I love bridges, from the simple brick-and-mortar and wooden contraptions (I’m not so sure about the rope kind) to the massive engineering marvels with their elegant spans and towering masts. Some cross a simple stream or small creeks whilst others traverse wide rivers, harbours and canyons. It’s always a joy to cross a bridge on foot; to appreciate the views, to make my knees tremble from great heights, to enjoy the breeze or just to feel the rumble of the traffic.
I’ve crossed many bridges on foot but I’ve chosen ten which were absolutely memorable. If you’re in any of these places, spare some time in your itinerary for an incredible bridge walk experience.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of my absolute favourites. You can do the simple walk from one end to the other or you can choose the exhilarating Bridge Climb which takes you along the arch to the summit of this magnificent bridge on catwalks and ladders, more than 130 meters (+300 feet) above Sydney Harbour. I tried it several years ago to challenge my fear of heights. I guess that’s why I’ll never forget this bridge walk. Check out the Bridge Climb video below.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is certainly one of the most famous bridges in the world. Crossing it by foot is an experience to treasure. The wind, the terrifying heights, the fog, the vibrating deck, and the views will be etched in your memory forever! It’s a long walk from the San Francisco city side to Marin County on the other end (and back) but oh so worth it!
Yokohama Bay Bridge, Yokohama, Japan
It’s not the longest or highest bridge in Japan but the Yokohama Bay Bridge is definitely one of the most spectacular. About a third of the way across the bridge is a viewing platform which offers amazing views of Yokohama Bay, the city skyline and on clear days, the stunning Mount Fuji. Not to be missed if you’re visiting Yokohama.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, USA
The Brooklyn Bridge is arguably one of the most famous bridges in the world. It’s been in dozens of movies and television series. In addition, who can ever forget the images of terrified New Yorkers crossing the bridge, covered in blankets of dust, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks? The bridge is truly a global icon and a visit to New York will not be complete without a leisurely stroll across it. The views of the Manhattan skyline are breathtaking and the incessant buzz of the New York traffic below is unforgettable.
Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey
The Galata Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Golden Horn in Istanbul. There were many designs for a bridge crossing at this spot over the centuries, including drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. However, the first bridge was built in the 19th century. The Galata Bridge that spans the Golden Horn today is the fifth version. A walk across the Galata is a true feast for the senses. The stunning minarets of the Hagia Sophia, Blue and Süleymaniyeh mosques and the Galata Tower form a striking backdrop while the spice-filled air, the anglers, and the traffic (cars, buses and trams) on the bridge and the many boats plying the Golden Horn below will keep your senses tantalised!
Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
The Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava river that meanders through the city of Prague. It is one of the city’s most famous icons and deservedly so. This historic bridge, with its 16 arches and three Gothic bridge towers, was built in the 14th century and is lined with gorgeous statues. I recommend walking across the bridge both in the daytime, when the bridge is crowded with day-trippers, artisans, artists and souvenir vendors, and in the early evening. When the vendors and artisans have packed up, the day-trippers have left, and the lights illuminating the bridge and Prague Castle are turned on, the bridge turns into, arguably, one of the most romantic spots in Europe.
Tower Bridge, London, England
Often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge (I guess that nursery rhyme had something to do with it), the Tower Bridge is one of the most famous symbols of London, and probably the most famous bascule bridge in the world. It’s a short stroll across the bridge but the views over the Thames to the Tower of London (another iconic landmark), the lovely Butler’s Wharf and the futuristic London City Hall (designed by Norman Foster) will stay with you forever.
Pont des Arts, Paris, France
The Pont des Arts is my favourite bridge in Paris. This elegant metal bridge, with its nine arches, crosses the Seine river and connects the Louvre with the Institut de France. The best part: it’s a pedestrian bridge. Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge in the evenings to watch the Paris lights and be temporarily blinded by the cruise boats as they pass by below!
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
The Ponte Vecchio is a gorgeous medieval bridge that spans the Arno river in Florence. Its most distinguishing feature is the fact that it has houses and shops built on it. If you’re visiting Florence, do some research on the fascinating history of this bridge before you visit. It’s an amazing story involving the Medici family, merchants and some of Italy’s greatest architects. As you walk across the present-day bridge, with its jewellery, art houses and souvenir shops, recalling the history of the bridge will help you truly appreciate its beauty.
Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni, Japan
My favourite wooden bridge, the Kintai Bridge is absolutely one-of-a-kind. Located in Iwakuni, a town in the Yamaguchi Prefecture on Honshu island, the Kintai Bridge will keep you captivated for hours. I’d never seen anything like it before. Built in the 17th century, the bridge is one of the National Treasures of Japan and crosses the Nishiki river in a series of wave-like curves. The views from the bridge of the lush forested hills and the impressive Iwakuni Castle are absolutely gorgeous. In spring, the breathtaking cherry blossoms add a touch of magic to the surroundings of this incredible bridge.
Which other great bridge walks would you add to this list? Please add your suggestions in the comments section.
Inspired by this post, Air Treks has created a customised round-the-world itinerary for bridge lovers so that you can see all these bridges. A brilliant idea!
Read other posts from the Velvet Escape “Tens” series:
- Ten things to do in Macau
- Ten things to do in Birmingham (UK)
- Ten velvet escapes for 2010
- Ten unforgettable city cruises
- Ten things to do in Cape Town
- Ten things to do in Kuala Lumpur
- Ten things to do in Hamburg
- Ten things to do when you travel alone
- Ten reasons to travel alone