The most walkable British cities for visitors

February 15, 2023



Step to it: The most walkable British cities for visitors

There’s no better way to truly explore a new location than on foot, and it’s one of the best forms of regular exercise you can get too. But which are Britain’s most walkable cities - especially when time is short for a quick city break? New research by online travel experts has ranked the 20 most-visited British cities by their walkability.

York is Britain’s most walkable city for visitors, new research has found.

Hotel booking experts have crunched the numbers to find which of the nation’s most popular cities for holidaymakers can be enjoyed  without needing access to transport. York’s size, cultural variety, greenness and amenities saw it come out on top, ahead of Brighton, Bath, Bristol and London which all made the top five.

The analysis looked at the 20 most-visited cities in Britain and applied pedestrian-friendly criteria to each of them to find out how much you could cram in on foot. They were scored on how many four and five-star rated attractions they offer per square mile, levels of air pollution, how much greenery there is, the number of central hotels to choose from and the Walk Score* of the city centre -  a measurement of how easy it is to complete most errands, like grocery shopping or getting a coffee, on foot.  

Historic York ranked first overall for both the accessibility of its attractions and the variety of central hotels a visitor could pick from. It was fourth on the list for its levels of air pollution and how much greenery - including trees and parks - it has, and fifth for its Walk Score, putting it out in front overall.

At the other end of the table, Glasgow, Cardiff, Newcastle, Coventry and Manchester scored the lowest, but still offer plenty to visitors who might be prepared to put a few more steps in to see what they have to offer.

Bristol was the greenest city on the list, ahead of Cambridge and Oxford, while Brighton had the lowest levels of air pollution, just ahead of Inverness and Cambridge. London and Bath were second and third, behind York, for the number of highly-rated things to do per square mile, while Leeds and Brighton both scored the maximum 100 for their walk scores.

See the full breakdown here:

Matt Fox, CEO and co-founder of, said: “UK city breaks are as popular as ever and, with spring around the corner, impromptu weekends away offer a great way to see and experience somewhere new.

“Getting to see all of the best sights somewhere has to offer in a short space of time can be hard work, but doing it on foot guarantees you’ll see so much more and stay active in the process too. All of Britain’s varied and historic cities offer something different and you can pack so much in without needing to set foot on a vehicle in almost all of them.”


Methodology and sources

Cities were scored on multiple criteria considered important to enabling a positive pedestrian experience to produce a final overall ranking. Data was taken from Visit Britain for the 20 most visited towns and cities, for the number of hotels listed as ‘central’ to each area, using a central postcode for each location, TripAdvisor for four-star and above rated ‘things to do’, the WHO Ambient Air Quality Database for air pollution based on mean annual concentration of nitrogen dioxide levels, and a University of Sheffield research study ranking urban greenery.

*Walk Score is an interactive tool which gives a mark, out of 100, for any given location or postcode based on how walkable the routes are to a range of nearby amenities.