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30 Most Walkable Cities In The World

by Staff

In this article, we list and discuss the 30 Most Walkable Cities in the World. If you would like to skip our detailed discussion of the topic, you can go directly to the top 10 Most Walkable Cities in the World.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, globally, an average person walks about 5000 steps daily, which is good but not enough, according to NIH. The National Institute of Health researched and found that adults who only walked 4,000 steps a day were more prone to dying from heart disease or cancer than those who walked 8,000 or more steps daily.

Walking is an exercise with many health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, stroke,  cardiovascular disease, obesity, and high blood pressure, as well as improved mental health. Moreover, AICR finds that being physically active for 30 minutes lowers the risk of developing colorectal, endometrial, and breast cancers. 

While walking prevents many health issues and is encouraged by health professionals everywhere, not many cities are walkable or have pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum, the largest 35 metropolitan areas of the US have only 1.2% of landmass that is walkable or pedestrian-friendly. More shockingly, this small percentage of walkable land generates nearly 20% of the US GDP, showing a positive relation between good walkable infrastructure and the economy through many aspects (See: 15 Most Walkable Cities in the US). 

A pedestrian-friendly infrastructure increases land and property values by making it more desirable and attracting the rich class to the area. The same research from WEF that we have linked above finds that as of 2021, walkable urban areas had a significant price premium over drivable urban areas. Price premium means the percentage by which the selling price exceeds the base price. In 2021, the sales or rent premium in walkable urban areas was 35-45% for office, rental, retail, and for-sale houses. 

Furthermore, walkable cities attract investments from private companies and businesses as they find pedestrian-friendly areas more economically appealing. CNU presents an example of Lancaster downtown, California, where the Lancaster government spent $11.5 million on a project to improve its walkability. Lancaster attracted $130 million in private investment within four years of the project and generated $273 million in economic output. 

Walkable cities tend to have better air quality as well because there are fewer cars on the road to produce harmful gases like carbon monoxide. Good air quality promotes better mental and physical health, and when people are in good shape and mind, they tend to be more creative and productive and contribute to the economy. Lastly, walkable cities encourage more local sidewalk vendors, which adds to the overall economic activity of the area, while simultaneously attracting tourists.

While walkable infrastructure in urban areas is important for the economy, not many cities around the world meet that standard. To unlock the full economic potential of their cities, countries need to work on improving infrastructure and making it more pedestrian-friendly. In the list below, we will discuss the most walkable cities in the world (See also: 20 Most Walkable Cities in Europe).

Infrastructure Industry: Outlook and Key Players

Due to rapid urbanization and government spending on public infrastructure to facilitate the increase in urban population, the infrastructure market will experience positive growth in the years to come. In 2022, according to the report by Global Market Insights Inc., the global pedestrian bridge market was valued at $90 billion, and growing with a CAGR of 5%. The market is forecasted to reach $148 billion by 2032.  Moreover, the development of 3-D printed bridges is further expected to influence growth and improve the market outlook.

Some key players in the infrastructure industry are Fluor Corp (NYSE: FLR), Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT), and AECOM (NYSE: ACM). 

Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Fluor Corp (NYSE: FLR) is one of the leading engineering and construction as well as holding companies with subsidiaries in the oil, gas, and industrial and infrastructure industries. In the past few years, Fluor Corp (NYSE: FLR) has been awarded some major projects by the Texas Department of Transportation, including the $674 million Oak Hill Parkway Project in Austin in 2020. The project includes widening main lanes, building an overpass, and constructing bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025. 

Another giant company, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT), is the world’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment. The company has over 100 years of experience helping customers with their infrastructure projects. Last year, in 2023, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) announced an investment of $44 million in a tech startup, Nth Cycle, to boost the recycling of its used metals. While the company is not directly involved in infrastructure projects, it plays a huge role in providing heavy machinery and equipment required for construction and mining.

On the other hand, AECOM (NYSE: ACM), a construction consulting firm, also signed a deal last year, in 2023, with Ukraine to help rebuild the country’s war-torn infrastructure. AECOM (NYSE: ACM)’s chief executive, Troy Rudd, said: “The reconstruction of Ukraine is one of the world’s greatest humanitarian and infrastructure priorities.”

Overall, the infrastructure industry is growing exponentially, and urbanization and the growing demand and desire for walkable urban cities contribute greatly towards it.

