- Discover the five best walkable cities in Europe – from Venice in Italy to Prague in the Czech Republic
- Plan your walking city break with must-see sights and walking itineraries to get the best from each city
- Essential planning and travel tips – including when to go and what to see – be it on a city break, escorted tour or river cruise
There are many reasons why you might choose walking as your city break mode of transport. But whatever your reason, one thing is certain: there is no better way to get to know a city than to walk its streets, stroll its plazas and wander its gardens. Going on foot is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a city and discover places you might otherwise have missed.
Lace up your most comfortable pair of walking shoes and check out these five best walkable cities in Europe. Who knows what you might discover?
Known as the Floating City, Venice is one of the world’s best walkable cities. The historic centre is compact with smooth and flat pavements and – crucially – most of Venice is car-free, so you can enjoy its peaceful streets without having to negotiate traffic. While there are no hills to tackle, Venice’s 400 or so bridges will give your leg muscles a workout but that won’t distract from the joy of exploring by foot.
Spread across 118 small islands, Venice can take a little time to navigate – but that’s part of its charm. Lose yourself among its tangle of backstreets and you’ll find hidden piazzas and quaint shops that most visitors never get to see. A map is essential. If your legs need a break, hop on a water taxi or gondola – the ultimate highlight for any holiday in Italy.
In Venice’s historic centre, most of the main sights are within walking distance: cross the ornate Rialto bridge to St. Mark’s square and its famous multi-domed basilica. From here, the Gothic-style Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and Museo Correr museum are just a few minutes’ walk away.
When to go: Summer temperatures hover around 25-30°C, so the best time to visit is April to May and September to October when you can expect lower temperatures but still plenty of sunshine. However, Venice is a delight at any time of the year.
It may not be as small and as compact as Venice, but Paris is a wonderful city to explore on foot – hence why it is often a key highlight on European tours, and escorted holidays in France, where a walking tour is part of the itinerary.
Most of the city centre (apart from Montmartre) is flat and distances are easily manageable if you have a good pair of shoes. For example, the entire length of the Champs-Élysées is only just over a mile; 20 minutes’ walk from the eastern end is the Louvre Museum, and another 20 minutes further is the Notre Dame Cathedral. Cross onto the Left Bank and you’re just a few steps from the chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood.
When to go: Paris often experiences summer heat waves which can make walking uncomfortable; in spring and autumn, you can expect cooler weather but still plenty of dry days. Wrap up warm for winter walks.
Catalonia’s capital is one of the most walkable cities in Spain. Not only does it have wide pedestrian boulevards, but many of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks are located in close proximity to each other.
Pick up a map from the tourist office and you should be able to navigate your way around easily. Start with a walk down La Rambla, buzzing from dusk until dawn with kiosks, pavement cafés and street performers.
From here, the atmospheric Gothic Quarter and City History Museum are less than a 10-minute walk away. Casa Milà, the UNESCO-listed Gaudi masterpiece, is just 20 minutes away. Or, stroll to the nearby Parc de la Ciutadella and rest your feet while admiring its beautiful lake and fountain.
When to go: Summer holidays in Spain can be a hot and humid affair, and Barcelona is no exception. To fully enjoy one of the most walkable cities in Spain, spring and autumn are wonderful times to visit with temperatures hovering around the low 20s.
This fun-sized medieval city is one of the best walkable cities in Europe. The small and compact historic centre is almost entirely pedestrianised. It is easy to navigate too, with just two main squares, Burg and Markt, less than five minutes’ walk from each other. Most of the main places to visit are within a stone’s throw from both squares.
You can be admiring Michelangelo’s beautiful white marble sculpture, Madonna and Child, in the Church of Our Lady, and five minutes later be stood beneath the mighty 13th-century Belfry tower. The picturesque streets that fan out from the squares are filled with chocolate shops. Look out for Sukerbuyc, the city’s oldest family-run chocolate shop with more than 90 varieties of handmade truffles.
There are a lot of cobbles in Bruges, so be sure to wear flat and comfortable shoes with thick soles. If your legs need a breather, there are regular horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the city centre.
When to go: June to August is a wonderful time to explore Bruges on foot; days are typically mild and dry, but the thermometer rarely makes it above 20°C.
Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech capital is without question one of Europe’s best walkable cities. From the Old Town Square – with its Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic style buildings housing bistros and gelato stalls – you can walk to most of the key landmarks within 30 minutes. Nearly all the streets in the Old Town spill into the square, so it’s hard to lose your way.
Begin at the Astronomical Clock Tower, the oldest operating astronomical clock in the world. With several restaurants in front of the tower, it’s a great place for a pitstop. Continue over the 14th century Charles Bridge, lined with 30 Baroque-style statues and a hive of activity with street vendors and musical performers.
The bridge leads to the John Lennon Wall, adorned with Lennon-inspired graffiti. If you have the ability or energy, scale the 121 steps up to Prague Castle – or hop on the number 22 tram – for fantastic city views.
The cobbled sidewalks in Prague are hundreds of years old, often with sizeable gaps in between stones, so flat, well-padded shoes are essential.
When to go: From June to August, highs in the mid-20s and dry weather make for great sightseeing by foot. Spring and autumn are pleasant also, just be sure to pack extra layers.
Europe’s best walkable cities – see for yourself
If our guide to the best walkable cities in Europe has your feet twitching, check out Riviera Travel’s range of European escorted tours, which feature the five cities listed here and many more.
If you are interested in walking tours, please see our Walk and Discover tours, full of interesting sights and fascinating walks to uncover hidden gems. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.