Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members!
Download the app.
We asked dozens of globetrotting pros, prolific racers, and RDs stationed around the globe for their all-time favorite places to swim, bike, and run. Presenting their sometimes surprising, sometimes obvious, always drool-worthy picks.
Your next adventure starts here.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa Pop: 1.3 million South Africa’s Ironman capital
“Here you won’t look out of place wearing compression socks while running along the ocean,” Conrad Stoltz says. “A bit like the view from Lava Java during Kona week.” This popular port city is strewn with gorgeous, safe beaches. Mild ocean temperatures year-round make it an ideal destination to work on open-water swimming. The city also features great terrain for the M-dot-tattoo types, including two large parks for running (St. George’s Park and Settler’s Park). You’ll find decent mountain biking if you head out toward the Baakens Valley.
Windhoek, Namibia Pop: 326K Get your altitude and heat adaptation on
This capital city is positioned almost exactly at Namibia’s geographical center, about 5,600 feet above sea level in the country’s central highlands. With December and January temps often climbing into the high 90s, Windhoek packs a killer one-two punch of heat and altitude training—in fact, it’s one of Richard Murray’s favorite places in Africa to do just that. And to get away from everything. “Quiet roads, trails to run, very quiet,” is how Murray describes this hardcore getaway.
Stellenbosch, South Africa Pop: ~173K
Come for the training, stay for the wine
Located about 50 minutes from Cape Town and 18 miles from from the ocean, this university town is nestled at the foot of 3,800-foot Stellenbosch Mountain and is known to non-multisport types for its more than 160 vineyards, many open to the public. Triathletes will love the wide variety of roads, Conrad Stoltz says, most with a wide shoulder, fantastic trails, sports fields with a tartan track for running, a 50-meter heated pool at the University of Stellenbosch, and countless dams. (Note: You’ll have to join a swimming group with landowner permission to use them.) “The mountain biking here has become quite iconic,” Stoltz says, “with a huge amount of trails you can ride from town, and even more within a 45 min drive range.”
Bottom line: Stellenbosch offers “a nice mix of training tourism, or what I called a ‘balanced lifestyle’ during my pro career,” Stoltz says.
West Brisbane, QLD, Australia Pop: 2.4 million (Brisbane metropolitan area)
Boasting a bevy of clubs including the Brisbane Tri Club, the Westside Tri Club, and SBR Tri among others, Brisbane—and specifically western Brisbane—is a triathlon training wonderland. Nestled in temperate Queensland, Brisbane’s average monthly temperatures vary between 60-80 degrees. West Brisbane has excellent swimming facilities at St. Peters Lutheran College and nearby trails for running. “You could run or ride until your legs fall off, all off -road on the backside of Mt. Cootha and Gap Creek Reserve,” Jimmy Seear says. “I have done many two-to-three hour runs in the forest and not seen a single person.” Check out Enoggera Reserve for clean beaches and open water swims.
Ocean Shores, NSW, Australia
Quiet Aussie escape
Known as the spot of choice for the Queensland Academy of Sport and the Australian Institute of Sport camps, Ocean Shores’ empty white sand beaches serve as a launching ramp for excellent open-water sessions or long oceanside runs. Nearby Mullumbimby hosts the 50m Petria Thomas pool for non-ocean swimmers, and trail runners should head to nearby Byron Bay for the bucket-list worthy Lighthouse Loop. “The best thing about this area is the riding— rolling hills and quiet roads for as long as you can stand sitting on a bike seat,” Jimmy Seear says. “On long rides, you will be lucky enough to come across some small towns with great character and delicious mid-ride snacks.”
Des Moines, Iowa
Midwestern tri hotspot
Once upon a time, the Des Moines-based Hy-Vee tri boasted the largest prize purse in the world at $1.1 million. Tollakson’s hometown now hosts the Des Moines Escape, part of the new Escape series, and “a very large and blossoming triathlon community,” TJ Tollakson says. Open water swim in the middle of downtown at Gray’s Lake. Pedal through rolling hills of corn fields on rural country roads and paved bike trails. Enjoy downtown running paths and trails through the forest. “There is a huge mix of hills and flats,” Tollakson says. “While the winter weather is a little brutal, it makes you tough and helps you appreciate the good weather days. Plus it is home to a budding junior development program (Z3 Triathlon Team), and several pro triathletes, including budding ITU racer, Tyson Wieland.
