We asked some of the internet’s best travel bloggers to contribute to this extensive Western and Central Asia’s Most Walkable Cities. These are perfect for single travellers, couples and families travelling to this lesser-known area. If you’re looking to visit Western & Central Asia but can’t decide which city is best for you, check out these fantastic entries.
Western & Central Asia’s Most Walkable Cities
One of the most beautiful cities in Eurasia is definitely Yerevan, Armenia. It is not only rich with ancient history and is older than Rome, but it is also a really comfortable city to see on foot which makes it easily one of Western & Central Asia’s Most Walkable Cities.
Built from a pink volcanic stone called tuff, Yerevan is a romantic city that is best discovered at dusk when the sun’s rays reflect off of the pinkish stones, creating an illuminating effect and letting the entire city shine a brilliant colour.
Yerevan city centre was designed by architect Alexander Tumanyan and it is easy to navigate and walk around. The streets are lined with many cafes allowing visitors to take needed breaks and relax. Tumanyan designed the centre with two circles inside each other and connecting roads that create a grid inside of the circles. It makes walking from point A to point B extremely easy.
Yerevan centre has several parks and green spaces, including an ‘Oval’ Park where you can stroll along and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Another famous walking thoroughfare in Yerevan is Northern Avenue, a relatively new street that is pedestrian-only and takes you from the Opera House to Republic Square, two essential places to visit in Yerevan.
When walking in Yerevan, be sure not to miss Saryan Street, a quiet and green street known for its wine bars. It truly is one of the best places to hang out in Yerevan. Voskevaz Wine Time, Gouroo Club & Garden, and In Vino are some popular places to drink and eat on Saryan Street.
Walking around Yerevan will get your body energized for the many day trips that you likely have ahead of you in Armenia- from the Temple of Garni to Geghard Monastery and beyond.
Written by Aram from Absolute Armenia. See more from Aram on Facebook
Things to do in Yerevan: Asia’s Most Walkable Cities
A major reason why Baku is a great travel destination is that you can visit the popular tourist attractions and also explore the culture of the old city on foot. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you can actually do a Baku city tour by merely walking the streets of this gorgeous city.
You can clearly see how the city has evolved into what it is today just by observing the architectural changes in the houses around you. Plus what helps you as a traveller are the warm and hospitable locals who, despite the language gap, try to communicate and help you experience the best of Baku. The city is walkable as there are safe pedestrian walkways and comfortable cobbled streets that give you easy accessibility to various sites.
You’ll particularly like exploring the old town of Baku called Icheri Sheher. With small gardens at the entrances and fashionable window railings, the houses strike a pretty picture. In fact, it’s not just the sights but even the smells that indicate to you a change of territory. For example, a street in Icheri Sheher has a characteristic rustic, briny smell that distinguishes it from a street in the modern part of the city.
Some of the best things to do while exploring Baku on foot are – visiting the historic Maiden Tower, shopping exclusive antiques and souvenirs at the shops in the old city, checking out the Heydar Aliyev government office centre, exploring the Baku Boulevard and touring the Carpet Museum.
While strolling along the streets in the old city, you’ll come across several local dessert shops. Here you can taste the famous Azerbaijani pastry called “Pakhlava”. Pakhlava is basically a sweet dish made from nuts, dry fruits, and honey. You can do a Pakhlava tasting and even purchase some to take back home.
Besides that, there are several restaurants in the Baku Boulevard where you can have an elaborate wine and dine affair while enjoying the stunning views of the Caspian Sea. All in all, Baku is a delightful little city with a big heart that is worth a visit!
Written by Vaibhav from The Wandering Vegetable. See more from Vaibhav on Instagram.
Stay in Baku: One Of Asia’s Most Walkable Cities
Batumi, the popular seaside resort on the Black Sea in Georgia, is one of the most walkable cities in the country and thus easily one of the most walkable cities in Western or Central Asia.
Batumi has a long seaside promenade that goes for a few kilometres – walking it is actually one of the best things to do in Batumi.
Along the way, you can admire some of the modern architecture the city is known for as well as find some funky spots like the cafe designed as a huge mosaic in Soviet times. There are many benches on the promenade for you whenever you get tired or just want to sit down and enjoy the view of the endless sea.
Another area of Batumi, perfect for wandering around, is the old town, with long, straight streets and very little traffic. You can find here many cafes, bars, and restaurants serving delicious Georgian food at affordable prices. Be sure to try the most famous local food – Adjarian khachapuri (Georgian bread in the shape of a boat with cheese and egg yolk).
