The 15 Best Marathons in Europe Worth Every Penny

Want to run a marathon AND go on a European vacation all in one go? A little “runcation” if you will. Well, take a quick flight across the pond and you’ve got a buffet of incredible races to choose from. But how do you determine which to run? What are the best marathons in Europe?

Whether you’re looking for a massive city marathon, something in the Scottish countryside, or just a long trek up a mountain, you’ll find it on the European racing calendar. And from the standard fall and spring marathons to Scandinavian races during the peak of summer and Italian winter marathons, no matter what time of year you’d like to visit, there’s a race for you to run. Europe boasts two Abbott World Major Marathons, the oldest marathon in the world, and what many believe to be the most difficult. Run by the Eiffel Tower, the Vatican, and Buckingham Palace and then celebrate with a croissant, fettucini, or some fish and chips. Europe is host to some incredible marathons. Here are the best of the best.

Not ready for an international half marathon just yet? You might want to try a running vacation.

Even if so far you’ve only run a half marathon, if you’re going to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, you may want to see if you can lace up for the full 26.2.

The Best Marathons in Europe

Jungfrau Marathon in Interlaken, Switzerland

Let’s start on a high point, literally. The Jungfrau Marathon is widely considered to be one of the most difficult courses in the world. Starting at the base of Jungfrau Mountain, the race is basically one very long trek up the Swiss Alps. Nearly the entire race is uphill, and a fairly steep uphill at that. The elevation change is nearly 2,000 meters, and while the views at the finish line are spectacular, getting there is a real pain in the butt (again literally). The men’s course record of 2:49:01 should give you a pretty good indication of how hard this race is, but it’s certainly one to put on your bucket list. 

September 7, 2024 | Register

Runners along the course of the Berlin Marathon, one of our favorite and best marathons in Europe.

BMW Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany

Completely opposite of Jungfrau, the Berlin Marathon is one of the flattest and fastest marathon courses in the world, facilitating world records and qualifying times for Boston more than most other courses. One of the Abbot World Major Marathons (along with New York, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, and London), Berlin is a must-run for most avid marathoners. The loop course circles Berlin and ends with runners passing under the famed Brandenburg Gate right before they cross the finish line. Celebrate with a stein of beer and some wiener schnitzel. 

September 29, 2024 | Register

Loch Ness Marathon in Inverness, Scotland

If you’re looking for something a bit more scenic, or if you’re looking for a famed aquatic monster, then the Loch Ness Marathon is the perfect race for you. The race winds its way through the Scottish highlands and runners get to spend plenty of time along the shores of Scotland’s most famous lake (or loch as they call them). In comparison to many of the other races on this list which run through vast metropolises, the Loch Ness Marathon is a bit smaller and more lowkey. Some runners also don kilts for the occasion, but that’s certainly not required. 

September 29, 2024 | Register

Lisbon Marathon in Lisbon, Portugal

If you’ve never been to Lisbon (or even if you have), you might envision their marathon to be a city race through winding European streets. Lisbon’s marathon, however, is more akin to a Hawaiian beach race. Starting outside the city, the point-to-point course leads runners along the coastline as it heads downtown. That means most of the race provides runners with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, passing beaches and palm trees as you trace the edge of the peninsula.

October 6, 2024 | Register

Amsterdam Marathon in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Netherlands may be known for their wooden clogs, but I wouldn’t suggest you wear them to run the Amsterdam Marathon. The Dutch race provides runners with an exciting course that loops the city with plenty of excursions into interesting neighborhoods. You’ll run along canals, over bridges, and past some of the city’s most famous landmarks. The race begins and ends in their Olympic stadium, which feels incredibly climactic. 

October 20, 2024 | Register

Venice Marathon in Venice, Italy

The Venice Marathon is one of the most chaotic races you can sign up for, and it’s all the more exciting for it. The old city, built on top of the water and filled with dozens of tiny canals, is not exactly the ideal location for a street race. The city builds a pontoon bridge specifically for the race to traverse the Grand Canal, there are boards that cover the smaller bridges to keep runners from having to climb stairs, and the 100 meters before the finish are paved with cobblestone. Oh, also if you’re slow, the tide may rise and cover parts of the course leaving you running through water or being rerouted. But boy will your stories be epic. 

October 27, 2024 | Register

Athens Marathon in Athens, Greece

The oldest marathon in the world is of course the Athens race, originally run in 490 BC by a messenger bringing news of a victory from the town of Marathon to Athens (where according to legend he died of exhaustion). When the modern Olympics were founded, they created an endurance event based on this tale as their marquee attraction. Over 100 years later, runners are still traversing the 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens yearly in their race, but lucky for these runners, inevitable death doesn’t wait at the finish. 

