The 15 Most Incredible Walkable Bridges in the World
It's one of the best ways to explore a city.
Exploring a city on foot is a great way to get a sense of perspective on the place: you can feel the transitions between neighborhoods, explore little back alleys and marketplaces that you couldn’t access by road, and literally smell and taste your surroundings much more easily. While exploring on foot, find ways to encompass a bridge walk into your day: all around the world, bridges reflect architectural and design history and often give unobstructed views of a cityscape or landscape. What’s more, while they often attract tourists, bridges aren’t usually built as tourist attractions (with some exceptions, like China’s Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge!). By walking across them you can rub shoulders with locals going about their day and get a feel for the authentic vibe of the place. Here are 15 of our favorites.
Golden Gate Bridge
WHERE: San Francisco, USA
Crossing San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is one of the best things you can do in the city on the bay, thanks to the incredible city skyline views and panorama of the bay islands and headlands. Opened in 1937, the rust-red suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate, the strait that separates San Francisco and the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. Although now it’s a highly popular city icon, it wasn’t always so popular: when a bridge in this location was first proposed, it faced opposition from many sides, including the US Navy.
The walkway on the eastern side of the bridge is 1.7 miles long. As it’s open to cyclists as well as pedestrians, specific times of day are reserved for each activity, changing according to the season.
WHERE: New York, USA
While some have said that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most beautiful bridge in the world, it certainly has a contender on the other side of the USA: New York’s Brooklyn Bridge. The hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge connecting Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn looks pretty good from afar, but the highlight is looking up at the complex network of cables while walking along it. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was opened in 1883, and while it no longer holds that title, it still has historic charm.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a popular tourist activity but the bridge is also used as a thoroughfare by local cyclists, who can get impatient with the meanderings of pedestrians looking up at the lacework of cables! Keep to your side of the path and be mindful of other path-users.
WHERE: Niagara Falls, US-Canadian border
Separating Niagara Falls, NY, with the Ontario town of the same name, the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge crosses the deep canyon of the Niagara River. It was opened in 1941 after the collapse in 1938 of the nearby Honeymoon Bridge in an ice jam—you can still see the remains of that bridge on the US side. By crossing the bridge, you can enjoy views of the dramatic waterfalls from all vantage points. Many say the views of the falls are better from the Canadian side, but the US side has its advantages, as you get to stand above them.
Whichever side of the US-Canada border you visit these world-famous falls from, you can walk across the bridge if you bring your passport. There are immigration checkpoints at either end and officials are used to daytrippers crossing for a few hours: so as long as you have the legal right to enter both countries, you likely won’t have any trouble crossing here. There’s a $1 pedestrian toll on the Canadian end of the bridge.
Sydney Harbor Bridge
WHERE: Sydney, Australia
Almost as iconic as the nearby Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a recognizable fixture of the Sydney skyline. Nicknamed The Coathanger because it looks, well, like a coathanger, the bridge was built in the 1920s and completed in 1932. The graceful main steel arch reaches up to 187 feet high, and there are two concrete and granite pylons at either end. The south-eastern pylon contains a museum, tourist center, and viewing platform.
The bridge connects The Rocks area of central Sydney with Milsons Point in the Lower North Shore, and travelers can walk from one end to the other on the footpath beside the vehicle lanes. But if you’re looking for a bit more excitement, why stop at walking across the bridge? You can also climb it, for panoramic views of Sydney Harbour.
Te Matau a Pohe Bridge
WHERE: Whangarei, New Zealand
The small Northland city of Whangarei is home to what may be New Zealand’s most beautiful and interesting bridge: Te Matau a Pohe Bridge over the Hatea River, near the entrance to Whangarei Harbour. Opened in 2013, the highlight of the design is the curved central pillars that were inspired by the shape of traditional Māori bonefish books. The walkway (and cycle path) across the bridge is part of the Hatea Loop Walkway, connecting the upmarket Town Basin marina area with the Riverside Skate Park and Riverside Drive. Just be aware that the bridge periodically opens to let boats pass underneath. You’ll be given plenty of warning, though, so you’re not in the middle of the bridge as it opens!
WHERE: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Named after the Dutch Renaissance philosopher who hailed from Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands , the Erasmusbrug (Erasmus Bridge) was opened in 1996. The cable-stayed bridge spans 2,631 feet over the Maas River, between north and south Rotterdam. At one end, a pale blue asymmetrical pylon that holds the cables adds a point of interest and has led to the bridge’s nickname, The Swan. The modernist style fits well with the vibe of this trendy city with a long history. Walking (or, in true Dutch fashion, cycling) across the bridge gives lovely views of the Rotterdam skyline; go at sunset for the best views.
Pont Alexandre III
WHERE: Paris, France
It’s hard to choose just one bridge walk to focus on in Paris because there are so many beautiful options, and if you’re walking around this city you really must cross many of them. But the Beaux-Arts and Art Nouveau Pont Alexandre III, built in the 1890s, may be the most beautiful. The winged statues and ornamentation along the outside of the bridge and on top of pillars at either end are decorated with gold, and the lamps bring a touch of turn-of-the-century elegance.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge
WHERE: Budapest, Hungary
Hungary’s capital, Budapest, gets its name from the two halves of the city on opposite banks of the Danube River: Buda and Pest. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge connects these two sides, and was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary when it opened in 1849. It was actually designed by an English engineer, William Tierney Clark, and was shipped in sections from the UK, to be pieced together in Hungary. Almost 100 years later, in 1945, the bridge was blown up by retreating German forces. Only the stone towers survived, but the bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 1949, 100 years since its first opening.