The best way to explore the old town is without a map (there is no way you can get lost there) – you might be surprised how many cool spots you can find there – hidden yards, street art or beautiful art nouveau architecture. Batumi really is more than just the beach!
Written by Kami from My Wanderlust. See more from Kami on Facebook.
Things to do in Batumi
Georgia is the meeting point of Europe and Asia. Walking around the country’s capital, Tbilisi, often feels like toeing the line between two continents.
Princesses’ palaces, underground bazaars, ancient Orthodox churches, synagogues and mosques – and of course the stunning Narikala Fortress – are among the jewels you’ll encounter when navigating the winding streets of the Old Town. Meanwhile, the newer side of Tbilisi has a very different profile: modernist buildings, manicured parklands and downright whacky architecture. Somehow the two manage to blend together to create one of the region’s most distinctive skylines.
Tbilisi is quite a large city but Dzveli Tbilisi, the Old Town, is very walkable. From Liberty Square, explore the historic neighbourhood of Sololaki, known for its crumbling facades and old mansions. Stop to admire the ‘Tbilisi courtyards’ and carved wooden balconies as you make your way through Betlemi Quarter, the old Jewish neighbourhood, to Abanotubani, home to the domed roofs of Tbilisi’s sulfur baths. As you walk along the Mtkvari River, don’t miss Anchiskhati Basilica, the city’s oldest church.
Across the river, Avlabari has more architectural gems and is home to the Bridge of Peace and Rike Concert Hall, two of the city’s most distinctive modern buildings. Shota Rustaveli Avenue is one of the main streets and perfect for an afternoon stroll. When it’s spring in Tbilisi, book vendors set up outdoor stalls along the avenue and in the parks that branch off.
With innumerable nooks and crannies to explore, Tbilisi is a street photographer’s dream. Just be aware that the city is very hilly and the cobbled streets can be tough on your tootsies (definitely pack your sensible shoes). If you find the constant up and down too tiring, you can always jump in a cable car or on a funicular to save your feet.
Written by Emily from Wander-Lush. See more from Emily on Facebook.
Fancy visiting Asia’s Most Walkable Cities? Where could you stay in Tbilisi?
Isfahan in Iran was one of my favourite cities in Iran. Even though it is pretty big, it is best explored on foot. In fact, Isfahan seems to be made for pedestrians and the city’s most beautiful places are not open to traffic. This makes it one of the most walkable cities in Asia and Iran.
Let’s start with the Naqs e Jahan square. This is one of the largest squares in the world and in the evenings, families gather here for a cup of tea and a picnic. The square is home to some of Isfahan’s most historic and beautiful mosques and you could easily spend your whole day walking around here.
From the Naqs e Jahan square, you can enter the bazaar. Isfahan’s bazaar is a world on its own. The covered and narrow alleyways are always busy and crowded. With so many sights, smells and sounds around you it’s easy to miss the stunning architecture. From tiled domes to colourful mosaics and hidden shrines.
The bazaar is the best place to buy your souvenirs. You will find Isfahani carpets or qalam khari, hand-printed fabrics with floral patterns. It is also the best place to try Isfahan’s food. Don’t miss the saffron ice cream or fresh pomegranate juice.
After the bazaar you might want a more quiet and peaceful place and those are also not difficult to find. Isfahan has several beautiful palaces such as the chehel sotun palace or the hasht behesht palace. Both are surrounded by beautiful Persian gardens that are free to enter.
Other great areas to explore on foot are the Armenian neighbourhood with the beautiful Vank cathedral or along the banks of the Zayandeh River with its ancient stone bridges. You might have to walk long distances, but it is the best way to get to know the city and its friendly people.
Written by Ellis from Backpack Adventures. See more from Ellis on Instagram.
One of Asia’s most walkable cities has to be the great city of Kashan in Iran. The walking distance between all the top things to do in Kashan is close and easy. The historical houses are all clustered in one area, and they are a must-see! Incredible palaces like Taj Historical House, Tabatabaei House, and Abbasi House take you back in time to when rich families of Kashan lived in what looks like mini villages of unimaginable luxury.
From there you can walk to Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse which is truly spectacular. Walking through the interior of the bathhouse, with different bathrooms and prayer rooms.
