6 Car-Free Destinations that are perfect for a Fresh Air Getaway
With 40% of global travelers saying that they walk, bike or hike whenever possible*, for your next trip, why not leave the car behind and take a vacation from traffic, noise and pollution. Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travelers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, is celebrating International Car-Free Day (22 September) by presenting six beautiful car-free destinations. Put on your walking shoes, hop on a boat or bicycle and get ready to escape the hustle and bustle at one of these spectacular oases that are off limits to motor vehicles.
Possibly the most pedestrian-friendly city in the world, it’s no wonder that artisans, politicians, courtesans and “Casanovas” throughout history have lived, breathed and craved the charming streets of Venice. Since cars are able to navigate the canals and narrow streets, the best way to explore this magical destination is on foot or by a gondola. Stroll around the iconic St Mark’s Square, drift underneath The Bridge of Sights and discover the legendary Rialto Bridge.
Where to stay: Situated near St. Mark’s Square and stunning Rialto Bridge, Residenza Veneziana is a beautiful bed and breakfast overlooking the picturesque Venetian canals. Start your day with a delicious Italian breakfast served in the comfort of your room before heading out to explore the mesmerizing streets by foot.
Rottnest Island, Australia
Located near Perth in Western Australia, Rottnest Island is a protected nature reserve with great marine life, pristine bays and white-sand beaches. Thanks to the cycle paths around the island, travelers can easily explore this car-free island’s early colonial buildings, the historic lighthouse and several underground tunnels by bicycle. Free guided walking tours are also available for all visitors.
Where to stay: Overlooking the crystal-clear blue waters and the white sand beach, the Rottnest Island Authority offers self-contained villas, dormitory rooms and basic cabins at the unique Rottnest Island.
Designated as a National Park, the small Frisian island of Schiermonnikoog has car-free streets and is only accessible by ferry. Home to diverse flora and fauna, it’s also known for its mudflats. The island is perfect for cycling around the dunes and woods or taking advantage of the low tide to enjoy an organized mudflat hiking tour that the island offers.
Where to stay: Strandresort Schier offers modern self-catered apartments in a peaceful location close to the beautiful dunes and the beach. You can take a refreshing deep at the outdoor pool or spend sometime in the sauna, before biking to the nearby shops and restaurants.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Consisting of three small islands, the Gili Islands are a tropical paradise surrounded by turquoise waters, white sands as soft as sugar and views you’ll never tire of. With no cars or motorbikes to disturb this stunning setting, travelers can lounge on the sandy shores and enjoy the sunsets with a refreshing cocktail in hand.
Where to stay: Featuring contemporary wooden design, Majo Private Villas offers spacious villas with a private pool in Gili Trawangan. Each villa is decorated in warm colors and natural lighting, and guests can savor a tasty breakfast with vegetarian options before enjoying a dip in the pool or relaxing in the shared lounge.
Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA
With bicycles and horse-drawn carriages being the only mode of transportation on Mackinac Island, this peaceful destination will make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. Thanks to its rich history, the island is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is a popular destination highly endorsed by our travellers for scenery, relaxation, cycling and walking.
Where to stay: Set near Fort Mackinac, Lake View Hotel is one of the oldest hotels on Mackinac Island. This charming Victorian-style property offers elegantly decorated rooms and wellness facilities including a hot tub, a sauna and a pool. Since cars are not permitted on the island, travelers can relax at the front porch and watch the carriages passing by.
Set in the Argo Saronic Gulf and only a two hours ferry ride from the city center of Athens, the scenic island of Hydra is a popular getaway. Since no cars are allowed on the island, travelers can enjoy leisurely strolls around the island’s paved streets and admire the characteristic stone mansions and windmills or take a boat to get to one of Hydra’s gorgeous beaches.
Where to stay: Cotommatae Hydra 1810 is a cozy accommodation housed in a 19th century mansion, only a short walk from Hydra Port. Guests can relax at the stone-paved courtyard or at the beautiful terrace overlooking the scenic Hydra Town.