From running between towering skyscrapers to jogging on kilometres of soft sand, sometimes the best way to really appreciate what a city has to offer is to embrace the city trails. We run in a city for very different reasons but one of the best is to get a better perspective on some of these concrete jungles. Whether just visiting on your travels or a more permanent resident here’s a list of several cities that we think make for some of the best city trails around the world.
San Francisco is ranked the second most walkable city in the U.S – there’s no reason not to up the pace and make a good city trail out of it. There are a huge amount of attractions to see while blazing a route around the hilly streets of San Fran, but if you want to see it all you’re going to have to work for it. One of the best running trails can be found down by Fishermans Wharf, where you can make the most of the flatter terrain – as long as you can handle the crowds which frequent the infamous Pier 39. When running the wharf opt for a pace glove and really push yourself for some high end speed. Those looking for a little more of a lung buster really aren’t going to struggle to find some punishing hills. San Francisco is synonymous with hill and for good reason, you’ll often witness the odd car struggling to make its way up some of the drastically vertical streets. If you’re searching for that perfect profile photo with the Golden Gate bridge or Alcatraz in the background, then you’re going to have to do the hard work and get up Nob Hill.
Top Fact: The cable cars of San Francisco are the only moving National Historic Landmark in America.
Unsurprisingly in a society where outdoor activities are paramount, the land down under does not disappoint with its city trails. From the iconic stature of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House you will have to work to see all of the bay city. If you have the tenacity then a run from Bondi beach over the Harbour Bridge and towards Manly, before enjoying the woodland trails as you lap the dam, is certainly a worthy days exploration. Its probably worth catching the boat back though. Although if you really want to get a sense of leaving the city behind, a short trip to the stunning cliff top coastal trails of Kamay Botany Bay National Park will really set your feet free and give you an excuse to break out the Trail Gloves.
Top fact: The Harbour Bridge is known by the locals as “The Coat Hanger” due to its distinct shape.
If you can avoid the temptation to jump in a black cab or a big red bus, you can explore the worlds most visited city entirely on foot. The River Thames meanders its way through some of the most beautiful parts of the town and although you’re not a true London runner without doing a good few miles along the Embankment, you’d be wise to base your run in the beautiful Royal Parks. You can feel like a real London Marathon champion just by running down the Mall next to St.James Park & simultaneously if you get your timing right you can catch your breath and watch the Changing of the Guards outside Buckingham Palace. Hyde Park is only moments away and will comfortably afford you 5 glorious miles if you circle the perimeter, be sure to wave at the Royal Baby as you go passed Kensington Palace. Without doubt you’ll want to finish your run with a good sprint in Regents Park and up Primrose Hill. Watch over London’s entire skyline knowing you have conquered the only and some what paltry hill that it has to offer.
Top fact: London was the first city in the world to have an underground railway, known as the ‘tube’.
Rome is steeped in ancient antiquity that is open to everyone who treads the streets. A run in the Italian capital can pass all too quickly as you get lost in its archaeological wonders. Every turn will lead you to a different and equally impressive monument or building – it’s worth getting lost in an attempt to see all that it has to offer. Its near impossible to mention all of its treasure but there are some you can easily string together on a good city trail. The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine are a good place to start an adventurous running expedition. Head over the cobbled streets to the Spanish Steps and work in a few reps from top to bottom on the 135 steps leading up to the church. It’s but a short sprint over to the refreshing Trevi Fountain before a steady jog to The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, taking in many a ruin along the way. If you want to push the miles then aim to finish up at St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, you certainly won’t regret it.
Top fact: Rome has a sovereign state located entirely in its city limits, the Vatican City, which is also the world’s smallest state.
Rio De Janeiro
This one is somewhat short but entirely sweet – Rio’s magnificent Copacabana & Ipanema beaches, 4km of shoreside running and city exploration. Kick off your trainers and enjoy the sand beneath your feet as you take in the sound of the waves in one of the most lively party cities in the world. If possible, plan your trip over New Year but Copacabana is one of the planets best city beach runs any day of the year.
Top fact: Portuguese explorers first encountered the island on January 1, 1502, hence the name Rio de Janeiro (River of January).
By Max Willcocks