Carfree Places

Siena, Italy, 1998

This is the old listing and is no longer updated. The current listing of carfree places is maintained on Wikipedia.


The system is somewhat arbitrary and not scientific. The basic idea was to identify major carfree urban areas. A single street does not meet the test unless it is of unusual extent (say 1 kilometer) or importance (a major street). It is no longer an objective to make this listing exhaustive. (It seems that there are simply too many carfree areas for this to be a realistic goal.)

The carfree test has not been rigorously applied. Some areas with minimal, low-impact car usage have been included; these should be identified as such. Transit service was not directly considered. Some areas may have no transit service within the carfree area; others may have fairly (even irritatingly) high levels of bus traffic or other public transport.

Wohen Ohne Auto maintains a listing in German.


The data is organized by region and country, using the following schema:
  • Place (sorted continent and country)
  • Size of carfree district in whatever measure is convenient - percentage, blocks, hectares, housing units, etc.
  • Population of the carfree district
  • Description of the character of the area: mixed use, resort, medieval, etc.

Color-coding is used as follows:

VeniceMost or all of the city is essentially carfree. Kids can play in most streets.
SienaLarge area that is nearly carfree; pedestrians may still occasionally have to avoid cars.
ParmaWorthy of inclusion, but extent is limited or vehicles sometimes intrude appreciably.


The Listing


Many, even most, European cities of any size include at least a small carfree area, almost always in the old heart of the city. These are not mentioned in the list below unless they are in some respect unusual.


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
VeniceEntire city except near the train stationEstimated at 70,000Medieval city, today highly focused on tourism; transport on foot or by water
SienaEntire cityPerhaps 30,000Not entirely carfree but most streets have very little traffic
Cinque Terre
(5 towns on the Gulf of Genoa)
Most or all of each townProbably a few thousand eachSome towns are carfree, others highly car-moderated
FlorenceSeveral streets near Piazza San Lorenzo?Market area of the old city
RomeSeveral streets west of the Vatican??
ParmaSmall area in the city center, probably 6-10 streetsUnknown, probably a few thousandProbably some delivery trucks permitted during limited hours
Orta San Giulio (reportedly)???
NaplesSmall carfree area at center?Shopping area in downtown
MilanSmall area near cathedral?Wide streets completely filled with pedestrians after work
FerraraThe medieval center has carfree streets and is over all "car lite"?Heavy bike use; lovely old town
PerugiaWhile the town suffers heavily from cars and traffic, some areas are so narrow that they are carfree?Medieval hill town of great intrinsic beauty
AssisiMuch of the town is highly car-moderated?Visitors must park at the foot of the hill; some reidents' cars are allowed in town


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
ZermattEntire townProbably 20,000 or soCarfree Alpine resort with prototype "Utility Area" at the entrance; slow electric taxis and freight vehicles used, although these are sometimes driven too aggressively
BettmeralpEntire town?Alpine resort
BarunwaldEntire town?Alpine resort
RiederalpEntire town?Alpine resort
RigiEntire town?Alpine resort
Sass-FeeEntire town?Alpine resort
StoosEntire town?Alpine resort
WengenEntire town?Alpine resort
ZürichLarge parts of the old town?Carfree medieval urban core
Geneva10 streets10,000Carfree areas in the heart
BaselParts of the medieval town are carfree?The city is heavily dependent on an excellent tram system and most of the center city is highly car-moderated if not carfree
St. GallenOld center?Carfree
NeuchatelOld center?Carfree
AppenzellOld center?Carfree
GstaadVillage center?Carfree
RapperswilMedieval center?Carfree center
BrigPerhaps 10 blocks in downtown?Old part of the city, mixed use
WinterthurHistoric center??
LuganoMost of the old quarter??
MürrenEntire town?Alpine resort; one visitor thought that there was too much utility traffic at too high a speed to be truly carfree


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Freiburg im Breisgau (Baden-Württemberg)Large carfree centerCity 200,000; Carfree areas perhaps 10,000?Medieval university town; a very small amount of car traffic is permitted on some streets; trams provide access
Freiburg im BreisgauVauban district5,000 (when completed)New carfree district converted from a military base; car parking at edge
Nürnberg9 km of carfree streets??
Münich7 km of carfree streets?information
Stuttgart6.9 km of carfree streets??
LindauHistoric center??
Rothenburg ob der Tauber?13,000?
Wittenberg (Gartenstadt Piesteritz)?1,200Development ca. 1915; newly carfree (1994--1999)
Nürnberg - Langwasser?3,180New development (1978-1987)
Hamburg (Stadthaus Schlump)Small45 dwelling unitsCarfree mixed-use conversion of an old hospital
Hamburg (Saarlandstraße)?210 DwellingsNew development (2000)
Bremen (Grünenstraße) 1/5 acre23 dwellingsNew development
Tübingen (French Quarter)??Some parts of redevelopment carfree
Tübingen (converted military base)?6000 residents, 2000 jobs?
Munich - Kolumbusplatz (Haidhausen)?40 dwellingsNew development (near downtown)
Munich (Messestadt Riem)?41 dwellingsCarfree part of a larger new development
Münster (Geist) Gartensiedlung Weissenburg?184 dwellingsNew development (2001)

