Car free places are too good to be true in this hectic world but they do exist though fewer in numbers. Though it is unthinkable how life could function without these four-wheelers, car free travel destinations have a good side to them. They cause less damage to environment and nature. They make you physically more active.
Car or no cars you need to travel. Absence of this venom spewing machine forces you either to walk or to walk down to your destination like workplace. Plans are in the pipeline to give London its first car-free day. It was scheduled on 22 September last year as was made public by the Mayor of London prior to the event. Although banning cars in cities does not seem feasible, you can certainly make to places where these are not available.
Let us explore a few cities without cars and roads that would certainly add something new to our travel bucket list.
Santa Catalina Island, California, US:
This is a tourist’s ideal haunt with the palm lined South California coast close by. This small island spreading across just 194 square kilometers commands a huge tourist demand. It is a fact that bookings see ahead a 15 years wait list thanks to the Island’s administration. They have done a laudable job making it to that level of environmental pollution control!
Well, mini cars ply on the roads their dimensions are confined to 200 inches in length and 80 inches in width. Golf carts are a favored mode of travel. Both the tourists and city residents commute on golf carts. You may run into wild bisons along the highway. So watch it, you are not having a usual vehicle to speed away from the menace!
Giethoorn, The Netherlands:
This is a picturesque Dutch town that will fascinate you. Instead of roads, a network of waterways would give you a pleasant surprise. The history of canals dates back to the 13th century. Monks settled here with a mission to liberate the city from quags formed in wetlands. Canals were dug with their initiative so that the quags can be flushed out.
The residents here use bikes, kayaks and canoes for transportation. The maze of canals here resembles Venice. Holland is also fondly called the ‘ Venice of the North ‘! Bridges run over canals and are used as ice rinks in cold season.
Rottenest Island, Australia:
This is another place Down Under banning cars in cities. And if there exists a cycle-hiring capital in the entire Southern Hemisphere, it is here in the Rottenest Island. At the famous Pedal & Flipper rental outlet, 1300 bikes are available for hire. There may not be cars but well maintained roads are in plenty fit for smooth cycle rides.
Cyclists ply between 63 pristine sea beaches bordering on coral reefs. Rottenest is known for its cute marsupial quokka and also has a touch of the embarrassing history for being a dungeon for aboriginal men and boys. A serious blemish on the element of human rights! You will be offered guided tours to acquire more knowledge of Rottenest’s dark past.
Fire Island, New York, US :
Fire Island is a car free travel destination in the United States. It is a summer haunt for tourists with some of the best beaches, tranquil greenery and historical edifices. Though it is very much a part of New York, the frenetic hustle of a metropolis is absent in Fire Island.
Ferry services and water taxis provide excellent transportation and you won’t feel any need for cars. Only in crises, emergency vehicles are allowed on the roads to handle critical situations. This is more of a pedestrianized city centre where tourist attractions include canoeing, boating, hiking and wildlife expeditions.
Fes El Bali, Morocco:
If you desire a travel destination without cars, you can count on Fes el Bali. This is the place to be. It is the largest car free suburban area on a global scale. It earns the title of world heritage site famous for narrow lanes twisting and snaking through the bustle.
Incredible it may sound, 9400 such walkways exist. People simply walk or bike to their appointments. Streets here are so narrow they can set a global benchmark for narrowness making movement difficult and claustrophobic.
La Cumbrecita , Argentina:
This is a tiny yet wonderful village situated in the black river province of Argentina. Another destination free of cars, you can make La Cumbrecita your next travel target. Talking about pedestrianized city centres, Cumbrecita is a place where people are quite happily used to walking.
The rustic corner is known for its Alpine style ambience. Eco tourism protocols are stringent you got to park your vehicle prior to making your way into La Cumbrecita. Among tourist activities, camping and hiking are enormously popular.
Hydra in Greece is one of the few destinations that don’t allow cars not even scooters. The landscape is fabulous and the exquisite appeal of Hydra has been multiplied by the Aegean Sea. The cobbled streets are meant for pedestrians and donkeys to travel around. Architecture is brilliant and has history in it which is well conserved. Azure water lapping the Grecian shore is pure magic and so are hiking routes fringing the coast.
Supai in Arizona is where they have a policy of banning cars in cities. In fact, while riding along Grand Canyon, Supai comes on the way. This is the only town in the US where mail and consignments are delivered by mules. This is a city without cars and roads and the nearest infrastructure for travel is 8 kilometers away. Means of transport are walking, helicopters and mules. In 2010, the inhabitants were as few as 208 only!
Ghent in Belgium is yet another car free travel destination. Ghent has dispensed with the use of cars back in 1996 as a solution to traffic bottlenecks and arrest the falling air quality. Around 86 acres of land were made car free as a step towards a promise of hassle free public transport. Moreover, the plan helped the nation with a more tourist friendly travel infrastructure. Local residents drew benefits from car less roads as well. Ghent is the second largest car free area on record.
Lamu holds the record for being the UNESCO world heritage site being one of the most primitive and yet most well conserved hub of Swahili culture, the East African traditional icon. Streets are thin and no cars are seen. A travel destination in Africa free of cars with pedestrians, bicycles and donkeys commuting is an eye opener for all. The awareness of environmental damage is prominent. Building designs are a wonderful fusion of Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European schools of art. They are mind blowing!
Zermatt , Switzerland:
Zermatt is completely car free and routes to reach the village are quite a task. Train, taxis and helicopters have an access though and it is really challenging. Once you arrive here, you will find cable cars and horse carts to travel further interior. However, a car-less system of transport has its own blessings making it minimal receiver of carbon footprints. This skiing town is tranquil with abundance of clean oxygen to keep your system healthy and great.
For Venice to be one of the most touristy destinations without cars is obvious. It is crisscrossed by a network of canals along which the legendary gondolas sail. You can explore the city on foot too. Colorful architecture will leave you enchanted and there are over 400 bridges to mesmerize you. However, in all probability, Venice doesn’t require cars because it doesn’t have roads. Relax on a gondola and relish the waterscape around you.
Halibut Cove, Alaska:
This remote car free town of Alaska is a tourist’s delight. Located on the spectacular Kachemak Bay state park, here it is difficult on the roads since no decent roads exist. People travel by sea planes or on foot to get around. The scenery is rustic and accommodation is arranged on wooden lodges raised on poles. The unique feature that would draw your interest is the floating bars, amphitheatres and even post offices. Isn’t that weird and still hugely appealing?
Yellappa , Jaliso , Mexico:
Yellapa in the state of Jaliso in Mexico is a tourist’s favorite marked by the absence of cars. This is a beach town that can be reached from Puerto Vallarta by a half an hour boat ride. Here tequila is real heady and beaches are calm and secluded. Mules walking on cobblestone streets would take you by surprise. The entire environment brings a sublime touch.
Bald Head Island, North Carolina:
This car free island is approachable from South Port, North Carolina on a 20 minutes boat ride. This is an extremely beautiful island with a fourteen mile stretch of tranquil sea beach. The place makes you stress free and brings peace to the mind. Sea surfing, paddling and beachside golf will keep you occupied. Roads are great for walking and biking. And so are the beach front restaurants serving delectable cuisine.