The 20 European Half Marathons Worth Traveling For

Bonjour les coureurs! Or as we say in America, hello runners! While there are hundreds of incredible half marathons in the U.S. each year, the world is wide and races are run annually on all seven continents. (Yes, there are marathons and halves in Antarctica.) European half marathons, in particular, are some of the best in the world. From the bustling streets of Paris and the sun-drenched hills of Italy to the coastal towns of Scandinavia and the trails of Northern Ireland, there are races all across Europe.

Europe boasts two of the six marathon majors (Berlin and London), ultramarathons, 5Ks, and even running events dedicated to spotting the Loch Ness monster and avoiding a stampede of bulls. The continent is also home to some of the best half marathons in the world. I would know: As aa longtime running journalist and author of Marathoner: What to Expect When Training for and Running a Marathon, I’ve ran plenty of races and researched ones I haven’t run extensively.

The best part about signing up for one of the great half marathons in Europe is you can turn it into a full runcation — that is, a running vacation.

With hundreds of options, I’ve combed through Europe’s many half marathons and selected 20 of the continent’s most exciting races for you to try. From summer to winter and north to south, I’ve got you covered. So take a look at the list and sign up for your next half marathon!

Runners competing in one of the best European half marathons, The Royal Parks in London.
Photo: The Royal Parks Half Marathon

1. Royal Parks Half Marathon

See London the way no other tourist will have a chance to do by running 13.1 miles through the city. Traversing Hyde Park, The Green Park, St. James Park, and Kensington Gardens, this race is full of spectacular views. Royal residences Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, the London Eye, and Royal Albert Hall are just part of the amazing scenery of this course.

London, U.K. • October 13, 2024

2. Semi-Marathon de Paris

Attracting some 40,000 participants, this huge event is a perfect introduction to eastern Paris. The loop course begins and ends in Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in Paris. Runners are treated to historical sights such as Notre Dame, Place de la Bastille, and more than a mile of running along the Seine. Plus, the largely flat course is perfect for setting records.

Paris, France • March 9, 2025

Runners racing down the street in Amsterdam in one of the best European half marathons, the Amsterdam Half Marathon.
Photo: TCS Amsterdam Marathon

3. Amsterdam Half Marathon

Running through the streets of a world-class city is bucket list-worthy. Finishing in an Olympic stadium makes this race a must-do. Home of the 1928 summer Olympics, this stadium serves as a picturesque backdrop to cross the half marathon finish line.

Runners get a glimpse of all kinds of things that Amsterdam has to offer from the Rijksmuseum, home of thousands of pieces of art, to Vondelpark, the largest public park in the city.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands • October 20, 2024

A couple of male runners with race bibs running down the street in the Mitja Marato de Barcelona half marathon.
Photo: Mitja Marato de Barcelona

4. Mitja Marató de Barcelona

Situated in the heart of Barcelona, the half-marathon of Barcelona (or Mitja Marató de Barcelona in Spanish), is a fabulous way to see this city. Runners start at the Arc de Triomf and race to the Plaça Catalunya.

They will race down the famous Ramblas, along Avenida del Paral·lel, and through the Eixample district. The second half of the race features views of the Torre Agbar, the Fòrum, and the beautiful Mediterranean before finishing at the Arc de Triomf.

Barcelona, Spain • February 16, 2025

5. Half Marathon Firenze Vivicittà

As one of the most picturesque cities in the world, Florence provides a beautiful place to race a half marathon. Runners will get to see a smattering of monuments that has made this city famous, from Lungarno della Zecca to Piazza della Signoria, and from Piazza Duomo to Oltrarno, to the finish line in Piazza Santa Croce. Plus, the whole family can get involved with 1.5K, 5K, and 10K events.

Florence, Italy • April 6, 2025

6. Berlin Half Marathon

The world famous Berlin Marathon is known for producing incredibly fast times and the half marathon is no different. This PR-worthy course happens to be full of history as well. Runners will pass by the Berlin Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate, the Victory Column, Charlottenburg Palace, and Potsdamer Platz. Join 30,000 others in this jaunt through some of Berlin sights.

Berlin, Germany • April 6, 2025

7. Helsinki Half Marathon

The course of the Helsinki Half Marathon provides views of both the city and the water. Nestled in the Gulf of Finland, this seaside city is bustling during the summer months. Runners will pass by the University of Helsinki Botanical Gardens, Helsinki University, Linnanmäki amusement park, and the myriad of buildings built for the 1952 Olympics.

Helsinki, Finland • June 8 , 2024

Runners in a park, running in the Brussels Half Marathon in Europe.
Photo: Brussels Airport Marathon & Half Marathon

8. Brussels Half Marathon

As home to the capital and largest city in Belgium, Brussels is a city full of centuries of history. Runners entering the Brussels Half Marathon will only get a small sampling of the landmarks marking historical events that have taken place over the years.

They will pass by the Berlaymont and Brussels Palace of Justice and run through public parks like Ter Kamerenbos and Parc du Cinquantenaire. This loop course follows sections of the full marathon course which takes place on the same day.

Brussels, Belgium • October 1, 2024

9. Copenhagen Half Marathon

The Copenhagen Half Marathon is like a tour of downtown Copenhagen. Just don’t expect to set any PRs if you are soaking in all the sights. Runners will pass by a slew of famous spots like the National Gallery of Denmark, Rosenborg Castle, the Marble Church, the Old Stock Exchange, the Royal Library, and Frederiksberg Town Hall. The Copenhagen Half was added to the new premium race series – SuperHalfs.

This year will be the race’s inaugural year in a city that boasts 30 percent of its citizens are runners.

