10 of the best cities to see on a run
Explore new sights and enjoy scenic views with a trip to one of these runner-friendly cities
The best cities for runners
The best way to see a new city is on foot, and the fastest way to get around on foot is running – so why wouldn’t you pack your running shoes when you travel? Here are 10 cities that are worth lacing up for – and whose residents we’re very jealous of.
Many Canadian cities have waterside jogging trails, but none can compete with Vancouver’s 22-km Seawall, especially the 8.8-km loop around Stanley Park, popular with local walkers and cyclists as well as runners. But besides that, Vancouver offers plentiful trails, starting with those criss-crossing Stanley Park itself, and including Pacific Spirit Park at UBC, John Hendry Park in East Vancouver and some serious trails on the North Shore.
Home to Roger Bannister’s world-first four-minute mile – oh, and a big university, too – Oxford practically has running as part of its curriculum. If you’re visiting, book a hotel like the Oxford Spires Four Pillars, which backs onto the Thames and its riverside running trails that will take you through the town and beyond. Also, check out Oxford Parkrun, a weekly Saturday-morning timed 5K that’s entirely free and run by volunteers.
Even if you never run the New York Marathon, whose renowned route runs through all five boroughs and ends in Central Park, you can lace up to see the city. Some hotels, such as the James, offer running maps and tours to guests; tour companies such as City Running Tours also cater to visitors. And to stay off the streets, there’s always the famous six-mile loop in Central Park – you never know what world-class racer or fitness-loving celebrity you’ll run into.
Even if all you know about the Netherlands is that it’s flat, you can see why running here is a dream. If you’re new to the city, make your way up and down historic streets and past the main sights in a 7.5-km tour with Tourist Run Amsterdam. Or, for a bit more nature, run with the locals in the Vondelpark near the Rijksmuseum or along the Amstel River.
Auckland, New Zealand
Like much of New Zealand, Auckland offers temps that let you run year-round without risk of frostbite or heatstroke. Take your pick of one of the many running routes recommended by Auckland Transport, ranging from 2- to 10-km and flat to hilly, or drop by one of two regular weekly runs with the Auckland Joggers Club, which was founded in 1962 and claims to be the oldest in the world.
It’s a less-obvious choice, but according to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong boasts plenty of accessible trail running terrain, and lots of races on the calendar to take advantage of it. Find trails on your own via the government’s hiking website, join up with a local running club, or sign up for a race on your next visit. For a more urban option, Hong Kong is also host to a serious stair-running scene, according to the Wall Street Journal. Runners practise and compete on stairwells in some of the city’s many high-rise buildings, including the 118-story International Commerce Centre, whose top-floor infinity pool – the world’s highest – is worth booking a room at the Ritz to gain access.
The Boston Marathon is a bucket-list race for many runners for very good reason – this city is supportive of runners. And, the tragic bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon made it even clearer to the world that Boston is a city that supports its runners. But the scene isn’t just about the big event. Every day, you’ll spot locals getting their exercise on Charles River pathways, through city streets and on trails through Boston’s parks. Book a private tour or sign up for a group run with Run Boston.
Winter running here isn’t for the cold averse, but summer rewards with its inspiring views along canal and river trails – and it’s always fun to be able to go for a run and hit two provinces on the way. If you plan the right 5-km route, for instance, you can pass by the Parliament Buildings, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Rideau Canal and even manage a piece of Quebec. In all, Ottawa offers more than 170 km of paved paths – and in winter, you can always lace up your ice skates for cross-training.
The 5-km paved Promenade des Anglais along the beach is a great place to start in this Mediterranean city. If for some reason you get tired of the views, other options include paths through city parks or the Parc Forestier du Mont-Boron, which offers 11 km of marked trails and the chance to spot wild orchids and other rare species of flowers. Racers will want to consider La Course du Soleil, a February event whose route starts in Nice, goes along the Côte d’Azur and ends 21 km later in Monaco.
Any city with a running festival (it takes place in September and encompasses a marathon, half marathon, 9-km bridge run and family fun run) is a friend to fitness enthusiasts – and the views here won’t disappoint. Favourite routes include Bondi Beach (with the possibility of spotting whales) and Sydney Harbour, where you’re sure to make your way past didgeridoo players and that most iconic of landmarks, the Sydney Opera House.
Another tip for travelling runners: local running and fitness shops, including many Nike and Lululemon stores, regularly offer free group runs and can be a fantastic resource, especially for solo travellers.
Did we miss your favourite running city? Add it in the comments.