Walking across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a must-do activity in Budapest , partly because it affords great views of the Hungarian Houses of Parliament, the neo-gothic landmark of the city. In the winter it’s also fun to stop and hear the growling of the frozen river ice beneath the bridge.
WHERE: Prague, Czech Republic
The oldest bridge to make this list, Prague’s Charles Bridge is one of several that crosses the Vltava River, but it’s definitely the most interesting. Until 1841, it was the only bridge across the river. Constructed in the late 14th century, the medieval stone bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can only be crossed on foot. The three bridge towers are good places to get views of the Lesser Quarter and Old Town. Along the bridge are 30 replicas of statues that were added in the 18th century, featuring saints and notable figures from Czech history.
The Charles Bridge is a very popular attraction in Prague, so it’s recommended that you cross it early in the morning or at night (perhaps returning home after a show at the nearby National Theatre) to avoid crowds.
WHERE: Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is one of the few cities in the world that bridges two continents, Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, pedestrians can’t walk across the two bridges that connect the European and Asian parts of the city (the Bosphorus Bridge and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge). But they can walk across the Galata Bridge, connecting the Eminönü and Galata neighborhoods. Bridges have been recorded in this spot for centuries, but the current bridge was built in 1994.
While the Galata Bridge itself is not architecturally very noteworthy, a stroll across this bridge is an essential Istanbul experience. There are fantastic views of the water-side city and the eclectic residential and religious architecture, including the Galata Tower and the homes built into the hillsides. Grab a fried fish sandwich from the market beneath the bridge and eat it as you stroll across.
Ali Firat Sahin/Shutterstock
WHERE: Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan
The second “Rainbow Bridge” on this list is rather different from the first. Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the Shibaura area with the reclaimed island of Odaiba. Despite its name, the Rainbow Bridge is actually white, but is lit up with colorful solar-powered lights at night. There are pedestrian walkways on both the north and south sides of the bridge, and both offer views of different parts of Tokyo Harbor and the city. While Tokyo is not a city well-known for its picturesque skyline, a walk across the Rainbow Bridge offers a rare view of this. Pedestrian opening times are seasonal and generally limited to daylight hours.
Singapore’s Helix Bridge is one of the most unusual on this list (but just wait until you reach number 14!). From the outside, it looks like the spirals of a double-helix strand of DNA, and right through the center is a pedestrian walkway. Opened in 2010, it links Marine Centre and Marina South in the Marina Bay area. Four viewing platforms along the walkway provide great views of the Singapore skyline and Marina Bay, and shaded areas provide respite in hot tropical weather (which is usually the case in Singapore!). The best time to visit to appreciate the beauty of the bridge itself is at night, when the interlacing swirls of the helix shape are lit up.
Hillary Suspension Bridge
WHERE: Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
From the futuristic cityscape of Singapore to the mountains of rural Nepal , the next amazing bridge is on the trek to Everest, in the Sagarmatha National Park. Most trekkers walking between Lukla and Everest Base Camp encounter this bridge on the second day before they reach Namche Bazaar. The mountains and hills of Nepal are not short of suspension bridges spanning rivers and canyons, but this is one of the highest in Nepal. It’s strung with primary-colored Tibetan prayer flags, which flap away in distraction from looking down (far down!) to the frothing Dudh Koshi River below. If donkeys loaded up with food supplies, duffel bags, and even gas canisters come the other way, give them the right of way.
Living Tree Root Bridges
WHERE: Cherrapunji, Meghalaya state, India
Bridge projects are often lauded as marvels of modern engineering, but the living tree root bridges of Cherrapunji, deep in the forests of the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya , prove that bridges don’t need to be all concrete and steel to be impressive. This region of Meghalaya is one of the rainiest places on earth, and the local Khasi people got around the problem of wooden bridges rotting by training and twining tree roots themselves into bridges. Each tree root bridge takes about 15 years to be strong enough for people to cross, and some of the bridges are believed to be hundreds of years old. You’ll need to hike to any of the tree root bridges, but they’re accessible on a day or overnight trip from the state capital Shillong.
WHERE: Kolkata, India
Kolkata’s Howrah Bridge over the Hooghly River is as much an icon of that city as the Golden Gate Bridge is of San Francisco. It often makes an appearance in films set in the West Bengal capital, which is ironic because you’re not actually allowed to take photos of it (you’re often prohibited from taking photos of bridges in India as doing so is considered a security threat).
The steel cantilevered bridge was built in 1943, replacing a basic pontoon bridge. At the time, Calcutta (Kolkata’s old spelling) was somewhat separate from the city of Howrah, on the west bank of the Hooghly River. These days, one of the biggest attractions of walking over this bridge is to get an aerial view of the Malik Ghat Flower Market, at the foot of the eastern side. Running since the 19th century, the gorgeous market sells the flowers used daily in Indian religious rituals, especially long strings of orange marigolds. You’re welcome to wander around the market but if you want to stay out of the hustle and bustle, the view from the bridge can’t be beaten.