Travel Tips
min read

Marathon Adventures: Iconic Races Around the World

June 19, 2024
Alexis Miller

From the historic streets of Boston to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, marathons offer runners the chance to explore new destinations while pushing their limits as athletes. Join us as we tour of some of the most iconic marathons around the globe, each with its unique charm and challenges.

Boston Marathon (Boston, USA)

As one of the oldest and most prestigious marathons (begun in 1897), the Boston Marathon is a bucket-list race for many runners. The challenging course, including the notorious Heartbreak Hill, and strict qualifying standards make this race a true test of endurance. It’s usually held on Patriot’s Day, typically the third Monday in April. It’s one of the six World Marathon Majors.

Whether you’re a racer, a fan or event staff, there’s more than just the race to enjoy in Boston! 

Don't miss:

  1. Walking the Freedom Trail to explore Boston's rich history
  2. Visiting Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
  3. Enjoying a bowl of classic New England clam chowder

New York City Marathon (New York City, USA)

The New York City Marathon is a vibrant display of the city's diversity and spirit. It’s held on the first Sunday of November. It’s also one of the largest marathons in the world – with over 53k racers finishing in 2019. It’s one of the six World Marathon Majors. The course winds through all five boroughs of this iconic city, offering runners a unique perspective of the Big Apple. 

New York City is famous for many reasons and thusly there’s so much to see and do during a race weekend. 

While in NYC:

  1. Take in the breathtaking views from the top of the Empire State Building
  2. Stroll through Central Park, an oasis in the heart of the city
  3. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see world-class exhibitions

Chicago Marathon (Chicago, USA)

Held in October every year, the Chicago Marathon boasts a flat, fast course with picturesque views of the city's skyline and Lake Michigan. It’s one of the six World Marathon Majors. The race is known for its enthusiastic crowd support. It became one of the fastest-growing marathons due in-part to the course. 

Much like the two aforementioned cities, Chicago is iconic for many reasons. Therefore, there’s plenty to do in the Windy City. 

In Chicago:

  1. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see masterpieces like "American Gothic"
  2. Take a boat tour along the Chicago River for a unique perspective of the city
  3. Enjoy deep-dish pizza, a Chicago culinary staple
USA esim

Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, D.C., USA)

Known as "The People's Marathon," the Marine Corps Marathon is renowned for its patriotic atmosphere and scenic course passing by major monuments in the U.S. capital. The race is usually held the final Sunday of October, just weeks before the all-important Marine Corps birthday. 

In the capital of the U.S., much of America’s history is on display, meant to be explored and enjoyed. 

Don’t Miss in D.C.:

  1. Visit the Smithsonian Museums, a collection of free museums covering various topics
  2. Tour the U.S. Capitol Building, the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. government
  3. Pay your respects at the Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to the 16th U.S. President

Honolulu Marathon (Honolulu, USA)

The Honolulu Marathon, dubbed the "Aloha Marathon," is famous for its tropical setting and relaxed atmosphere. It’s the fourth-largest marathon in the U.S. and typically takes place in December. Runners can enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery of Hawaii. 

Similar to Japan, Honolulu is enough of a distance that making a longer trip out of the race is a good idea for racers and spectators alike. 

In Honolulu:

  1. Visit Pearl Harbor to learn about the historic attack that led to the U.S. entry into World War II
  2. Hike to the top of Diamond Head, a volcanic crater with stunning views of the city
  3. Relax on the famous Waikiki Beach and try your hand at surfing

London Marathon (London, UK)

Known for its fast course and iconic landmarks, the London Marathon is a favorite among runners seeking a personal best. It’s also one of the largest marathons in the world, with over 800K applicants for the 2025 event. The route passes by the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and other historic sites. It’s typically held in April and is one of the six World Marathon Majors. 

London, steeped in history and rich in culture, offers fans, runners and event staff alike many opportunities. 

When in London:

  1. Ride the London Eye for panoramic views of the city
  2. Explore the Tower of London, home of the Crown Jewels
  3. Visit the British Museum to see artifacts from around the world

Berlin Marathon (Berlin, Germany)

The Berlin Marathon – usually held the last weekend of September – is famous for its flat, fast course where world records are often set. The scenic route showcases the city's historic landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate. It also combines a series of other races that take place over two days. It’s one of the six World Marathon Majors.

While in Berlin:

  1. Visit the East Side Gallery to see the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall
  2. Explore the Reichstag Building, home of the German Parliament
  3. Stroll through the Tiergarten, Berlin's largest park

Paris Marathon (Paris, France)

The Paris Marathon features a stunning route through the heart of the City of Light, passing by iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum. Held in April annually, it, too, is one of the oldest marathons in the world. Its first race was in 1896 and had 191 participants.  

The fashion capital of the world offers more than just shopping for those participating or observing the race. 

In Paris:

  1. Visit the Palace of Versailles, the opulent former residence of French royalty
  2. Explore the charming streets of Montmartre, once home to famous artists like Picasso
  3. Savor a croissant or macaron at a traditional Parisian café

Athens Marathon (Athens, Greece)

The Athens Marathon traces the route of the original marathon from the city of Marathon to Athens. Steeped in history and mythology, this race offers runners the chance to experience the birthplace of the marathon. It’s held on the second Sunday of November annually. According to local legend, it covers the same route that Phiedippides, an Athenian messenger, ran when he brought news of victory from the battlefield of Marathon 2,500 years ago. 

Whether you’re a racer, a fan or event staff, there’s more than just the race to enjoy in Athens! 

While in Athens:

  1. Visit the Acropolis, the ancient citadel home to the iconic Parthenon temple
  2. Explore the Plaka, the city's oldest neighborhood with charming streets and shops
  3. Discover the Ancient Agora, the former heart of public life in Athens
Europe esim

Tokyo Marathon (Tokyo, Japan)

The Tokyo Marathon offers a unique blend of modern urban landscapes and traditional Japanese culture. It’s one of the six World Marathon Majors and is one of the newer marathons; its first race was held in 2007. It usually takes place on the last Sunday of February. Runners can experience the vibrant energy of Japan's capital city. 

For those not from Asia, traveling to Tokyo is a long trip! Make the most of that plane ride by including extra time for travel in Japan.

While in Tokyo:

  1. Visit the Meiji Shrine, a serene Shinto shrine in the heart of the city
  2. Explore the Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world
  3. Take in the views from the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in Japan

Whether you're a seasoned marathoner, a new racer or a traveler looking for a unique challenge, these iconic marathons offer unforgettable experiences. Each race combines the thrill of competition with the opportunity to explore a new destination and immerse yourself in local culture. So lace up your running shoes and get ready for a marathon adventure of a lifetime!

Before you travel for the race, ensure you have an eSIM so you can stay connected before, during and after your run! GigSky has you covered – offering plans in over 190 countries and regions.