Best Destinations for an Active Holiday
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Best Destinations for an Active Holiday

Like to explore a city on foot? We've got you

Maybe going on a run is the opposite of how you envision a relaxing holiday, but running and exercise have become more popular than ever in the last few years as fitness trends sweep across the globe. In the last few years, Google searches for ‘running’ have increased by 22 per cent year-on-year, and searches for ‘active holidays’ have risen by a half in the same time frame. Many people, therefore, like to know that they can workout wherever they choose to go on holiday, whether that’s in the gym or on foot. Plenty of lovely hotels are kitted out with top-of-the-range gyms and fitness centres, but if you like to get to know a destination by walking or going on a jog, you’ve come to the right place. 

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Best Destinations for an Active Holiday

Walking and swimming: these are two key factors in many holidays, even if you have travelled to relax and prefer lying on a sun lounger to exercising. However, as well as being an effective keep-fit method, walking and jogging are effective ways to explore the new surroundings.

With this in mind, performance footwear brand HOKA researched into the top cities for an active life. Considering the number of green spaces, walkability, average temperature, humidity, water quality (if you pause for a sip of water) and air quality and traffic emissions, HOKA emerged with a list of the top 40 cities in the world to visit if you enjoy outdoor exercise. 

The United States has the highest number of cities in the top 40, though none of these cities made it to the top ten. Denver, Colorado narrowly missed a spot in the highest ranks, coming in at 12th, followed by San Diego and New York in 15th and 16th positions respectively. London is the UK’s only entry in the top 40, again narrowly missing out on a top ten spot, coming in 11th place. Here are the coveted walk- and jog-able cities that made the shortlist.

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Cityscape of downtown Copenhagen city skyline in Denmark at famous old Nyhavn port at sunset

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

With the lowest amount of traffic CO2 emissions and the highest air quality in HOKA’s list of active holiday destinations, Denmark’s capital city is the ideal destination for keen joggers and city walkers alike. With a low average temperature of 10°C and 79 per cent humidity level, however, explorers should be prepared for cold and wet weather. Luckily, Copenhagen is beautiful year-round.

Weekender: 48 Hours in Copenhagen

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

9. Barcelona, Spain

Coming in at ninth place is a Spanish gem: Barcelona. With low traffic emmisions and a perfect walkability score – despite green space being limited – the Catalonia capital is the perfect city for an urban jog. Running enthusiasts (and view seekers) can attempt running up the steep Tibidabo, or city strollers will be treated equally well sticking to Barcelona’s many intertwining city streets and seaside paths.

Weekender: 48 Hours in Barcelona

Boat Wakes in Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the background

8. Sydney, Australia

With another perfect walkability score is Sydney, Australia’s most famous city, home to the magnificent Sydney Opera House, beautiful stretches of harbourside, and stunning beaches. The 17°C average temperature and very low humidity level of 57 per cent culminate in an ideal city destination for joggers and walkers alike.

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Lisbon, Portugal old town cityscape at dusk.

7. Lisbon, Portugal

Looking for another excuse to visit Europe’s most popular city right now? As well as effortlessly cool with a buzzing nightlife, Lisbon is extremely walkable, with a comfortable 18°C average temperature. Run across the Alfama neighbourhood to be transported to Roman and Moorish times, push your limits on high inclinations, or simply spend the day strolling through beautiful and colourful city streets.

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Aerial view of Berlin skyline with famous TV tower and Spree river in beautiful evening light at sunset, Germany.

6. Berlin, Germany

One of the world’s flattest cities, Berlin is ideal for budding walkers who aren’t so fussed about taxing inclines. Low traffic emissions and wide streets make Germany’s capital an ideal spot for walkers and runners, though the lower average temperature (11.5°C) means you’ll have to don a few more layers when admiring this city’s many beautiful sites.

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Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden

5. Stockholm, Sweden

If you are not opposed to a brisk walk or jog, Stockholm might be the one for you. A city of 14 islands – and 50 bridges connecting them – Stockholm is an idyllic city destination that should be added to your bucketlist if it isn’t there already. Low average temperatures (10.5°C) and high humidity (75 per cent) demand a few more layers, but it’s worth it for the beautiful sites.

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4. Rome, Italy

One of the most ancient cities in the world, Rome was designed for walking (and, by extension, jogging). When you’re not indulging in delicious cuisine, an active holiday is totally achievable, with enviable 17.5°C average temperatures and high air quality. Push yourself and finish your running session going up and down the stairs of Piazza di Spagna – or simply stroll through the winding streets.

Weekender: 48 Hours in Rome

Looking across the Yarra river from Southbank to the city of Melbourne

3. Melbourne, Australia

Another Aussie city breaks the top ten, landing in third position and ratifying it’s common nickname as ‘the sporting capital of the world’. High walkability and air quality, moderate temperatures (17°C), and low humidity (52 per cent) make this bayside destination ideal for foot travellers. Explore the city, the beach, or immerse yourself in nature (without venturing to far) at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. 

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Playa de Las Teresitas, a famous beach near Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

2. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Narrowly missing out on the top spot is Tenerife’s city, Santa Cruz. Eighty-two per cent of the city is made up of green space, and though the island location makes for a desert-like environment, the 22°C average temperature makes for lovely walking and jogging conditions. If you get too hot, there are plenty of beaches to stroll across for cooling sea air – or why not have a paddle?

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Stephansplatz St Stephens Cathedral, Vienna

1. Vienna, Austria

Recently crowned the world’s most liveable city, it makes sense that Vienna would also be very walkable – scoring a perfect 100 in HOKA’s research. Running across the city is very smooth, or try Schönbrunn Palace gardens for more greenery. The average temperature (13.5°C) is a little cooler, and the humidity (62 per cent) is a little higher, but don a rain jacket and suitable shoes, and you’ll be very comfortable trekking across Austria’s capital.

Weekender: 48 Hours in Vienna


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Featured Image: Melbourne, Australia – courtesy of Getty