Special Report

Places Where Cars Are Not Allowed

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La Cumbrecita, Argentina

This tiny car-free village in a remote region of Argentina — visitors park their cars outside the town gates and proceed on foot — is a striking site, especially for European visitors who find themselves, by all appearances, in a German mountain town. La Cumbrecita was the brainchild of a German engineer who began building the town in the 1930’s, even planting the forests that now enhance the once barren land. He incentivized other Germans to settle there, requiring that buildings mimic the German Alpine style. About 300,000 tourists come every year for the area’s beauty, the hiking trails and ziplines, and German the cuisine.

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Hydra, Greece

Hydra, one of Greece’s most beautiful islands, is also one of its least congested, with much of the island undeveloped. It is popular with artists and has offered respite to a number of international celebrities — including Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, and actors Rex Harrison and Peter Ustinov — but tourists will find fewer accommodations here than on other Greek islands. They will also find a certain peacefulness in the absence of motor vehicles, and enjoy walks between the main town and several small villages.

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Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia

This well-preserved medieval quarter of Dubrovnik sits splendidly on the Adriatic sea, inviting visitors to walk along its high walls for the magnificent views of the village and surrounding islands. No cars are allowed within the confines of the Old Town, so residents and tourists alike walk its cobbled streets to enjoy beautifully maintained baroque and Renaissance architecture, steeped in history and evocative of the days when the town was a major trade center. The only significant obstacle for tourists is finding available parking outside the city walls.

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Monhegan Island, Maine

Though it is only about one square mile in size, Monhegan Island has a small artsy village and 12 miles of hiking trails through its sometimes rugged interior. It is ten miles from the mainland, with ferries (which don’t take cars) transporting visitors from three locations on the Maine coast. On the island there are no cars, roads, banks, medical facilities, public bathrooms, or garbage cans, and fewer than 75 residents. Still, tourists flock to the island for its beauty, art, and old fishing village atmosphere.

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Bald Head Island, North Carolina

Considered a sub-tropical island, the northernmost on the Atlantic coast, Bald Head Island is a ferry ride from North Carolina and a car-free paradise. Travel is by tram, golf cart, or bicycle. The Island boasts the state’s oldest lighthouse — 108 steps will get you a spectacular view — and endless beaches for surfing, kayaking, and lazing. Most of the rest of the island is wild nature: More than 90% of the island is undeveloped and invites forest hiking and exploring.