Car-Free Destinations for a Fresh Air Getaway
40% of global travelers say that they walk, bike or hike whenever possible*. So for your next trip, why not leave the car behind and take a vacation from traffic, noise and pollution? In celebration of International Car-Free Day (22 September), we present six beautiful car-free destinations. Put on your walking shoes, hop on a boat or bicycle and escape the hustle and bustle at one of these spectacular oases that are off limits to motor vehicles.
Possibly the most pedestrian-friendly city in the world, it’s no wonder that artisans, politicians, courtesans and “Casanovas” throughout history have lived, breathed and craved the charming streets of Venice. Since cars are not able to navigate through the the canals and narrow streets, the best way to explore this magical destination is on foot or by gondola. Stroll around the iconic St Mark’s Square, drift underneath The Bridge of Sights and discover the legendary Rialto Bridge.
Where to stay: Situated near St. Mark’s Square and the stunning Rialto Bridge, Residenza Veneziana is a beautiful bed and breakfast overlooking the picturesque Venetian canals. Start your day with a delicious Italian breakfast served in the comfort of your room before heading out to explore the mesmerizing streets by foot.
Rottnest Island, Australia
Located near Perth in Western Australia, Rottnest Island is a protected nature reserve with great marine life, pristine bays and white-sand beaches. Thanks to the cycling paths around the island, travelers can easily explore this car-free island’s early colonial buildings, the historic lighthouse and several underground tunnels by bicycle. Free guided walking tours are also available for all visitors.
Where to stay: Overlooking crystal-clear blue waters and a white sand beach, the Rottnest Island Authority offers self-contained villas, dormitory rooms and basic cabins at the unique Rottnest Island.
Designated as a National Park, the small Frisian island of Schiermonnikoog has car-free streets and is only accessible by ferry. Home to diverse flora and fauna, it’s also known for its mudflats. The island is perfect for cycling around the dunes and woods and you can take advantage of the low tide to enjoy an organized mudflat hiking tour.
Where to stay: Strandresort Schier offers modern self-catered apartments in a peaceful location close to the beautiful dunes and the beach. You can take a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool or spend some time in the sauna before biking to the nearby shops and restaurants.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Consisting of three small islands, the Gili Islands are a tropical paradise surrounded by turquoise waters, white sands as soft as sugar and views you’ll never be tired of. With no cars or motorbikes to disturb this stunning setting, travelers can lounge on the sandy shores and enjoy the sunsets with a refreshing cocktail in hand.
Where to stay: Featuring contemporary wooden design, Majo Private Villas offers spacious villas with a private pool in Gili Trawangan. Each villa is decorated in warm colors and natural lighting, and guests can savor a tasty breakfast with vegetarian options before enjoying a dip in the pool or relax in the shared lounge.
Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA
With bicycles and horse-drawn carriages being the only mode of transportation on Mackinac Island, this peaceful destination will make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. Thanks to its rich history, the island is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is a popular destination highly endorsed by our travellers for scenery, relaxation, cycling and walking.
Where to stay: Set near Fort Mackinac, Lake View Hotel is one of the oldest hotels on Mackinac Island. This charming Victorian-style property offers elegantly decorated rooms and wellness facilities including a hot tub, a sauna and a pool. Since cars are not permitted on the island, travelers can relax at the front porch and watch the carriages passing by.
Set in the Argo Saronic Gulf and only a two-hour ferry ride from Athens, the scenic island of Hydra is a popular weekend getaway. Since no cars are allowed on the island, travelers can enjoy leisurely strolls around the island’s paved streets, admire the characteristic stone mansions and windmills, or take a boat to get to one of Hydra’s beautiful beaches.
Where to stay: Cotommatae Hydra 1810 is a cozy accommodation housed in a 19th-century mansion, only a short walk from Hydra Port. Guests can relax in the stone-paved courtyard or on the beautiful terrace overlooking the scenic Hydra Town.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. In total 12,134 respondents were surveyed (1,000+ from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Spain, France, India, Italy, Japan, Brazil, the UK and the US). Respondents completed an online survey in February and March 2018.