The world's 10 best city walks

You don't have to leave the city to take a hike.

The High Line, New York

Nowadays it seems every city worth its salt is coming up with its own "answer to New York's High Line", which shows that the idea of converting a railway line into a walking trail was an exceptionally good one. Since opening in 2009, the High Line has become a 2.33-kilometre-long park, full of plants, sculptures and art. It's also the best way to shortcut through Manhattan if you don't want to spend an eternity waiting at pedestrian crossings.

The Bloomingdale Trail, Chicago

One of the best "answers to New York's High Line" is the 4.3 kilometre Bloomingdale Trail, which takes over an old freight line and skirts the edges of Chicago's coolest neighbourhoods – Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square. The major innovation here is the springy, rubberised blue strips down the side designed to make jogging easy on the joints. The downside? The High Line's greenery and art are yet to arrive in bulk – but it's a work in progress.

The Hong Kong Trail, Hong Kong

For a densely-packed, high rise city, Hong Kong has a surprising number of places to escape to somewhere green and scenic. The Hong Kong Trail, which threads for 50 kilometres though a series of parks on Hong Kong Island, links many of them. It snakes, very indirectly, from Victoria Peak to Big Wave Bay, with well-marked paths heading through forest, passing waterfalls and crossing streams. Not exactly the typical Hong Kong experience, then …

The Mauerweg, Berlin

The Berlin Wall was bigger than most people think – it encircled West Berlin for 160 kilometres. Now a walking trail has been created along its former path, with a line of two bricks marking where it passed in central areas. The section from the Mauerpark to Warschauerstrasse is manageable in a day, and covers most of Berlin's highlights. These include the still-standing sections of the Wall along Bernauerstrasse, which is now a superbly presented open air museum.

The Seawall, Vancouver

Originally constructed as a way of combating coastal erosion around Vancouver's ever-popular Stanley Park, the Seawall now extends for 22 kilometres from Coal Harbour to Kitsilano Beach. It's so popular, in fact, that it has been divided to keep walkers, cyclists and in-line skaters apart, and it's one-way traffic around Stanley Park. It's pretty easy to make a day of it by stopping off at the beaches on the way.

The Bondi to Coogee clifftop walk, Sydney

If there's an archetypal urban beach-hopping route, though, it's Sydney's clifftop meander from Bondi to Coogee. This takes in the atmospheric Waverley Cemetery, sealife-filled rockpools, snorkeller-friendly Clovelly Beach, more than a few sculptures and carefully-sited al fresco gym equipment. It's a mainstay for tourists, a magnet for joggers and prettified every October/ November by the Sculpture by the Sea festival.

Platteklip Gorge, Cape Town

Few cities have as many great walking trails as Cape Town – but then again, few cities are fortunate enough to have somewhere as magical as Table Mountain to put them. The route through Platteklip Gorge up the front of the mountain, clambering through steep-walled ravines, is seen as the baby-steps option, but it's still makes for a very sweaty 2½ to three hours. It's arguably more scenic (and less like hard work), to take the cable car to the top and walk down.

Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles

Two blocks away from the madness of Hollywood Boulevard, Runyon Canyon is the celeb jogging escape of choice, offering top-drawer views of Los Angeles from the eastern end of the Santa Monica mountains. The 65-hectare park has several trails running through it – some tame, some overgrown and rather brutal – but huffing and puffing up to Inspiration Point for a photo is just over three kilometres from the main North Fuller Avenue entrance.

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The Coast to Coast Walkway, Auckland

It's only 16 kilometres from one side of New Zealand to the other when you head across Auckland from Waitematā Harbour to Manukau Harbour – which makes the Coast to Coast Walkway a bit of an isthmus present for hikers. It starts downtown, then heads through Albert Park, up the volcanic cone of Mt Eden and on to farm animal-packed One Tree Hill.

The Thames Path, London

The full Thames Path runs for just under 300 kilometres from source to sea, and about 128 kilometres goes through London. It is broken down into sections, but you can freestyle it and take in the best bits. These include the rather futuristic-looking Thames Barrier in the east, then the greatest hits medley of Tower of London, London Eye and Houses of Parliament through central London.

See also: The 10 best looking metro systems on Earth

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