No Cars Allowed: 7 Car-Free Escapes Around the World


Car jams, car shows, cars cartoons, cars everywhere! Don’t you just wish you could get away from that infernal invention sometimes? There are gorgeous places around the world were you won’t find any car. Either because locals banned them, or just because they are useless to get around. Some car-free destinations like Venice in Italy are just too popular and need no introduction. Others, like the Mackinak Island in Michigan, are great but too close to home. Instead, check out these 7 car-free havens around the world, worth going the extra mile.

Stop: No cars allowed past this point.

1. Zermatt – Switzerland

We mentioned Zermatt in our world tour of themed hotels for its igloo village. But, this small village lost in the Swiss Alps, is better known as a ski resort and a great spot for mountain climbing. At about 5,000 ft. above sea level, and about as much inhabitants, there’s no need for cars here.

Zermatt, Switzerland: Car-free haven in the Swiss Alps
Photo Credit: Kossala Bandara via Flickr

2. Hydra – Greece

With an area of just 25 square miles, do you want to stroll the rustic streets of his Greek island stranded in a car? No! In fact, motor vehicles are not allowed. Period! Discover all the scenic water spots of the “island of springs” on foot. You could also visit the century-old mansions and monasteries and learn more about Greece’s past. At the end, give into the most popular sport on the island: Yatching!

Hydra Island, Greece: A perfect car-free escape.
Photo Credit: Lydia Mann via Flickr CC

3. Giethoorn – Netherlands

This Dutch village has no roads but more than 150 bridges. The canals and waterways give it an Amsterdam’s feel. In fact, every home is a small private island. Giethoorn has a car-free tradition and the best way to get around is by foot, bike, or boat. The picturesque village charms visitors as a peaceful haven out of time. It is without a doubt an escape from the urban stress.

Giethoorn - Netherlands - Car-free zone
Photo Credit: Luke Ma via Flickr CC

4. Sark – UK

Sark, located in the northern French Channel, is the first Dark Island in the world. As so, it deserves a place in this list and a visit of all travelers seeking peace and quality of life. It is another car-free destination; the only transportation means allowed being tractors and horse-drawn vehicles. That should be fun!

Sark in the UK

Photo Credit: Beechwood Photography via Flickr CC

5. Fes el Bali – Morocco

This is not an island but still a car-free destination that is exotic, historical, and beautiful. The Medina of Fes has been a world heritage site since 1981. The walled borough of Fes could be the biggest and most ancient car-free zone in the world. It contains treasures that date back to early 9th century, including the oldest university in the world.

Fes El Bali, Morocco: car-free historical site
Photo Credit: Pejman Parvandi via Flickr CC

6. Ilha Grande – Brazil

Exotic beaches, tropical vegetation, and a scenic landscape: Ilha Grande has it all. This beautiful island, off the coast of ,is a car-free haven. It stands out for its biodiversity and unique endangered fauna and flora. It is an ideal destination for small-scale ecotourism with hiking trails and over 100 scenic water spots. This is paradise on Earth.

Ihla Grande, Brazil: car-free island off the shores of Rio
Photo Credit: Nicoli Barea via Flickr CC

7. Cirque de Mafate – Reunion Island

How good is your French? Well, it doesn’t matter. Beauty is universal. Mafate is another car-free destination that rivals with Ilha Grande. This caldera on the Reunion Island bathes in the Indian Ocean, enclosed by tall cliffs and mountains. There are no roads which makes the access hard, and the final destination even more rewarding.

Reunión Landscape
Photo Credit: Vicente Villamon via Flickr CC

There are, of course, other car-free destinations around the world. For instance, la Isla Holbox on the tip of the Mexican Yucatan is worth a trip. What other car-free destinations do you know or wish to visit? Tell us more about it in the comment box below.