Unlike traditional tourist landmarks like statues, buildings, structures and natural wonders, famous streets and roads around the globe offer travellers more than just the opportunity to look at something from afar. Streets are where the natural, man-made and cultural worlds of a nation collide in a feast not only for the eyes, but also for the nose, tongue and touch as well.
Walking through local crowds, beneath regional architecture or sometimes on the very path of history itself can give you a real sense of what it’s like to truly experience a destination, and as travellers there’s not much more we could ask for than that.
That’s why we’ve rounded up 9 streets to walk before you die that will help to expand your travel horizons, surprise and delight you and let you experience the diversity of global cultures first hand. But make sure not to get too distracted by these amazing experiences and always watch where you’re going. Stay safe when you travel and don’t forget to pack your TravelCare policy from Southern Cross Travel Insurance.
1. Rua Goncalo de Carvalho, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Dubbed by some people as the “most beautiful street in the world”, the site of the tree-lined Rua Goncalo de Carvalho is stunning from no matter which angle you experience it from. For more than 500 metres, tall tipuana trees tower above the road stretching as high as 7 storeys in some parts. From the surrounding residential and office buildings the street looks like a dense canopy of greenery whilst from below it’s a dream like forest tunnel. Some locals recall that German employees from a local brewery planted the trees more than 70 years ago.
2. Takeshita, Harajuku, Japan
Harajuku is no longer the quirky Japanese cultural anomaly that it was once viewed as in the past. It’s now seen as a go-to destination on the very cutting edge of fashion and pop trends, known the world over for its never ending stream of out of this world anime and cosplay derived inspiration. Of all the streets in this part of Tokyo, Takeshita Street is often heralded as the best to visit. It’s a pedestrian-only street with fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants, with everything from big corporate brands to one-of-a-kind retailers. It’s a hot destination for Japanese teenagers so you’ll especially love this cultural smorgasbord if you’re travelling with young adults.
3. Garden of Turia, Valencia, Spain
Despite not being a ‘street’ in the typical sense, the Garden of Turia makes the list due to its unique formation. After excessive flooding in the Spanish city of Valencia in 1957, the Turia River was diverted and the empty former riverbed was planted as a public garden. The space incorporates parks as well as paths for cycling and pedestrians with a children’s adventure playground and a music palace. Not only is it a great place for activities, picnics and sight seeing, but it’s also a nice respite from the busy schedule of a tourist!
4. Bourbon Street, New Orleans, USA
In the heart of New Orleans’ oldest neighbourhood lies this strip of unbridled fun. Filled with bars and clubs, Bourbon Street is a must visit for anyone in town for Mardi Gras, or those who enjoy an authentic old time bar hop. But it’s not a place just for travellers looking to whet their whistles. It’s filled with rich French colonial history as well as a sketchy past of prostitution, gambling and vaudeville acts. You’ll find little salutes to New Orleans’ past scattered throughout the old town, each more revealing than the last. Keep a look out for these little gems whilst you’re having a great time.
5. Portobello Road, London, England
You could visit this old road in London on any day of the week and be spoiled by its old English charm, diverse local cultures and meandering form. There is plenty of interesting architecture, community groups and shops to enjoy, however, the road is most famous for its Saturday markets. It’s a haven for those with an eye for the old world and collectors of all kinds, but even if you’re not one to shop or don’t have the space in your bag you’ll still enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and interesting artefacts. Grab a coffee, put on some comfy shoes and talk a stroll down memory lane.
6. Sgurr a’ Chaorachain, Bealach na Ba, Scotland
Don’t spend too long trying to pronounce this decidedly Scottish sounding name. The road itself, Bealach na Ba, is Scotland’s highest road, but you will commonly find it referred to as ‘Pass of the Cattle’. Surrounding it sits Sgurr a’ Chaorachain, one of two rolling hills that can be explored by foot, so pull up at the summit and take a ramble through one of the world’s most romantic landscapes. It’s eerie, beautiful, timeless and stunning so make sure your cameras are charged up! Take care as Bealach na Ba is a winding road for intermediate to advanced drivers and the foot trails require good quality hiking boots.
7. Lombard Street, San Francisco, USA
The decision to pave this internationally famous street with its trademark switchbacks was initially the idea of a property owner in the 1920s who was concerned by the dangerously steep gradients that transport of the day struggled to contend with. Little did they know that it would help Lombard Street to become one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist destinations. The street is intriguing and beautiful and can be explored either by car or by foot. It is flanked by some of the city’s most expensive real estate including the apartment featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and the house on the early 2000’s reality TV show The Real World San Francisco.
8. Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru
Great streets last the test of time, and nothing truer could be said of the one and only Inca Trail that leads to the ancient Peruvian civilisation of Machu Picchu. The trail actually consists of three overlapping routes, but most people enjoy the ‘classic’ trail which features a challenging 82km trek that is usually completed in four or five days. Because of the site’s popularity the local government has restricted access to just 200 tourists per day to prevent erosion – so make sure you book a season or two ahead!
9. Main Street, USA, Disneyland
Don’t let the name fool you, Main Street, USA, can actually be found the world over at Disneyland parks in Paris, Hong Kong and Florida. In Shanghai they call it Mickey Avenue and in Tokyo it’s the World Bazaar, but the sentiments are truly the same. It’s an obvious destination for travelling families but all of the fun, excitement and laughter that emanates from “the happiest place on earth” won’t go astray on adults either. Teenagers, young couples, grandparents, friends and singles alike will revel in the surreal experience of walking down Disney’s most popular street, taking in all of the attractions, meeting your favourite childhood characters and trying the rides! It’ll make for a wonderful day and true highlight of your holiday.