Driving in most cities is not always a convenient activity. Also, prices tend to be much higher in the metro than in the inner towns. So if you’re taking a vacation or planning to move to a new city, you may consider these 10 of the most affordable walkable cities in the world.
What makes a city “walkable”
Known as the “pedestrian paradise”, walkable cities stand out for one thing: being walk-friendly. So why is this such a big thing? Many cities in the world are crowded and mired with chronic traffic flow. The pollution, chaos, and sea of people make these cities unconducive for walking – be it for tourists and locals.
The most affordable walkable cities are where you can take a stroll while enjoying safety and accessibility. Also, cities like these have clear footpaths and an established pedestrian right-of-way.
Based on Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, a city is walkable if it considers people or pedestrian as the center of their design, not automobiles. Also, they add that designing a city or community based on walkability allows us to develop a more vibrant, mobile, and eco-friendly spaces.
Also, many countries and organizations use the patented Walk Score Methodology. Under this method, the city’s walkability will be gauged based on the distance of the amenities where maximum points are given to those that will only take a 5-minute walk. You can check the full metrics here:
TOP 10 MOST AFFORDABLE WALKABLE CITIES
1. Budapest, Hungary
Affordable and walkable, the so-called ‘Grandeur on the Danube’ is so far the most walk-friendly city in the world. Walking in the capital isn’t just comfortable; it’s also exciting with the flamboyant architecture and history.
Cost of living is also low in Budapest, considering that it’s located in Europe and surrounded by major attractions. They also have a fun nightlife that keeps it an interesting place for tourists.
Aside from its walkable streets, Budapest is also home to many gorgeous hot springs. You’ll find a generous number of bathhouses in the city that comes in different styles like modern and Turkish.
The city takes pride in their walkability that many organizations give free walking tours to tourists. They cover major city attractions throughout the day. Still, you should book early to secure a slot.
Aside from the friendly and calm surroundings, eating and staying in Budapest wouldn’t break your bank. In fact, a basic lunch with drinks on the business district will only cost around $7. A bottle of wine is just $6 and bread for two people in one day costs a pocket change.
2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Unlike the bustling and crowded Bangkok, Chiang Mai offers a calm and laidback experience to tourists. It shares the colorful culture of the country where you can relax and recharge away from the busy city life.
Although surrounded by superhighways, Chiang Mai remains to be a sleepy neighborhood with a lush green countryside. It’s also dotted with cultural villages, waterfalls, and pristine rainforests.
The food is also a gastro adventure. Thailand is known for its exotic and oriental flavors that attract many tourists. Zooming in to Chiang Mai, you’ll get to taste their popular Khao Soi or curry egg noodles and Khao Kha Moo or braised pork trotter.
So is Chiang Mai expensive? As an Asian city in the countryside, prices are always at bargain levels here. A basic lunch downtown costs roughly $5 and a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant is just $7.
Vibrant and cheap – Chiang Mai is definitely a must-see.
3. Buenos Aires, Argentina
If there’s one thing you should do when visiting Buenos Aires, it would be walking. Even if it’s the center of the country, Buenos Aires remains walkable and friendly to pedestrians. It’s the city where Latin beauty meets the European grandeur.
The capital boasts magnificent architecture, although some parts have bland concrete walls. Also, you shouldn’t miss the French-Italian style palaces that dot the area.
Traditional neighborhoods in Buenos Aires are adorned with murals and street art from the locals.
At night, Buenos Aires doesn’t sleep. Hardcore party-goers will not show up until 4 am. Most restaurants here are open until late at night, ready to serve a wandering tourist.
For the price, it’s much cheaper than Budapest and even Chiang Mai. A basic lunch will cost you around $4.5 or if you want, a fast food combo meal for just $5. Shopping around won’t hurt your pocket as long as know how to manage your budget.
A big plus for Buenos Aires is their high LGBT friendliness score on many travel websites.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Many tourists who’ve gone to Prague tell us that it’s the Paris of Central Europe. Well, it has an underrated beauty surrounded by castles and centuries-old churches. The spectacle called Prague is also one of the walkable cities in the world.
It’s safe to take a stroll, even in the early hours of the night. The locals are also friendly to foreigners. And the beer? Boy, it’s the best in entire Europe.
Aside from that, Prague is also a magnet to artists. Its museums have the allure of Louvre. It also offers a bohemian touch, starting from the altarpieces in the Convent of St. Agnes and the artworks of Alfons Mucha.
Take note that in Prague, beer is the quintessential drink. You’ll find numerous breweries along the area through a local walking tour.
Prague isn’t just welcoming of tourists; the city is also friendly to your pocket. Combo meals and basic lunches in the city cost around $6 to $7. In fact, every basic supply here won’t cost you more than $10 per piece. As much as there are many upscale places in the capital, it’s still an excellent place for tourists on a budget.
5. Krakow, Poland
Walking in Krakow is probably one of the most visually fulfilling activities you can do during your stay. The city has towering architecture that dates back to the 12th century, the St. Mary’s Basilica, for example.
You can feast your eyes on this stunning architecture that dots the city. You can find all of Europe’s best architectural styles in Krakow, including Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and art nouveau.
Although Krakow is no longer Poland’s capital, it’s still the cultural capital that attracts millions of tourists every year. Their walkable streets and relatively low cost of living contribute to the beauty of the place.
Krakow is where film, literature, dance, and music are celebrated. For artists, this is the paradise in a country with a very dark past.
