Working out while traveling

Hi there! Quick question for fitness fiends abroad. I'm a 24-year-old female planning a summer backpacking trip across Europe. I'm not fanatical about working out, but I do run daily 3 miles to clear my head and keep endorphins up. I would really like to keep up the running while I'm traveling, but I know from personal and friends' experiences that many of the cities on my agenda aren't necessarily suited for street running. I'll be staying on couches and in hostels for much of the trip, so I won't have the luxury of hotel gyms. Does anyone have any advice? Parks, pathways, tracks? Will I look crazy running through the streets of Florence? Any insight would be appreciated! Here's my itinerary if you have specific spots to check out: London Edinburgh Paris Lisbon Barcelona Nice Florence
various locations in Ireland

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11083 posts

In London, the stretch of green that runs from Kensington Gardens through Hyde Park, Green Park to the Mall would be an Obvious choice for a runner. I don't think Paris has a comparable cluster of large parks adjacent to each other, but at least the sidewalks are pretty wide.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
1063 posts

You won't look odd in London, I see many people running into work in the mornings or in their lunch-breaks. Mind you, with the crowds and the traffic they are jogging on the spot quite a bit too. Might be better to find some residential squares to run around or go to a park. Or you can run along the Embankment or the River Lee. If you want to be cheeky, you could always sign up for the 1 day free trial many gyms offer.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9483 posts

Paris is easy , theres a nice path in Luxembourg Gardens , you can also do perimeter of Tuilleries and many enjoy along Siene. Just google "jogging paths " for each city , I think you will be surprised what comes up. Also, I think you may be surprised, but most people walk can easily walk ten miles a day while sightseeing in some cities. I know I 've done more, , you may not need to jog.. lol ,

Posted by Penny
Tulsa, OK
276 posts

I won't pretend that I'm a fitness buff, but I've found that with all the walking I do in Europe it's not really necessary to do additional exercise to keep in shape and clear my head. Unlike here in the states where you have to drive everywhere and must make a point of exercising to keep fit, in European cities you walk...and walk, and walk. It's wonderful! I was always able to eat pretty much what I wanted and still maintain weight without any effort. In some cities you may not feel like you are able to clear your head from just walking around - London comes to mind - but in those cases there are usually nice parks or river banks where you can run or walk without worrying about pedestrians and such. In Florence, I would suggest running in the Oltrarno area on the far side of the Arno River. The main part of Florence is a bit congested with pedestrians and the ever present Vespas whereas the Oltrarno is less touristed and quieter.You can run along the river and/or up the hill to Forte di Belvedere where there's a great view of the city. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by Monique
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
605 posts

Hi Kestrel!
For Florence I would recommend Cascine Park (take the Tramvia to the second stop). It's a huge grassy area along the river that had a wide concrete path along the river. You won't be alone in running. Except Tuesday is the market day way which may force you to run on the grass, but still, it's a great area. In Lisbon, I would suggest running along the river. There are small parks and such in the interior of the city, but the biggest issue would be hills, Hills and more HILLS. If you like that, there is a lot of straight roads that may work, for instance running from Marques de Ponbal Square down to the river ...and then catching the bus back UP :) Barcelona I think would be more runner friendly (except Las Ramblas - too crowded). But the main streets up near many Gaudi sights is flat and the sidewalks are wide enough to run without running people over. Have fun!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6824 posts

In London, we stay near St. James Park anwalk through there to connect to Green park, where we start running, and go as far into Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens as we wish, then turn around. In Paris we didn't run. In Florence, we stayed near the Arno and ran along the river to a distant bridge, crossed over, and ran back. It was around 7 am and ther were others doing the same. In Barcelona, we ran down Las Ramblas like James did, then worked our way along the quai and to the beach path (Passeig Maritima) to the end, then caught a metro back. In the early morning there was hardly anyone there and it was lovely along the beach. In Ireland we just ran from our B&B wherever we felt like going.

Posted by Karen
800 posts

Kestrel - I was training for a race while in France two years ago. I mapped out a route for Paris from my hotel, through the Tuilleries and over to the Eiffel Tower, back along the Seine. It was fabulous! In Nice there is the wide Promenade de Angalis that runs along the sea. We walked it, but I saw lots of people running. If you haven't already done so, invest in a Garmin watch - something that tells you your distance and time. Makes it a little easier to just hit the streets and go till you do your desired mileage.

