Back alleys can be some of the most unexpectedly lush, intimate spaces in cities around the world. Once home to Dumpsters and deliveries, these small streets are being rediscovered worldwide, as locals plant trees, install public art, plan festivals, and open shops.
"Alleys are like someone’s private diary of the city," says Daniel Toole, a Harvard Graduate School of Design alum who has studied these hidden corridors around the world. Toole’s recent book, Tight Urbanism, predicts that as metros grow denser, small spaces like alleys will become increasingly important.
Detroit’s Green Alley project, for example, demonstrated how rain gardens could beautify a blighted zone and prevent flooding, while in Montreal’s classic Plateau Mont-Royal and Villeray alleyways, neighbors are hosting happy hours and creating pop-up restaurants.
For travelers, these wide-ranging back routes are perfectly suited for urban adventures. Here are some of the best tucked-away treasures around the globe.