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I love car-free islands and other locations where visitors cannot take a car, but that are still reachable by public transportation, inhabited or not.

Some examples, in no particular order:

  • Channel Islands National Park, California, USA
  • Zermatt, Switzerland (not an island)
  • Toronto Islands, Toronto, Canada
  • Isles of Scilly, England
  • Small Isles, Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Vlieland, Netherlands
  • Harstad peninsula near Harstad, Nordland, Norway
  • Apparently, some island/s near Toulon, France

Is there any resource listing such car-free and nearly-car-free islands (and non-islands)?

  • If you count non-island, this list would be awfully difficult to compile for example khaleejtimes.com/business/local/… – chx May 16 '16 at 23:28
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    Venice? You can take a car there, but it's basically only to get to the car park. – Greg Hewgill May 17 '16 at 0:08
  • Go to Exuma. 360+ islands and no place to drive a car. – Karlson May 17 '16 at 4:26
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    "Visitors cannot take a car" and "car-free" are not the same thing; I know of places where visitors are not allowed to drive but locals are. – fkraiem Jun 30 '17 at 13:43
  • @fkraiem Indeed. The first one is not car-free but likely still very low in car traffic, such as is the case in the Isles of Scilly (in particular the “off islands”). – gerrit Jun 30 '17 at 14:24
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Wikipedia maintain a list of car-free places, organised by continent and by country (credit to choster's comment). It includes many that aren't islands, but it's easy to find islands on the list. There's also a French-language list restricted to car-free islands on French Wikipedia.

Here's a selection of notable islands taken from that site, I've tried to include only those that are described as completely car free on the entire island, and car-free by policy not simply because no resident has imported a car yet. This is intended for skim-reading for ideas and an overview only, check details on more up-to-date sources:

Europe

  • In Croatia, Koločep (population 120-200) plus three islands that allow service vehicles and tractors.

  • In Denmark, Ertholmene, Bornholm, population 96

  • In France, six islands in Bretagne (populations of a few hundred), four in the Archipel du Frioul, near Marseille (total population 86), and Mont Saint-Michel (an island fortress/abbey, population 60)

  • In Germany, six North Sea islands (populations from around 500 to 2000, check details for each as "residents may be allowed cars on some islands"), the Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee (population 1,200), and Frauenchiemsee in lake Chiemsee (300 residents and a historic abbey)

  • In Greece, Hydra Island, 50 square kilometers, population 3,000,

  • In Sweden, the Southern Göteborg Archipelago

  • In the UK, Easdale, and Herm and Sark in the Channel Islands.

North/Central America

Toronto Islands [Canada]. Several car free islands just off downtown 700 Urban park, neighbourhoods, and ecological community. Accessible by ferry or private boat from downtown Toronto. Bicycles are permitted on ferries.

  • In the USA: Rock Island, Wisconsin; Tangier Island, Virginia; Russell Island, Isle Royale and Mackinac Island, Michigan; Monhegan Island, Maine; Marsh Island, Louisiana;

  • In Mexico: Mexcaltitán de Uribe in a lagoon in Nayarit (pop. 818), plus dozens of islands, some densely urbanized, in Laguna del Toro, San Lorenzo, La Santísima, and Xaltocan.

South America

Paquetá Island, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Population 7000. Extremely peaceful, car-free island in Guanabara Bay, an hour by ferry from downtown Rio. The place is as quiet as Eden. Residents ride bikes ... never locked and tend to congregate on downtown streets or at the foot of the stairs... In the south portion of the island, Danke de Mattos Park is cycle-free.

(there's also Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, population 177,832, but it allows rentable jeeps)

Ilha do Mel, Paraná, Brazil. Small Island offshore of Paranaguá. The Island has two small fishing villages. The entire Island is car free, and even cattle free. All goods and materials are carted around by big wheel barrows. Economy is traditionally fishing but Ecotourism is now a big part of economy. 95% of Island is now an ecological reserve. Villages are connected by 2 meter wide sandy walking paths

The South America section of the list seems to be very incomplete; I know of several car-free zones not listed - if you're interested in South America, don't be deterred by the few entries!