Winter training heaven
“Mt. Lemmon, Kitt Peak, and Madera Canyon are the trifecta rides that put Tucson on top for the best cycling around,” says Tollakson, who’s ditched Iowa for Tucson every winter for the past decade. “The roads are de nitely not smooth, but the routes are amazing. Mt. Lemmon offers 27+ miles of climbing with no stop signs and very little traffic.” The University of Arizona has a 50-meter outdoor pool open to the public.
The city’s river bike paths are perfect for flat and fast run training with both paved and dirt options, while Sabino Canyon offers trail-running options for beginners to double-black-diamond experts. Average temp in December and January: 66. Bring shades.
San Luis Obispo, California Pop: 48K
Farmer’s market meets the sea
The home of Cal Poly, SLO is about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on California’s lush, hilly central coast. The laid-back town has two beautiful year round outdoor 50-meter pools (SLO Swim Center and Cal Poly Rec Center), and of course the nearby ocean and lakes for open water swimming— perfect for taking advantage of the average temps in
the ‘60s and ‘70s. “SLO is a farming community at heart and has a buzzing farmer’s market for healthy eats,” TJ Tollakson says. “The bike is challenging and very similar to nearby Wild ower, so you can imagine you get nearly the same vibe for the run.”
Santa Fe, New Mexico Pop: 84K Triathlon, elevated
Train hard, boost your red blood cells, fill up on the best
green chile in the U.S., browse funky art galleries, repeat. New Mexico’s pueblo-loving capital city sits at a breathtaking 7,199 feet. Climb a mountain or go for rolling hills—on or off-road, biking or running. A daily tour around the Dale Ball trails will fine-tune your dirt skills, while the variety of indoor public pool options (3!) available in this small town will make you sweat with envy. Head to the Genoveva Chavez Community Center to get in the yards at a 50-meter pool—for $7 a pop. “Put this place on your list to train,” TJ Tollakson says.
Boulder, Colorado Pop: 108K The classic tri dream destination
The college town-turned-tech haven at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains has been an endurance hotspot for decades, thanks to its thin air, killer trails, and world-class sports facilities, like CU Boulder’s Sports Medicine & Performance Center. “There are more pools in this one town than in some entire Midwestern states,” McLarty says. Plus, when you’re surrounded by the best, it elevates your game. Siri Lindley’s team is based out of Boulder. So are Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell—you never know who might be kicking it in the lane next to you. So come to get your altitude training on, stay to star search. Just make sure to save up before you head out—Boulder’s desirability has made it a pricey pick,
with home values and restaurant tabs challenging those in coastal California. (Google’s next HQ? In Boulder.)
Bend, Oregon Pop: 91K
The ‘It’ City
Bend recently earned the moniker the “Boomtown of the West”—not only has it been attracting triathletes (pro Jesse Thomas lives there), but apparently everyone else; it was the nation’s sixth fastest- growing city in 2016. Located in Oregon’s high desert, it has more than 300 sunny days a year, making it a reliable place to train outdoors. Note: It does get cold in the winter, with highs in the 40s November through February. Fair-weather triathletes will want to go May- September. And leave time for a side trip—Bend’s a fab jumping- off point for some gorgeous, more remote adventures, like the one Lagerstrom went on in Hells Gate along the Rogue River (about 3.5 hours southwest of Bend) to nab this month’s cover shot.
Encinitas, California Pop: 63K
The OG tri town
This North County San Diego, beach-lined burb has been the hub of many-a-tri workout since the sport sprouted just south of here in the ‘70s. As Eric Lagerstrom puts it, Encinitas and its surrounding beach cities win top honors for “unbeatable weather year-round and easy access to miles of relatively remote roads into the desert.” Swim in the ocean, go on a tough, epic ride with tons of climbing, then run along the beach in a single day. Refuel at Highway 1-adjacent Swami’s Cafe while counting the pros who ride by. Then grab some gear at Nytro, one of the nation’s oldest and top-ranked tri shops. Forecast: Sunny with a side of Strava.
Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada Pop: 10K
Ski resort turned tri training Mecca
Located 80 miles northwest of Montreal, this town is tucked into the Laurentian Mountains on the shore of Lake Tremblant—that means killer (though often super cold) open water swimming, hill training, and all the charm of a small ski resort town, but with a tri twist. “They offer awesome paved roads with permanent course mile markers” from the Ironman held there annually in August TJ Tollakson says. Ride the paved rail trail, or bring your knobby tires to hit the over 31 miles of mountain bike trails. “The French Canadians are very into triathlon, and this little resort town is a taste of Europe right here in North America,” Tollakson says.
