With the 2012 Olympic Games just wrapping up in Britain, now’s a good time to look back at some of the most scenic former Olympic cities. Every location that has hosted the Games has been special, with these just some of the most popular.
1. Nagano, Japan – 1998
Nagano hosted the Winter Games in 1998. The most of the events were held in the Matsumoto Northern Alps region close to the village of Hakuba. It’s still an ideal location for lovers of winter sports and there are plenty of wonderful architectural attractions here. The Zenkoji Temple can also be explored. This is over 1,400 years old and it’s known as one of Japan’s top centers for Buddhism. You’ll find it in the northern part of Nagano. It’s quite a busy temple with about seven million people visiting it every year.
2. Beijing, China – 2008
Beijing became the first Chinese city to host the Olympics when the Summer Games visited in 2008. The city has an extraordinary history and while it’s a modern community, there are still many signs here of old China. The government modernized it after the Olympic bid was won and this resulted in better air quality and transportation systems. You’ll be able to visit the Summer Palace and Forbidden City as well as many architectural landmarks. Of course the National Stadium was built for the Games and is referred to as the bird’s nest. Also the city’s National Aquatics Center is now known as the biggest water park in Asia.
3. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA – 2002
Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games in 2002. There are numerous ski resorts in the surrounding area, so there were plenty of venues for events. You can visit the Olympic Oval as well as Park City Mountain Resort, Snowbasin Ski Area, and Deer Valley. Park City is also popular for the annual Sundance Film Festival that takes place there each January. The town’s Main Street is filled with world-class nightclubs, spas, and restaurants. The city’s great in the winter, but it’s also ideal for mountain bikers, campers, and hikers in the summer.
4. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – 2010
Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada, was the home of the Winter Games in 2010. The area is well known for its skiing at Blackcomb Mountains and Whistler. The city’s rapid transit Sky Train system was improved for the event and you can now visit the Olympic Cauldron over in English Bay. Stanley Park is another wonderful location to explore. This is the third-biggest urban park in North America and offers exceptional views of the bay.
5. Innsbruck, Austria – 1964/1976
Innsbruck welcomed the world to the Winter Games in both 1964 and 1976. It also hosted the more recent Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. There are nine different ski resorts in the region that can all be accessed with one ski pass. This allows visitors to try them all out if they wish. These include two of the Olympic ski venues. Innsbruck’s also popular in the summer as visitors flock to the Stubai glacier to get magnificent views of the surrounding mountain peaks.