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Best Off-the-Beaten-Track Holiday Destinations for Running


Summer running destinations

For runners seeking adventure beyond the usual summer holiday spots, there are numerous off-the-beaten-track running destinations that offer stunning trails, diverse landscapes, and unique cultural experiences. Here are some hidden gems perfect for your next running getaway.


1. Azores, Portugal

Why Run Here: The Azores archipelago, located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, boasts lush landscapes, volcanic craters, and dramatic coastlines. The island of São Miguel offers incredible trail running paths through verdant forests, past crater lakes, and along rugged coastlines.


Highlights:

  • Sete Cidades, a stunning twin lake in a volcanic crater

  • The Furnas Valley with its hot springs and botanical gardens

  • Whale watching and swimming in natural thermal pools


2. Jeju Island, South Korea

Why Run Here: Jeju Island, known for its volcanic landscapes, picturesque beaches, and unique culture, is a runner’s paradise. The island’s Olle Trails offer over 250 miles of well-marked paths that traverse diverse terrains, from coastal cliffs to dense forests.


Highlights:

  • Hallasan Mountain, South Korea’s highest peak, offering challenging yet rewarding trails

  • Scenic trails around Jeju’s stunning waterfalls and lava tubes

  • Unique cultural sites like the Haenyeo (female divers) Museum


3. Lofoten Islands, Norway

Why Run Here: The Lofoten Islands provide an otherworldly running experience with their dramatic mountain peaks, deep fjords, and pristine beaches. The midnight sun in summer allows for endless daylight to explore these stunning trails.


Highlights:

  • Reinebringen hike for breathtaking views over the fishing village of Reine

  • Coastal trails with views of the Northern Sea

  • Opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and experiencing the local Viking history


4. Sierra de Grazalema, Spain

Why Run Here: This stunning natural park in Andalusia offers a mix of rugged mountains, deep gorges, and picturesque white villages. The well-marked trails range from easy walks to challenging runs, making it perfect for all levels.


Highlights:

  • The Garganta Verde canyon with its spectacular rock formations

  • Running through the charming white-washed villages like Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra

  • Exploring ancient Roman roads and wildlife spotting


5. Faroe Islands

Why Run Here: The Faroe Islands, located between Iceland and Norway, are renowned for their dramatic cliffs, rolling hills, and remote beauty. The islands’ varied terrain and cool summer temperatures make it an ideal running destination.


Highlights:

  • Trails along the cliffs of Mykines, home to puffin colonies

  • The scenic route around the Sørvágsvatn lake, which appears to hang above the ocean

  • Exploring traditional Faroese villages and experiencing local cuisine


6. Madeira, Portugal

Why Run Here: Madeira offers a mix of lush green mountains, rugged coastlines, and the famous Levadas (irrigation channels) that provide unique and scenic running routes. The island’s varied topography ensures a diverse running experience.


Highlights:

  • The Levada dos 25 Fontes, a beautiful trail leading to 25 natural springs

  • Running through the Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site

  • Exploring coastal paths with stunning ocean views


7. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Why Run Here: The Isle of Skye’s dramatic landscapes, with its rugged mountains, picturesque lochs, and moody coastline, offer a truly wild running experience. The island’s trails range from gentle coastal paths to challenging mountain routes.


Highlights:

  • The Quiraing, a landslip on the northernmost point of the Trotternish Ridge

  • Running along the Fairy Pools with their crystal-clear waters

  • The Cuillin Ridge for more experienced runners seeking a technical challenge


8. Transylvania, Romania

Why Run Here: Transylvania’s mix of medieval castles, dense forests, and Carpathian Mountains provide a diverse and mystical backdrop for running. The region’s trails offer everything from gentle forest paths to steep mountain routes.


Highlights:

  • The trails around Bran Castle, famously associated with Dracula

  • Running in Piatra Craiului National Park with its dramatic limestone ridge

  • Exploring Saxon villages and fortified churches


9. Tasmania, Australia

Why Run Here: Tasmania’s wilderness offers a unique running experience with its diverse ecosystems, from rugged coastlines to ancient rainforests. The island’s well-maintained trails and cool summer temperatures make it ideal for runners.


Highlights:

  • The Overland Track, a world-renowned long-distance trail

  • Coastal trails in Freycinet National Park with views of Wineglass Bay

  • Running through the Tarkine rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the world


10. Bhutan

Why Run Here: Bhutan’s pristine landscapes, ranging from lush valleys to towering Himalayan peaks, provide a breathtaking backdrop for running. The country’s commitment to preserving its natural environment makes it a runner’s paradise.


Highlights:

  • The trails around Paro, including the challenging hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery

  • Running through the stunning Phobjikha Valley, home to the rare black-necked cranes

  • Exploring ancient temples and experiencing Bhutanese culture


These off-the-beaten-track destinations offer runners a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and challenging terrains. Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or a bit of both, these hidden gems are sure to provide an unforgettable summer running holiday. Make sure to check the best time to travel in order to avoid extreme weather and ensure a smooth running experience.

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