German Islands and Resorts

(Residents are allowed cars on some islands)

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
HelgolandEntire island?North Sea Island
Baltrum Entire island?North Sea Island
SpiekeroogEntire island?North Sea Island
WangeroogeEntire island?North Sea Island
JuistEntire island?North Sea Island
BaltrumEntire island?North Sea Island
HiddenseeEntire island?Baltic Sea Island
Rerik (Wustrow peninsula)?69 housesLargely undeveloped area on a Baltic Sea Peninsula; will probably become less carfree as it develops
NiederrathenEntire village500Resort in Saxony
Moritzdorf (Sellin)Entire village?Resort on the island of Rügen
Lechbruck am SeeEntire village?Resort in Bavaria
HayingenEntire village105 housesResort in Swabia
Hallig Hooge and Hallig Gröde Entire villages?Resort in Schleswig-Holstein
Hahnenklee-Bockswiese (Harz)Entire town2,500Resort in the Harz mountain area

The Netherlands

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
GiethoornEntire townunk but smallTransport by canal boat
Amsterdam GWL project600-unit carfree residential areaAbout 1500Ugly modern architecture on the site of a disused waterworks; some car parking at the edge
Kalverstraat/Nieuwendijk, AmsterdamLong main shopping street with many narrow side streetsUnknown; primarily commercialShopping district; delivery vehicles allowed in AM
DelftMost of the old centerunkMedieval center
Island of SchiermonnikoogEntire islandAbout 1000 residents plus lots of tourists in seasonOnly residents are allowed to bring cars onto the island
GroningenMost of the old city centerEstimated at 30,000 in the carfree area (the city is about 10 times larger)Medieval center is nearly carfree; mixed use area with university


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Mont St. Michel1-hectare islandabout 60Carfree fortress/abbey
Ile de Porquerolles, near ToulonEntire island is car-lite and many areas carfree5000 (summers)Resort
LyonAvenue de la Republique, Rue Victor Hugo, and side streetsMetro area is about 1.7 million; carfree area unk17th-18th C mixed-use 6-story area
LyonPart of Vieux Lyon?Medieval quarter
Port Grimaud??Resort
Rue Mouffetard, Paris0.5 km??
The walking mall next to St. Germain, Parisis about 1.5 km long and runs from place Odeon to rue Monge??
Pompidou Center, Paris??Modern large-scale development
Les Halles, Paris??Redeveloped market area
Montorgueil area, Paris???
DijonSmall carfree center?Old buildings on narrow streets
StrasbourgPart of the old town?Medieval core
ChamberySignificant carfree area?Medieval quarter
MontpellierMany carfree streets11,000 in the medieval quarterCenter of medieval university town
La RochelleCarfree area and anti-car policies80,000 (entire city)?
ToursSeveral blocks of the medieval old town are restricted to pedestrians only?Old medieval center
Bordeaux4 km of streets?Unknown; morning truck deliveries permitted; limited car access for residents


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
ObidosEntire area of walled townProbably a few thousandMedieval walled hill town (now tourist area); only residents permitted to drive into the town, although cars are a nuisance
Baixo, LisbonOne long shopping street, with a few side streets?18th C 5-story mixed use
SantaremMost of the streets in the oldest part of town?3-story, old, mixed use area
FaroSome of the downtown area50,000 (whole city)6-8 nice old streets that form a small network right in the center of town; very pleasant.
TaviraSome of the old downtown25,000 (whole city)Narrow, winding streets in the old part of town.
ÉvoraMost of the old walled city8500 (in the walled city)This is an odd situation. The streets are so narrow that cars can't park on most of them, so the city has the look of a carfree city, but because of the highly irresponsible way that drivers rocket through the narrow streets, it certainly doesn't feel like a carfree city. Some areas are genuinely carfree (especially those streets with steps!). has issued a Travel Warning for Évora; read my open letter to the governor for more information.
CoimbraMany small streets?Old medieval quarter
ViseuA number of narrow streets in the town center?Largely intact medieval city; on Fridays, the entire old center is carfree