Urban running haven
Canada’s capital city is just a jump over the border from New York, and it is a sight-seeing runner’s paradise. Gravel trails run along the Rideau and Ottawa rivers for miles, leading you by national capital sites, including the 1830s home of the Governor General, Rideau Hall, Parliament Hill, and the Canadian Museum of History. The city’s also a cyclist’s haven.“ You’ll see almost as many people biking into the city to work as you’ll see driving cars,” McLarty says. On top of that, “the summer and winter multi-sport training community is incredible.” Find the friendly Canadian charm on your own— or get in touch with the Ottawa Triathlon Club for instant tour guides/training buddies.
Flagstaff, Arizona Pop: 71.5K
Chill mountain training
Home to Arizona’s tallest mountain (Humphrey’s Peak, 12,633 feet) and Northern Arizona State University, this mountain town has quickly become a more laid-back, affordable alternative to Boulder for many endurance athletes. At 6,900 feet, it’s an altitude training mecca, notably drawing the Danish, Brazilian, and Japanese swim teams during the summer of the Rio Olympics—NAU’s 50-meter pool is one of the world’s greatest high-altitude tanks. Outside, endless dirt trails abound, leading to rolling hills or straight up the mountains, so bring your mountain, gravel, or CX bike—“there are endless gravel roads, trails, and open space to explore,” Lagerstrom says.
Clermont, Florida Pop: 33.5K
Fam-friendly, affordable swim getaway
This Orlando burb rarely registers on most triathletes’ radars, but if you’re on the east coast and want to improve your open-water swimming—without breaking the bank—head to Clermont. “The local tri community is friendly and welcoming for homestay and group training,” Sara McLarty says of her home city. “There’s easy access to year–round open water. Country roads go for miles with surprising elevation from all the rolling hills, and there are multiple running and mountain bike trails nearby.” (Check out McLarty’s group, Swim Like a Pro, on Saturdays at Waterfront Park.) Plus, you can hit up Disney World and Universal Studios on your rest days. Best Triathlete Parent Ever status, unlocked.
Pop: 100K Resort multisport living
This largely wild Mexican island in the Carribbean Sea is an easy pick for the best of Mexico, Luis Alvarez says. “It has one of the best oceans in the world for swimming, little traffic with well-paved highways, good weather year around—of course wind and heat in summer days—and a very friendly community.” Go there in late fall or winter, when temps are in the mid-80s, and bring the whole family— many of the island’s resorts are all-inclusive. You can work on your open–water swimming skills while the family enjoys the world-renowned snorkeling and scuba diving. Then treat yourself to a seaside massage. Paradiso, found.
See also in Mexico: Tequesquitengo Located 1.5 hours from Mexico City, it has excellent year-round weather, and “very good and challenging bike rides from flat or rolling to very hilly, with a lake for swimming,” Alvarez says. “A lot of people from Mexico city train here.” Puebla It’s 1 hour, 45 minutes from Mexico City. Ride from downtown to a volcano where you can start running at 12,000 feet, or head in the opposite direction for an almost at course. There are many tri clubs in Puebla, so you’ll never have to train alone.
La Paz, Argentina Pop: 27K
Tri town that time forgot
Located roughly six hours from Buenos Aires, La Paz seems like an unlikely candidate for a tri town. For most of the year, it’s a sleepy, European-inspired hamlet with a traditional town square and quaint shops that still observe a midday siesta. But each January, the town comes alive for a triathlon that has been running since 1985. In the days leading up to the ITU event that draws top-level athletes from around the world, triathletes bike on the rolling farmland roads, run the fields, and swim in the often-swift Paraná River (or one of two town pools). On race day, the entire city fills the streets, and cheers like it’s an Argentine Tour de France. Ask any well-traveled Latin American pro triathlete what their favorite race is, and nine out of ten will name La Paz.
Pop: 400K Tri High
Sitting at 8,200 feet of elevation, Cuenca serves at the national training center for members of the Ecuadorian triathlon team, like two-time Olympian Elizabeth Bravo. With mild average temperatures that usually remain in the 50s and 60s, Cuenca boasts four local universities, with excellent swimming facilities at the University of Cuenca and Academia de Natación Durán Durán. The most impressive pool, at the Coliseo Je erson Perez Quezada, is covered by a huge half dome checkered with windows. Also check out group rides and runs, like the weekly trail run, Trail Runners Cuenca, led by an Olympian from Mexico.
Retiro, Colombia Pop: 17K Quaint Andean altitude getaway
Retiro is a mountain town that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere but is less than 30 minutes away from Medellín’s busy international airport. Nestled in the Colombian Andes at 7,000 feet, Retiro features quiet mountain roads that are fantastic for biking and running, while a local swimming hole makes for decent open-water swimming, and a nearby waterfall is ideal for après-training. In fact, last year, three-time IM world champion Craig Alexander held a training camp and clinic nearby.
