We’re continuing our countdown of the World’s Top 50 Marathons — Part V. Discover exotic and scenic marathons that range from coastal pathways to a citywide tour! 

 30. Punta Cana Half Marathon 

Traveling to attend a destination marathon doesn’t have to be a chore but an exciting opportunity for an active vacation. The scenic Punta Cana Half Marathon is held at the Punta Cana Resort and Club in the Dominican Republic. It includes a spectacular journey down beautiful beaches that are sure to ease the physical stamina required for the run.  

Many runners like this course for its predominantly flat terrain and majestic views. The race starts through the resort and moves into residential neighborhoods. In the latter half of the run, runners will pass an ecological reserve and can bask in the glory of your run past a sea of beach-goers that frequent Punta Cana. The 80-degree weather average for the race will allow runners to make the most of the course. What’s more, the run is AIMS-Certified and is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Registration for the next marathon, half marathon and 10k edition is not yet announced, but you can find more information on their website!  


29. TCS New York City Marathon 

For over 50 years, the New York City Marathon has grown from a local race held in Central Park to the largest race in the world. Venturing through all five Boroughs, it boasts more than 50,000 runners, with over 25,000 completing the finish line in 2021. The fanfare around this race has grown significantly over the years and TCS is the race’s first title sponsor, with its race app having more than 450,000 downloads. 

The talent at this race is surpassed by only a few of the toughest races in the world. Even if participants never consider running in another marathon, watching the race is just as much of a thrill as one of the most exciting cities in the world comes alive. Many runners consider the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon as the pinnacle of their running career and with a world-renowned route, it’s no surprise! Thankfully, the marathon hosts also recommend training sessions with NYRR Coaching Lab coaches or NYRR Group training to help participants prepare for the big day. You can find more about registering for the November event on their website.


28. Buenos Aires Marathon 

The 21k Buenos Aires Marathon, held as its name suggests in the capital of Argentina, hosts nearly 20,000 participants each year and is one of the most popular half marathons and first half-marathon in Latin America. The race occurs during the more mild-weathered spring season in the southern hemisphere, usually held in October. 

Beginning in the Recoleta neighborhood, participants traverse 42 kilometers through the Buenos Aires foothills. The course has many iconic sites. Participants venture past the River Plate Stadium, scenic Liberator Avenue, ending at Casa Rosada and the Buenos Aires city center. The culture in Buenos Aires is a major bonus for anyone who wants to experience a unique and vibrant atmosphere during an invigorating race.


27. Islandsbanki Reykjavik Marathon 

Due to its reasonably close proximity to the United States and its natural wonder, Iceland is a highly-recommended trip for many people. Held in August each year, the Islandsbanki Reykjavik Marathon is a 26-mile trip located in Iceland’s capital that is a great excuse to travel to the island nation.

The route is largely paved and flat, while the weather is often windy and cool. Described as having an “electric” atmosphere, with many native Icelanders coming out to support the race and its associated events. The race organizers plan the race to coincide with Culture Night, or Menningarnott in Icelandic, where more than 30 percent of all Icelanders emerge on the streets of Reykjavik to celebrate. The race also encourages all participants to raise money for charity by sponsoring an organization during their run. Luckily, many people can join as the race also offers a half marathon, 10 km race, 3 km fun race, and 600m Hero race. It’s an enviable marathon to run as parts of the course pass through uninhabited areas, giving each participant a chance to appreciate and explore the country’s natural beauty. 


26. Rock n’ Roll Maratona de Lison, Portugal 

According to Forbes, the Rock n’ Roll Maratona de Lison is one of the world’s most scenic races located in a peaceful setting, so it’s no surprise it’s one of the world’s most popular and beautiful marathons. The marathon also is a great place to share in an athletic community spirit! 

Alongside fellow participants, including thousands of international athletes, racers will experience as the course ventures along the ocean and past the Tagus River with deviations into historical parts of Lisbon. The course winds through the city of Cascais in the area called the Costa do Estoril and finishes at Praça de Comérico. The combination of coastal beauty and historical treasure makes this a beautiful race for thrill-seekers wanting a highly competitive field — and it’s nice to know that the whole marathon is by the waterside, where participants can benefit from the cool breeze. 


The race organizers strictly enforce a six-hour time limit for full marathon runners, so the streets can remain open. For that reason, the race has achieved a reputation for featuring a very competitive crop of runners each year. Be forewarned: the race has many inclines and the climate is quite hot. According to tradition, participants cannot miss the pasta party held before the race. It’s a great chance to intake nutrients for your run and socialize with other participants. It’s available to all athletes and accompaniments to get their full energy before and after the race.