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Olympic Stadium and Park, Barcelona, Spain
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10 Former Olympic Host Cities You Should Visit

SmarterTravel

Though there have been many hurdles, including postponing everything for one year, the 2020 Olympics are finally here. While many Olympic venues sit empty and turn into ruins, their host cities are still worth visiting, many with Olympic buildings you can still visit. 

Athens, Greece

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Of course, you must go to the country where it all began. Although the ancient Olympics were in Olympia, the first host of the modern Olympics in 1896 was in Athens. They hosted a second time in 2004. Believe it or not, the one Olympic venue you can visit in Athens is from the first modern Olympics. The Panathenaic Stadium is open to tourists, it is a magnificent sight made entirely of granite. Besides its Olympic History, Athens is also home to many ancient ruins including the Parthenon, and the Acropolis, and has many delicious restaurants

Tokyo, Japan

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This year’s host, Tokyo, is well worth a visit regardless of Olympic status. Although the 2020 Olympics got off to a rough start, being delayed a year thanks to COVID-19, things are finally underway, and Tokyo is sure to triumph. Though no spectators are allowed this year, future visits are sure to promise fantastic views of the Olympic venues, not to mention traditional attractions like the Meiji Jingu Shrine, Asakusa, and the Tokyo National Museum. Tokyo will be worth the visit post-Olympics. 

Beijing, China 

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Host to the 2008 Summer Olympics, and future host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing is a modern Olympic city. While many of the buildings built for the 2008 Olympics have since been abandoned, two are still in use and will be used in the 2022 Olympics: The Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Beijing National Aquatics Center– known as “the Water Cube,” which will become the “Ice Cube” for the winter games. Beijing is filled with history- you can see the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, not to mention more modern buildings, great shopping and, of course, food! 

Paris, France 

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2024 will mark the third time Paris has hosted the summer games, they also hosted in 1900 (the second city to host modern Olympic games), and 1924. For the next three years, you will be able to catch glimpses of the new venues being built. Paris is always a destination for tourists, with the Eiffel Tower, Musee de Orsay, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre and so much more. While in France, you can also check out other French host cities Chamonix, Grenoble, and Albertville

Los Angeles, CA

LA Coliseum

While usually a hotbed for movie stars, LA also likes to welcome elite athletes. Another tri-host city, LA hosted in 1932, 1984, and will be hosting again in 2028. It is one of the few cities that still has venues from past Olympic games that you can visit. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was used in the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and will be used again in 2028. Unusually, most of the venues to be used in 2028 are buildings already in use, where most cities build new venues for most of the events. LA, of course, is a major tourist attraction with or without the Olympics, with the iconic Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and so much more. 

Lake Placid, NY 

MacKenzie Intervale Ski Jump in Lake Placid, New York
bhamms | Adobe Stock

Lake Placid is one of the few Olympic host cities that has made the venues built into a tourist attraction in and of itself. Watch in awe as skiers practice at the Jumping Center, skate around the ice in the very spot where the “Miracle on Ice” game was won at the Olympic Center, try your hand at bobsledding at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, or take a gondola ride on Whiteface Mountain. Visiting Lake Placid truly is an Olympic experience!

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Leonid Andronov | Adobe Stock

Sarajevo saw devastation when war started shortly after their Winter Games hosting stint in 1984 but has since bounced back to become a stunning city of culture and history. You can visit the stunning new Avaz Twist Tower, the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, beginning World War I, and you can even visit the Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track, which has become a stunning visual lesson on Sarajevo’s not so distant past.   

London, United Kingdom

Horváth Botond | Adobe Stock

Another three-timer, London has hosted the Olympics in 1908, 1948, and most recently in 2012. Several of the buildings built for the 2012 games are still in use today, many with reduced capacity, but being used for their original purpose. You can visit the Olympic Stadium (re-named London Stadium), where football team West Ham calls home, swim at the Aquatics Center, check out cycling events at the Velodrome and the BMX Track just outside, or visit the Copper Box. After you check out all of the Olympic sites, London is jam-packed with museums, historic sights, events, and shopping! 

Barcelona, Spain

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According to Barcelonando.com, the 1992 Summer Olympics is the event that “reshaped Barcelona.” Check out Olympic Park, where you’ll find Barcelona Olympic Stadium, the Olympic and Sports Museum, Palau Sant Jordi, and the Telecommunications Tower. You will seriously find a little bit of everything in Barcelona, including beautiful architecture both old and new, museums, a hopping nightlife, and beaches. 

Sydney, Australia 

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Sydney had the honor of hosting the first Olympics of the new millennium, and they took the pressure with stride. You can still visit Sydney Olympic Park, which includes the Aquatic Centre, Archery Centre, (where you can try your hand at archery), and Tennis Centre. Plus, you can easily explore the park with a bike rental, While in Sydney, of course, you have to check out the iconic Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Garden, Cockatoo Island, and all of the other exciting attractions and events Sydney has to offer. 

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