The 20 Best City Sightseeing Races in the World

Seattle marathon | © Infinite Thought/Pixabay
Seattle marathon | © Infinite Thought/Pixabay
Photo of Taylor Geiger
Freelance Travel Writer24 November 2017

If you like running and travelling, why not combine the two and head to one of these destination races this year? Read on for our list of the 20 best city sightseeing races in the world – to help you combine your love of sport and adventure.

New York City Marathon, USA

The New York City Marathon attracts more than 50,000 runners each year to one of the most popular running events in the world. This race offers the ultimate city sightseeing experience, heading through each of the city’s unique neighbourhoods and ending with a massive celebration in Central Park.

Manhattan | © wiggijo/Pixabay

Jakarta Marathon, Indonesia

Considered to be the biggest running event in Indonesia, the Jakarta Marathon regularly attracts more than 15,000 international athletes. While you will have to wake up super early for the 5am start time, it will be worth it to race through the city’s streets as its inhabitants are waking up. Next to high-rise modern glass buildings, you’ll also see Chinatown and old Dutch colonial buildings in the city’s historical districts.

Salzburg Marathon, Austria

Runners begin the Salzburg Marathon in front of the stunning Mirabell Palace before making their way through the historic centre of Salzburg. You will see the Hellbrunn Palace and race through several kilometres of woods, past crystal-clear lakes, just outside of the city centre. The Salzburg Marathon offers an enticing combination of city sightseeing with some quality fresh air, which is a main reason to head to this part of Austria!

Salzburg | © moritzln/Pixabay

Istanbul Marathon, Turkey

The Istanbul Marathon offers one of the most epic finish lines ever – between the entrance gate of the Blue Mosque and the Egyptian Obelisk. Runners reach the finish line after making their way along a coastal road next to the Sea of Marmara and passing through the most interesting areas of Istanbul.

Amsterdam Marathon, Netherlands

The most iconic section of the Amsterdam Marathon is when runners pass through the Rijksmuseum Tunnel. In addition to that, you will also be able to enjoy running through Vondelpark, along the Amstel River, and next to several of Amsterdam’s infamous canals.

Amsterdam canals | © RalfGervink/Pixabay

Bengaluru Midnight Marathon, India

Start the Bengaluru Marathon at midnight under the glow of lights in Bengaluru’s modern tech district. This cosmopolitan city of about 8.5 million inhabitants is known for being the centre of India’s tech industry, as well as offering exciting nightlife. Experiencing the energy of the city at night is a special experience for runners!

Tel Aviv Marathon, Israel

The Tel Aviv Marathon always boasts beautiful weather, as well as a spectacular course that highlights the city’s location on the sea. The marathon organisers boast that this race is a non-stop party in a non-stop city!

The port of Jaffa in Tel Aviv | © noamarmonn/Pixabay

Split Half Marathon, Croatia

If you love running along the ocean, you won’t want to miss the Split Half Marathon. Most of the course leads runners along the sea, but even as you run through the historic part of Split, the smell of saltwater will linger in the air, since this course is never far from a nearby beach. Spend some time exploring the beautiful Croatian coastline after your run.

Rio de Janiero City Marathon, Brazil

Feel like a rockstar as you cross the finish line of the Rio de Janiero City Marathon after running from one end of this sprawling metropolis all the way to the other. While there is a slight elevation change, you don’t have to worry about scaling the highest hills overlooking the city during the run, but make sure you head up there to take in the spectacular view either before or after your run.

Rio de Janeiro | © chulhwan/Pixabay

Tokyo Marathon, Japan

More than 35,000 runners assemble near the start line of the Tokyo Marathon by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. When the gun goes off, race organisers promise a city tour that incorporates the past, present, and future of this large metropolis. You’ll fall in love with Tokyo during the various events leading up to race day, including a friendship run, a family run, and a pre-race party the day before the big event.

Munich Marathon, Germany

The Munich Marathon isn’t afraid to brag about the city sightseeing you’ll do along the route. Including running past the Olympic Park, English Garden, Bogenhausen art nouveau villas, Isar Bridge, Gärtnerplatz, Sendlinger Straße, Marienplatz, the Town Hall, Bavarian State Opera, “Residenz”, “Pinakotheken”, Odeonsplatz, Theatinerchurch, “Königsplatz”, “Siegestor”, Leopoldstraße and many more.

Munich | © wieganddesign/Pixabay

Buenos Aires International Marathon, Argentina

This city of almost three million inhabitants is the capital of Argentina. A lovely blend of old and new buildings can be found in the city centre, and runners will also make their way through the central business district, the colourful buildings in La Boca, and past the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Brasov International Marathon, Romania

The Brasov International Marathon course is designed to take runners past Brasov’s most important sights: Piata Sfatului (Council Square), Biserica Neagra (the Black Church), Strada Sforii (Rope Street), Livada Postei park, Turnul Alb (the White Tower), Turnul Negru (the Black Tower) and Poiana Brasov, which help this race maintain its title of “Romania’s most panoramic road marathon”.

Brasov’s Council Square | © andreimagnea/Pixabay

Santiago Marathon, Chile

Chile’s largest national sporting event starts in Plaza de la Constitución and leads runners on a jam-packed sightseeing tour of the city! More than seven million inhabitants enjoy living in this urban metropolis in the foothills of some very large mountains which tower over the city. You’ll see many cultural institutions and pass the tallest tower in Ibero-America, the Gran Torre Santiago.

Calgary Marathon, Canada

Consistently rated as “Alberta’s Best Road Race”, the Calgary Marathon takes runners along the green spaces next to the Bow River and past the glass skyscrapers in the city centre. The scenic loop is mostly flat and serves as a Boston Qualifier for competitive runners looking to get their personal best.

Calgary, Canada | © westjl2/Pixabay

Trieste Half Marathon, Italy

The stunning Trieste Half Marathon claims to be Europe’s most scenic half marathon and is now in its 23rd year. The course starts from Duino and finishes in Piazza Unità d’Italia. The start line is located just a few hundred metres away from the Thurn und Taxis Family castle, and runners make their way towards Sistiana, then along the Strada Costiera between the rocky cliffs of the Karst and the sea of the Gulf of Trieste, a scenic coastal route. The finish line is in Piazza Unità d’Italia, a waterfront square overlooking the sea.

Seoul Marathon, South Korea

First held in 1931, this is the third oldest running event in Asia. About 20,000 runners travel to this South Korean metropolis to experience an exciting course that finishes in the Olympic Stadium.

Seoul, South Korea | © cmmellow/Pixabay

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Washington DC, USA

There’s no better way to cram in some sightseeing of America’s capital than by lacing up your shoes for the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington D.C. Marathon. The course features the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Smithsonian Museum, sections of Capitol Hill Historic District, Rock Creek Park, and more.

International Marathon de Marrakech, Morocco

Morocco is host to the International Marathon de Marrakech annually in January. If you’re looking to escape to a mild climate, plan your trip to run a beautiful circuit considered as one of the fastest in the world. The course follows alleys lined with palm trees, orange trees, and olive trees, and also the ramparts of this intriguing city.

The bazaar in Marrakech | © WorldEnglish/Pixabay

International Thessaloniki Night Half Marathon, Greece

Thessaloniki turns on the lights with gusto for the annual Night Half Marathon. More than 20,000 runners take to the streets in this coastal city. If you love running through a city all aglow at night, you won’t want to miss the seventh edition next October!

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