In this article, we shall discuss the 20 most walkable cities in Europe. To skip our detailed analysis of the global urban planning and infrastructure industry in 2023 and its relationship with economic development, go directly and see 5 Most Walkable Cities in Europe.
It has been widely known for decades that sound infrastructural development is an absolutely critical predeterminant for stable economic growth and progress. According to a research paper by the Brookings Institution, good infrastructure facilitates seamless trade, powers economic activity, connects workers and ensures their physical and mental wellbeing thereby encouraging maximum output from labor, creates opportunities for struggling communities, and proves to be a reliable safeguard for states in an increasingly volatile natural and geopolitical atmosphere, especially in some of the most walkable cities. The paper outlines that more than sixty million people globally have jobs in fields directly related to infrastructure. From locomotive engineers and electrical power line installers, to road and construction workers, infrastructure jobs account for more than eleven percent of the United States' workforce. According to an estimation by PwC, the global infrastructure industry is well positioned for significant growth, with a current valuation of $2.57 trillion as of 2023. It is projected to reach $3.48 trillion by 2028, at a CAGR of 6.27% during the forecast period 2023-2028. Some of the most prominent players in the global infrastructure industry are Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC), Eaton Corporation plc (NYSE:ETN), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP). To read about more players which are dominating the infrastructure industry in 2023, check out our article on the 10 Best Infrastructure Stocks to Buy Now.
Infrastructure Industry in 2024: Emerging Trends
According to a report by KPMG, 2023 is likely to serve as an inflection point for infrastructural development and economic progress. One of the primary trends emerging within the industry as a shift towards territorialism and the transformation of allegiances. The report highlights that the world is currently seeing a conscious pull away from geopolitical consensus with numerous fracture points now emerging - whether it be on regional lines, political lines, trade lines, or economic lines - and are significantly degenerating the advancements made by globalization. However, there is still some optimism around the fact that infrastructure may be one of those areas where common ground and consensus can still be achieved as people on all sides of the political spectrum can agree that there is a profound requirement for new and improved infrastructure. In a political environment where institutional trust is at its lowest ebb ever, infrastructural development has the potential to be the tissue that connects people and renews their faith in the government. For global infrastructural players like Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC), Eaton Corporation plc (NYSE:ETN), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP), this fracturing to continuously shift allegiances is proving to be an incredibly significant roadblock with traditional supply chains now seeming as the riskier option. Prices seem to be more volatile and regulation much more fragmented. Hence, these infrastructure players are adapting by keeping their new geopolitical and supply chain security lenses on a pivot, and increasing their awareness and adaptability capabilities, especially in relation to the most walkable cities in Europe and America.
According to a report by PwC, the resumption of travel, supply chain turbulence, and drastic shifts in consumer behavior are beginning to impact every sector of the infrastructure industry. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in public transport and road infrastructure usage, causing demand and revenues to skyrocket in the aftermath of 2022. Furthermore, the pandemic shifted much of the labor force to remote conditions, which has consequently impacted other related industries like real estate. The shift from mass mobility to micro-mobility is now on the backward trend, which is also a significant determinant in all future infrastructure planning. Within such a precarious and complex climate, players within the infrastructure industry have now been contemplating localized supply chain. The effects of these rapid shifts are likely to be seen in operational resilience, technology adoption, affordability, and sustainability. Companies like Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC), Eaton Corporation plc (NYSE:ETN), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP) have already introduced new assessment criteria such as responsiveness, adaptability, and resilience to complement existing parameters such as cost and quality. They have also deployed supply chain visibility tools which provide transparency into capacity restrictions. Furthermore, companies are ramping up investments in technology in order to develop predictive models for proactive scheduling and dynamic planning which in turn, account for uncertainties and risks. To read more on some of the trends currently affecting the infrastructure industry in 2023, check our our coverage of the 10 Best Infrastructure ETFs.
Walkability and Infrastructure Development: An Analysis
Urban sprawl and the rampant growth of population in urban centers across the world have given rise to concerns regarding sustainable transportation solutions which preserve the convenience of the consumer, disperse pressure on existing infrastructure, and meet sustainability targets, thereby ensuring maximum convenience for pedestrians in some of the most walkable cities in the world. Hence, walkability is a critical juncture which can prove to be an advantageous prospect in three main areas, primarily with respect to health, economic progress and sustainability. Some of the traditional players within the infrastructure industry like Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE:VMC), Eaton Corporation plc (NYSE:ETN), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP) have begun to adopt walkability is an important urban solution thereby releasing conceptual and practical tensions with respect to transport infrastructure.
