A Walk to Remember: Six Cities Best Explored on Foot
One of the best ways to experience any city in a more authentic and sustainable way is to explore it by foot. With 43% of travelers planning a sightseeing trip that involves walking,* wandering around is one of the best ways to really immerse in a destination, interact with the locals and admire architecture in a way that other transport just doesn’t offer. Visitors can meander entirely at their own pace or opt for more strenuous hiking, venture off the beaten path or pause whenever something takes their fancy – or tempts their taste buds. With that in mind, we share six standout destinations best explored by foot, as recommended by Booking.com travelers** which are anything but pedestrian.
Nestled in a bend on the northeast bank of the Mekong River, this beautiful city exceeds the expectations of many travelers – especially when exploring on foot. The capital of Laos is the antithesis of a bustling city and feels more like a welcoming village dotted with discoveries from gilded temples and war relics to secret waterfalls and shrines. Visitors can stroll along capturing the wonderous sights of French architecture and mosaic-decorated Buddhist temples such as Wat Si Saket, with its cloisters concealing thousands of Buddha statues. A Full-day City Tour with Buddha Park and Lunch gives travelers the opportunity to wander around the giant golden statues in the park as well as the iconic Patuxai monument, dedicated to the Laotian struggle for independence. Round off the day with a walk along the Mekong river promenade at sunset and a visit to the night food market for sticky rice, spicy minced beef salad and a bottle of the local brew. This walkable destination is the peaceful antidote to a hi-tech life, with plenty of surrounding hikes through cave networks and climbs to mountain ridges for fantastic views.
Where to stay: Barn1920s Hostel sits in the heart of Vientiane and is a short walk to the popular night market and Laos National Museum. Be sure to start the day right and fuel up on the delicious buffet breakfast served daily. Or spend the day hopping from café to café to capture the true taste of Vientiane. Back at the hostel, guests can kick back listening to records in the shared lounge or chill out in the bar with a cold bottle of traditional beer.
Sandwiched halfway between Quebec and Montreal, Trois-Rivières is a vibrant habor city that will take travelers on a journey back in time through its rich history dating back to 1650. The best way to experience the charm and old world character of North America’s second oldest French settlement is to walk it and discover its plentiful museums, art galleries and boutique shops along the way. Put on a pair of comfy shoes and walk the picturesque Laviolette Bridge, an arched bridge that crosses the majestic St. Lawrence River, or try the linear park lined with birches and oaks running from Fortin Park past the university to the Vielles Forges sector. After nightfall, the popular Rues des Forges is highly recommended and has many bars that travelers can mingle between. Hiking around Trois-Rivières is one of the best ways to experience more of the mountainous terrain Canada has to offer. Or, for an easy day trip, drive up the river to Quebec for an Old Quebec Walking Tour and follow a guide on a historical stroll through the streets of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Where to stay: Hotel Oui Go is situated in the historic center of Trois-Rivières and a stone’s throw away from the St. Lawrence River where travelers will find an array of restaurants, cafes and museums. Bright, comfortable and contemporary rooms come with a rainfall shower and coffee machine for a caffeine fix to fuel those extra miles. Guests can visit popular attractions such as the old port and Pie XII Park – both just a short walk away.
For travelers who want to cover a lot of ground on foot, head for the sprawling capital of Scotland that begs to be explored. Filled with quirky nooks and beautiful views, Edinburgh’s hidden gardens, neoclassical buildings, old world pubs and networks of alleyways are all waiting to be discovered. A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, walking around this incredibly well-preserved medieval city will give travelers the feeling of being transported back in time. Visitors can stroll around iconic sites such as Edinburgh Castle, the historic Grassmarket, the National Museum and Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano in Holyrood Park – all within walking distance of one another. Switch it up come night-time and discover Edinburgh’s dark past with The Edinburgh Vaults and Graveyard Tour. Travelers will be led by foot to the Greyfriars Graveyard and then walk over to the Old Town Vaults where local guides will share stories and myths inspired by those who once lived there. Swap the urban attractions for the serene countryside of the highlands on a Guided Day Trip to Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle to enjoy picture-perfect landscapes in Trossachs National Park and a walk around the quaint loch-side village of Luss.
Where to stay: Situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s bustling West End, Destiny Scotland - Distillers House offers self-catering accommodation in a period building brimming with character and original features. Just a short walk to the old town and the Scottish National Gallery, there are also a handful of great pubs nearby for a nightcap dram of whiskey. With a certified Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge, this property provides walking tours organized by local guides and their wealth of knowledge will keep visitors entertained.