30 Most Walkable Cities In The World

30 Most Walkable Cities In The World

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Our Methodology

For our list of the 30 most walkable cities in the world, we used consensus methodology to compile a list of the most walkable cities in the world, citing walkability rankings and scores from various sources including Tourlane and WalkScore. We then mapped out the distance between the top five tourist attractions, checked for air quality using IQAir’s rankings, and analyzed the crime and safety indexes for each city using Numbeo’s rankings. Note that the higher the ranking for the safety index, the safer the city is. On the other hand, IQAir’s air quality ranking gives a higher ranking to cities with poor air quality, and a lower ranking to cities with good air quality. A ranking of 0-50 translates to excellent air quality, 51-100 translates to moderate air quality, and anything above 100 starts moving towards unhealthy air quality. Our shortlisted list comprises only the top 30 cities with good to moderate air quality levels, and high safety index scores. 

The list is ranked in descending order, going from the highest distance between the top 5 attractions to the lowest. We have also listed the walking time and discussed access to public transit and commutes and the cleanliness of the cities within our list.

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30 Most Walkable Cities In The World

30. Dubai, UAE

Distance between top five attractions: 8.8 miles

Walking time: 176 minutes

Dubai is well known for its clean streets, with over 3,000 workers and street cleaners employed by the Dubai Municipality’s Waste Management Department and tasked to clean the city’s roads, highways, and beaches daily. Index-wise, Dubai has an air quality score of 53 and a safety score of 83.78. The distance between Dubai’s top five attractions, including the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Mall, Dubai Fram, and Etihad Museum is 8.8 miles. The walking time between these destinations is 176 minutes.

Besides these, the bustling Sheik Zayed Road showcases the city’s walkability, and top-quality safety measures allow residents and tourists alike to explore areas like Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab peacefully. Walking through Downtown Dubai also provides an immersive experience, complete with luxury shopping, amazing food, and stunning views. The walk is a bit long when it comes to the city’s top attractions, but the vibrant surroundings make it worth it.  

29. Montreal, Canada

Distance between top five attractions: 8.7 miles

Walking time: 174 minutes

Montreal, Canada is also one of the most walkable cities in the world, with well-maintained sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas. The city has clean, fresh air, and a score of 17 on the IQAir air quality index testifies to this. Montreal, Canada also has a safety index score of 67.95, and efficient public transport modes like buses and an extensive metro network help with commuting.

The top 5 attractions in Montreal including Mount Royal, Montreal Botanical Garden, Biodome, Notre-Dam Basilica of Montreal, and Old Montreal are at a distance of 8.7 miles from each other, which makes for a longer walk.

28. Toronto, Canada

Distance between top five attractions: 7.4 miles

Walking time: 148 minutes

Toronto has many sidewalks and a grid-like structure which helps emphasize the city’s walkability. The city has excellent air quality with a score of 17 on IQAir’s index and a safety score of 56.9 on Numbeo’s index, making it another great city to enjoy a walk in. Toronto’s public transit system, including the PATH pedestrian walkway, makes commuting easier.

The top attractions in Toronto are also situated close to each other, including the CN Tower, High Park, and Casa Loma.

27. Vienna, Austria

Distance between top five attractions: 7 miles

Walking time: 140 minutes

Vienna is a city in Austria with historic charm that makes you feel like you’re walking through a storybook. The pristine streets, well-maintained public spaces and the city’s commitment to cleanliness enhance its walking experience. 30% of journeys throughout the city are made on foot. The public transit system is also easy to use and includes the Wiener Linien.  Vienna also has a clean and safe environment, with a safety index score of 70.24 and an air quality score of 53.

All the main areas of the city are at a distance of only 15-20 minutes, and the city centre is flat and walkable as well. Landmarks like Schönbrunn Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral are within walking distance as well, with a maximum distance of 7 miles between the top five attractions. 

26. Shanghai, China

Distance between top five attractions: 6.6 miles

Walking time: 132 minutes

Shanghai is a vibrant city in China with a modern skyline and pedestrian-friendly areas like the Old City, Bund, and Nanjing Road. It is also known as the most walkable city in the whole of China. While the air quality in the city is only moderate, with a score of 53 on the air quality index, the city is committed to providing green spaces. Shanghai also has an extensive metro system which is both efficient and accessible. Plus, it is safe for pedestrians, with a safety score of 70.62.

Tourist attractions like the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai Tower, Yu Garden, the Bund, and Tianzifang, are all within 6.6 miles of each other, making the city easily explorable by foot.

