10 Incredible Architecture Walking Tours

Lovers of architectural gems will want to make a beeline for these walking tours to explore historic buildings, modern skyscrapers and dramatic cityscapes.

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Chicago

Chicago is known worldwide for its modern skyscrapers and iconic buildings, like Willis Tower, John Hancock Center and the Art Institute of Chicago. The city’s architectural gems are so well-known, in fact, that the Chicago Architecture Foundation offers more than 85 guided tours dedicated to the city’s design, including signature walking tours like Evolution of the Skyscraper. The city even offers a self-guided tour for those who want to mix and match architectural highlights, including those along the Magnificent Mile and River North.

Barcelona

Given the global popularity of Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, it’s no surprise that Barcelona is a must-go for architecture lovers. Best known for his organic style that blends ceramics, stained glass and wrought iron, Gaudi’s architectural works can be found across Barcelona, well beyond La Sagrada Familia, which remains unfinished. ForeverBarcelona offers a variety of private walking architecture tours that explore Gaudi’s vision and masterpieces, including Casa Mila and Park Guell, as well as lesser-known works, like Casa Calvet and Torre Bellesguard.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia boasts a broad mix of architectural styles, from Art Deco to Beaux Arts to Victorian, making an architectural exploration of the City of Brotherly Love an absolute must-do. The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia offers more than 20 different walking tours, enabling visitors to dig in to the architecture of historic Philadelphia, like Old City Hall, or explore the grand residences and magnificent brownstones in Rittenhouse Square. The city’s Mural Arts program even offers walking tours along Mural Mile, encouraging guests to take in the city’s public art.

Toronto

You’ll find magnificent architectural design and breathtaking structures around every corner in Toronto. Look to the Toronto Society of Architects for walking architecture tours, including the Culture & Campus Tour, which explores the architecture that emerged a decade ago during what the City of Toronto refers to as its "Cultural Renaissance," a period that developed the city as a major destination for arts and culture. Highlights include the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the bold, love-it-or-hate-it Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition to the Royal Ontario Museum.

Marrakech

While there are no modern skyscrapers or lavish brick mansions in Marrakech, you will find horseshoe-shaped arches, decorative mosaic tiles and intricately carved wood patterns. Moorish architecture can be seen throughout Marrakech, in the riads, palaces, courtyards and mosques. Try a self-guided walking tour through GPSmyCity.com, like Marrakech Map and Walks, which acts as a personal tour guide with turn-by-turn walking directions to architectural gems, like the Royal Palace, Saadian Tombs and Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco.

Los Angeles

The iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl may first come to mind when thinking about architecture in Los Angeles, but there’s so much more. Take a tour of Silver Lake for midcentury homes designed by prominent architects, like Lloyd Wright, Jr. (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) or explore Downtown Los Angeles for a mix of old and new ranging from the Eastern Columbia Building, a circa 1930 Art Deco building, to the more modern Walt Disney Concert Hall. Architecture Tours LA offers tours exploring the neighborhoods and cityscapes of Los Angeles.

Rome

It’s true what they say. Rome was not built in a day, as is evidenced by the multiple architectural influences that can be found throughout the city, from Romanesque to Baroque to Neoclassical. Known for its opulence and grandeur, as well as its cherubs and majestic town squares, like Piazza Navona, dramatic 17th-century Baroque architectural styles, in particular, can be found from St. Peter’s Square to Trevi Fountain. Book a private walking tour with an architect, like Tom Rankin, to delve into the ever-evolving architectural styles in Rome.

Washington, DC

Skip the monuments and make a beeline for Dupont Circle in Washington, DC where you’ll find stately homes of the Gilded Age and extravagant embassies, like the Embassy of Indonesia, a 50-room mansion built in the early-1900s. DC Design Tours offers multiple historic walking tours across the nation’s capital that focus on architectural design and influences, including a Dupont Circle & Embassy Row Walking Tour, which explores the styles and scandals behind the historic mansions, embassies, private clubs and art galleries in this fashionable section of town.

Florence

Given the Renaissance began in Florence in the 14th century, it should come as no surprise that this Italian city is dominated by the architectural style of the time. Throughout Florence, you’ll find symmetrical and proportional structures, as well as columns, arches and domes, as is evidenced in Duomo, the cathedral that takes over the landscape in Florence. Consider a walking tour with e-architect, which offers tailor-made private tours that focus on historical buildings, new structures or a mix of both in Florence.

New York

Once you’ve wandered Times Square and taken in a matinee of Wicked make time for the iconic buildings of New York City, and not from the confines of a sightseeing bus. Sign up for an Art Deco walking tour to explore spectacular works, like the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center and the Waldorf-Astoria, that sprung up during the 1920s and 1930s, helping define New York as the modern metropolis we know today. Alternatively, enjoy a walk along Central Park West for a look at the skyscrapers of the city’s residential skyline, like the Century and the Majestic.

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