Africa

  • Lamu, Kenya, population of several thousand

Lamu town is an old, Swahili settlement where only foot, cycle and donkey traffic is allowed.

Like South America, the Africa section appears to be very incomplete.

Asia & Oceania

  • Four islands, Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kınalıada, off Istanbul in Turkey, where only emergency service vehicles are allowed.

  • Perhentian Islands in Malaysia (x2 islands), and Gili Islands (x3), off Lombok, Indonesia, both popular tourist attractions with populations of several thousand.

Phú Quốc, off the town of Hà Tiên in Vietnam. Population 90,000. largest island in the Gulf of Thailand. Officially car-free, and the regulation is largely respected.

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong [China]. Population 30,000. No full size automobiles allowed. A few miniature emergency vehicles exist as do small utilitarian vehicles. Residents walk, via an extensive and well-maintained network of trails. Ferries take residents to the rest of Hong Kong.

  • In Australia, Rottnest Island (Western Australia), French Island (Victoria) and Maria Island (Tasmania) have no cars allowed and low populations (although Rottnest has buses)
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    That covers fully car-free places, mostly pedestrianised areas which may consist of only a couple of streets. It does mostly not cover examples such as I gave, which are areas (typically islands) where residents may have cars, but visitors cannot bring any. – gerrit May 17 '16 at 13:08
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    As a Greek citizen, I can confirm Hydra Island. There are horse carriages that tourists can take for a tour but cars are not allowed there. There are only a few small trucks and cars allowed to supply the local stores with goods. – papakias May 17 '16 at 13:57
  • Isle Royale (Michigan) is a national park with no permanent residences and indeed no roads, so it's not surprising that it has no cars. – Michael Seifert Jun 30 '17 at 14:21
  • Why does it matter if it's surprising or not? It's somewhere people can visit if they want to walk with no cars around. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 30 '17 at 15:04
  • My mistake — I had originally thought that the questioner had wanted inhabited islands with no cars, but I missed the "inhabited or not" phrase in the original question. – Michael Seifert Jun 30 '17 at 15:08
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The Aran islands in Ireland.

Locals have cars, but AFAIK there's no way to rent a car on the islands or drive a car onto them. Renting a bicycle is common.

The islands are quite accessible and well toured. There are ferries several times a day, as well as flights. They contain lots of sites worth seeing.

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  • The question asks for resources, not for more examples of islands. – David Richerby Jul 1 '17 at 12:43
  • @DavidRicherby perhaps, but link-only answers are discouraged on SE sites. Look behind the literal text of the question - the OP is interested in learning about car-free islands around the world. – Robert Columbia Jul 1 '17 at 12:54
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    @RobertColumbia Then the question is just asking for a big list, which is off-topic everywhere on Stack Exchange. – David Richerby Jul 1 '17 at 12:55
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In addition to the great car-free US islands mentioned in other answers, let me recommend Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River.

The island is a National Park and is uninhabited, but it is a famous geographical/border oddity as the island itself is fully within the District of Columbia, but you can only travel to the island via the footbridge from Arlington, Virginia. You can walk from the Rosslyn station of the Washington Metro (in Arlington, VA) down to the footbridge (walk north from the station just past US 29, then take the Mt. Vernon Trail footpath east down the shore).

The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge itself (not the footbridge), which goes over the island, does not have an exit onto the island itself (it connects Virginia with the non-island main part of DC), so technically it is possible to travel through the island from DC, using a car even, but this doesn't really count in my opinion because you can barely stop and cannot do anything. There are no places for cars to stop and park.

On the DC mainland side of the island, you can find the Kennedy Center and the Watergate Hotel (yes, that Watergate).

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  • The question asks for resources, not for more examples of islands. – David Richerby Jul 1 '17 at 12:44
  • @DavidRicherby perhaps, but link-only answers are discouraged on SE sites. Look behind the literal text of the question - the OP is interested in learning about car-free islands around the world. – Robert Columbia Jul 1 '17 at 12:54

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