Not far from the historical houses and the bathhouse you can get lost within the murals of the ancient city through labyrinths leading past hostels and small shops. But also past grand mosques. Among them, you find one of the finest mosques in Iran, the Agha Bozorg Mosque. While women must wear a chador to enter (you get it handed to you at the entrance free of charge) there is no fee to enter this mesmerizing religious structure.
From the mosque, it is only a few minutes walk to the bazaar which was a central point on the old desert trade route. The old bazaar also holds a beautifully ornated caravanserai which was used to sell luxury Persian carpets and they still do today.
Kashan is known for its rose water so make sure you try out some of the classical Persian dishes with rose water while you’re there.
Written by Linn from Brainy Backpackers. See more from Linn on Instagram.
Almaty, set in the foothills of Illi Alatau mountains, is the cultural hub of Kazakhstan and one of my absolute favourite cities in Central Asia. And guess what? You can actually walk around the Almaty centre to cover all the major attractions here which makes it one of western and central Asia’s most walkable cities.
From Panfilov Park in the centre, you can easily walk to the Zhibek Zholy street for some fun shopping and dining experiences. While you do have a good bus system here, most of the time you don’t need it as the popular attractions, party places and shopping areas are quite close by. Also, it is a lot of fun to walk around here as they have clean and properly designed sidewalks with trees planted throughout the city.
So, you can enjoy the cool breeze while walking around and enjoying the ambience of this Central Asian city. In fact, most of the time I stayed here, I would prefer walking around to explore the city. I would often walk from the gorgeous Zenkov’s Cathedral in the Panfilov Park to the Zhibek Zholy pedestrian street which is a popular shopping street in Almaty.
Also known as Arbat Walking Street, Zhibek Zholy street is a vehicle-free zone and is the perfect place to hang out both during the day time and the night time. At night, you will also see people performing songs together which can be quite fun to watch. You could also walk to the Almaty Central Mosque which is one of the largest mosques in Almaty and was built in 1890.
There is also the famous Zelenny Bazaar nearby which is the best local farmer’s market to buy flowers and food items. For eating, you will find several good places on Zhibek Zholy street. Personally, I love the random bakeries and food stalls here where they serve you dishes like Baursaks, Samsa, Shawarma, etc. which costs just 0.5 USD.
Trust me, you will love walking around Almaty as this city has so much to offer. From shopping to dining, everything is usually available within walking distance.
Written by Rachita from Nomllers. See more from Rachita on Instagram.
Where Can You Stay in Almaty?
One of the biggest draws to Bishkek is the city’s manageable size. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is such a fantastic base if you’re looking to explore Central Asia and the mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan.
You can explore Bishkek in one day or more depending on your flexibility. The compact capital does not have a metro or really any other comfortable way to get around aside from your own two feet, so it is the perfect place to move about at your own pace.
Bishkek is an extremely flat city with wide sidewalks and several green parks that are easy to walk along since the traffic is never too heavy and chaotic. This is great as there are many things to do in Bishkek that will keep you on your toes with every corner you turn.
It will take around three hours to walk from one side of Bishkek to another. You will likely stroll past many street murals and mosaics, heaps of Soviet architecture, and lots of friendly people. Bishkek is also home to a thriving cafe scene these days. Stop at Hygge and enjoy a nice coffee and chat with some local youngsters.
If you walk down Chuy Avenue, one of the main streets in Bishkek, you will notice many large buildings and squares. Be sure to check out the Parliament as the structure will surely blow your mind! If you’re on the hunt for some local food, head to Navat, a popular restaurant specializing in regional cuisine and it will have everything from Uzbek plov to beshbarmak.
What can you do from Bishkek
The central tourist site is the small wooden Holy Trinity Cathedral, built in 1895 to serve the small community of Russian settlers that were among the original founders of the city. Surrounding this are a handful of traditional Russian-style wooden houses, many of which date almost as far back in the city’s history, and a scattering of lovely parks and green spaces. Just a block away from the Cathedral, the Fat Cat Cafe is the best stop in town for a mid-sightseeing coffee or a late-night craft beer.
Heading further northeast, past the small Karakol History Museum (and a lovely exhibition of turn-of-the-century photography by Swiss explorer Ella Maillart), a small antique shop on the corner of Toktogul and Zhamansariev streets displays a wide collection of relics from the Soviet periods – coin collectors and fans of old cameras will be particularly impressed. Passing both the Karavan Restaurant and Cafe Zarina, both of which serve excellent local dishes, the other major tourist highlight of Karakol is just a kilometre away.
