For many, travel means immersing ourselves in all that a destination has to offer, even in a short amount of time. There’s a tendency to pack our itineraries with as much as possible in a rigid timeline and getting from must-see to must-see as fast as we can. For most, that means a range of motorized options: private drivers, rental cars, cabs, public transports, hop-on-hop-off tours, mopeds, etc.
While each mode of transportation has its pros and cons, there’s one option many skip, but shouldn’t: walking. It should be no surprise that walking is one of the healthiest and most scenic options, and it’s cost free for our wallets and the environment. So why do we (mostly American travelers) choose other options when we have the ability to walk to the next spot on our itinerary?
When seeing and experiencing as much as possible is the goal, taking fast transportation is understandably tempting. But as buildings and sidewalks whizz by your cab window, so do stunning architecture, museums, boutiques, great restaurants and cafes, markets, and countless opportunities to interact with locals. We forget that a walking route itself can be a destination.
Take, for example, a walk from the Colusseum to Piazza Navona in Rome. One route, along Via Dei Fiori Imperiali, is 2.2 km long and would take just 27 minutes to walk (according to Google Maps), unless you stopped along the way to see:
- The Roman Forum
- Basilica di Massenzio
- Altar of the Fatherland
- Piazza Venezia
- Piazza di San Marco
- Largo di Torre Argentina (and its Cat Colony!)
- Campo dei Fiori
Along Via Dei Serpenti, the walk is slightly longer at 2.7 km and 34 minutes, but you come within steps of:
- Villa Carlo Alberto al Quirinale
- Palazzo del Quirinale
- Trevi Fountain
- The Pantheon
Health Benefit: On this walk, the average sized, 35-year-old American female would burn roughly 184 calories walking from point to point, not including touring inside each attraction.
Like Rome and many other big cities, London too has many of its top attractions within walking distance of each other. A walk from Hyde Park to the Tower of London (roughly 5 miles and 1 hour and 45 minutes total, depending on your route) takes you through or close to:
- Green Park
- St. James Park
- Buckingham Palace
- Big Ben
- London Eye
- Westminster Abbey
- Covent Garden
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Royal Courts of Justice
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theater
- Tate Modern
- Millennium Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge
Spread that walk out over a day so you can tour the sites you want to see and stop for a pint and a bite in any of the city’s great pubs, all on your own two feet.
Health benefit: The average sized, 35-year-old American female would burn roughly 568 calories walking from point to point on this walk, not including touring inside each attraction.
But walking isn’t just an ideal option in major cities and travel hotspots. Countrysides, small town main streets, even your own neighborhood all make for great areas to explore on foot. At Stonehenge, you could take the shuttle from the visitors center to the stones… or you could walk a gently rolling 1.5 mile paved road along green hills, yellow rapeseed fields and the area’s iconic sheep–the same land the builders would have walked hundreds of years ago.
In Narragansett, a small beach town in Rhode Island, you could drive to and pay to park at the beach pavilions… or you could park at State Pier No. 5 and walk just under a mile along the stone seawall, known locally just as the Wall, under its iconic Towers to the beach.
READ ALSO: Guide to Traveling Well in Rhode Island
Scenic walks like these can be found anywhere, and they beat stuffy buses and crowded parking lots any day. With an extra few minutes of planning and a little sweat, getting around your destination–and your hometown–can be just as beautiful and culturally immersive as the museums, castles, restaurants and other attractions.
Please note: While we do encourage walking as much as possible, we are also aware of the health and safety concerns associated with it. We remind you to pay close attention to weather, the safety of your surroundings and your own personal abilities and limitations when planning to walk during your travels. Have a backup plan in place in case you get into a dangerous situation.
So tell us, what are some of your favorite walking routes at home or away?