Sports holidays and activity holidays are becoming increasingly popular with holidaymakers who want to do more during their vacation than visit a few tourist attractions. Recent years have also seen an upsurge in the number of people tuning in to watch sports tournaments on TV and on the internet. So how do the host countries of recent major sports tournaments measure up as sports holiday destinations?
London benefits enormously from its role as host to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Visitors can make use of facilities built for the Olympics, such as the Lee Valley VeloPark, where you can experience what it’s like to cycle around the velodrome, enjoy BMX riding or head off from the park on a mountain bike trail through east London. Or, why not head to the state of the art facilities at the Aquatics Centre where all swimming abilities are catered for. You can enjoy a leisurely paddle with your family or experience lane swimming just like an Olympic competitor.
Beyond its capital city, England offers plenty of options for sports holidays. Why not try canyoning in the Cumbria countryside, which involves climbing down stone gorges and waterfalls. Or, if you like horse riding, why not attempt a game of polo a Druids Lodge in Wiltshire. There are few sporting activities that England doesn’t cater for. You can even go skiing or ice climbing at one of the country’s superb indoor facilities.
Scotland recently hosted the Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club on the west coast. This is one of Scotland’s many world-class golf courses. Other stunning courses include Loch Lomond, Royal Dornoch in the Highlands and St Andrews, with its famous old course. As the birthplace of the game and the location of some of its best venues, Scotland is undoubtedly the home of golf.
Scotland is also an excellent destination for sports holidays focused on countryside sports, such as fishing and shooting. Of course, Scotland has its own unique variety of sports which culminate in the Scottish Highland Games that take place across the country every year. If you are visiting Scotland why not try your hand at the caber toss, the tug of war or hammer throwing!
Host to the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament, France offers a wide range of activities to fill all manner of sports holidays. The country’s diverse landscape means that France caters equally well for beach sports as for winter sports.
The south coast of France offers a wide range of water sports, such as diving, wind surfing, wakeboarding and jet skiing, to name but a few. At the opposite end of the country, on the Brittany coast, you can enjoy a spot of sailing, with sailing schools in most towns to help show you the ropes.
Superior snow conditions, long seasons, excellent après-ski facilities and some of the best-loved resorts (including Courchevel, Val Thorens and Méribel) make the French Alps a top notch destination for ski fanatics.
Or, head to warmer climes in the west of the country and enjoy fantastic hiking, climbing and biking opportunities among the vineyards of the Dordogne.
Host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympics, Brazil has certainly been favoured by the major sports tournaments. This seems justified given the extremely healthy sports culture that exists in Brazil. By far the most popular sport is football, but the game of footvolley is also well loved by locals. This combination of football and volleyball is something different for visitors to try out. Another sport unique to Brazil is capoeira - an almost acrobatic or dance-like type of martial art.
Brazil’s brilliant beaches and coastline lend themselves to water sports, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. One of the best spots for this is Jericoacoara, which boasts warm water and almost constant winds that make it perfect for surfing.
Brazil is not short of many other outdoor pursuits, and in stunning scenery, to boot. Visit the Iguazu Falls, the Amazon Rainforest, Sugarloaf Mountain or Tijuca Forest for fascinating hiking and climbing opportunities.
If cycling is your thing, take a look at our guide to the 'Best Cycling Routes in the World'.
Have you recently returned from a sports holiday or are you currently planning one? If so, why not share your tips and recommendations on the Send My Bag Facebook page.
Going on an activity holiday can be difficult if you have to drag your sports gear with you on the plane. Send My Bag can transport your equipment to your destination for you. So why not send your golf clubs to Scotland, ship your bicycle to France or have your skis waiting for you at your hotel in the alps, leaving you to enjoy your flight without the hassle of luggage and without the risk of oversized baggage fees.
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