I don’t like cars. There, I’ve said it. I’m both nervous and uncomfortable driving them, and annoyed by constantly having to dodge them and breath in their fumes as a pedestrian. In most countries, drivers of motorized vehicles have no respect for pedestrians, and often for the rules of the road themselves.

So when I find a place where cars are not allowed, or at least restricted, it feels like a real treat! Without any more ado, here are five towns where pedestrians rule.

Trogir, Croatia

Trogir is a well preserved medieval town not far from Split, with narrow and twisting alleys between its stone buildings. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, displaying architecture from many different periods: Hellenistic, Roman, Renaissance, and Venetian. Walking around these echoing lanes, with home and shop doors opening up on both sides is like finding yourself in an old fashion video game. Trogir is situated on a small island between the Croatian mainland and the island of Čiovo and is accessible by crossing a bridge.

Obidos, Portugal

Obidos is a pretty walled town on a hilltop. Whitewashed houses bedecked with flowers are surrounded by a crenelated wall and castle. It is a joy to walk around, discovering its bars shops and restaurants, and having a taste of its cherry liquor served in little chocolate cups. A bus from Lisbon takes an hour and a half and leaves you just outside the wall.

Cinque Terre, Italy

These are really five villages strung up along a cliff path, but because they are usually visited as a single destination, I didn’t feel right listing them separately. The villages, linked by rail and also by a road higher up in the mountains are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. They consist of a jumble of brightly painted houses, piled on top of each other. All (except Corniglia) have a harbour, and Monterosso has a sandy beach. You can hike between all five towns along cliffs with wonderful views to the sea below.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This town is right across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires in South America. Slow and fast ferries from Buenos Aires make the trip every day and take from 90 minutes to three hours. Colonia consists of a new town, and an old colonial part. The old town is mostly car free due to its rough cobblestone streets, and this is the part most people come to see, with its combination of Spanish and Portuguese history and architecture. Many of the cars you see are actually antique car bodies parked by the side of the road, just for show. One is even used as a restaurant booth!

Muang Noi, Laos

You have to make a bit of an effort to get to Muang Noi, which is more a village than a town. It is only accessible by a one-hour ride in a long boat from Nong Khiaw, a village 4 hours by road from Luang Prabang. It consists of one main sandy road, and has electricity for 3 hours every day. The waterfront offers magnificent views of the Mekong and surrounding mountains. You can hike to nearby villages, which are even smaller than Muang Noi, and also car-free.

 Bonus town: Hallstatt, Austria

This town is not car free all the time, only from May to October (from 10 am to 5 pm) but it is so quiet and pretty that it deserves an honourable mention.

Hallstatt is a small town wedged between a lake and massive mountains that rise abruptly in the background. A salt mining village whose culture dates back to the 8th century BC, it is impossibly picturesque. The best way to get there is to take a ferry from the train station.

You want more? Check out also 5 more car-free places.

What about you? Do you know other pedestrian-friendly towns? Please share! 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email