Discover the joys of city walks with free, self-guided tours

Discover the joys of city walks with free, self-guided tours

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Imagine a visit to a German city that doesn’t include a visit to a market, bar, cafe or restaurant. “What’s the point?” you may ask. While we’re all anxious to get back to the trappings of everyday urban life as we once knew it, ever-changing coronavirus-busting regulations mean that what passes for normal these days remains in a state of flux. And it looks like limiting our usual indoor activities might need to continue for a while yet. So, why not take up the chance to complete a hike in an urban environment? City tourism offices, bloggers and private guides have long proposed self-guided, themed walking itineraries along set routes, providing walkers with maps and information helping them to identify sights and place what they’re seeing in context.

Next time you’re longing for a stretch of the legs and a change of scenery, all while keeping your sneakers clean, consider these options:

Heidelberg: Big Boy Travel offers free walking tour maps for a number of European cities. The company’s proposed walking tour of Heidelberg’s Old Town is a 1.5 hour, 2.2 mile traipse past sights including The Old Bridge, Church of the Holy Spirit, market square and castle grounds. Plenty of historical background, insider tips and information about entry costs to the attractions along the route make this a tour worth bookmarking.

Other cities you can explore with Big Boy Travel guides include Bamberg, Berchtesgaden, Munich, Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Mainz: The Romans, fools, prince-electors city walk proposed by the city’s official tourism office is a two to three-hour tour through the capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate. Highlights include the remains of what was once the largest Roman amphitheater north of the Alps, the baroque St. Augustine Church, and the Carnival Fountain, peopled with 200 small figures from mythology and carnival tradition.

Munich: The JuliaSomething travel blog focuses on solo travel for women. The self-guided walking tour to Munich, Germany is an easy-to-follow walk past the Bavarian capital’s top attractions including the stunning St. Michael’s Church, Marienplatz, City Hall, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbrauhaus, English Garden and Augustinerkeller.

Nuremberg: GPS my City is both a website and downloadable app offering thousands of self-guided walking tours worldwide. Let your mobile phone be your guide as its Nuremberg Introduction Walk takes you past 18 of Nuremberg’s top attractions, including its castle, town hall, Hangman’s Bridge and St. Lawrence Church.

Just some of the other places for which GPS my City can serve as your guide include Aachen, Augsburg,  Bacharach, Baden-Baden, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Berchtesgaden, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Cochem, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Essen, Esslingen am Neckar, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Goslar, Hamburg, Hamelin, Hannover, Heidelberg, Idstein, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Kirchheim unter Teck, Leipzig, Mainz, Monschau, Munich, Munster, Nuremberg, Passau, Potsdam, Quedlinburg, Regensburg, Rudesheim am Rhein, Stuttgart, Triberg and Trier.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: You’re always in good hands with European expert Rick Steves by your side. Download the free Rick Steves Audio Guide and let the master himself accompany you through one of his personal favorite towns. His walk through Bavaria’s medieval charmer takes in the market square, St. Jakob Church, convent garden and city walls. Those who like the comfort of paper in hand might want to print out the city map beforehand.

Other cities to explore in the company of the Rick Steves Audio Guide include Berlin and Munich.

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