palermo, Buenos Aires is made for walking. Discover the little cafes, check out the cool shops, pick out spots to eat dinner, and soak up the flavour of some of South America's most attractive streets.  

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Mexico City, Mexico

This might sound like a funny one, given its sprawling nature and its reputation for street crime, but Mexico City is a fascinating place to walk around. Start in the Zocalo, the city's main square, and then fan your way out, hitting the Bellas Artes galleries, the street taco stands, and all the hidden secrets of a heaving metropolis. Mexico City's streets have life, they have excitement. Once the sun goes down, however, maybe think about calling a taxi.

London, UK

The ease of London's Tube system can work against the city, in a way, because it can take a while to realise how simple it is to walk from place to place rather than head underground. Wander the Monopoly board - Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square to Oxford Street, Mayfair to Park Lane. As long as it's not raining, you'll have a ball. 

Rome, Italy

Like Istanbul, almost all of Rome's major attractions are within walking distance of each other. You don't even need a map - just wander around the old town and you'll stumble across the Coliseum, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Vatican City. And when you get tired, there are gelati shops. So many gelati shops.

Esfahan, Iran

There's little that can beat a stroll over Esfahan's Siosepol Bridge as evening sets in. However, there are plenty more walkable attractions in the Iranian city, from the huge and impressive Imam Mosque to the ancient covered bazaar just near it, where you'll find everything from bolts of chador fabric to high heels to spices to leaves of tea. This is what Middle Eastern travel is all about.

Antigua, Guatemala

The Spanish conquistadors weren't exactly angels but they knew how to build an attractive town. Antigua is maybe one of Central America's finest colonial settlements, a place of paved streets and brightly coloured houses set to the backdrop of a couple of massive volcanoes. Check it out on foot - it's the best way.

Which do you think are the best cities in the world for walking?

- FFX Aus

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