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Louvain la NeuveMost or all of the city?University town; surface is carfree; streets and parking are below pedestrian streets
??Medieval town with large carfree center
Ghent35 hectares, entire city heart?Largest carfree area in Belgium; Public transport, taxis and permit holders may enter but not exceed 5 km/hr

UK, Channel Islands

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
The Island of Sark (Channel Islands)Whole island?Largely carfree
Carnaby Street, Soho, LondonCarnaby Street and environs?Carfree shopping area
Leicester Square to Piccadily Circus, LondonPrincipally Coventry Street?Carfree entertainment area
London, BarbicanAbout 38 acres8000Post-war carfree housing development. Roads & parking are underground
CambridgeCenter city and university campusSeveral thousandUniversity town with heavy tourism; cars banned most of the day from downtown
EdinburghSlateford Green carfree development??
BathCity center?While the center is carfree, traffic problems outside it are serious
YorkSeveral vibrant alley ways in the center, including The Shambles?Streets too narrow for cars
Leeds, YorkshireLarge part of the city center?Pedestrian precinct
LincolnSeveral cobbled streets around the Cathedral?Carfree area near the center
Isles of ScillyGroup of Islands off Lands End?Carfree except for the largest island, St. Martins


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
ViennaAutofreie Mustersiedlung Floridsdorf housing project250 unitsNew carfree residential project, organized by Green party
Near St. Stephens Cathedral, Vienna"Sizable" carfree core?Old center
FeldkirchHistoric center??
SalzburgA number of streets in the medieval center are carfree?Lovely old town with significant carfree shopping areas


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
SevilleSanta Cruz district has many narrow, carfree streets??
Madrid downtown area (Puerta del Sol)6 blocks square?Busy central area
SegoviaLarge parts of the old, walled city?Medieval area
Santiago de CompostelaLarge central pedestrian zone??
Ayamonte (in S.W. corner)Downtown commercial district?Old medieval quarter with very narrow streets; pretty river town on the flanks of a hill
La Rambla, Barcelonaone-mile-long pedestrianized boulevard?Wide, shaded walkway filled with pedestrians day and night
BarcelonaLarge carfree areaPerhaps 100,000Medieval center
AlgecirasLarge network of carless shopping streets??


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Downtown Athens400 sq. km. (entire city)3,000,000 (entire city)While designated carfree, the ban is apparently widely ignored
Hydra IslandEntire island (50 sq. km.)3000No motorized vehicles on the entire island
Spetses IslandTown only4000 (entire island)Carfree, possibly with some violations


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Gamla stan, StockholmMost of the old heart (maybe 1 sq. km.)?Oldest part of the city, very pretty medieval area; carfree during the day except for AM deliveries
Drottninggatan, StockholmOne street and two squares?Major pedestrian street connecting the squares Sergels torg and Hötorget
MalmöLarge pedestrian precint?Center-city area; further expansion planned
Växjö, SwedenEntire city center?Carfree district in fossil-fuel reduced city


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Strøget, CopenhagenLarge downtown carfree shopping area?Old part of the city; heavily used
Christiana community, CopenhagenAll of an old military reservationProbably a few hundredSeveral streets with recycled and ad-hoc buildings; carfree

Other Europe

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Prague, Czech RepublicLarge carfree area starting at Old Town Square and extending across the river?Medieval quarter
Tabor, Czech Republic"Modest network of carfree streets"?Old town
Dubrovnik, CroatiaThe old walled city?Nearly carfree
Rovinj, CroatiaThe old town is reported to be largely or entirely carfree?Undoubtedly medieval
Arbat Street, MoscowSmall district?Old area just outside the historic center.
Helsinki56 hectares?Old city center
Vilnius, LithuaniaLarge carfree area reported?One of the largest surviving medieval quarters in Europe
Riga, Latvia"Modest network of carfree streets"?Old town
Tallinn, Estonia"Modest network of carfree streets"?Old town
Buyukada Island, Istambul, TurkeyOne of the nine Marmara See islands, resort area1500(?)Almost enitrely carfree

North America


Madison, San Francisco, and Las Vegas were all reported to have single carfree streets, which is not sufficient to merit inclusion under the current standard.

