Running Tours Offer a Fun Way to Visit a New Place—Here’s Where to Try Them

The best way to travel is by breaking a sweat.

Woman with hot pink hair running on a sidewalk past a mural

Running tours are great for those wanting to maximize sightseeing opportunities.

Photo by Marnie Kunz of Runstreet NYC

Six years ago, I suffered through one of the worst bouts of jet lag in my life. I had been traveling in Southeast Asia for about 10 days, but my mind and body were still stuck in Vampire mode. When I arrived in Siem Reap in Cambodia, my hotel concierge suggested I go for an early morning run to Angkor Wat. It would be a simple 5K, he told me—a scenic run that would recalibrate my body clock. I had a pair of sneakers and limited experience as a runner. He gave me a 5 a.m. appointment with the general manager, who would be my guide.

That morning, I ran from the city to the temples and arrived just in time to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. The experience put me on a runner’s high and made me a travel runner, aka that person who schedules a run in every city they visit. Over the years, I’ve run with guides in Tokyo, Washington, D.C., Torino, Italy, and more. I’ve even curated my own runs, reading about sites I’ve wanted to see in cities including Milan and Athens and dropping pins for my personalized 5K tour.

The advantage of running tours? “You explore the sites at your own pace, learn about the culture, see areas you might never have discovered on your own, and really focus on being present,” says Lena Andersson, founder of Go! Running Tours, a company operating in more than 65 cities and six continents. “You just need a pair of running shoes and an open mind.”

Running tours, long or short, immerse you in a location and its vibe. They cover more ground in less time than a walking tour, leaving more time to take in some lesser-known sites. Plus, you don’t have the headache of parking and locking up a two-wheeler like you would if you were sightseeing by bike. A running tour isn’t just about culture, curiosity, and combatting jet lag; it also brings a sense of accomplishment.

What to expect on a running tour

Running tours are usually a mix of running, site stops, and brisk walking. Most guides will share anecdotes as you run, but don’t feel like you need to keep up a conversation. Shorter running tours tend to average five kilometers (which takes about an hour), but you can find tours that go 10 kilometers or longer. Safety is always a priority, so guides use their expertise to design paths that avoid highly trafficked roads. You can schedule a running tour for any time of the day, but early morning hours are better for avoiding crowds.

There are two main types of tours: private and group. The advantage of a private running tour is personalization—you set the pace, intensity, and distance. Want to run Rome’s imperial monuments, baroque piazzas, and enjoy the Eternal City’s best cappuccino spots? You can do that.

“Private tours are ideal because you set the pace, the goals, and what you want to do,” says Raoul Spronken, founder of RunningTours.Net, an online marketplace for independent running tours around the world.

Group tours, on the other hand, are follow-the-leader runs. They can bring together more than 20 people for a set route, though some tours have multiple guides to create smaller groups when necessary. It’s a fun way to meet people, but it has no room for improvisation.

Group of people impersonating a mural of a person sticking their finger up their nostril

Running-tour offerings include the chance to learn about the medieval hot spots of the Netherlands’ Maastricht, street art in New York City, and local cuisine in Bangkok, Thailand.

Photo by Marnie Kuntz of Runstreet NYC

Where to go on a running tour

The beauty of running is that you can do it anywhere: a capital city, a quiet town, a coast, or even a mountain peak. The following tours immerse you in a location, be in the context of history, landscape, or culture.

ArcheoRunning Roman Bridges Running Tour

My hometown favorite: This Ancient Rome–focused running tour starts at the epic Circus Maximus and takes you across antiquity’s oldest bridges. Licensed tour guide and devout runner Isabella Calidonna stops at Ancient Rome’s epic bridges (like the ancient Ponte Rotto) to tell their histories and relationships to nearby monuments. Over the approximately five-kilometer run, Calidonna also points out lesser-known historical information.

Go! Running Antigua Guatemala

  • Book now: Go! Running Antigua Guatemala
  • Location: Antigua, Guatemala
  • Type: Private running tour
  • Cost: $87.40/person, prices incrementally decrease with each additional participant

This 5K tour through Antigua, Guatemala, is all about baroque architecture, mountain views, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Runners pass through the historic center and witness Mayan culture and contemporary life at places including the Cathedral of San José, the ruins of the Santa Clara convent, and the Santa Catalina Arch.

Go! Running Bangkok Street Art to Street Food

Street art and street food in Asia’s most dynamic city are the focus of this tour. The run starts on Bangkok’s oldest colonial thoroughfare, Charoen Krung Road, and goes through two centuries of history and culture via architecture, street markets, and street art before ending at the markets of Yaowarat Road.


  • Book now: BlacklistLA
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Type: Group running tour
  • Cost: Free

BlacklistLA is a community-focused nonprofit running group that meets every Monday evening at 8 p.m. for a 90-minute run through the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles.

Sightrunning Istanbul

  • Book now: Sightrunning Istanbul
  • Location: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Type: Private running tour
  • Cost: $45/person, prices incrementally decrease with each additional participant

Sightrunning Istanbul’s “Historical Peninsula” tour winds through the Sultanahmet neighborhood, starting by the Sultanahmet metro stop at Poika Caffe. The tour takes you around popular sights such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Bosphorus Strait.

Maastricht Running Tours - Highlight Tour

Owner Raoul Spronken’s personal favorite, this is the tour that started the RunningTours network. Raoul takes you on a 1.5-hour run (about six kilometers) through the major attractions. Runners pass watermills, through squares, and over Maastricht’s city walls, all while learning about the town’s history.

SecretLondonRun Jack the Ripper

This 10-kilometer group running tour weaves through the alleys of East London while taking travelers back to the Victorian era, during the time of the Whitechapel Murders and Jack the Ripper. Runners learn about the Whitechapel Murder victims as well as theories as to Ripper’s actual identity.

Go! Running Train with Kenyans

  • Book now: Go! Running Train with Kenyans
  • Location: Ngong Hills, Kenya
  • Type: Private running tour
  • Cost: $133.10/person, prices incrementally decrease with each additional participant

More than 2,000 meters above sea level, the Ngong Hills are the training ground for Kenya’s world-class runners. This 15-kilometer tour goes through the hilly countryside, which overlooks Nairobi and the Great Rift Valley. Besides getting a glimpse into the lives of Kenya’s elite runners, travelers can get running and training tips for their own workouts.

Runstreet NYC Art Run

  • Book now: Runstreet NYC Art Run
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Type: Private running tour
  • Cost: starting at $50/person, prices incrementally decrease with each additional participant

Marnie Kunz’s by-request-only Art Run is a curated five-kilometer run through downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, with New York’s iconic street art as a backdrop. Kunz stops at a variety of murals and street art in the Lower East Side, Bushwick, and Williamsburg, sharing stories about the works and the artists.

Erica Firpo is a journalist with a passion for art, culture, travel, and lifestyle. She has written and edited more than 20 books, and her travel writing has appeared in Yahoo Travel, Discovery Magazine, BBC Travel, the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Fathom, Forbes Travel, and Huffington Post.
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