The way we see it—there are two immediate advantages to signing up for running tours in Europe. With all the history the continent’s written, running is possibly the only way you’ll get to cover even half the public attractions on your list; and secondly, it takes care of all the workout, you need as you legitimately stuff yourself with local delicacies. Almost all major cities in Europe are extremely runner-friendly, thanks to an enthusiastic local running population; most are home to expansive national and public parks, wooded trails and riverside promenades coursing through major historical and cultural landmarks. If a European holiday is on the cards, check out these 5 cities that offer excellent running tours for all kinds of runners.
A running tour makes perfect sense in a city like Berlin, where surprises pop out from every street bend and whose complex history can be best experienced from a local perspective. Largely flat across its range, the main avenue running past the Spree River offers several views of Berlin’s distinct architecture and administrative buildings and landmarks like Brandenburg Gate, Bellevue Palace, and the Reichstag, while off-city dirt trails are available in the pristine Große Tiergarten, towards the west side of Central Berlin, where more than a dozen trails wind past the city’s memorials and monuments all through the park.
Home of the popular Amsterdam marathon, the Dutch capital is obsessed with cycling and running both and the city has evolved efficiently to facilitate the pursuit of both sports as an integral part of its local activities. With its unique 18th century architectures, picturesque canals and parks, and handsome government buildings, Amsterdam offers a veritable visual feast for tourists. Running tours in the city offer routes that cover major sights including the Waterlooplein flea market, The Rijksmuseum, The Royal Palace on the Dam, The Anne Frank House, The Heineken Brewery, the Vondelpark, and more.
There’s always a lot happening in Barcelona, and a running tour matches the city’s own vibrant tempo quite effectively. Popular among a lot of visitors, the city offers differently paced tours covering unique local flavors. You can choose to run through Old Town, a 5-6 mile stretch that houses the colorful street of Las Ramblas, the medieval Jewish Quarter, and Gaudi’s architectural marvels. A longer trail, also known as the Barcelona XL tour covers the popular Arc de Triomphe, the area of El Ravel and the famous la Sagrada Familia as it courses past the stunning coastline. Trail runners can opt for The Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola, or simply Collserola Park, that is situated just north of the city center.
Surrounded by miles of Atlantic waters, Reykjavik offers memorable coastal runs dotted with views of popular sightseeing attractions. Ideal for those who like to jog amidst natural relief, running tours in the city pass through peaceful coastal villages, fishing wharfs, wildlife sanctuaries and heritages sites of the Arctic region. Apart from city runs, several other routes are also popular, such as those in the National Park of Snæfellsnes peninsula, the UNESCO Heritage site of Þingvellir National Park and the tongue-twister of a Fimmvörðuháls volcano run.
Experience the thrill of crossing over from one continent as you run through Istanbul, a city that perfectly encapsulates its rich history despite the modern trappings. Running tours in the city take you through postcard settings such as the Atatürk Bridge, Eyüp Sultan Mosque, Kizkulesi Maiden’s Tower, Harem Pier, apart from a smattering of Turkish tea houses and coffee shops. You can also choose to run with the local running group, İstanbul Koşu Kuvvetleri (literally meaning ‘Run Force İstanbul’) that chooses a different route of the city every time and ends with a dinner at a local restaurant—a perfect way to pick up some stories and firsthand tips.
Main image: 360runningbarcelona.com