Urban Walking Tours
Lace up your walking shoes. Below, the best book, audio, and group tours in pedestrian-friendly cities worldwide.
Book: The anecdote-filled Boston Foot Notes: A Walking Guide (Saben Books), by Jane Grossman and Felice Yager, follows five popular beats, from Back Bay to Charlestown. (www.bostonfootnotes.com)
Audio: The free Boston Freedom Trail Audio Tour (www.boston.com) guides visitors through 21/2 miles and 14 historic sites in the cobblestoned city.
Group: Visit the culinary markets of the North End's Little Italy (www.northendmarkettours.com) with Boston resident and professional chef Michele Topor.
Book: In San Francisco As You Like It (Ulysses Press), native Bonnie Wach lays out 23 eclectic routes tailored to everyone from shopaholics to culture-seekers.
Audio: Ten Toe Tours (www.tentoetours.com) puts four San Francisco neighborhoods in historical context; the "Summer of Love" trek captures the Haight-Ashbury of 1967.
Group: The nonprofit City Guides (www.sfcityguides.org) offers both traditional and provocative free tours; "Bawdy & Naughty" celebrates the city's "professional women."
Book: The two volumes of London Walks (Time Out) smartly pair local writers with their home turf and offer insights well beyond the usual guidebook fare.
Audio: Stories of scandals, triumphs, and riots abound on the Rough Guides "Literary London" iToor (www.itoors.com), which pays tribute to John Lennon and Oscar Wilde, among others.
Group: Original London Walks (www.walks.com) offers straightforward neighborhood jaunts alongside the more exotic—such as the "Slice of India" tour.
Book: The Great Paris WalkPack (The Great WalkPack Company), five foldout neighborhood walks, is so inconspicuous, you'll almost pass for a local.
Audio: Soundwalk Paris: St.-Germain-des-Prés is an hour-long tour of romance and intellectualism in the City of Light, with stops at cafés, antiques shops, and jazz dives.
Group: Paris Addict's guides (33-6/09-94-09-21) accompany clients to museums and monuments and on more specialized excursions, like bespoke-shopping trips.
Book: In historian John Varriano's Literary Companion to Rome (St. Martin's Griffin), the words of poets, writers, and other artists illuminate the streets of the city.
Audio: Piazzas and the Pantheon, Michelangelo and Tartuffo ice cream are all part of the trip on the lively iJourneys (www.ijourneys.com) tour of Old Rome.
Group: With an emphasis on the scholarly, Context: Rome (www.contexttravel.com) offers private and small-group tours led by historians and archaeologists.
Book: Singapore-based architect G. Byrne Bracken's Walking Tour, Hong Kong (Times Editions) examines the city's landmark buildings, both traditional and modern.
Audio: Visitors with a tri band–capable cell phone can access Mobile Adventures' freewheeling Walk the Talk guides (www.walkthetalk.hk) to Tsim Sha Tsui and Central.
Group: Local historian and writer Jason Wordie (www.jasonswalks.com) runs 12 colorful, anecdote-filled tours through neighborhoods like Causeway Bay and Wanchai.
Book: Diane Durston's Old Kyoto (Kodansha America) is a classic, though newly updated, tome for travelers interested in exploring the city's stores, restaurants, and ryokan.
Audio: Acoustiguide's (www.acoustiguide.com) well-produced and comprehensive (150 stops in all) Kyoto walks are available for rent at hotels throughout the city.
Group: Personalized tours and an expert's insight are the hallmarks of Chris Rowthorn's walks (www.chrisrowthorn.com)—not surprising from the Lonely Planet Kyoto author.