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Mackinac Island, Lake HuronEntire island600 permanent residentsResort island; horse-and-buggy transport
Fire Island, New York??Most or all of the island is accessibly only by boat; wagons used for transport
Roosevelt Island, East River, New York CityMost or all of islandunk but probably tens of thousandsSome car access does exist, with large parking garages; very few local services
Ithaca, New YorkIthaca Commons?downtown carfree area of modest extent
Main Street Mall, Buffalo, New YorkDowntown light-rail mall?Theater distsrict pedestrian/LRV mall
Russell Island in the St. Clair River, Michigan??Carfree resort community accessible only by boat; only golf carts are allowed on the island
Minneapolis skyway5 miles of enclosed overhead passageways1,500 residences, 4,000 hotel rooms, 200 million square feet of office space, and 2.5 million square feet of retail spaceCommercial/retail heart of the city
Stanford University, California16 blocks on the university campus15,000-20,000Carfree during the day, with only pedestrians, bikes, and some buses
Catalina Island, CaliforniaMost of island?Partially carfree; the town of Avalon is overrun by stinky gasoline-powered golf carts but 90% of the island is free of them
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California1/2 mile of 3rd Street?Carfree shopping district, with further expansion planned
Isla Vista, California4-6 square block area?Lots of street life; unusually attractive setting, attached to university campus
Columbia, California??Small carfree district at the center
RiverPlace, Portland, OregonPedestrian promenade about 1/2 mile long (the only large carfree area); pedestrian alleys connect other buildings to the promenade; the site is 73 acresAbout 1,200Mixed-use development along the riverfront including apartments, retail, restaurants, a small market, and a waterfront pedestrian promenade
Portland Center, Portland, OregonTwo pedestrian streets run parallel through the development, which includes two parks (carfree streets total about 1 mile length)About 1200Mixed-use development with apartments, retail, and offices
Boston, MassachusettsDowntown Crossing, several carfree streets?Heart of the commercial district in old downtown Boston
Tangier Island, VirginiaEntire island800Carfree fishing & tourism community
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia5 blocks plus side streets (from 9 AM to 5 PM)About 100 families of people who work thereRestored Colonial-era village
Bald Head Island, North CarolinaWhole island150 familiesExclusive, golf-cart-based community
Harbour Town, Hilton Head, South CarolinaArtificial harbor with promenade and shopsFew hundredCarfree resort community from the 1960s and 70s
Shelter Cove Harbor, Hilton Head, South CarolinaArtificial harbor with promenade and shops, larger than Harbour TownSeveral hundredCarfree resort community 1980s
East Lake Commons, metro Atlanta67 dwellings plannedProbably 200Parking will be located on the perimeter of the village. Access within the village core will be by walking, carts, and bicycles.
Main Street Mall, Memphis, Tenn.3/4 of a mile5000Carfree mixed-use district in the heart of the city
Lincoln Road Mall, MiamiHalf-mile street (7 blocks)?Shopping, socializing, dining al fresco in the heart of the Art Deco district
St. Augustine, FloridaThought to have a pedestrianized center?Old historic center
San Antonio, TexasRiverwalk?Carfree tourist area; lacks basic services
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma[Removed: not carfree]n/an/a
New Orleans, LouisianaSeveral blocks between the Frech Quarter and the riverSeveral hundredCarfree mixed use area served by a streetcar line
Arcosanti, in ArizonaNew town built by Paolo Soleri100?Carfree arcology
Boulder, ColoradoPedestrian mall?At the city center; there is some debate as to whether this really is a carfree area or not.
Fort Collins, Colorado7 acres, 4 streetsCity population 115,000Old Town, commercial district, no traffic except for maintenance crews; area includes 60 apartments for the elderly
Colorado State U., Fort Collins4 long streets25,000 studentsCarfree area of university campus, to be expanded
Denver16th Street Mall, about a mile long?Transit mall with pedestrian-only extensions


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Whistler, BC?9,000~25,000Has a small carfree center
Calgary, Alberta7 & 8th Avenue Malls?7th Ave. is a transit mall; 8th Ave. is a pedestrian mall for several blocks. Calgary also has the "Plus-15" second-story system that connects many buildings in downtown. It totals more than 16 km. of passages.
Montreal, Quebec30 kilometers of underground passagesNon-residentialCarfree network of underground passages and shopping centers; rollerbladers and cyclists not permitted. The passages link some 60 large commercial, administrative, and apartment buildings in downtown.
"P.A.T.H." Toronto, OntarioKilometers of underground passagesNon-residentialCarfree network of underground passages and shopping centers
Toronto IslandsSeveral carfree islands just off downtown300Urban park and ecological community
Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario6 blocksNon-residentialShopping street 1 block south of Canadian Parliament Building
Mont-Tremblant, Quebec??Ski resort built as a carfree European-style village

Central America

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
San José, Costa RicaSeveral streets in the downtown area?Several areas of the city have carfree sections, the largest being seven blocks long with side streets. The area is the commercial and civic center of the city and includes the plaza adjacent to the gorgeous Theatro Nacional.
Tortuguero, Costa RicaTown on a coastal island1000Access by boat or airplane. There are no roads, only sidewalks and jungle paths connecting the buildings. According to Michael Totten, "It is the most relaxing and humanly scaled place I have ever been in the world."