Mangaratiba, Brazil Pop: 36K Beachfront Brazilian getaway
Boasting year-round temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees (and open-water temps averaging between 70
and 80 degrees), Mangaratiba is one of Rio’s temperate, sleepy suburbs. Located roughly an hour west of Rio, it’s well outside of the hustle and bustle of the nation’s second-largest city. Head over to Portobelo Resort for incredible running and biking trails. In August, check out XTERRA Costa Azul, an endurance festival of events with races ranging from trail run to mountain bike cup to a unique nighttime open water swim race off a nearby beach.
Coyhaique, Chile Pop: 53K
Secret Patagonian spot for adventurous triathletes
Though not a year-round training destination like many others on the list (temperatures dip May to October and snowfall is common), Coyhaique’s location in the southern part of Chile’s Patagonia region makes it a unique choice for training. Explore near-endless trail-running options at Reserva Coyhaique, plunge into the Aysén Fjord for scenic (but brisk) open-water swimming,
or ride the 100-plus–mile winding route connecting Puerto Chacabuco with Villa Cerro Castillo (part of the Patagonman Tri course). “The town is small and will give you everything you need to rest recover, feed yourself and go back to train the next day,” Rodrigo Ballivian says.
San Juan, Argentina Pop: 112K
One-stop training in wine country
“It ́s a triathletes town,” says Balliavian. “You have amazing places for training and great weather in summer.” Located on the western side of Argentina, San Juan’s Dique de Ullum (Ullum Dam) acts as a central location to swim, bike, and run. With no shortage of hotels and places to stay nearby, the dam’s no-motorboat policy is ideal for long open water swims, while the region plays host to two triathlons each year: XTERRA Argentina in March, and nearby Mendoza’s Vendimia Triathlon in February. Endless trails aside, the region also boasts some of Argentina’s best internationally acclaimed wine for local post-race or workout beverages.
Ishigaki, Japan Pop: 48K
Historic Japanese tri hotspot
Playing host to the longest-running World Cup in ITU history (the first was held in 1993), Ishigaki is a small island off the coast of Taiwan known as much for its rich triathlon history as it is for snorkeling, surfing, and scuba diving. Swim at protected Maezato Beach (water temperatures average between 70 and 85 degrees) or the more scenic Fusaki Beach. Low speed limits on nearby streets make cycling a better proposition than in other parts of Japan, and routes range from at to extremely hilly. In January, the scenic island plays host to the Ishigaki Marathon, which takes runners on a single loop tour of beautiful ocean views.
Tsukuba City, Japan
Civically designed outdoor gem
Less than an hour by train to
Tokyo, Tsukuba City hosts
an active university and a
uniquely designed network of car-free cycling routes. For incredible Ironman training, check out the Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Road, an 111-mile cycling path that encircles scenic Lake Kasumigaura. Nearby trails up beautiful Mt. Tsukuma also attract athletes looking for a challenge. Plan your visit between May and November for ideal average temperatures above 50 degrees.
Juju Island, South Korea
Pop: 620K IMWC pro proving grounds
Located off the south coast of South Korea, Jeju is the country’s most popular holiday island, featuring volcanic features similar to Hawaii. It makes sense that pro groups use the beautiful island’s warm, muggy summers as ideal acclimatization for Ironman World Championships, while late spring and early fall can
still be very temperate. “My favorite place to bike is up Mount Hallasan, and there are a few places with 15-mile loops and no traffic,” Wibowo says. “You can pretty much feel safe to ride anywhere on the island.” Excellent swimming facilities and trail running round out the spot where both Daniela Ryf and Chrissie Wellington trained in the lead up to their first IMWC victories.
The small-town French experience
Though best known as
a wintertime ski resort,
this small town nestled in the Alps is a summertime
tri training destination. Boasting a 50-meter pool and hilly running, Morzine’s major draw is the countless cycling climbs that have been made famous in historic Tour de France stages. Go between May and September for the best weather, and be sure to enjoy the culture. “Morzine offers a good dose of French living: fresh foods, amazing bakeries, and a nice village to kick back and have a coffee once training is done,” Rachel Joyce says. “The biggest challenge is trying not to frequent the boulangeries too often!”
