Exploring Europe Outside the Olympics

Rocco Forte Hotels

Paris is always a good idea. Except, perhaps, when it’s hosting the Olympic Summer Games, and the usual tourist throng looks set to multiply almost prohibitively. Of course, the Games are exciting, but if wading through crowds feels like a marathon effort, try a cultural relay around one of these stunning European cities instead.

A victory lap of Rome

All roads lead to Rome, and the Eternal City finally won its chance to host the Games in 1960. Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila ran a barefoot marathon, first to cross the finish line under the Arch of Constantine, while a young Cassius Clay marked the beginning of his boxing career. An intimate union of sport and culture held wrestling in the Basilica of Maxentius and gymnastics at the ancient Baths of Caracalla. Visitors to the city today can imagine the crowd’s roar while embracing a more la vita lenta lifestyle on Rome’s most glamorous rooftop bar at Hotel de la Ville.

Carry a torch for London

London’s third time hosting the Games lived up to its motto, ‘Inspire a Generation’, in 2012. The East End was transformed with thousands of new trees and plants, a vastly increased bird population and endangered invertebrate species returning to inhabit the green space. This iconic year saw Super Saturday, when within just 45 minutes of each other Britain’s Sir Mo Farah’s 10,000m, Jessica Ennis-Hill’s Heptathlon, and Greg Rutherford’s Long Jump all secured gold medals. It was also the year that Brown’s Hotel, London’s oldest hotel, mistakenly celebrated its 175th birthday, not yet discovering it was some five years older than first thought - discover more in our history book.

Make a play for Munich

More than 50 years since it hosted the Games, Munich’s Olympiapark still buzzes with life, in fact, its Olympiastade is the stage for the EURO 2024 opening match. Inspired by the landscape of the Alpine foothills, Olympiapark now hosts open-air concerts and also lays claim to the city’s highest beer garden, with magnificent views of the city. For the adventurous, take a two-hour walking tour over the roof of the stadium, or climb to the top of the Olympic Tower for vistas all the way to the Alps. If you’re feeling sporty, lace up your running shoes and take a jog around the park, imagining the thrill of the crowd cheering you on. Victorious, return to The Charles Hotel for a well-earned deep tissue massage in the relaxing spa. 

Bass the baton to Berlin

Germany’s capital is also experiencing football fever later this summer, as the host of the EURO 2024 final in July as the Olympiastadion – originally built for the 1936 Summer Olympics – stages the closing match of this elite competition. Visitors to the stadium, which was extensively renovated and reopened in 2004, can enjoy behind-the-scenes tours and climb the Glockenturm for panoramic vistas. For views closer to home, enjoy something sparkling while overlooking the Bebelpatz from the rooftop terrace at Hotel de Rome, or fully embrace the Olympic spirit by practising your butterfly in Berlin’s longest hotel swimming pool.

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