At this point, most people know that the Tokyo Summer Olympics won’t have typical spectators, crowds and international travelers.
But we’re feeling optimistic over here, and we know that very soon people will be able to lace up their travel boots and hit the road again. Here are some former (and future!) host cities that you might want to visit.
Barcelona, Spain 1992
One of the many improvements Barcelona implemented specifically for the ‘92 summer games are the city’s fabulous beaches. Setting that tidbit aside, the city has never lacked for culture, dining and tourist attractions. Visit some of Spain’s most spectacular architecture (La Sagrada Familia comes to mind), or just relax in the many bars and restaurants of the capital of Catalonia. Plus, Spain is very affordable compared to other parts of Europe.
Lake Placid, New York 1932 and 1980
If not for the 1980 winter games, this little town might never have gotten the international exposure it deserves. Sure, it was also the home of the 1932 games, but Lake Placid is home to the legendary hockey championship game between the USA and USSR. Lake Placid is known for world-class skiing, though it’s still kind of an underrated place to vacation. Shhhh! Visit, but keep it quiet. Locals would prefer to keep the lift lines short.
Los Angeles, California 1932, 1984 and 2028
L.A. is the only destination on our list that has hosted twice and is closing in on round three! In 1984, the Soviet Union and the 14 countries behind the” Iron Curtain” of the USSR, boycotted the summer games and did not attend. Southern California has some of the best weather in the world, with some of the most spectacular venues and outdoor settings for sporting events. It’s also a perfect spot for sunbathing, relaxing, visiting amusement parks and doing a myriad of other outdoor activities. Come visit!
London, England 1908, 1948, 2012
London became the first city to host a summer games after the 12-year hiatus brought on by WWII. Germany and Japan were not invited, and the USSR declined the invite. The 1948 games were dubbed the “Austerity Olympics,” so during the subsequent 2012 games, London made sure to splash out on many sustainable improvements around the city. As one of the most fantastic cities in the world, there are simply no shortage of activities and attractions to keep you busy for days.
Beijing, China 2008 and 2022
Once Beijing hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics, it will become the first city to host both summer and winter games. The city hosted the 2008 summer games, and plans to use many of the same venues built or repurposed for the summer games. Since Beijing is the world’s most populous modern city with over 21 million residents, you can expect a modern bustling experience. Travelers can experience a plethora of must-see attractions including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina 1984
At the time, the Sarajevo winter games were the first Olympics to be held in the Balkans since the first modern games were held in Athens. Not a decade later, Sarajevo would be right in the middle of a devastating civil war that it’s still recovering from. Sarajevo is a lovely little city to visit, with many city parks and wonderful lookouts to experience. Sarajevo citizens love to show off their city and the town has a hard-partying rep across Europe, in case clubbing is your thing!
Helsinki, Finland 1952
Helsinki is the northernmost city in which a summer Olympics has ever been held, and it’s long been considered a cool city to visit. Finns are known for their wry sense of humor, and in 2016 decided to pat winter visitors on the back. Helsinki launched a PR campaign for visitors with the following message: “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in the winter. Except you, you badass. Welcome.” Expect that kind of tongue-in-cheek humor if you go, and plan to experience the Northern Lights while you’re there, of course.
Salt Lake City, Utah 2002 At the time of the 2002 winter games, SLC was actually the most populous city to ever host a winter games. However, there’s still less than a quarter of a million people who live there. The city is close to many of the country’s top ski areas and hosts millions of visitors. Each year visitors ski at resorts like Snowbird, Alta, Brighton and Deer Valley. Salt Lake City is also the seat of the Mormon church, and it showcases a lot of imposing architecture to visit as long as you’re a member. And as of 2021, the laws have changed. As long as you are over 21, you can order a drink in a bar or restaurant.
Paris, France 1900, 1924, 2024
It will be 100 years since Paris last hosted the Olympics, when it kicks off the 2024 summer games. There’s so much to love and appreciate about the City of Lights, and Paris is going to pull out all the stops. We are amped to promote Paris for the Olympics. After all, t’s another destination you can’t begin to cover in just a few days. Check out our post, Paris on the Cheap, to find out how you can maximize cheap flights and hotels to put together a budget vacation.
Brisbane, Australia 2032
Brisbane is expected to be the host of the 2032 summer games. Located on the east coast of Australia, it’s known for its many national parks and family-friendly activities. It’s also flanked by the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, very popular beach destinations for local and international visitors.
Tell us your favorite Olympic city in the comments below. We look forward to seeing many more international travelers in the months and years to come. The world can’t wait!