Even die-hard sports fans and fitness fiends need a break every now and then, but that doesn’t mean the sport has to stop. So, if you’re looking for a holiday that also caters to your passion for physical activity, then look no further.
Here at loveholidays, we pride ourselves on being the experts on travel and helping you navigate like a local when you’re on holiday. So, we’ve put together the ultimate ranking of destinations based on their offerings for sports and fitness fans.
Whether you’re travelling in the UK, Europe, or the US, we’ve got you covered. Loveholidays analysed a list of factors to identify the best cities, including the number of parks and gyms in a city and the number of football teams and franchises that you’ll find in each location.
From taking part in local classes to enjoying an international football match at some of the world’s biggest stadiums, here are the best cities to visit as a sports and fitness fan.
Best sporting cities in the UK
With a rich sporting heritage, the UK isn’t short on cities where you can watch a match or game or keep up with your regime. We’ve ranked and weighted the UK’s cities to find the best spots for sports fans.
- Newcastle upon Tyne. Topping the list, Newcastle is a great spot for sports and fitness enthusiasts. With 12 parks and plenty of sports centres, there are tonnes of options for those visiting Newcastle. The city also boasts plenty of fun sporting activities (339.43 per capita, in fact) so there’s a wide array of options for those wishing to try something new.
- Brighton. Brighton might be best known for its picturesque and pebbly seafront, but it has lots to offer fitness fans. Coming in second place, Brighton has 6 parks and 7 fitness centres, which works out at 5.04 per capita. There’s also lots to do (594 separate activities and attractions, by our count). Brighton’s vibrant atmosphere and numerous sporting options make it a fitness lover’s paradise.
- Manchester. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Manchester’s rich football culture and history have helped it to the third spot in our sporting city index. With 18 parks, 13 fitness centres, and 10 sport camps, there are plenty of places to fit in a workout, but it’s the multiple stadiums and football teams that give Manchester the edge. Regardless of whether you’re a City fan, a United fan, or just a football fan, Manchester offers plenty of opportunities to watch a match, learn about its impressive sporting heritage, and enjoy the city’s vibrant culture.
- Salford. Right next to Manchester in both location and in our ranking, Salford’s rich sporting history also helps it to stand out. With a solid number of parks, gyms, camps, and activities per capita, it’s a diverse destination for sports enthusiasts.
- York. In fifth place, York’s 15 parks offer a fabulous 9.76 parks per capita, and with 10 tennis courts and hundreds of things to see and do, this historic city still works out at 459.29 activities per capita. For a taste of culture without giving up on your regular fitness regime, York is a great place to visit.
Best cities for sports and fitness in Europe
If you’re travelling to a city in the EU or the UK, then you don’t have to put your workout on hold. These cities offer tonnes of opportunities to keep fit and take in some local sports while you sightsee.
- London. London secures the top spot in our UK and EU index, with a plethora of parks, fitness centres, and sporting activities. Due to the number of activities, there are many places to fit in a workout in between the sightseeing and culture that London has to offer. With nine major football teams and seven stadiums with a capacity of over 30,000, London is a sports lover’s dream – there’s always a match to catch or a sporting event to see.
- Paris. As you’d expect from a major capital city that’s home to plenty of sports teams and fitness fans, Paris follows closely behind London in our ranking. The City of Lights offers a wide array of activities and sporting facilities, so when holidaying in Paris, you don’t have to go without your fitness fix. With 174 parks, you can fit in a picturesque early-morning run past the Eiffel Tower, or squeeze in a quick set at one of the city’s 32 tennis courts. With 29 fitness centres per capita and tonnes of activities, you won’t ever be idle in Paris.
- Lisbon. Lisbon may be renowned for its beautiful beaches and historic hotspots, but it also boasts 28 fitness centres per capita and 6 rugby teams per capita, making it a well-rounded destination for sports enthusiasts.
- Istanbul. With 76 parks and 3 stadiums that can house over 30,000, Istanbul combines the charm of its historic architecture with plenty of modern fitness amenities so travellers can get their exercise routine in or make the time to watch a world-class sporting event.
- Barcelona. Beautiful Barcelona is a vibrant city that’s a good pick for fitness fans, with 83 parks and 30 fitness centres to enjoy while you’re on holiday in Barcelona. The city’s vibrant atmosphere is complemented by 57 sports camps and 2 stadiums where you can visit the home of FC Barcelona, and tour the Barça Museum.
Top US cities for sports fans
If you’re travelling in the US, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to experience some amazing sports, from baseball to basketball – even if you’re just looking to fit in a run or a workout whilst checking out the sights, our top US cities have plenty to offer sports fans.
- Las Vegas. Topping the list in the US is Las Vegas. Vegas has a relatively small population, but more than makes up for it with its focus on sports. Vegas might have fewer green open spaces, but instead offers locals and tourists 35 fitness centres and gyms, along with tonnes of events and things to see and do. With a thriving sports culture and entertainment scene, a holiday in Las Vegas is ideal for sports fans.
- Washington, D.C. The capital city has plenty to offer fitness fans, and with 6.65 parks per capita, there are plenty of places to get outside and get active. Take your morning run on the National Mall and past the Lincoln Memorial, or at one of the many fitness centres – the city has 8.8 per capita. With 5 participating franchised leagues, Washington is a city where politics meets sports, offering a unique blend of culture for you to enjoy.
- San Francisco. San Francisco’s picturesque surroundings are complemented by 2.51 fitness centres per capita and 12.44 tennis courts per capita. The city is famously full of fitness advocates, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to grabbing a healthy bite to eat or local sports to see. In fact, San Francisco boasts 330 activities per capita, so there’s no shortage of things to do, including a run along its iconic hilly streets to really get your heart rate up!
- Seattle. Known for its beautiful views of mountains and rivers, Seattle offers a huge 10.48 parks per capita – definitely appealing to outdoor enthusiasts. With 4 participating franchised leagues, it’s a city that takes its sports seriously.
- Boston. In fifth place, Boston offers an array of parks, fitness centres, and sporting events. The city’s historic charm is matched only by its sports culture with five participating franchised leagues, from the Red Sox to the Celtics – so there’s plenty of chance to see a match while you’re visiting.
Travel tips for fitness fans
- Active sightseeing. If you prefer to keep to your usual fitness routine whilst on holiday, walking, running or cycling in picturesque new surroundings is a great way to explore the city.
- Attend local sporting events. Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending sports games and matches, even if it’s not something you’re familiar with. You never know, you might just discover a new favourite sport.
- Diverse sporting experiences. Try a new sport or fitness activity while you’re in a different city to make the most of your visit, from pickleball to ping pong. Find out what the locals love to play and go watch a match or get involved!
- Join local fitness classes. A great way to meet locals and keep up to your gym routine is to join a fitness class. From running on the beach to CrossFit classes, look on Facebook and local groups to find things to do.
- Make the most of different surroundings. If you’re in a hilly city, challenge yourself on your morning run, or make the most of rural surroundings to get out in green surroundings. Or if you’re staying near a beach check if they have workout equipment on the sand so you can work on your pull-ups in view of the ocean.
When you’re looking for cities that combine stunning sightseeing with world-class sports, you’re truly spoilt for choice. From taking your morning run through the streets of San Francisco to watching some of the best football in the world in Barcelona, there are endless opportunities – so pack your workout gear, embrace the sports culture, and start planning your next holiday with loveholidays.