The Olympic Games are a momentous and memorable event that brings athletes, volunteers, and fans together from all over the world. For the most part, host cities undergo major facelifts in order to hold this international spectacle, ensuring their every inch impresses and excites.
But what happens after the game are finished? Here are eight former host cities that continue to dazzle travelers long after the games are over.
It’s been almost 100 years since Antwerp hosted the Olympic Games. Since then, the city has tastefully modernized its medieval design, building off its busy port, beautiful squares, and remarkable architecture. Today, the charming metropolis stands proud, welcoming visitors to its streets that now host a variety of markets and world-class music festivals — instead of athletic competitions — like the Bollekesfees and Cultuurmarkt van Vlaanderenis.
Atlanta is a city rich with cultural and historical significance, which undoubtedly impressed visitors during the 1996 summer games. Intertwined with the still-popular Centennial Olympic Park are sites like the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site and the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Surrounding these cultural landmarks are vibrant neighborhoods full of mouth-watering food and musical entertainment that are deeply rooted in the heart of America’s South.
It’s no surprise that Innsbruck was the setting chosen not once, but twice, for the Winter Olympics Games (first in 1964, then again in 1976). Tucked away in western Austria, Innsbruck is nestled between the arching Alps, and although it was chosen to be the epicenter for the winter sporting spectacle, the city is worth visiting no matter the season. Innsbruck is situated in a region that thoughtfully blends urban and outdoor adventure, a place where you can wander the halls of an imperial palace one day and climb to the top of a mountain the next.
Located on the soothing Saint Lawrence River, Montreal mixes new, vibrant neighborhoods with old, cobbled quarters. This French-speaking city played host to the summer games back in 1976, and, though the remnants from the games are still very much a part of the city, there’s plenty more to be enjoyed. While exploring Quebec’s largest urban venue, be sure to make time for live music and pastries between stops at Mont Royal Park and the city’s the Old Port.
The Russians have long been a dominating force at the Olympic level and, fittingly, the first time an eastern European country was awarded the games, Russia was elected. To some, Moscow may be shrouded in mystery, but those lucky enough to visit know just how magical a place it really is. With a population nearing 12 million, the country’s bustling capital is fortified with historic architecture, epitomized by the Kremlin and Red Square, both which were on full display during the Summer Olympics in 1980. These majestic monuments are not all the city offers, as museums, theaters, and Orthodox cathedrals keep the streets stirring at all times.
With a history dating back to the 11th century, Oslo is a Scandinavian secret filled with gems just waiting to be discovered. As Norway’s capital, this city (which hosted the winter games in 1952) boasts an attractive seascape to the south and snow-capped mountains to the north. Not only is the region famous for some of the world’s best landscapes for outdoor winter activities, but it’s also home to cultural landmarks such as the Nobel Peace Center and the Munch Museum.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Surrounded by the marvelous Dinaric Alps, Sarajevo is full of beauty and intrigue. Like most of the urban area, the 1984 Olympic venues took their hit during the Bosnian War in the mid-90s, which caused? Yugoslavia to break apart into smaller countries. Recently, Bosnia and Herzegovina has seen a spike in tourism, especially in the country’s largest city, Sarajevo. With its red-roofed neighborhoods, a stunning Old Town, and thought-provoking museums such as the Gallery 11/07/95 and the Museum of the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Sarajevo has much more to offer than just a former Olympic Village.
Home to the 2000 Olympics, Sydney is the perfect location for strolling waterfronts and photographing iconic structures such as the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. But don’t forget about the nearby natural beauty that creeps its way into the urban center. The city’s coastline is decorated with beaches and swimming holes, including the nearby Gordons Bay and Nielsen Park. If you happen to be there on the odd rainy day, the city also boasts a massive collection of museums and internationally infused restaurants to keep you busy until the sun comes back.