With the summer of 2014 bringing us yet another World Cup, this time in the fascinating, high-energy destination of Brazil, there will be a focus on sports for many travel enthusiasts this year. The World Cup attracts visitors from all over the world every four years, and this year’s seems to be getting particular attention, because Brazil is already such a popular destination.
But all of this calls to mind other world sporting events that attract (or ought to attract) international visitors. So here are my picks for five world sporting events worth travelling for (aside from the World Cup).
The Australian Open – Melbourne, Australia
There are four grand slam events on the professional tennis calendar, but the Australian Open is seen by many as the “fun one,” and certainly offers the most unique travel experience. Held in Melbourne each January, the Aussie Open kicks off the tennis calendar in a warm, cheerful and festive way, with a fan atmosphere that seems generally more relaxed than many tennis crowds. Staying in Melbourne, you’ll also have access to some of Australia’s world class beaches and wildlife preserves.
Monaco Grand Prix – Monaco
For anybody with an interest in grand prix racing, or even simply for thrill-seekers, the Monaco Grand Prix is a must visit. Still the most iconic Formula 1 event in the world, the Monaco Grand Prix is like something out of a fairy tale, dripping with class and luxury. Monaco itself makes for a stunning visit, located right on the Mediterranean on the French Riviera.
The Cheltenham Festival – Cheltenham, England
There are numerous famous horse racing and jumping events throughout the world, but the Cheltenham Festival, a couple of hours outside of London, is one of the most enjoyable. Featuring four days of various events, the Festival overlaps with St. Patrick’s Day, and always makes for an enjoyable occasion. Many who visit the festival each year also like to enhance the experience through betting on the races. The Cheltenham Festival section at Betfair’s betting site features news and tips leading right up to the event, which makes it possible for even a casual observer to make educated bets, if he or she feels so inclined. But most importantly, get to the festival and enjoy the competition and festivity!
The Masters – United States
Held annually in early April in Augusta, Georgia, The Masters are in some people’s mind the Wimbledon of the professional golf tour. For those who love professional golf, it’s absolutely a bucket list event. The weather in Augusta in April is generally warm and sunny, the course itself is absolutely beautiful, and the event has a certain aura around it that seems to inspire great play, as the best golfers in the world compete for the famous green jacket that goes to the winner. In terms of vacation perks, you’re also not far from the wonderful coastal city of Savannah.
University Rivalry Games – United States
Many might argue for a specific college football or basketball game in the U.S., or even the BCS National Championship, or the college basketball Final Four. I’ll just sum it up and say any high profile U.S. college rivalry game is worth the trip. In football, many would recommend seeing Ohio State play at Michigan’s massive football stadium. In basketball, many would direct you to North Carolina to see the University of North Carolina play Duke University in Durham, NC. They’re all outstanding options, and while they’re tough tickets, they represent some of the most exciting sporting events in the U.S.
To some extent, your sports travel may also depend on your specific sporting and destination preferences. But if you’re just looking for some of the most unique events in the world, these are all worth considering.
This is a guest post written by Jake Harrison. A travel enthusiast since studying abroad at University, Jake visits new countries and world events whenever he gets the chance, and shares his experiences through blog posts and photography alike.