November 2024 | Register

Valencia Marathon in Valencia, Spain

Valencia is more than just an OG Instagram filter. It’s also a seaside Spanish city, known for having one of the largest ports on the Mediterranean Sea and being a top destination for expatriates. Their marathon loops the city, ending at the Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe, an instantly recognizable architectural landmark and icon. It’s also one of a few winter marathons you have to choose from in Europe, so if you need to squeeze in 26.2 before Christmas, this is your race. The Valencia Half Marathon was just added to a new European premium half marathon series – SuperHalfs.

December 1, 2024 | Register

Barcelona Marathon in Barcelona, Spain

The Barcelona Marathon is in a bit of a rebrand. They’re reworking their course for 2024 as we speak, so I really can’t say too much about the race as a whole, because we don’t know where it will send runners (although it’s a safe bet they won’t want to lose the photo ops by the Sagrada Familia). Barcelona is a larger city than Valencia, and their marathon is certainly the larger of the two races. It’s also timed for March, so if you’re looking for a more standard spring timeslot, you might want this race instead. 

March 10, 2024 | Register

Rome Marathon in Rome, Italy

Rome’s marathon is an embarrassment of riches. When your city is bursting at the seams with historic locales, a 26.2 mile road race around the city can steer you past quite a few of them. The start and finish are near the famed Colosseum and the course, which stays close to the Tiber River, visits sites like the Vatican and St. Paul’s Basilica. Plus carb loading has never been easier with so much pasta at your disposal. 

March 17, 2024 | Register

The finishers of the Paris Marathon, one of the best marathons in Europe.

Paris Marathon in Paris, France

Like Rome, Paris is a city BUILT to host a marathon, and I’m always a little bit shocked that Paris hasn’t found its way into the World Marathon Majors lineup. Starting and ending near the Arc de Triomphe, the course loops the city passing along the Champs-Elysees, and past the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Bastille. You’ll run along the Seine River and past plenty of adoring fans. Plus, this is a race ready made for social media. The options for Instagram pics are endless. While you’re there, you can find any great French baguette as a pre-race meal.

April 7, 2024 | Register

The London Bridge which London Marathon runners have the opportunity to traverse on the best marathons in Europe.

London Marathon in London, England

Perhaps Paris’s place in the World Marathon Major lineup was snatched by the London Marathon, which runs only a few weeks later with a similar energy. One of the biggest marathons in the world and the most difficult to get into if you aren’t a Brit, it too offers runners a course jam-packed with landmarks. Starting east of the city, the point-to-point course sends runners following the Thames River into London. You’ll cross Tower Bridge and run past the London Eye and Big Ben on your way to Buckingham Palace and the finish. This United Kingdom race might be the most popular and iconic as any marathon on the list.

April 21, 2024 | Register

Copenhagen Marathon in Copenhagen, Denmark

Heading into the late spring/summer, running in southern Europe begins to get a bit too sweaty for my taste, but the Scandinavian races are still cool and refreshing runs. Denmark’s marquee marathon really showcases their capital city nicely in a winding loop course that seemingly covers every block of the coastal city. One of the city’s favorite summer activities is jumping off a wharf into the chilly water, which sounds delightful ater 26.2 miles. 

May 5, 2024 | Register

Stockholm Marathon in Stockholm, Sweden

Traveling north from Denmark, you’ll end up in Sweden and their popular marathon in Stockholm. The days may be long, and the race may be in the summer sun, but better that than the snow that covers the city for much of the year. A summer trip to Scandinavia is a treat and building one around this gorgeous loop of the city is an incredible way to spend Memorial Day. The course does leave you with an uphill bridge climb in the back half that can be daunting, but the views from the top are worth it, and we love a nice downhill. 

June 1, 2024 | Register

Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromso, Norway

Last but not least we have the one-of-a-kind Midnight Sun Marathon, held every year in the far recesses of Norway. Because the race is run so far north and on the longest day of the year, the sun never completely sets, and so even though the marathon has runners on the course at midnight, it’s still broad daylight. It’s an experience most Americans have never experienced, let alone experienced while running a marathon. No marathoning bucket list is complete without this one. 

June 22, 2024 | Register

The Best Marathons in Europe Calendar

  • Barcelona Marathon in Spain | March 10, 2024
  • Rome Marathon in Italy | March 17, 2024
  • Paris Marathon in France | April 7, 2024
  • London Marathon in England | April 21, 2024
  • Copenhagen Marathon in Denmark | May 5, 2024
  • Stockholm Marathon in Sweden | June 1, 2024
  • Midnight Sun Marathon in Norway | June 22, 2024
  • Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland | September 7, 2024
  • Berlin Marathon in Germany | September 29, 2024
  • Loch Ness Marathon in Scotland | September 29, 2024
  • Lisbon Marathon in Portugal | October 6, 2023
  • Amsterdam Marathon in the Netherlands | October 20, 2024
  • Valencia Marathon in Spain | December 1, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Marathons in Europe

What is the famous marathon in France?

The Paris Marathon is the most famous marathon in France with close to 50,000 runners.

What are the best marathons in Europe?

The most popular marathons in Europe are the London Marathon, Paris Marathon and the Berlin Marathon.

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