Karakol’s Dungan Mosque – built all of wood and without even a single metal nail – is the iconic building of one of Eastern Kyrgyzstan’s best-known ethnic groups. With a history reaching back a century to an escape from China, for many visitors, this group (and their food and customs) are a defining part of the Karakol experience.
Even away from the main ‘sites’ in Karakol, the city is an excellent place to wander on foot. Friendly locals and historic architecture make walking a pleasure in any direction, while endless mountain views across half the city’s horizon push travellers to walk just that little bit further.
Stay in Karakol
Truth be told, one doesn’t travel to the Northern Regions of Pakistan and the magnificent Karakoram Highway to walk in cities — frankly, Pakistan’s are busy, dusty and better negotiated from a rickshaw or riding a motorbike. Even Gilgit, the main township in Gilgit-Baltistan, is not a gem in terms of town planning but its eastern sister Skardu is different. Set not far from the beginning of the K2 trek and next to a magnificent cold high-altitude desert, taking a walk down Skardu’s main road is an experience to be savoured.
There’s not much but a straight main road that crisscrosses the city of Skardu but it’s the many side roads filled with bazaars and artisan boutiques, not forgetting the very friendly local people, that make a walk in Skardu’s city centre a real delight.
The last time I went, a couple of locals stopped me to invite me for tea whilst another man with an enormous beard rocked in front of me, stopped in his heels and smiled before saying “welcome to Skardu”. Wherever I went, it was a similarly friendly and welcoming vibe.
The best thing to do is to walk from the city centre out to the town limits and up to the ruins of Karpocho Fort, located up a steep mountain you can climb in about 20 minutes. The views from the top at 2500-meters of height are sublime, as they tower above the confluence of the Indus and Shigar rivers, with the dunes of Shigar’s Cold Desert visible in the distance.
Another great walk from the town is up to the rock face where the Manthal Buddha is carved — that’s a unique relic from the Southern Silk Road that connected Hindustan to China, a route along which Buddhism spread into Tibet and China.
Written by Marco from Monkey Rock World. See more from Marco on Facebook.
Visit Skardu, one of Asia’s Most Walkable Cities.
Travellers largely look to Tajikistan in terms of road trips along the Pamir Highway or epic treks like the Fann Mountains’ Kulikalon Lakes Hike. It takes many visitors by surprise, then, that the capital city of Dushanbe is an eminently pleasant place to spend a few days between travel in the country’s rural areas or as a soft landing upon entering the country.
Dushanbe’s long main avenue – named Rudaki after the 8th-century Persian poet of the same name – is a pleasant tree-lined stroll past several of the city’s most important cultural centers like the Opera and Ballet Theater, Museum of National Antiquities, Presidential Palace, and several major universities. The area also hosts many of the city’s best restaurants – the Rohat Teahouse is a particular standout for local Tajik and wider Central Asian dishes, and the décor is somehow fancy and retro all in one. Just west of this central artery is the large Rudaki Park – a manicured green space dotted with items of architectural and cultural interest – including the modern National Museum of Tajikistan and a 165m flagpole (the world’s tallest until it was beaten by Jeddah in 2014).
Outside the centre are neighbourhoods that alternate between traditional and modern – an interesting perspective on the state of the country – and to the northeast the covered Makhrgon Market. Originally a traditional-style bazaar, all winding lanes and chaos, the market has been rebuilt in recent years to be a light-filled and airy space that’s all very clean and controlled. It’s a pleasant experience and nice for a wander, though it does lack some of the frenetic energy found elsewhere in Central Asia. The contrast – particularly between the traditional homes just behind the market and the modern new building of the bazaar itself – is emblematic of so much of Dushanbe and Tajikistan, and exploring those changes as they happen is much of the joy of walking across the city.
Written by Stephen from Asia-Hikes. See more from Stephen on Instagram.
Book your accommodation in Dushanbe here
One of my favourite things to do in Bukhara is to walk around the city streets and discover new places. The two-thousand-years-old town is one of the best-preserved Islamic cities of Central Asia, located along the Silk Road trade route. Its historic centre has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site, and this makes it one of western and central Asia’s most walkable cities.
One of the top places to visit in Bukhara is Po-i-Kalyan, the Islamic complex that consists of Kalan Mosque, Kalon Minaret and Mir-i-Arab Madrasa (Islamic school). If you want to see the complex from above while sipping some local chai (tea), I recommend you to go to Bukhara Chasmai Mirob restaurant, just opposite the street. The outdoor shaded tables offer an amazing view of the whole complex and if you are hungry, you can try traditional manti (dumplings).
