As the 2016 Summer Olympic Games draw closer, world-wide attention is shifting to Brazil. Even with the Games several months away, you can’t help but eagerly watch as Rio prepares for the grand competition.
You may be following news updates and maybe you’re even keeping track of your favorite athletes, but nothing compares to being there in person and taking it all in. The energy, pure excitement and the marvel of people from around the world coming to cheer on their country is impossible to replicate.
While a visit to an Olympic site from the past won’t be exactly like attending the 2016 Games in Rio, the Olympic legacy is still very much alive in former-host cities around the globe. From Athens to Vancouver, these are the 10 former-host cities you need to visit (and what to do when you’re there).
1. Lake Placid, N.Y., U.S.
Host to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games and set in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid has a rich athletic history and a ton to do, regardless of the season. Visitors can stop into the Olympic Center for a look at the museum or visit the Olympic Sports Complex and take a ride with a professional on the bobsled track where history was made.
2. Berlin, Germany
In 1936 Berlin hosted potentially the most controversial Olympic Games in history, organized by Hitler and the Nazi party, which led to attempted boycotts around the world. Despite the debate, the Games were successful and Berlin remains a resilient city that’s certainly worth a visit. The Olympic stadium currently hosts major soccer games, special events and guided tours
3. Barcelona, Spain
The city that lost the 1936 bid to Berlin was eventually able to host in 1992 and the Olympic village that was built for the event can still be seen today, although it’s now lined with bars, restaurants and apartments. Visitors can stroll this waterfront stretch, but when in Barcelona there’s plenty more to see and do. Historical and architectural landmarks like La Sagrada Familia, ParkGuell and the Gothic quarter are breathtaking sights that you shouldn’t miss.
4. Athens, Greece
No list of Olympic destinations would be complete without including Athens, the host of the first modern Olympic Games, held in 1896. Even today, visitors can see the venue where those Games were held, the Panathenaic Stadium. This one-of-a-kind stadium is made entirely of marble and hosts events and concerts even today. After visiting the stadium, there are other ancient architectural gems you need to visit, like the Parthenon and the Acropolis and history buffs will enjoy the many museums in the area.
5. Beijing, China
China’s first opportunity to host the Olympics came in 2008 and the city took it as an opportunity to modernize and impress on a global scale. Today travelers visiting Beijing benefit from the improvements made to infrastructure and public transportation, while still enjoying historical sites and local culture. The National Stadium, also called the Bird’s Nest, is one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the country, if not the world and the Beijing National Aquatics Center, also referred to as the Water Cube, has been renovated since the Olympics to hold a water park. Both buildings were built specifically for the Games and are worth a visit. No trip to Beijing would be complete without a visit to the Forbidden City and The Great Wall.
Check out more Olympic cities with timeless, must-see attractions.
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