The most walkable cities in the world

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thinkstock_56530080_586x357A major theme that will run through TEDCity2.0, our upcoming one-day conference about the future of cities: the joy of using one’s feet to get around. During the event, Janette Sadik-Khan, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, will talk about why she’s put pedestrians and bikers at the center of the department’s policy. Enrique Peñalosa, the mayor of Bogota, Columbia, will talk about his push to increase the “high-quality public pedestrian space” both in his city and worldwide. Meanwhile, the self-described “pedestrian freestylers” of Bklyn Beast, who combine parkour, capoeira and dance to incredible end, will show off a new way of walking through a city.

Jeff Speck, the author of the book Walkable City, will also be speaking at TEDCity2.0 — which will take place in New York City on September 20. (Email rsvp@ted.com for more information on attending.) We asked Speck to pick some of the cities he’s found the most delightful to explore on foot. He qualifies his picks saying, “These lists are silly and inevitably wrong, but here are the places that I’ve been to and that I’ve enjoyed walking around the most.”

  1. Venice, Italy. Proof that cities really are better without cars — also without (too many) tourists. To be avoided April through September.
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  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Yes, I’ve got a thing for canals — and bicycles. Much safer once you’ve learned how to avoid stepping into either.
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  3. Marrakech, Morocco. The one hitch to navigating this city’s bewildering medina is to know that, unlike almost everywhere else walkable, Arab urbanism includes dead ends — the result of families joining houses across streets.
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  4. Antigua, Guatemala. Along with San Miguel de Allende (and Marrakech), it is a triumph of the Courtyard House type, so each doorway reveals a hidden world. Trespassers delight.
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  5. Quebec City, Canada. In winter, it ties with New Orleans in summer. Proof that good urbanism begets walking whatever the weather.

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