Meander through a maze of laneways, bridges, riverbanks and parks on Australia's best urban walks.
By Leah Dobihal
Full of bustling laneways, trendy neighbourhood haunts and calm coastline, Australia's cities offer some incredible on-foot adventures. Discover Hobart's history on a fascinating sculpture trail, take in Sydney's seas on a coastal stroll or seek out the best of Melbourne as you wind through art-covered alleys.
Discover Australia's cities on one of these stunning urban walks.
Arcades and Laneways Walk
If you are eager to explore Melbourne's lanes and alleyways on your own, take the Arcades and Laneways Walk. This walk begins at the historic Flinders Street Station before turning down Degraves Street, now known for its impeccable espresso. Visit Degraves espresso bar for old-world charm and a killer cup of coffee. Next you'll wind through several arcades, shops, theatres and alleys. Grab a bite to eat as you stroll through Hardware Lane; French Saloon offers modern takes on Euro classics. You'll end your walk right where you started, just in time to indulge in the many outstanding eateries along Flinders Lane. Choose between the spicy dishes at Chin Chin and sleek modern Australian plates at Ezard.
Hidden Secrets of Melbourne
With winding alleys and art-filled laneways, the city of Melbourne has more than a few secrets to discover. That's what a Hidden Secrets of Melbourne tour is all about. Choose between walking tours focussed on food, street art, distilleries and more before seeking out the lesser-known locales with your guide. You'll visit up-and-coming brewers, independent designers and cool local cafes, all nestled away from Melbourne's main streets. You may even have the chance to watch a street artist painting over the ever-changing laneway landscape.
Koorie Heritage Trust Walk
Located in the middle of Melbourne at Federation Square, the Koorie Heritage Trust is dedicated to showcasing the culture of the Aboriginal people through history, artefacts and education. Browse through the artworks before joining a friendly Koorie guide on a walking tour of the Melbourne city centre. The Scar Tree Walk is a cultural journey that shares stories that shaped the history of Melbourne, beginning at the Koorie Heritage Trust and wandering over the William Barak Bridge to a traditional Kulin Nations meeting place. The Birrarung Wilam (river camp) Walk takes you from Federation Square to the Birrarung Wilam Aboriginal art installations.
Battery Point Sculpture Trail
With a serene waterfront and quaint nature, Hobart is a great walking city. One of the most intriguing walks is the Battery Point Sculpture Trail. This path connects nine large numerical sculptures as you wind your way through some of the city's most historic streets. Each sculpture along the walk is a number, representing a weight, year, distance or quantity relating to a story integral to the location. You'll come across a sculpture cut from a hedge, one that floats atop the river and one that glows after dark. As you move between the installations, you'll discover that Hobart is a city steeped in stories.
Adelaide free walking tour
Nothing gives you a quick taste of a city like a free walking tour. Hit the highlight of Adelaide alongside a local, who will guide you to some of the city's hotspots. Learn of Adelaide's colonial history, wander past the Parliament House and Town Hall and seek out street art. You'll even gain some insight into the city's coffee culture. Bookings are essential. Afterwards, explore the city's laneways on your own, popping into trendy bars like Clever Little Tailor, or head to Adelaide Central Market for a sampling of South Australia's rich bounty of fresh produce.
Home to a mighty, snaking river, Brisbane is ideal for a city stroll. the Brisbane Riverwalk moves between two of the city's most vibrant precincts, beginning at the historic Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane's city centre and ending in the leafy suburb of New Farm. This walk however, isn't just along the water's edge; it's a suspended path that allows you to walk above the water. There's plenty to do on either end of the walkway. The Howard Smith Wharves are Brisbane's lively entertainment and lifestyle precinct, and you'll find great drinking and dining options, including Mr Percival's and Greca Restaurant. In New Farm, you can indulge your sweet tooth at New Farm Confectionery and explore New Farm Park. Take the Riverwalk after dark to enjoy the shining skyline.
Known as the Harbour City, Sydney is famous for its coastal beauty. But one walk with Culture Scouts and you'll see a different side to the city. Culture Scouts tours wander through Sydney's hippest inner-city hubs, stopping at art galleries, studios, shops and bars. Sip a glass of craft beer at the local brewery, discover a pop-up exhibition of captivating art or taste dumplings and custard puffs from a hole-in-the-wall haunt. You'll gain insider knowledge into Sydney's urban culture, art scene and foodie hotspots, leaving you feeling like a local.
Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
When it comes to coastal walks, the path from Bondi to Bronte is hard to beat. The Bondi to Bronte walk is a favourite for locals and visitors alike, beginning at Notts Avenue near Bondi Icebergs Club. Take in the blue water, white waves and golden sands as you walk the coastal cliffs. Don't miss two iconic public swimming pools along the way: the Bondi Icebergs pool and Bronte Baths. Each year in late October, the Bondi to Bronte path becomes the world's largest free to the public art exhibition as the large art installations of Sculpture by the Sea dot the coastline. This walk is also a great place to start exploring more of Sydney's eastern suburb beaches, including Tamarama and Coogee Beach.
Manly to Spit Bridge coastal walk
Another of Sydney's best walks, the Manly to Spit Bridge walk weaves through a mix of secluded inlets, lush bushland, rocky coastline and often-empty beaches. The trail begins in Manly, a laid-back seaside suburb known for surfing and sun. Follow the path from Manly Wharf to pass Dobroyd Head and Fairlight Beach before winding through the Sydney Harbour National Park to Clontarf Reserve (a great swimming spot for families) and finally to Spit Bridge. From here, grab a bus back to the city centre. The walk takes about three to four hours to complete, so be sure to bring along water and sun protection.
The Rocks is Sydney's most historic neighbourhood, beginning as a convict settlement. You can take a self-guided walk through the area's heritage buildings and cobblestone streets, or you can learn the history behind the facades on a walking tour. On a daily guided tour, you'll discover the settlement stories of Sydney as you walk down hidden alleys, into shady courtyards and along the breezy harbour foreshore. Alternatively, take an Aboriginal Dreaming Tour with Dreamtime Southern X. On this tour, you'll hear about the local Aboriginal people's saltwater heritage within Sydney Harbour, their spiritual connection to the waterways and their continuing culture within contemporary Sydney.
Just a five-minute walk from Darwin's city centre lies a beautiful waterfront precinct complete with cafes, lawns, lagoons and walking paths. You never know what you'll find as you wander along the water. Cool off in the calm saltwater of Recreation Lagoon, grab a bite of Darwin's fresh seafood at The Oyster Bar or simply enjoy the tranquil ocean views and laid-back vibe. When the sun goes down, treat yourself to an al fresco movie at Deckchair Cinema.
One of the best ways to explore a city on foot is alongside an Aboriginal guide whose ancestors have lived on the land for tens of thousands of years. On a Go Cultural tour along Perth's waterfront precinct of Elizabeth Quay, you'll learn about the history and culture of Aboriginal life prior to European settlement in Perth, as well as how the culture continues to thrive. Your Nyungar guide will teach you of ancient campgrounds, forgotten lakes and sacred sites that remain among Perth's city centre and suburbs. You'll finish your urban discovery with a new perspective of Elizabeth Quay's stunning skyline.
City Beach to Scarborough Beach
Perth is a coastal city, so there's no shortage of long walks along the beach. One of the best is the route from City Beach to Scarborough Beach. Beginning at City Beach, choose between walking along the paved path or the long stretch of sand. Grab a leisurely lunch at Clancy's Fish Pub before passing Floret Beach and finishing at Scarborough Beach where you can pull up a chair at one of the many beachfront venues. The walk is just over five kilometres (three miles) and traces the sandy coast. If you want to trek a bit further, you can begin at the beautiful Cottesloe Beach, or continue beyond Scarborough along the beach to Watermans Bay. This final stretch offers quiet coastal views.
Kings Park is one of the world's largest inner-city parks, and nearly two-thirds of it is natural bushland. Located close to Perth's city centre, Kings Park is best explored on a leisurely stroll, and you're spoiled with several walking trails. The Bushland Nature Trail takes in the park's wildflowers, trees and birdlife and takes only 25 minutes to complete, while the Boodja Gnarning Walk explores the connection between the city's original inhabitants and the land they've lived on for centuries. You can even walk among the treetops on Lotterywest Federation Walkway, a suspended boardwalk resting in the eucalyptus canopy.