25. New York City, New York, US

Distance between top five attractions: 6.5 miles

Walking time: 130 minutes

Ranked 25, New York City owes its walkability to the bustling streets, lively neighbourhoods and vibrant atmosphere. The city has an overall good air quality, and there are plenty of parks where you can enjoy fresh air. Safety measures and well-connected public transport make it easier to commute around the city. There are also plenty of diverse shops and restaurants around the city to make stops at while you walk. Index-wise, the city has an air quality index score of 22 and a safety index score of 50. 

From Times Square to the Empire State Building to Central Park, the top attractions in New York are easily accessible by foot, with a maximum of 6.5 miles between them. 

24. Lisbon, Portugal

Distance between top five attractions: 5.6 miles

Walking time: 112 minutes

Lisbon is another charming city with hilly streets and historic neighbourhoods. The city is very clean and has picturesque surroundings which enhance its walking experience. Air quality in Lisbon is also generally good and the city has a safety index score of 69.94. Moreover, Lisbon has an efficient public transportation system, including trams which pass through most of the city’s neighbourhoods.

The city has diverse attractions such as the Belem Tower and Castelo de S. Jorge, which are easy to walk to and offer excellent views and food. All of the top five attractions are located at a distance of only 5.6 miles from each other.

23. Jersey City, New Jersey, US

Distance between top five attractions: 4.8 miles

Walking time: 90 minutes

Jersey City, US has several waterfront paths and clean streets that make for a great walking experience. Decent air quality with a score of 27, and effective safety measures, including a safety index score of 56.75, allow for an enjoyable pedestrian experience. 

The top 5 tourist attractions in Jersey City including the Liberty Science Center, Newport Waterfront, and Liberty State Park are all within a distance of 4.8 miles from each other. 

22. Munich, Germany

Distance between top five attractions: 4.7 miles

Walking time: 94 minutes

Next on the list is Munich, one of the most walkable cities in the world, and in Germany.  Munich is home to many historical buildings and sites, modern amenities, parks, and picturesque streets. The city’s emphasis on cleanliness makes for a great walking experience, although the air quality in the city is on the moderate side with a score of 56. Munich also has an easily accessible public transport system which includes buses, trams, S-Bahn, and U-Bahn.

The city’s top attractions are closely connected, including Marienplatz and the English Garden which are within walking distance. Also, Munich has a safety score of 78.89, which contributes significantly to its place on the list. 

21. Reykjavik, Iceland

Distance between top five attractions: 4.4 miles

Walking time: 88 minutes

Walking in Reykjavik, Iceland is a unique experience due to the city’s mural-covered streets and beautiful architecture. More importantly, Reykjavik has excellent air quality due to the city’s eco-friendly initiatives, giving it an air quality index score of 16. Reykjavik’s clean streets, well-maintained public spaces and safety score of 75.75 further ensure a peaceful environment for pedestrians.

The city’s size and structure make it easy to explore on foot and the top 5 tourist attractions including Whales of Iceland and the National Museum of Iceland are located close to each other as well. 

20. Bristol, UK

Distance between top five attractions: 4.2 miles

Walking time: 84 minutes

Located in the southwest of the UK, Bristol is known for its maritime history and cultural diversity. Bristol’s mix of historic architecture and modern developments add to the city’s beauty, making it great for walking. Bristol is also known for its unique street art, which further enhances the walking experience. 

Bristol has pedestrian-friendly zones and good air quality due to its many green spaces and eco-friendly initiatives. Index-wise, the city has an air quality index score of 17 and a safety index score of 58.31. 

19. Vancouver, Canada

Distance between top five attractions: 4.2 miles

Walking time: 84 minutes

Ranked nineteen, Vancouver, Canada is a promising city in terms of walkability with several scenic waterfronts, parks and mountains. Vancouver also has good air quality and safety, both with scores of 25 and 57.96 on the IQAir and Numbeo’s indexes respectively. The city has public transportation facilities too, such as the SeaBus and SkyTrain.

Similar to Bristol, the city’s top five destinations including Gastown Steam Clock, English Bay Beach, Canada Place, Vancouver Aquarium, and Stanley Park are located at a distance of 4.2 miles from each other

18. Budapest, Hungary

Distance between top five attractions: 4.2 miles

Walking time: 84 minutes

Budapest, Hungary is a city with grand boulevards, bridges, and thermal baths. It is a clean and safe city with well-preserved architecture that adds to the city’s beauty. Budapest also has public transport systems like trams and metros in place, which make the commute easier.

The top five attractions in Budapest are the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Hungarian Parliament Building, Heroes Square, and City Park. All five of these are located at a distance of only 4.2 miles from each other, contributing to the overall walkability of the city. Overall, even though Budapest does not have the best air quality and scores only 72 on IQAir’s list, its structure and design make up for it, along with the guarantee of safety.

