Urban hiking is the term used to describe the deliberate exploration of a city through walking. This type of hiking differs from nature hiking and requires different methods of planning and gear. The urban hike takes advantage of the diversities found in the urban environment. Instead of a walking stick and water bottles, urban hikers may use a GPS device and carry cash for refreshments at local establishments. The best tips for this type of recreation include meticulously planning an urban hiking route or destination theme, becoming familiar with the city and its culture before the trip, selecting suitable clothing and accessories, and planning the hike for an appropriate time of year.
Even if the urban hiker prefers to improvise his or her excursion, the trip is more successful with some careful planning. Some urban hikers like to create a theme related to their hike. For example, a food aficinado will research and select the various restaurants or food markets in the city, or an art lover will plan visits to particular museums or art shows. Other visitors may plan their hikes loosely, starting at a particular destination and stopping where their interests lead them. No matter what style of urban hiking is preferred, the best hike always has a goal, destination or time frame in mind.
Urban hikers do not need to pre-plan every move, however. Thanks to wireless technology and Global Positioning Satellite (GPS), maps of cities and accompanying points of interest are readily available on any handheld GPS device or smartphone. Getting lost is not a problem since the GPS detects the location and readily guides travelers to specified destinations, such as a restaurant, museum or market.
If the hike will traverse through a foreign city, it is best to become acquainted with important social etiquette and regulations first. Some cities forbid women from wearing short trousers, while other cities prohibit tourists from particular areas. Instead of plunging into a strange city, urban hikers should first survey the particular customs and possible prohibitions of the city they wish to visit. The Internet is a good reference tool as are traveler's books, which are readily available in most public libraries.
Hikers usually prefer to blend in with the surrounding environment. Urban hiking supplies and clothing should reflect that view. If traveling through London on a forecasted rainy day an umbrella is warranted, but rain gear preparations for a stroll through Cairo will make the traveler appear very obtrusive. Some hikers prefer urban hiking boots akin to nature hiking gear, while others prefer sneakers. Foot wear should be comfortable and cushioned as concrete and cobblestone streets are tough on the feet.
Before embarking, the traveler should carefully consider the time of year and seasonal activities of the residents of the city. For most cities, summer is the busiest time of year and the streets swell with tourists. This is a prime opportunity for hikers to mingle but makes hiking more onerous if the streets are especially crowded. Winter is a less busy season, and establishments may be closed for the season or streets empty due to inclement weather.