My Favourite Beach Volleyball World Tour Stops

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

 

With the start of my team’s beach season coming up this week in Rio (yayyyy!!! can’t wait!!), I thought it would be fun to do a little post on my favourite FIVB World Tour stops! Compared to most people in the international beach volleyball world, I am a total newbie, and a lot of destinations have stopped putting on events since I started playing 4 years ago. Even though I’ve only been playing for 4 years and I have a smaller pool of events to draw from, there are definitely events that I look forward to playing every year. These stops are the most unique and exciting for me, for many different reasons, but here are my Top 3.
 

My Top 3 World Tour Stops

 

1. Poreč, Croatia

Poreč held their first event in 2015 through the Swatch Major Series group of tournaments. Poreč is a town on the Adriatic Sea in the Istria Region of Croatia, which is known for wine and truffles (the mushroom kind), among other things. Those two things are enough to make me love ANY place, but Croatia is much more than that. Before playing in Poreč I hadn’t spent much time in Croatia, but I have since come to love it.
 

The tournament has a festival feel to it, and spectators have a lot of fun things to do and explore if they aren’t watching volleyball. Centre court has a ton of energy, and the whole tournament is held just outside the city centre. Being a vacation town, there are several resorts and hotels nearby, though. This means that there is a constant stream of people seeing what is going on, and the whole tournament has the feeling of being in a community.
 

Serving at the Poreč Major


 

My team won the silver medal at the Poreč Major for the past 2 years, so that always helps with the good vibes, but I was lucky enough to be able to explore the region a little bit last year, which solidified my love for the place. I went Truffle Hunting with truffle dogs, and got to experience everything truffles, which was absolutely incredible. I LOVE truffles, so that was so much fun for me. Also, one of my friends lives in Croatia, so I was able to hang out with her and visit some of the local wineries and restaurants, and take in the scenery.
 

Croatia definitely holds a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to go back there again this season!!
 

2. Gstaad, Switzerland

I have traveled to Switzerland a few times through my indoor career, but the beach volleyball event in Gstaad, Switzerland is an 18-year staple on the World Tour. Gstaad is a high-end skiing destination for people from all over the world, and it is the cutest town nestled up in the middle of the Alps. Where there aren’t mountains, there are beautiful, rolling hills, and the homes and buildings are all made of wood and have the typical Swiss chalet design. It is amazing!
 

I don’t think there is a better backdrop for a beach volleyball tournament, and while it gets a bit chilly sometimes, the air is crisp and fresh, and everything is within walking distance. Because the World Tour has been coming to Gstaad for so long, the tournament is run flawlessly, and we always know what to expect. It’s also great to take a recovery ice bath at the end of the day in the mountain stream running behind the side courts!
 

When the tournament is over, there is great hiking in the region because of all of the mountains. It is such a peaceful spot, and I always feel so refreshed after spending a week in Gstaad!
 

3. Stavanger, Norway

Much like Switzerland, you wouldn’t expect there to be an international beach volleyball tournament in Norway, but it is a great event. I got to play there twice so far, and I’m not sure if it will make a comeback, but I sure hope it does!
 

A cruise ship docked in Stavanger


 

Stavanger is a very cute city, known for the oil industry. It is always bustling during the week, when the oil men come to work, and things get much more quiet on the weekends. Stavanger is also a common stop for Scandinavian cruises, so there are always massive ships docked beside the courts. It is beautiful, but very strange to play in the shadow of a cruise ship. The courts are set up along the street and next to the water, so people can watch matches from the ships, or they can stop while walking through town. It’s a very unique concept.
 

Stavanger is located very close to the fjords, most notably Preikestolen. We had the opportunity to hike up to Preikestolen one year, and it was an amazing experience. The views were breathtaking, and it was exhilarating being on top of the fjord and looking down.
 

Honourable Mention

 

Klagenfurt, Austria

Klagenfurt is probably on the top of every beach athlete’s list of Favourite Stops, but I included it on my Honourable Mention list for two reasons. First, I only got to play there once; and second, I heard that the event will no longer happen.
 

Klagenfurt was a joint music festival/beach volleyball event in a tiny town in Austria. The week of the tournament was the busiest week of the year for the town, and it was on-going for over 20 years. Klagenfurt was created by the same guy who started the Swatch Major Series, and after becoming a staple every summer, thousands upon thousands of people would show up to camp, party, go to concerts, and watch beach volleyball.
 

Klagenfurt was an incredible experience for the athletes. The crowds were huge, and were VERY involved in the matches, the food was delicious, the side events were exciting, and the organization was flawless. It was the perfect event for both athletes and spectators alike.
 

Centre court in Klagenfurt


 

I love getting to travel the world to play a sport that I love, and every event has something special about it. These 3 hold a special place in my heart, though, and it’s always an exciting time when I see them coming up on the schedule. This year, we will play in Poreč and Gstaad in back to back weeks, and they can’t come soon enough!
 

xo, Sarah

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