Take note that your Krakow stay wouldn’t be complete unless you’ve tasted Pierogi and vodka. Though not as cheap as Chiang Mai, Krakow is still manageable in terms of cost of living.
In average, a basic lunch in Krakow’s business district costs $7 to $8. It’s a tad higher than most affordable walkable cities, but it still fits the bill for travelers on a budget.
6. Shanghai, China
Yes, despite the population, Shanghai is still one of the walkable cities in the world. It’s one of the few cities in the world that remains walkable despite its bustling economy, career hubs, and population.
Although Shanghai is an image of skyscrapers, it’s also home to a treasure chest of modern architecture. The city is adorned with art deco buildings, which are the remnants of the early 1900s era.
Even as one of the most populous cities in China, Shanghai still ranks as one of the most walkable cities. It might be hard to believe, but Shanghai is one of the perfect cities in Asia for those who love to explore on foot.
Pocket parks are scattered throughout the city. There’s also a French Concession adorned with plane trees and colonial buildings. You can also explore pop-up boutiques, vintage shops, and night markets to keep you busy.
Price-wise, Shanghai is a bit on the higher side, but still low in the general sense of the cost of living. A basic lunch in the business district costs $9. You’ll save almost half the price if you opt for a combo meal in one of the fast-food restaurants in the area.
7. Antalya, Turkey
For those who are seeking the perfect sunset in Europe, you should head to Antalya, Turkey. This city is the greatest getaway in the Turkish Riviera. Also, it boasts a strategic location right on the Gulf of Antalya.
Unlike the beach towns in Turkey, Antalya is far from the bikini-clad tourists that roam the streets. Their streets are decorated with Ottoman houses, not to mention their winding lanes that beg to be walked on.
The entire city of Antalya is wrapped with the charm of the glamorous Roman era. It offers clifftop views that let your eyes soak in the hazy-blue mountains. It’s also in close proximity to two beaches in the country.
When you go for a walk, make sure that you drop by the Antalya Museum and the Roman Harbour.
If you don’t want to go alone, you can join a daily excursion in the city. You can take part in hiking the Lycian Trail (no permits or fees needed!) or just enjoy your time in downtown Antalya exploring shops and other establishments.
When it comes to your budget, meals in Antalya cost much lower than the first 6 cities we’ve listed. A basic lunch meal in the city center only costs $3.65. Other supplies are also very affordable.
8. Sofia, Bulgaria
The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia is a laidback city which is a gateway to the country’s best ski resorts and coastal areas. It’s not a grand metropolis, but it has a youthful and modern vibe perfect for walking tours. Its winding sidewalks are a perfect path for tourists who want to explore the capital by foot.
Sofia is surrounded by Ottoman mosques, Red Army monuments, and onion-domed churches. The best way to explore the city is through walking where you can stop by the country’s finest museums, clubs, galleries, and restaurants. What more will you ask for in Sofia as one of the most affordable walkable cities.
The quiet environment makes tourists fall in love with Sofia. If you’re looking for a place to pull the plug and relax, this city is the perfect respite.
Aside from walking around the city during the day, you can hop on a club during the night. Sofia has a vibrant nightlife, but not as deafening as other bigger cities.
If you’re budgeting your pocket money, Sofia will still fit the bill. Meals and menus here are in the $7 range.
9. Kiev, Ukraine
Kiev or Kyiv is home to a creative wave and cultural revolution that has swept the country for years. In the capital of Ukraine, 24-hour parties, vintage cafes, and urban art are the main focus of day-to-day life. During the day, walking along the streets of Kiev will let you explore museums, churches, and other spectacular architecture.
Another thing on which Kiev is known for is its low cost of living. In fact, this is 21% cheaper than the Asian city of Manila in the Philippines. You can get a nice drink in one of the bars in the capital for half (or cheaper) of the price in other Western countries.
It’s also safe to walk along Kiev since the locals are friendly to foreigners and the area is usually peaceful. The hip vibe, low prices, and calm environment make it a lovely destination for tourists.
When it comes to price, you can have a basic lunch in Kiev’s city center for just $5. Other needs are also affordable, especially if you’re planning to stay for long.
10. Belgrade, Serbia
If you’re planning to explore the Danube area, Belgrade is another place that you should visit. Although the city is lively, audacious, and outspoken, it has enough space for those who want to take long walks.
You can visit Kalemegdan Park, Belgrade Fortress, and Knez Mihailova Street. If you want a dose of history, you should stop by the Church of Saint Sava, a monumental Byzantine-revival.
Also, the locals are friendly to foreigners and the city is peaceful for the most days. The Serbian capital has a good reputation among travelers, especially those who want to experience the vibrant nightlife. As one of the most affordable walkable cities, Belgrade is an interesting destination.
Although the city can get crowded during peak seasons, it’s still easy to navigate on foot. You can feast your eyes on Baroque, art deco, and nouveau architecture.
Belgrade is a bit on the higher spectrum when it comes to prices, but it’s still one of the lowest among the European countries. A basic meal will cost you $12, but a combo meal on fast food restaurants is only $5. You always have the option, plus the other goods are cheaper than in most cities.
If you have itchy feet and looking for affordable destinations, these 10 most affordable walkable cities are perfect additions to your bucket list. Even on a budget, you can enjoy a nice trip in different parts of the world. Besides, exploring the city on foot is free, not to mention the photos and experiences that you’ll collect.
What do you think of our top 10 lists? Have you visited any of these cities? Let us know below!