17. Prague, Czechia

Distance between top five attractions: 4.1 miles

Walking time: 82 minutes

Prague, the capital of Czechia, is known for its picturesque streets, pastel-colored buildings, and historically rich architecture. The streets in the city are streets, sidewalks are wide, and turns are tight, making the city ideal for pedestrians and cyclists. Prague also has 75.43 and is a clean city with plenty of public transportation options available.

Prague’s top five destinations, including the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and the Prague Zoo, are located within 4.1 miles of each other.

16. Melbourne, Australia

Distance between top five attractions: 3.9 miles

Walking time: 78 minutes

Melbourne is known as Australia’s cultural capital and embraces walkers with its lively laneways and beautiful street art. The city’s commitment to cleanliness shows in its well-tended parks and gardens, offering peaceful spots to relax during walks. Melbourne’s walkability is enhanced by trams that crisscross through the city, allowing access to various districts.

The city prioritizes air quality and cleanliness, with an air quality score of 35, creating an environment where walkers can breathe easily. It excels in the safety domain as well, with a safety index score of 56.14. The Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Aquarium, Queen Victoria Market, National Gallery of Victoria, and the Royal Botanic Gardens are all situated within 3.9 miles of each other, and have a walking time of 78 minutes.

15. Istanbul, Turkey

Distance between top five attractions: 3.8 miles

Walking time: 76 minutes

Istanbul, Turkey is another beautiful city with a rich blend of culture, history and architecture. The city’s walkability is characterized by bazaars, narrow alleyways, and the Bosphorus waterfront. The air quality in the city is on the moderate side, with a score of 46, and is fine for enjoying outdoor activities. Istanbul also has clean streets, a safety score of 52.19 and public transport like ferries.

The top five tourist attractions you can walk to in Istanbul are the Dolmabahçe Palace, Blue Mosque, Galata Tower, Suleymaniye Mosque, and Grand Bazaar. 

14. Copenhagen, Denmark

Distance between top five attractions: 3.7 miles

Walking time: 74 minutes

The 14th ranking on the list of most walkable cities in the world goes to Copenhagen. Copenhagen is a city in Denmark with bicycle-friendly streets, canals, and pedestrian-friendly areas. The city is clean and sustainable, which shows in its eco-friendly urban planning and well-maintained public spaces. Copenhagen’s excellent air quality and safety, with a score of 31 and 73.79 respectively, create a pleasant walking experience for pedestrians. 

Tourist spots such as the Copenhagen Zoo, Tivoli Gardens, and Christianborg Palace are within walking distance, with a distance of 3.7 miles between the top five attractions in the city. 

13. Bordeaux, France

Distance between top five attractions: 3.3 miles

Walking time: 66 minutes

Ranked thirteen, Bordeaux is another walkable city known for its architecture, renowned vineyards, city squares, and historic charm. Bordeaux is also known for its cleanliness, with multiple boulevards and green areas. The city’s efficient public transport system includes trams for easy exploring.

The Place de la Bourse, Big Bell of Bordeaux, and Jardin Public are the most popular attractions in Bordeaux. The distance between all the top five attractions in Bordeaux is around 3.3 miles.

12. Liverpool, UK

Distance between top five attractions: 3.1 miles

Walking time: 62 minutes

Next on the list is Liverpool, one of the most walkable cities in England, and in the rest of the world too. Liverpool provides a well-rounded and enjoyable walking experience, showcasing the city’s musical history in its streets. It is compact and safe to walk, and its main attractions are only 3.1 miles apart. The air quality is also generally good, with the city having an IQAir index score of 33. 

The air quality, combined with the safety index score of 52.07 and a great public transport system which includes the Merseyrail underground, contribute to the city’s overall walkability. The top five attractions in the city include the Liverpool Museum, Anfield, and Cavern Club.

11. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Distance between top five attractions: 3 miles

Walking time: 60 minutes

Amsterdam is a walker’s dream, with beautiful canals, clean streets and historic architecture all around. Not only does the city have excellent air quality with a score of 21, but safety measures like well-marked pedestrian zones are also available. The city also has a network of bike lanes along with public transit which helps to enhance accessibility.

The distance between the top five attractions in Amsterdam is around 3 miles, with the most renowned ones being the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. 

Click to continue reading and see the top 10 Most Walkable Cities in the World

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Disclosure: None. 30 Most Walkable Cities in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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