If your ideal vacation includes hitting your running goals while exploring new and exotic places, we have advice for you. Maybe this is the year you try a running vacation.
Running while traveling can be difficult. It’s hard to find the right trails, parks, cultural experiences and iconic local cuisine restaurants that don’t make you feel like you’re only doing the “touristy” things. It’s even harder to do all those things while staying within your budget, staying safe, and not stressing out about making every stop your itinerary.
Luckily, there are a select few running tour operators who plan perfect running vacations for all types of runners and travelers.
Our Top Three Running Vacation Tour Operators
If you’re looking to jog along picturesque running trails around the world while exploring new cultures, look no further. With countless destinations to choose from, these tour operators will plan everything for your next running vacation! All of the fun, none of the work.
Vacation Races crafts all-inclusive global adventures that allow you to balance daily runs and sightseeing excursions. These 7-9 day running trips take place in incredible destinations, including New Zealand, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Patagonia, and Costa Rica. Plus- coming 2024, Vacation Races is adding new trips to Portugal and Ecuador!
Vacation Races welcomes runners of all levels. However, the daily train runs and hikes are 7-12K and usually involve elevation gain, so these trips are best for runners who like a challenge.
Here are some Vacation Races trip highlights:
- The New Zealand trip includes a private jet ride over Mount Cook and a white water rafting excursion – perfect for any thrill seeker!
- Journey through Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto on the Japan trip. Enjoy a trail run with a view of Mt. Fuji, indulge in authentic ramen, and relax in Japanese hot springs.
- The Iceland trip is ideal for nature lovers as you can chill out in the Blue Lagoon and on Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach after trail running through volcanic fields.
- The Ireland trip is a true immersion into the rugged, rocky landscapes that make up the Emerald Isle. It features runs at iconic landmarks like the Cliffs of Moher, archery, and beer breaks at local pubs.
Average cost: $4,400
Group size: Between 40-60 runners per trip
Reviews: “You’re guaranteed to leave with tired legs and a full heart.” -2022 Vacation Races Global Adventurer
“Every day is an adventure… all week long.” -2022 Vacation Races Global Adventurer
Rogue Expeditions is known for its off-the-beaten-path runcations with 14 itineraries in 9 countries. If you love getting out of your comfort zone, this is an excellent option for you! While couples and groups are certainly welcome, Rogue Expeditions’ trips tend to attract lots of solo travelers.
These 5-10 day trips take place in unique destinations like Kenya, Morocco, Patagonia, Baja, South Africa, and Nicaragua. The daily runs vary by location but are usually 16-19K with one long run of up to 32K. However, most programs have flexible distance options to accommodate all levels of runners.
Here are our favorite adventures from Rogue Expeditions:
- A trip to the world’s running capital, Kenya, includes a luxury safari, waterfalls, and a long run in Iten, the distance running mecca where countless Olympians have trained.
- Morocco is Rogue Expeditions’ most popular destination, and it sells out over a year in advance. There are two itinerary options here- the Gorges & Sahara and Backroads of the Atlas. Both trips include visits to Marrakech’s markets, runs through the High Atlas Mountains, and restful stays at traditional riads.
- Check both Slovenia and Croatia off your bucket list on the Run Alpe-Adria trip. This nature-filled itinerary features runs along magical forest trails, river rafting, castles, and lots of wine.
Average cost: $5,000
Group size: Small groups of 8-14 runners
“This trip was epic! The itinerary was full: every day a new run, a new location, a new adventure! There was never a dull moment the entire time. It was truly the trip of a lifetime – everything I was hoping for and more!” –Amy, Rogue Expeditions participant
Run the Alps
Run the Alps is perfect for serious runners looking for a trail running vacation journey through Europe. Their expert local guides will help you explore world-renowned destinations throughout Switzerland, Italy, and France, like the Dolomites, Tour du Mont Blanc, and Chamonix.
They offer 19 guided tours that range from 6 to 12 days. They also have options for self-guided trips or custom private tour packages.
Run the Alps’ trips are open to all levels of trail runners, and each itinerary has a rating scale to help you determine its difficulty. Most daily runs are 10-20K, and some itineraries include an optional trail race day of up to 57K. Runners should be prepared for some steep ascents.
Here are some Run the Alps trips you need to check out:
- Explore France, Italy, and Switzerland on the most popular trip- Tour Mont Blanc. Travel counter-clockwise around the best trail running route in the world while exploring villages and pastures and enjoying each country’s cuisine.
- The Great Cafés of the Alps trip is a must for foodies. This trip is all about balance, with challenging hikes around Chamonix and Matterhorn and peaceful breaks at mountainside cafes full of pastries.
- The Trails and Tails trip is perfect for dog lovers. This unique tour begins in Chamonix, France, the epicenter for trail running, and includes scenic hikes with mountain dogs and stops at the Saint Bernand Museum and the Grand Saint Bernard Kennels.
Average cost: $4,100
Group size: 10 runners maximum
Reviews: “Not sure a better vacation for the running enthusiast exists! I just finished the Tour du Mont Blanc tour and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to combine their passion for running with travel. Everyone in the company was so helpful and kind every step of the way.” –Joni, Run the Alps participant.
“Our guide seemed to know the trails and history like the back of his hand. That created a unique experience you wouldn’t otherwise get.” –Sierra, Run the Alps participant
International Half Marathons On Our Bucket Lists
If you’re not much for guided tours, many look to make a running vacation out of your next half marathon? Here are some international races that are bound to be great running adventures!
Polar Night Half Marathon- January 6th, 2024
Racing beneath the Northern Lights during the Polar Night Half Marathon in Tromsø, Norway sounds like the coolest running vacation ever. This annual race occurs during Tromsø’s two months of continual darkness, so torches light the route to guide you along the snowy paths. There are options for 5K, 10K, and full marathon races as well.
Make the most of your trip to Tromsø by going dog or reindeer sledding, skiing, and snowshoeing. Tromsø is also known for its nightlife, so don’t forget to celebrate your running victory at one of the city’s many pubs.
The Great Wall Half Marathon- May 18th, 2024
Take in China’s beauty and vastness while climbing 5,164 steps during the legendary Great Wall Half Marathon. As one of the world’s most challenging but picturesque running experiences, this course will surely leave you in awe. The event also has an 8.5K race and a full marathon.
International participants can only sign up for the race through a multi-day tour package. During the 6-7 day tours, you can visit famous attractions in Beijing like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, feast on delicious roast duck, and even see giant pandas!
Cost: From $1,695
Our Final Thoughts
A running vacation is a great opportunity to take on new running routes while exploring the world. Wherever you run, we hope you enjoy the journey!
For more running vacation ideas within the US, check out these 2023 National Park Half Marathons.