Few things are as brain-reorienting or as life-affirming as communally watching the best athletes in the world go at each other’s throats: the roaring crowds, the adrenaline rush, the after-parties. After having spent the past few years cramped indoors, we spanned the globe to collect the best live sports experiences—some you’ve heard of, many you probably haven’t—that are worthy of your hard-earned credit card miles, no prior fandoms necessary.
Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc
What is it? The toughest and most scenic ultramarathon in the world, it’s a 106-mile sufferfest that takes runners up more than 30,000 feet of elevation and through three countries—France, Switzerland, and Italy—all set amid a weeklong late-summer party in the alpine town of Chamonix.
What’s the vibe? “It’s Burning Man meets the Tour de France, plus the world’s best outdoor-apparel expo,” says Topher Gaylord, an 11-time finisher who was placed second in 2003.
Optimize your experience by… Getting to town a few days before the start of the race. Book a stay at the ultra-hip La Folie Douce Hôtel overlooking the town center for convenient access to views of the race and nightly DJ sets.
Surfing at Nazaré
What is it? Simply the best place to watch surfers from all over the world try to conquer the biggest waves on earth.
What’s the vibe? Nazaré is a quaint, biblically named fishing village perched impossibly close to objectively awe-inspiring surf breaks.
Optimize your experience by… Visiting during the primo big-wave months (October to March). Get the best view at the red lighthouse by Praia do Norte, where you can both watch pros battle 100-footers and feel small in comparison to the vast power of nature.