The fourth largest city in South Korea, Daegu is one of the top walking destinations to experience in Asia. Nestled in southeast Korea, the humming city is packed with old churches, forests, parks and excellent eateries that can all be accessed on foot. In the daytime, explore the alleyways of Daegu including Jin-alley food court and Samduk-dong Mural alley, or visit the leafy Duryu Park with its many activities including playgrounds for the kids, tennis courts, a roller skating rink and a football and baseball field. Save the glorious mountain hike in Apsan Park for the evening to marvel at the sunset and the panoramic forest vistas, or visit Suseong Lake for a magical evening water show. Daegu translates to ‘large hill,’ and the city sits in a basin surrounded by low mountains that are any hiker's dream. Explore Palgong, one of the most sacred mountains in the country where the mountainside blooms with pink azaleas in the summer and fiery red leaves in winter.
Where to stay: With 66%*** of travelers reporting that budget accommodations are their motivation to travel, the Aega Hanok Guesthouse is a well-priced hidden gem. The traditional guesthouse offers a homely atmosphere, vibrant garden and coffee shop. A peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, this Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay offers green spaces to relax in and has increased its efforts to reduce food wastage. Guests can explore the inspiring surroundings walking around the Seomun Market and Duryu Park.
Positioned in the eastern part of Austria, a walk around the beautiful, flat city of Vienna must not be missed. There are few better cities to celebrate the arts than this capital, and the Baroque streetscapes and ornate palaces set the stage for its artistic and musical masterpieces. Lovers of art and design can pound the pavements to visit the Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Belvedere Palace and to explore the city’s many museums and art galleries featuring both ancient relics and contemporary design. Through cobblestone streets and intricate courtyards, Vienna’s many manicured parks and the Danube Canal, this compact city is easily walkable. For those who do get tired feet, Vienna is known for its great public transport so be sure to hop on a tram or stop off at one of its many coffeehouses. Want a panoramic bird’s eye view of the city? The Danube Tower Admission with Express Lift Ride takes visitors to the top of the tower where they can marvel at the impressive view, and how many miles they have marched across the city.
Where to stay: Bed down at the WELTWIEN Luxury Art Apartments, conveniently located a short subway ride away from most attractions, and with an array of local restaurants, bars and coffee houses within walking distance. The aparthotel fuses historic character with contemporary design: high-ceilinged rooms with grand windows are decorated with modern furnishings and artwork, while guests are treated to super comfy beds following a day of exploring on foot. This imaginative Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay offers local artists a platform to display their talents and features a creative sculpture garden.
Located in the northwest of Mexico, Culiacán is well known for its celebratory culture, dancing fountains and religious temples – all for travelers to absorb via foot. During the day, breathe in the fresh floral aroma with a trip to the botanical gardens, boasting more than a thousand different plants and housing a selection of contemporary artwork. Or, seek peace and tranquillity with a trip to Las Riberas Park and the Lady of Guadalupe cathedral, which offers unrivaled views of the city. With 77%*** of Booking.com travelers reporting that trying tasty local food is the motivation for travel, Culiacán certainly delivers on flavor. Take a tour of the street food on offer and sample local delicacies such as chilorio (pork fried in chilli sauce) and machaca (beef that’s been dried) during an evening adventure. Culiacán’s miles of shoreline not only makes for great walking, but also some of the freshest seafood.
Where to stay: The laidback Spanish-style Hotel Los Tres Rios is in walking distance to the river and the city center. The hotel offers a beautiful leafy outdoor pool area where guests can splash around. Bring along a blanket to sit outdoors in the gardens and enjoy a picnic to refuel or relax in the outdoor cabin located on the property. After exploring, guests can dine at the fabulous onsite restaurant, which serves local cuisine including mochomos (a shredded beef dish), delicious pork in salsa and fresh seafood.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 33,228 respondents across 35 countries and territories (1,019 from USA, 1,002 from Canada, 1,007 from Mexico, 1,005 from Colombia, 1,008 from Brazil, 1,015 from Argentina, 1,008 from Australia, 504 from New Zealand, 1,008 from Spain, 1,002 from Italy, 1,008 from France, 502 from Switzerland, 1,008 from the UK, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,008 from Germany, 1,006 from the Netherlands, 1,006 from Belgium, 1,004 from Denmark, 1,007 from Sweden, 1,016 from Croatia, 1,012 from Israel, 504 from UEA, 1,012 from India, 1,001 from China, 1,000 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,020 from Singapore, 1,001 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,002 from Indonesia, 1,007 from Philippines, 1,002 from South Korea, 1,009 from Japan, 1,005 from South Africa and 510 from Kenya). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2023, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in February 2023.
**The list was based on endorsements from international Booking.com users who traveled to these destinations. The destinations had to receive 500 endorsements in the category “walking tours” to be considered, and were selected on the basis of share of total endorsements.
***Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.