According to a report by McKinsey, more than sixty percent of the global population is likely to be residing in urban centers by 2030, up from 49% in 2023. Within the same period, more than 2 billion people are likely to be knocking at the door of the middle class, with a majority of them residing in emerging markets like China and India. The report warns that existing infrastructure will not be able to support such a massive shift in global demographics with congestion already being a substantial problem in many of the major cities across the world. Companies have often cited lack of sustainable infrastructure as one of their primary reservations when considering new market entries. Hence, investing in walkability solutions in a bold, coordinated manner from the public and private sector could prove to be a game changer for the industry. Pedestrian zones are not an entirely new concept; however, greater investments in such a direction can prove to have incredibly positive implications for urban mobility in the most walkable cities in the world. Cities across the world are opening car-free zones for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists.
To compile our list of the 20 most walkable cities in Europe, we decided to undertake a consensus-based approach using a diverse variety of credible sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). We then shortlisted more than 50 European cities which appeared most frequently during our research. Since walkability is an incredibly multifaceted and complex phenomenon, we established a three-pronged criteria to measure the walkability of each city; the criteria is premised on each city's pedestrian infrastructure (20 points), urban design (15 points) and environment and activities (10 points). Data on each city's pedestrian infrastructure and urban design was obtained through Eltis. Safety was ascertained through the local police department's records of each city. We then proceeded to award each city a cumulative score according to the aforementioned criteria and selected 20 cities which scored the highest points. Subsequently, we ranked each entry based on the total points scored, from lowest to highest. Where there was a tie, we broke it based on pedestrian infrastructure development in the respective cities.
To read more on walkable cities in a different region, check out our article on the 15 Most Walkable Cities in the US.
20 Most Walkable Cities in Europe
20. Berlin, Germany
Total Score: 11
Even though Berlin is huge in terms of area, it is extremely convenient to walk around the city because of its flat geography and strong pedestrian infrastructure. Since the city has iconic landmarks, it makes the walk more enjoyable and pleasant, making Berlin one of the most walkable cities in Europe.
19. Rome, Italy
Total Score: 11
Walking around the city is considered the ideal way to travel around Rome especially owing to its robust urban design. It is advisable for tourists to split their walk over a couple of days to make the tour more admirable.
18. Dublin, Ireland
Total Score: 13
All of Dublin’s famous attractions are at a walking distance from each other indicating a strong urban design, which makes it easier for the tourist to visit them in one day. Dublin is also extremely safe.
17. Oxford, England
Total Score: 14
Oxford is rich in terms of history and architecture and this is translated in its landmarks. Since it is a small city with a strong pedestrian infrastructure, it makes our list of the most walkable cities in Europe.
16. Istanbul, Turkey
Total Score: 15
Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe because of its architecture, variety in food, and richness in history. This makes it one of the most walkable cities in Europe.
15. Munich, Germany
Total Score: 17
One of the main activities in Munich is to walk around the city to explore it and visit its main attractions. Many people prefer to travel on foot around the city due to its efficient infrastructure that favors the pedestrians.
14. Cinque Terre, Italy
Total Score: 18
Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Pedestrians can enjoy the walk along the Mediterranean Sea. Even though the inclines are a little steep, walking is a necessity in Cinque Terre as the city is a collection of small towns which are connected by narrow lanes.
13. Salzburg, Austria
Total Score: 21
Despite the weather, Salzburg is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. As it is a small city, people find it convenient to walk around they city to reach their destinations. Many of its iconic landmarks are also close by.
12. Milan, Italy
Total Score: 21
It is quick and convenient for pedestrians to walk around Milan as the roads are flat and largely accessible for them. People walk around the city for sightseeing or to indulge in a shopping-spree.
11. Seville, Spain
Total Score: 22
Seville has designed its roads in a way that it facilitates pedestrians. Since the city is vibrant and walkable, many people prefer to walk around the city to admire its culture through its architecture and food.
10. Madrid, Spain
Total Score: 23
Madrid has numerous parks around the city, including El Retiro Park, which makes it easier for the pedestrians to aimlessly wander around the city while appreciating its art and architecture. The efficient pedestrian infrastructure makes Madrid one of the most walkable cities in Europe.
9. Prague, Czech Republic
Total Score: 26
Prague is one of the best cities to explore on foot due to its limited size and numerous attractions and is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. Many pedestrians like to climb atop of the Prague Castle, even though the inclination is extremely steep.
8. Brugge, Belgium
Total Score: 28
Brugge is one the most picturesque walkable cities in Europe. The geography of the city is flat to facilitate pedestrians. The historic architecture in the city makes the walk more pleasant and enjoyable.
7. Porto, Portugal
Total Score: 31
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Pedestrians can walk by the Douro River while enjoying the view. Since many of the main sights in the city are located within the historic center, it is easier for pedestrians to explore the attractions on foot.
6. Edinburgh, Scotland
Total Score: 34
Edinburgh is one of the most walkable cities in Europe, especially during the winters. Despite some inclines, many people prefer to travel on foot around the city. Since most of its iconic landmarks are close by, it is easier to walk around the city to explore. Edinburgh is number 6 on our list of the most walkable cities in Europe.
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Disclosure: None. 20 Most Walkable Cities in Europe is originally published on Insider Monkey.