When you picture great hiking trails around the world, the first things that come to mind are probably wide open spaces, steep mountains, or peaceful rainforests. There are, however, plenty of fantastic walks that can be enjoyed in the midst of cities across the globe, even the densely-populated ones you wouldn’t expect. If you love to explore a busy city on foot, or just like to stretch your legs and get your heart pumping while on holidays, you’ll be pleased to know that for many of the world’s top hikes, you don’t actually need to leave the metropolis. Read on for some of the top city hiking trails you can check out in 2015.
1. Thames Path, London
The Thames Path follows the most famous river in England for more than 180 miles, from the Cotswold Hills through to the sea. This stretch of trail passes through the heart of London along the way, with some of the finest sections of the route giving hikers a top view of the city’s highlights. Begin in Kingston-on-Thames and it’s actually two long days of walking to get to either the Tower Bridge, or to the end of the trail at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich. Along the way you can take in iconic sights such as Kew Gardens, Big Ben and Westminster, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Millennium Eye, and Battersea Park and power station. If you’re not looking to rack up too many miles during your stay, you can choose smaller sections to walk along the Path — there are plenty of transport connections from the center of London to various points along the trail.
2. Great Coastal Walk, Sydney
Australia’s most populated — and many would say prettiest — city, Sydney, is the perfect place to enjoy some outdoor adventure. The iconic harbor city serves up a multitude of activities for both adrenaline junkies and those who like to take things at a more relaxed pace. With one of the most breathtaking urban coastlines in the world, Sydney is an ideal holiday destination for those who like to stretch their legs while taking in stunning ocean, river, and National Park views. The Great Coastal Walk covers close to 60 miles of pathways, and takes around a week to complete. The Walk runs from Barrenjoey, at the tip of the Northern Beaches, through to the beachside suburb of Cronulla on the south side of the city. The trail showcases a variety of memorable sights including historical and cultural landmarks, white, sandy beaches, dramatic headlands, the Sydney Harbor and the Harbor Bridge, secluded coves and lagoons, native bushland, and sandstone cliffs. You can choose to complete day walks and then head back into your city accommodation using the convenient transport options, or finish the entire walk from start to end, staying at accommodation options along the coast as you go.
3. Berlin Wall Trail, Berlin
Completed in 2006, the Berlin Wall Trail, a hiking and cycling track, covers almost 100 miles. This walk follows the course of the Berlin Wall that used to separate West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany, until it was pulled down in 1989. The Trail was created as a mark of remembrance and to detail the history of the wall and Germany’s previous division. Along the way, walkers can read the many signposts, memorials, and interpretative boards that depict the 28-year history of the famous wall, as well as see many key points across Berlin. The path has 14 different sections, all of which are no more than 13 miles long and easily reached via public transport.
4. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
For a walk that really gets the legs working in Edinburgh, follow the 5-mile long track that stretches from Holyrood car park (behind the Scottish Parliament building) up to the city’s highest point, Arthur’s Seat. This hill walk in the heart of Edinburgh provides travelers with incomparable views of the Scottish city in all directions, as well as the pretty Holyrood Park (a former royal park) to explore. Arthur’s Seat is a rocky, volcanic summit that towers over Edinburgh and serves as a fantastic retreat from the busyness of the city.
5. Hong Kong Trail
Even though Hong Kong happens to be one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, it is still home to a number of long-distance hikes that give tourists and locals alike plenty of room to stretch their legs. The Hong Kong Trail winds its way around Hong Kong Island and covers over 30 miles. The trail leads walkers from Victoria Peak (and its breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour) to Tai Long Wan, a lovely beach and popular surf spot on the east coast. Divided into eight sections, the Trail sees hikers effectively traveling from the highest point on the island, to its lowest.