These are the best European holiday hotspots for active holidays, according to Hoka.

Runners, lace up your best running shoes: we have everything you need to help you find the ultimate fitness-friendly holiday this summer. On the back of Global Running Day (5th June), performance footwear brand HOKA has announced the best European holiday destinations for runners, as revealed by extensive research.

The company looked into eight metrics, including the number of spas, pollution levels, average temperature, Strava downloads, and national parks, amongst others, to reach its conclusions. And although the best destination – Spain – might not be a surprise, some other countries that scored a high ‘Runcation’ rating will raise a few eyebrows. So there are plenty of options if you want to escape the Spanish crowds and explore further-flung trails.

Top destination Spain scored 48.26 in the Runcation rating index. Hoka’s research analysed eight metrics across all European countries that it deemed important to runners when considering where to go on holiday. To get an overall ‘Runcation rating’ (runcations being vacations that are planned around a race or running event), it measured Instagram hashtag data, Google search volumes, the number of spas, pollution levels, average daylight hours, average temperatures and the presence of national parks.

Top holiday destinations for runners

Spain secured the highest Runcation rating when averaging scores across all metrics, followed by Malta (47.62), Portugal (46.65), France (44.44) and Finland (44.11). The UK came 7th in the Runcation ratings with 43.66, behind San Marino (43.78) and ahead of Andorra (43.52), Iceland (43.45) and Monaco (41.92).

Looking into what makes Spain a runner’s paradise, it boasts 14 national parks, a warm average temperature of 14 degrees Celsius annually, approximately 2,796 average annual daylight hours, and among the lowest pollution levels in Europe. All this makes it a prime location for active travellers and runners alike. Keen trail runners should head to Andalucia’s coastal plains in spring, autumn or winter, with trails that range from modest elevations up to altitudes above 10,000ft. Or for the long-distance enthusiast, there’s the jewel in Spain’s crown: the UTMB Val d’Aran race, which takes place in July.  

Runcation popularity

The term ‘runcation’ has seen a 22% increase in Google search interest over the past year, with social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram showcasing the excitement of running in picturesque or unknown locations. More than 288,000 running-related hashtags have been shared on Instagram by runners across Europe showcasing their stunning run routes, while videos tagged with #runcation have amassed over 745,000 views on TikTok. 

If Spain doesn’t float your Hoka’s, why to head to Iceland, for some serious post-run rejuvenation. With 18 spas on average per 100,000 capita, it is the best place in Europe to unwind after a hard run. Czechia, meanwhile, is most likely to share a running selfie, while Finland has the most national parks with 41 in total covering approximately 2.7% of the country’s land area.

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