Flat, paved, and picturesque—that’s just how my feet, in strappy sandals, like it. At least when on the island of Capri, off Italy’s Amalfi Coast, where I was dressed more for Prosecco sipping than a heart-pounding trek. The Via Tragara, an enchanted pathway that snakes from bustling Capri Town to the vista point at Belvedere Tragara, provided the perfect mid-morning stroll for a traveler with a digital camera and a twitchy index finger. Within three minutes, I’d left the crowds behind and stumbled upon a cinematic paradise: tangerine and magenta bougainvillea, whitewashed villas with glimmering pools, and every now and then, tantalizing glimpses of the azure vista.
That’s the beauty of the scenic amble:—it frees the mind and awakens the spirit. Writers from Wordsworth to Whitman waxed poetic about the joys of trekking. “Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect to ever see,” said Henry David Thoreau, who never tired of his daily constitutionals.
Luckily for modern wayfarers, most cities—Vancouver, Hong Kong, Sydney, and San Juan among them—have pedestrian pathways that allow visitors to swap honking horns and bus tours for cool sea breezes and self-guided jaunts, set to the rhythm of their own footfalls.
“Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the most livable cities in the world, and a big reason for that is how walkable we are,” says city mayor Gregor Robertson. In fact, Vancouver has more than 13.7 miles of paved paths along its waterfront. “Exploring the city by foot allows you to get to know different neighborhoods and interact with people in a way that you can’t do if you’re driving.”
In Newport, RI, the 3.5-mile seaside Cliff Walk—designated a National Historical Trail in 1975—now provides public access to one of the most stunning pathways in the Northeast. But the walk is more than just visually appealing. “It serves as an important social space for the city, where locals and tourists can connect,” says Susan Cooper, former director of the Newport Recreation Department.
Pack a comfy pair of shoes and discover the world’s most breathtaking views on one of these 14 walking itineraries.