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
325 posts

I am a marathon runner and have taken several trips to Europe while in the middle of training for that. I will tell you that with all the walking we do during the day (5-10 miles) I have found that I can come home and pick right back up with my normal running mileage with no problem. Having said that, if I were trying to run three miles a day in the places you stated, here are my thoughts. London will be easy. In fact, I think it would be cool to run the same route of the Olympic marathon or at least you could pick a three mile portion of it and/or run along the Thymes river. Paris would have numerous 3 mile loop possibilities especially along the Siene river and/or the Eifle tower area. Barcelona could be the Las Ramblas and/or the beachfront area. Nice has a real nice path along the beach/coast area and there is a nice wide street in the city too. Florence might be tricky, but maybe early in the morning before the crowds you could run in the city center area. For Ireland, I would HIGHLY recommend you run on trails as the roads will not allow for you to run on. The cars barely fit and a runner would get clipped easily. I hope that helps. Enjoy!!

Posted by Carole
Edmond, OK
98 posts

When traveling I try to run about 6 miles every other day. In London we stayed in Kensington so I ran in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park. In Paris we were close to Luxembourg Gardens which is perfect and you will see other runners there. Unfortunately it was so rainy in Edinburgh that I didn't run but we were about a half-mile from a park so that was a logical easy location. We stayed at a B&B in Dublin that was only a block from the canal so I ran on the trail by it. You can also ask the hotel staff for a nearby park or trail by a river or canal. I've never had access to a gym but I have never felt crazy running to the nearest park and I don't think you will either. Besides it is the perfect way to find that interesting little cafe for lunch.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
6742 posts

I guess a lot will depend on where your hotel is located. In Florence, for example, the Cascine park is very popular with joggers, but if you're staying across town from there, there are other locations that would be most convenient. Along the Arno river there are also running paths on the Eastern side of the city center. Madonna used to jog there when performing in Florence (and so did I since it's closer to my parents' home). Many also jog up the boulevards that take you to Piazzale Michelangelo. There is a bike and running path along the very large sidewalk. It's uphill, so you'll get extra workout. You can start from Piazza Ferrucci and go up to the Piazzale and come down the other way to Porta Romana. Lots of joggers do that. There are also some joggers that run in the city center but very early in the morning only, because it is simply too crowded with tourists otherwise. Downtown Florence becomes more crowded than a mall the weekend before Christmas. After 7:00 am you won't be able to run without bumping into the hordes of tourists occupying the streets everywhere. In Barcelona the best spot is probably in the Parc de Montjuic, where the Olympic park is. Lots of green. I've seen lots of joggers there.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4633 posts

If you do it in the early morning you'll be fine. I ran first thing when I was in Brugge and there was no one around. This was around 7. It was great. I saw a completely different Brugges. Pam

Posted by Kathleen
97 posts

My husband's the runner in the family, not me. :-) I second the advice to get up EARLY and run. Much less crowded then. And the(usually) beautiful sunrises will compensate for the early hours. At least that's what he tells me.

Posted by Love to Travel
San Diego, CA
126 posts

Hi there, I did that route minus the UK a few years ago and am also an avid runner. I run about 3 miles a few times a week. It's a bit tough when I'm traveling. Even though I'm walking 10 miles a day it's just not the same as running. Another think you can do is the Jillian Michael's workout. Don't need anything (hand weights but you can improvise-water bottle, toiletries, etc) It's a 20 min workout and you can do it while roomies are showering or whatever. It gives you cardio, strength, and abs all in a quick workout. Just watch it on youtube, take notes, and improvise. I also take stretchy resistance bands, too. I found that running along rivers and bodies of water were very nice. There were usually other runners there. I ran along the Seine in Paris and the Tejo in Lisbon. You can usually find other runners there. Nice you can run up and down the promenade. As for Barcelona, I ran up on the mountain, Montjuic, lots of running trails. It was the site for the Olympics so it draws a lot of athletes, I think. As for Florence...did not go running here as it was so hot! I'm sure you can find a city park and go running through it or do laps around it. One tip: don't take the metro to your early morning run! I went running at 7am once in Paris, took the metro, wearing my American running gear (bright pink jog bra tank and tight black capris) next to all of the Parisian businessmen....yeah I felt like a prostitute, it was such an embarrassing feeling. I use here in the states to find/track running routes but it might have runs abroad!