You don’t have to get out into the middle of nowhere to have a good hike. The great cities of the world are made for hiking and you don’t even need a backpack.
Shed the Equipment
You sure don’t need that framed backpack, though a small pack is handy for incidentals. While you may want a raincoat, sweater, or umbrella for the occasional rain shower, you can always duck inside somewhere when hiking in town. Getting lost on an Urban Hike is a whole lot different than in the wilderness. Instead of packing power bars, bring your wallet. You’re not going to starve, that’s for sure: especially considering there’s probably some kind of food cart on every corner. Getting a bit chilly is the closest you should get to hypothermia and that’s where the sweater comes in. You don’t even need that hydration pack when there’s always a bar to duck into.
In most major destination cities like Paris, New York, or Rome there are always open-top bus tours offered to all the major stops. Most of these are of the “Hop on, hop off” variety so you can ride when you need to and walk when you want to. These offer the ability to cover way more ground than just walking and will take you to the “Must see” spots while you can hike to the in-between spots on your own. There’s also always the option of hailing cabs or using Uber but these sightseeing, “Hop on, hop off” type tours are not only better for seeing the sights, they are a way more inexpensive option for getting around the urban center.
It’s a Social Thing
While hiking is usually a solo or small group activity, Urban Hiking is as much about the social aspect as the physical. While you do meet some folks on the trail, Urban Hikes allow you to get to know the locals and your fellow travelers. Whether you’re dropping into one those bars I mentioned, grabbing a table for lunch or just checking the sights, you’re going to get to know someone. The best way to get the feel for a city is through its residents and that’s half the fun and adventure. People are surprisingly helpful when asked for directions and especially enjoy giving recommendations. Folks love to brag up their hometown so take advantage of their advice and find some hidden gems.
Danger on the Trail
Just as you probably wouldn’t wander off the established trail in a wilderness area, you should watch where you go on an Urban Hike. There are some parts of your own hometown you probably wouldn’t visit so that goes for other places as well. Always stay aware of where you are and how to get back to the beaten path if you stray. Using maps or apps to keep track of your location is just as important in a strange city as in the woods.
The Sights, Smells and Sounds
The sights, sounds and smells of New York City are quite different than Yellowstone. Actually the sights, sounds and smells of New York City are quite different than Rome and Rome is different than Paris. Every great urban area has its own distinct flavor which can be experienced so much better on foot. Walking into a local market to sample the local produce, strolling into an art museum featuring local talent or just wandering the streets to hear the buskers can be just as awe-inspiring as the wild.