When walking around Bukhara, don’t forget to visit the Bukhara fortress, the Ark of Bukhara. At least, hang around the sand-coloured walls. This is where the old meets with new – modern buildings border with the 5th-century fort.
Just across the street, there is a beautifully decorated Bolo Haouz Mosque. If you’ve been to other cities in Uzbekistan, you might need a small break from the tiles and the wooden mosque offers a different cultural example of this part of Central Asia.
There are many more interesting places to see in Bukhara, and you can find them while strolling along the narrow streets of the old town.
Written by Aga from Worldering Around. See more from Aga on Facebook.
Things to do in Bukara
Khiva, the ‘newest’ of the great Uzbek cities, dates mostly in its current incarnation from the 17th-19th centuries. The last of the great monuments were put in place in 1910, only seven years before the revolution in Russia swept the Bolsheviks to power, signalling the end of the Khiva Khanate with the creation of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Some travel blogs and guidebooks to Central Asia seem to describe Khiva as somewhat underwhelming, perhaps even disappointing. But as I walked into the old city, Ichon-Qala, from the north gate, walking past the mud-brick houses to the approaching monuments, the feeling of anticipation grew with every step.
And when the great mosques and madrassas revealed themselves one after another – monumental arched brick structures with blue-tiled decoration set against an equally deep blue sky – I actually felt rather overwhelmed. The size of all the structures and the sheer volume of them contained within the walls of the old city (16 madrassas, five imposing minarets and numerous mosques) is extremely impressive, and it’s hard to see how anyone could really think otherwise.
The main problem people have with Khiva is that it’s a ‘museum-city’ and seems like a ghost town, without any real people living in it. But the explanation for a lack of a real city vibe around the monuments is pretty obvious. The area is not, and never has been, a residential one for common people, only for the khans. In the northern part of the old city, away from the monuments, there are plenty of old houses and people going about their daily lives – you just need to wander around a bit to find it.
And while there is undoubtedly some loss of ambience in the fact that all the old mosques are now museums and not active places of worship, this doesn’t change how architecturally impressive and beautiful to look at they are. Khiva boasts a fabulous concentration of centuries-old Islamic architecture, and wandering around the town on foot is a joy. Specific structures to look out for inside the snaking city walls include the Kuhna Ark, the Islom-Hoja minaret and the mausoleum of Mohammed Rakhim II. These monuments and many others all sit within an area of less than three square kilometres, making Khiva immensely walkable.
Contributed by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan. See more from Wendy on Facebook.
Things to do in Khiva
Samarkand is one of the best highlights of a 10-day trip to Uzbekistan, and one of the finest gems of Central Asia. A really great thing about this city is that almost all of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other, and you also get a better glimpse of local life by exploring it on foot. Samarkand easily qualifies as one of the easiest cities to explore by foot and one of Asia’s Most Walkable Cities.
Some of the best things to do in Samarkand include visiting the Registan, where you can easily spend an entire day. Aside from admiring the magnificent architecture there, you can also watch a traditional concert inside the square in the evenings, and climb up one of the minarets of the madrasahs for a surreal view and experience.
Other highlights of the city include the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, home to many mausoleums of famous and unknown people. The tile work in this complex is simply breathtaking and words can’t do it justice.
Gur-e-Amir is another mesmerizing mausoleum that houses the tomb of Amir Timur, one of Uzbekistan’s biggest national heroes. What few people know is that the architecture there actually inspired the Taj Mahal! Other places worthy of visiting in Samarkand are Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Ulugh Beg Observatory, and Siyob Bazaar.
One of the best places to eat in Samarkand is Bibikhanum Hotel Restaurant. You get to enjoy a meal on the terrace there with a splendid, close-up view of Bibi-Khanym Mosque’s dome and the food is absolutely delicious too.
Stay in Samarkand, one of Asia’s Most Walkable Cities.
Fancy Visiting Western & Central Asia’s Most Walkable Cities?
Are you looking for tips on how to book cheap accommodation, how to secure cheap flights, how to pack or what gear to take with you? Click these links below to see how we travel cheaply.
- How to book cheap accommodation
- How to search for cheap flights
- How to pack
- What gear should you take?
Add This Post To Pinterest
If you’d like to visit Western & Central Asia’s Most Walkable Cities, please add this to your Pinterest board.