South America

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Curitiba, BrazilOnly a limited carfree area in downtown?Primarily interesting because of its unique bus system, running on dedicated streets and providing excellent, low-cost service
Paquetá Island, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilEntire islandAbout 7000Carfree island in Guanabara Bay, an hour by water from downtown Rio
Bogotá, ColombiaThe Ciclovía , 110 kilometers of roads throughout the city6.5 millionThe Ciclovía roads are closed to traffic Sundays and holidays for 7 hours, from 0700 to 1400, when more than 1.5 million people practice various sports, visit the recreational facilities, or go to cycle-mass. The city also plans to become largely carfree during rush hour by the year 2015.


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Hopetown, Barbados (reportedly)??When JHC visited in 1991, there was no substantial carfree area. Anyone know for sure?


CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Southbank, MelbourneSignificant carfree sections??
Swanston Walk and Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne??Open to trams but closed to cars (except Swanston, which is open to cars at night). We have further been advised that Swanston walk is "open to taxis/trucks/commercial vehicles 24 hours a day, and never free from people using it regardless of the law," and that Bourke Street Mall "is used by commercial vehicles also." Sorry!
Rundle Mall, AdelaideDowntown mall and cross streets?Commercial center



According to one reporter, most towns have covered (i.e., carfree) streets.
Tsumago, Japan??Restored town near Mt. Fuji; some delivery traffic is allowed
Tokyo??Some of Tokyo's major shopping areas are closed to auto traffic on Sundays; these areas are called "pedestrian paradises."
Tokyo, Asakusa areaSmall arcades?Some streets in the same area are pedestrian from 10:00 until 18:00
Ueno area, next to the railway stationSeveral streets??
Shinjuku station, TokyoKilometers of underground passagesCentral business district; in principle no residentsCarfree network of underground passages and shopping centers; about 3,000,000 passengers per day use the station
Kichijoji, Musashino, TokyoOne city block: two roofed streets, two open streets, many alleys130,000 (Musashino)Carfree during the day except for morning deliveries
Sapporo, HokkaidoKilometers of underground passages1,800,000 in cityCarfree network of underground passages and shopping centers
ShizuokaOne kilometer of underground passages470,000 in cityCarfree network of underground passages and shops. The street above has traffic calming and wide sidewalks.
Osaka, Namba area2 long streets??
Osaka, Tenma areaA street 2.6 km long??
KobeSeveral streets in downtown??

Other Asia

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Gulangyu Island, Xiamen, ChinaCarfree island?See Pete Menchetti's photos and commentary. See also the New Colonist article
Cheung Chau Island, (and others) off Hong Kong???
Matheran, IndiaEntire town5000Carfree hill town
Zhouzhuang, one of a number of small carfree towns (Xitang, Tong Li, possibly Wu Zhen) in the "water district" of ShanghaiArea right along the river2000 in the townOld carfree waterfront town that resembles Venice in some ways, including heavy tourist traffic.
Novosibirsk, SiberiaEntire city?Research center in the coldest part of Siberia; highly car-moderated, although not carfree
Bhaktapur, NepalEntire city?Planning to become carfree within 15 years



CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Fes-al-Bali (the oldest part of Fez)Entire city quarter except for a few roads entering a short ways from outsidePopulation 156,000; may be the world's largest contiguous carfree areaOld medina with streets mostly too narrow for cars
RabatHalf of the medina?Oldest area of the city, extremely narrow streets; some busy roads pass through the medina
CasablancaEntire medina?Oldest area of the city, extremely narrow streets
MeknesEntire medina?Oldest area of the city, extremely narrow streets
MarrakeshThe souk?While the souk is carfree, the old areas nearby are not. Motorbikes plague nearly all streets.
Essaouira??Medina is carfree
Chefchaoen??Largely carfree
Tangier??Old medina is carfree

Other Africa

CityGeographic ExtentPopulationCharacter
Lamu, KenyaEntire island?Only the chief has a car (figures!)
Cape Town, South AfricaSt. George's Mall, comprising five blocks?Center-city mall

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