Copenhagen, Denmark – September 15, 2024

10.  Great North Run

This is the largest half marathon by race participants in Europe. The Great North Run saw 60,000 runners in 2023. It’s one of the largest mass participation events on the planet. The race takes runners from Newcastle city centre to the South Shields, a point-to-point and coast-to-coast run that just might exceed all your wildest expectations.

Newcastle upon Tyne, England • September 8, 2024

Photo: Lisbon Half Marathon

11. Lisbon Half Marathon

One of Lisbon’s most iconic sites is the 25 de Abril Bridge, named after the day of the Carnation Revolution in 1974. The bridge stretches from Almada to Lisbon over the Tagus River, and it’s this bridge which serves as the start of the Lisbon Half Marathon. The course then follows the coast in a point-to-point path that ends at the Mosteiros dos Jeronimos, an ancient monastery. The Lisbon Half spends much more time in Lisbon proper than the full which starts far to the east.

Lisbon, Portugal • March 9, 2025

12. Prague Half Marathon

Prague, the capital of Czechia or the Czech Republic is beautifully situated on the banks of the Vltava River. The city’s half marathon, run every spring, takes full advantage of the river. The loop course crisscrosses the river multiple times as it follows the river south and then back north again. Prague is also part of the SuperHalfs racing series which challenges runners to complete halves in Lisbon, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, Cardiff and Valencia within 60 months in order to claim a SuperMedal.

Prague, Czech Republic April 6, 2024

Photo: Gareth James

13. Cardiff Half Marathon

There’s a lot of ways to start a half marathon, but shooting blasts of fire into the air outside a castle isn’t the standard method. That is, however, how the Welsh capital elects to start their half marathon, one of the SuperHalfs. The loop course starts and ends in City Centre with a tour of the city (and jaunt over the Cardiff Bay) in the 13.1 miles in between. The course is known for being flat and fast, not something every UK race can boast, so it’s a great pick if you want a PR.

Cardiff, United Kingdom October 6, 2024

Photo: Julia Velkova

14. Midnight Sun Half Marathon

If you’re looking for an easy commute, the Midnight Sun Half Marathon might not be the race for you. It’s located in the tiny town of Tromso in the far northern reaches of Norway (so far north its above the entire country of Sweden). The race, which celebrates the summer solstice, starts in the late evening and has runners chugging along past midnight. Because the race is so far north, however, the sun doesn’t really set on the longest day of the year meaning that you’ll have sunlight at midnight for your run.

Tromso, Norway June 22, 2024

Photo: valenciaciudaddelrunning.com

15. Valencia Half Marathon

Valencia is more than just an Instagram filter. It’s also a beach town on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and host of another SuperHalf. The Valencia Half Marathon boasts a loop course around the city, winding past numerous historic landmarks before a jaunt by the beach and back to the finish. Valencia is also the closest Spanish city to Ibiza, so after you’re done running you can head to Europe’s party island for some R&R.

Valencia, Spain October 27, 2024

16. Göteborgsvarvet

If you had to guess where the world’s largest half marathon in terms of entrants was located, you’d probably list places like London, New York, or Tokyo. However, with upwards of 60,000 entrants each year, the half marathon held in Gothenburg, Norway (the countries second largest city) actually takes the crown. The loop course crosses two bridges, providing spectacular views of the city. You’ll just have to share them with 60,000+ of your closest friends.

Gothenburg, Norway May 17, 2025

Photo: Dingle Half Marathon

17. Dingle Half Marathon

You may have never heard of Dingle, Ireland, but National Geographic called the area “probably the most beautiful on Earth.” The point-to-point course shows off that natural beauty as it traces the Irish coastline along the Atlantic Ocean over lush green cliffs. Not a lot of flights into Dingle (it’s too small to have an airport) and the course is hilly, but the race is gorgeous enough to make up for all that.

Dingle, Ireland September 7, 2024

18. Vienna Half Marathon

Of Europe’s inner city road race half marathons, Vienna’s is easily one of the most well thought out. It’s 13.1-mile long course allows runners to see just about every sightseeing destination in the city. Runners begin by crossing the Danube River only to run by the famous Prater amusement park and its Ferris Wheel during mile 3. You’ll run by Karlskirche on your way out to the Schonbrunn Palace and then circle back for a finish in Rathausplatz. There’s not a dull mile to be found.

Vienna, Austria April 21, 2024

19. Athens Half Marathon

While the full marathon is, of course, inspired by a messenger running from Marathon to Athens and the modern marathon which does the same in Greece each year is iconic. The Athens Half Marathon has one major thing the full does not: actually running in Athens. The full spends most of its time on the road to Athens whereas the half lets you run by the Parthenon multiple times as you spiral the city. If you want to run IN ATHENS, then this is your race.

Athens, Greece March 10, 2024

Photo: Swiss Peaks

20. Swiss Peaks Half Marathon

The most challenging race on this list is definitely the Swiss Peaks Half Marathon, with the Swiss Peaks being several Alps that you have to run up on your way to the finish. This trail run includes 940 meters of elevation gain on it’s way to the finish with most of the first half being a steep incline up the side of a mountain. The last few miles are all downhill though, so at least you’ll have that to look forward to.

Bouveret, Switzerland September 8, 2024

2 comments… add one
  • Tony Wesley January 3, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Perhaps not as spectacular as those, but noteworthy in my opinion, is the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon. You run over the Detroit River into Windsor on the Ambassador Bridge right around sunrise. You run along the river on the Canadian side and come back via the tunnel, running a mile under water.

  • Susan Davis January 2, 2015, 4:21 pm

    I would like to post the Murray Half Marathon, 2-Person Relay and 5K run/walk to your site.

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