The Best Cities to Visit for Runners

The Best Cities to Visit for Runners

You’ve just touched down in a new city. Maybe you’re visiting for business or perhaps for pleasure, but one thing’s for sure: There’s really no better way to take in your destination than pulling on some sneakers and going for a run.

Getting your feet on the pavement opens up a city unlike any other form of transportation. Waking up early and jogging through quiet streets will let you explore in a way you simply can’t experience from the back of a car or in a crush of fellow tourists. And, of course, there are the discernible health benefits too. If you want to beat back jet lag or undo the damage that comes with eating and drinking your way through someplace new, a good run will do it. So, if you’re looking to boost your mood and your energy on your next trip, here are six smart options for those looking to hit the ground running.

San Francisco

The big decision to make when running in San Francisco, is how big (or high) do you want to go? Running along the waterfront of Crissy Field to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge offers unparalleled views of the bay, the Marin Headlands and Alcatraz. Then, you can wind up a paved trail to make the nearly four-mile trek across the iconic bridge and back. Or jog the Embarcadero’s unusually wide coast-hugging sidewalk past such landmarks as vintage streetcars, Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. Want to go more natural? Try the wooded trail along the Pacific coast of Lands End.

The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 after four years of construction and had to be approved by The War Department.


Lisbon’s maze of narrow, cobblestone streets are beautiful but not always ideal for getting in long runs. However, the city does have a few scenic and open routes where you can really stretch your legs. The Parque das Nações has a boardwalk along the river that measures just over four miles and offers an ideal morning run among local joggers and dog walkers. Lisbon’s largest forested park, Parque Florestal de Monsanto, features several trails that make for a peaceful and quiet respite from the city.

To get up those hills, you can take a ride on the oldest working tram system in Europe, which has been running since 1873.


This midwestern metropolis offers plenty of flat terrain to tackle. The crown jewel is an 18-mile path stretching along Lake Michigan, which offers plenty of restrooms and water stops with picturesque skyline views right out of a movie. Or if you’d prefer to head into the city, look for the 606, a former rail line that’s been turned into a landscaped elevated trail. The nearly three-mile path connects the stylish western neighborhoods of Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square.

Aaron Montgomery Ward, founder of the mail-order business, fought to establish a law to keep the lakefront a public ground that would never be built on.

Hong Kong

Despite its reputation as a bustling city nestled into steep cliffs, Hong Kong is a haven for runners. Perhaps because no matter where you find yourself in the city, you’re only a few minutes from easy urban running paths or more challenging trails that will lead you up a mountain. The winding Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade offers majestic views of the city’s famed harbor. For a more intense workout, Discovery Bay offers a bit of everything: From steep trails through old villages to concrete paths with stairs leading to some really impressive views at the top.

Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and several other smaller islands spread over 1,092 square kilometers.


It should be no surprise that Portland ranks high among runners—both Nike and Adidas have headquarters here. The city boasts approximately 200 miles of running trails and all 12 of its downtown bridges are accessible for runners. Downtown, the focus is on the scenic paths along the Williamette River. But you can find seemingly infinite options like Wildwood Trail in Washington Park, just outside the city center, which offers plenty of rugged green hills for trail runners.

At 5,200 acres, Portland's Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States with more than 80 miles of trails.


South Africa’s oldest city is also one of its most beautiful playgrounds. Its stunning coastal location and temperate Mediterranean climate make running an absolute pleasure all year round. Sea Point’s wide, paved and grassy promenade (or The Prom, as locals call it) starts at Mouille Point near the waterfront and runs along the water’s edge through Sea Point. Or for those who like hills, the run to Chapmans Peak offers more challenging terrain and great views.

Once a white-only area during apartheid, the Sea Point promenade fatures the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa, dating back to 1824.
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