The World’s Best Urban Hiking Cities

This guide to the world’s best urban hiking cities has been initially published on Hipmunik’s Tailwind Blog on April 25, 2016.

Break out your walking shoes—urban hikes are all the rage. Initially popularized by Dan Koeppel in a wildly well-received Backpacker article, urban hiking is now practiced by all kinds of people all over the world.

Let’s get one thing clear: When we say “urban hike,” we’re not just referring to a stroll toward the nearest brunch place. Urban hikes tend to follow a trail and cover a lot of terrain. Sometimes they stay within the city’s downtown limits; other times they’ll stray from the city into green space and back again. Wherever they go, they tend to offer amazing sites and scenery without straying too far from the creature comforts of civilization. Here are some of the best places to get in on the action.

Hiking cities

1. Cape Town, South Africa

Hoerikwaggo Trail interprets the “urban” in “urban hike” a little bit loosely—for the most part, it runs along the outside of the city, not through it. But you’ll have plenty of great views of the city as you traverse all or part of the 47-mile trail, which is set inside a national park. Make it up Table Mountain, and you’ll be rewarded in the form of a cable car that deposits you right in the city’s center.

2. Chicago, IL

You have two awesome urban hiking options in Chicago, and you can’t go wrong with either one of them. Hit up Lincoln Park for a seven-mile beach-front hike that offers up-close views of a nature preserve and a working farm. You can even take a break from hiking and rent a boat for a while if you’re so inclined. If you really want to feel the burn, then tackle the 18.2-mile Lakefront hike, which runs north to south from Rogers Park to Calumet Park.


3. London, United Kingdom

You could spend weeks traversing the gorgeous Thames Path Walkway, which extends along the river for 182 miles. If you walk the whole thing, you’ll start in the Cotswolds countryside before passing through central London and then on toward the coast. If you’d prefer to stay within the city, tackle the 7.5-mile stretch from Greenwich to London Bridge. Along the way, you’ll take in iconic sites such as Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London.

4. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague’s popular walking tour squeezes in more historical sites than possibly all the other entries on this list combined. The so-called Royal Route follows the coronation route of Bohemian Kings, traversing its way from the Powder Tower in Old Town to the Old Town Square, across the Charles Bridge, and through the Lesser Quarter before ending at the hilltop Prague Castle. It’s an attraction-packed tour of the city that you won’t want to miss.


5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is home to something pretty spectacular: the largest urban forest in the world. Covering seven percent of the entire city, the forest is packed full of hiking trails. This isn’t a flat city park—the forest even includes mountains. Summit Tijuca Peak for the bragging rights (it’s the highest mountain in the park), or climb up Corcovado to view the much-photographed Christ the Redeemer statue.

6. San Francisco, CA

Skip the streetcar and tackle San Francisco’s hills on your own two feet. Each of thecity’s urban hikes offer stunning views. Take your pick of the litter: Hike the trails in Golden Gate Park, march across the Golden Gate Bridge, hit the stairs on Telegraph Hill, tackle the 10.5-mile California Coast Trail, or stroll between the marina and the Golden Gate Bridge if you’d prefer to avoid some of those inclines.


7. Sydney, Australia

You’ll need more than a day to traverse Sydney’s Great Coastal Walk—in fact, you’ll need seven of them. It’s well worth the time (and energy) investment: The week-long trek passes along the entire length of Sydney’s coastline, from Barrenjoey in the north to Cronulla in the south. If the length intimidates you, feel free to hike whatever portion of the trail feels manageable. No matter how much you see, you’re bound to catch a glimpse of sandstone cliffs, native bushland, and gorgeous beaches.

8. Vancouver, Canada

For diverse architecture and ecological features, head to Vancouver. Stick to city views by taking the peninsula trail, or enjoy views of water, mountains, and the city’s skyline while hiking the 13.6-mile waterfront Seawall walk, which runs along the edge of popular Stanley Park. Tackle the trail in any direction; no matter where you start (or finish), you’ll have yourself a ball.

Inspired? How could you not be? Then it’s time to dust off your sneakers, book your flight, and prepare to see some amazing sites—all from the vantage point located right above your own two feet.

10 Comment to “The World’s Best Urban Hiking Cities”

  1. Stefan says:

    So pleased to see my home city (London) featured here 🙂 Didn’t realise there were so many urban walks around the world but of course it now makes sense and definitely something I’m going to be looking out for in Rio and Prague when I visit later this year 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to any of these cities! We love to hike no matter where we are. Cape Town and Vancouver look like they would be my favorites.

  3. Vicki Louise says:

    Love to see London and Cape Town on this list – London being my home and Cape Town the site of my next big adventure. I’ll definitely be doing the urban hike whilst I’m there!

  4. anna says:

    Been to 5 of these cities and absolutely love them! Even if I’m not a city person!! Prague is absolutely gorgeous and is one of my favorite cities to wander around.

  5. Kathrin says:

    I’ve walked the Thames Path Walkway (the part in the city center) quite a few times and it’s just such a lovely walk. Definitely recommend it. I’d also love to try out some of your other recommendations, especially the Great Coastal Walk in Sydney.

  6. “When we say “urban hike,” we’re not just referring to a stroll toward the nearest brunch place.” I love this! Very funny! Prague is a fantastic city to hike and wander. I do think urban hiking is a bit of a hidden gem. I live in NYC and visitors don’t usually think of hiking when they’re here. But, there are some amazing paths, routes, and green spaces. Not to mention the walking/biking path along the rivers.

  7. Bianca says:

    That photo from Cape Town is amazing! Next time I’m there, I’ll definitely go hiking. Also, I’d never thought of London as a hiking place, the way from Greenwich to London Bridge seems like a great way to see the city.

  8. Tess Andrade says:

    Oh yes I remember those veeeery long walks in London – A friend of mine and I anaged to walk across the city for about 3-4 hours. It was fantastic! The Thames Path Way is absolutely fantastic — on a beautiful summer’s day like it was today….unbeatable! 🙂 Thank you for the awesome recommendations!

  9. Jo says:

    I just got back from Cape town – didn’t do the entire hike up the Table mountain – just took the cable car to/fro (lazy traveler way this time haha). There are other good places to hike too like I heard people go upto the Chapman’s peak – There does seem to be a lot of hiking to do in and around Cape so I am glad to see it on this list.

  10. My family and I are New Yorkers and we absolutely love walking and hiking around cities. There’s so much to see and learn just by walking. I’m definitely going to do the walk you suggested for London while I’m here.

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