From tiny villages to the world’s most populated towns, it’s become clear that there’s a special appeal to going carless. Many traffic-choked cities around the world are taking notice, charging drivers a fee for entering certain areas of town. If you're tired of spending most of your travel time sitting in traffic, opt for a more movement-friendly city. Here are the destinations with the least amount traffic in the world.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
You probably don't picture car-heavy streets when thinking of a remote island getaway – and that’s especially true for this hidden atoll in Quintana Roo. Isla Holbox is only accessible by boat and you’ll use either your feet, a bike, or a golf cart to get around its sandy lanes. All cars must be left in Chiquilá, the mainland town across the lagoon from Isla Holbox, where you’ll board a 20-minute ferry to reach the island. You can also catch the bus from Cancun if you’d rather forgo your own set of wheels altogether. With your toes in the sand and a margarita in hand, all of your woes about the outside world will surely melt away.
A pipsqueak enclave in France’s Alpes-Maritimes region, Saint-Paul-de-Vence only allows cars owned by the village's 3,000 residents – or guests of the two small hotels in town. Everyone else will have to park in one of the nearby parking lots outside the city’s walls or in the subterranean parking garage beneath the city. This charming, cobbled town's appeal is enhanced by the lack of cars clogging its quaint streets. Stroll past clusters of fuchsia bougainvillea clinging to the town's stone facades, and relish in the fact that you likely won’t have to jump out of the way for passing cars.
Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA
This quaint middle-American retreat along Lake Michigan’s turquoise shores is one of the few car-free spots in the nation. Picture fudge shops, quiet evenings watching the sunset, and biking along the water. No one has been legally able to drive a car on Mackinac Island for well over 100 years. Instead, you’ll have to get around by bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, or good old-fashioned walking. This lack of modernity forces visitors to slow down and take it all in.
You might not expect to find Denmark’s capital on this list of trafficless burgs but the notoriously eco-friendly city of Copenhagen has made a concerted effort to begin banning all petrol-powered cars. Internal combustion engines are set to be outlawed entirely from 2030 onward, putting the focus on electric cars and public transportation. For a city whose bike traffic far exceeds car traffic, this doesn’t seem like a difficult achievement. Much like Amsterdam, which also hopes to forgo vehicular traffic in the future, riding bicycles is a way of life here. For visitors, most hotels offer free bikes to get around town although there are also bike shares all over the city. An added benefit of fewer cars and more bikes is not only safety but lack of noise pollution, which means you can rest easy knowing you’ll get extra-peaceful zzz’s on your trip to the “City of Spires.”
Tucked in the shadow of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a completely car-free Alpine city. Residents of the town voted for the ban on vehicles in 1966, resulting in both a more peaceful and less polluted environment. But this isn’t the only green initiative that this popular ski resort has adopted over the years. Many roads have been newly paved with asphalt that contains recycled plastic, you’ll see solar panels everywhere in town, and all snow plows use eco-speed diesel to reduce their emissions. Visitors will need to park in the nearby town of Täsch before continuing on to the half-timbered, storybook village by train or electric taxi. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to drive past Täsch’s parking area. Tourists who do are heavily fined.