Silkeborg, Denmark Pop: 90K
Under-the-radar tri hotbed
Though not the first place you’d think of as a tri training destination, Denmark has a wide range of freshwater lakes for open–water swimming, tons of open countryside for picturesque riding scenery, and a refreshing stance toward human-powered transport. “As a nation who prioritizes cycling as a primary mode of transport, so many of our cities and countryside are built up with bike lanes,” says Frederiksen, who recommends Silkeborg for scenery and varied terrain. “With 12,000km of cycle paths, beautiful, well-kept nature and infrastructure, I can’t pass on an opportunity to recommend my home as one of Europe’s best places to train.” This year, Denmark will also be a tri- hotspot—playing host to 70.3 European Champs and ITU World Championships.
Unique European experience
Located between France and Spain, this unique microstate is a good way to get strong, fast. The flattest two-hour ride in the region has almost 4,000 feet of climbing, while an excellent (and inexpensive) 50m pool at the Els Serradells Sports Centre sits at roughly 3,500 feet for killer swim sets. Countless trails dot the countryside, and excellent coffee and Andorran food provide recovery after attacking the brutal terrain. Go in the summertime (June to August), be sure to check ride the Coma d’Arcalis climb, and take a short walk to nearby lakes.
Finale Ligure, Italy
Pop: 11K Hit the dirt
Tucked away at the top of Italy in the Ligurian Sea, Finale Ligure is known for its white sand beaches and historic architecture. But the Italian Riviera town also plays host to miles of excellent training grounds. With an emphasis on off-road running and riding, Finale Ligure boasts a top-notch mountain biking community with long singletrack and inexpensive van shuttle services for all-day downhill bombing. In October, the nearby town of Varigotti hosts an off-road triathlon only a few miles east. Go between May and September for perfect mild training temperatures.
Kato Paphos, Cyprus
Pop: 90K History and beauty
The former capital of Cyprus, Paphos has so many historical landmarks that it’s been deemed an UNESCO World Heritage site. For triathletes, the training options are just as legendary. Swim in the comfortable open water areas, bounded at points by breakwaters that give a glassy experience. Ride the coastline route that leads up to the famous Aphrodite’s Rock, a favorite of both Daniela Ryf and Nicola Spirig, then head out on a run to explore Paphos’ history. “The city’s coastal promenade is 10 kilometers long, o ering active people the opportunity to train while exploring Cyprus’ great history though monuments such as exquisite mosaics, St Paul’s Pillar, and of course the impressive underground Tombs of the Kings, carved out of solid rock and decorated with Doric pillars,” Ioannou says.
See also: Troodos Mountains, Cyprus; Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus
Pop: 139K Kona conditions, pro hotbed
One of the Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa, this vacation destination is also the training ground for pro triathletes from Olympians to Ironman world champions. “Lanzarote is a gem,” Frederiksen says. “A volcanic island that in some places resembles the Big Island in Hawaii, Lanzarote is really
a great place for those who value strength-specific riding, consistent year-round weather, and a laid back low-stress culture.” Be sure to check out the world-famous Sands Beach Resort in the town of Costa Teguise to catch a glimpse of your favorite pro working out in the excellent pools or out training on the IM Lanzarote bike course.
C’an Picafort, Mallorca
Inexpensive Mediterranean getaway
Located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain, Mallorca is a popular European tourist destination, known for beach resorts, gorgeous mountains, historic landmarks, and easy access from most major European cities. Mallorca is also home to countless hotels with excellent pools, endurance events, and climbs. Go in February before the full tourist season kicks in, ride the Alcúdia to Cap de Formentor bike route, and stay in the tiny beachside town of C’an Picafort. Two-time ITU world champion Mario Mola calls Mallorca home alongside a wide range of fellow pro triathletes and cyclists.
Your Travel Guides
Conrad ‘Caveman’ Stoltz
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cred: 7x Xterra World Champ; 2x Olympian; 53x Xterra champ
Durbanville, Capetown, South Africa
Cred: 2x Olympian (4th in Rio); Duathlon World Champ; Super League, Island House Invitational, and Xterra South African champ
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Cred: Formerly number one in U23 ITU world rankings; 51 ITU starts across four continents; co-founder Ventum Bikes
Des Moines, Iowa
Cred: CEO, Ruster Sports, Dimond Bikes.; Ironman champion
Cred: Aquathlon World Champ; Olympic swimming trials qualifier; former ITU racer
Cred: ITU racer; Escape from Alcatraz champ
Mexico City, Mexico
Cred: Raced every IM in the world; 139x IM finisher (at time of publication)
From: Tokyo, Japan
Cred: Former ITU athlete and current coach for Team Sirius Japan
From: Bali, Indonesia
Cred: Pro triathlete and coach