The best Garmin watches are ideal companions on the roads, trails, or in the sea. It doesn't matter if you're a total beginner, a keen runner, a serious triathlete, or an endurance cyclist: a Garmin watch is a great tool for runners, cyclists, swimmers, and all-around health tracking, seeing you through from your first 5K to your first marathon.
The sheer variety of Garmins on offer might be intimidating for newcomers: while there are only one or two new Apple Watches released every year, Garmin's range is vast. It's well-known for making some of the best running watches, but it also makes a range of other wearables, from everyday smartwatches such as the Venu 2 to advanced multi-sports watches like the brand-new Fenix 7 Pro. Looking for the best cheap running watch? Garmin has you covered with the excellent Forerunner 55. While Garmin promo codes could cut costs elsewhere too.
The top-performing ones made our list of the best Garmin has to offer, whether it's a budget-friendly beginner's watch or a monster performer for elite athletes. We'll be updating this list soon with some of Garmin's latest releases, including the Garmin Venu 3 and the Garmin Vivoactive 5 once we've tested to see how they compare to the current line-up. For now, whatever your needs and budget, we've got a Garmin watch for you below.
Matt is TechRadar's Fitness, Wellbeing and Wearables Editor, which means he's an expert on workouts, smartwatches, and all things fitness tech. Matt's spent years covering the health and fitness beat, is a regular Garmin user, and has personally tested many of the watches below.
The quick list
Want to get straight to the best Garmin watch for your needs? Use our quick round-up below to immediately find a GPS watch that suits you – and you can read more about it by jumping to our full write-ups and explanations using the links.
The best Garmin Watch for most people
The Garmin Venu 2 tops our list because it does everything so well for both lifestyle and fitness considerations. Perfect for everyone from hardcore triathletes to casual fitness enthusiasts looking for an Apple Watch replacement.
The best cheap Garmin Watch
The Garmin Vivosmart 5 is more of a fitness tracker rather than a true smartwatch, but it's cheap, cheerful and will do a great job of recording your workouts, allowing you access to the excellent Garmin Connect app.
The best Garmin Watch for runners
The Garmin Forerunner 265 Solar is an amazing watch for people serious about their running. With the Training Readiness score, advanced metrics and beautiful AMOLED screen , it's perfect regardless of whether you love the tarmac or the trail.
The best Garmin watch for outdoor sports
The Garmin Instinct 2 is an amazing, tough-as-nails trail running companion. Exceptional battery life, workout suggestions, recovery guidance and a shockproof resin case are a few of its standout features.
The biggest, most advanced Garmin outdoor watch
If the Garmin Instinct 2 is the best outdoor watch for most people, the Enduro 2 is the best outdoor watch for elite athletes. Designed for serious orienteers, triathletes, and endurance runners, this watch is a monster.
The most advanced Garmin multi-sport watch
The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro is one of the most advanced multi-sport watches around, meaning it's perfect for swimming, cycling, running, orienteering, and more. Topographical maps in navigation mode and biometric tracking are some standout features, along with an LED safety torch.
The best hybrid Garmin watch
The Garmin Instinct Crossover is an excellent watch if you love the aesthetics of Casio G-Shocks, but want a genuine smartwatch. With Garmin Instinct 2 innards and analog hands with Revodrive satellite technology, it's the perfect hybrid.
The best for new runners
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is a good watch for new runners: it's very cheap compared to other choices, you still get GPS tracking and Garmin's excellent running metrics. Its onboard storage holds 200 hours of music.
The best for style
Garmin's MARQ range is designed to echo premium rotary watches, with rotating bezels and classic-looking dive watch-inspired faces. The MARQ Athlete (Gen 2) is the running-orientated model.
The best Garmin watch overall
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Garmin Venu 2 strikes a tricky balance between smartwatch and sports watch, successfully delivering the best of both worlds. Its design is understated, and doesn't scream 'sports watch', but it's packed with an impressive array of training tools including accurate GPS (supported by Galileo and GLONASS), quick access to Garmin Coach training plans, sensitive heart rate monitoring, cadence, splits, and more. There are plenty of indoor training modes too, and the watch even syncs with compatible gym equipment, plus third-party fitness and diet apps.
On the smartwatch front, there's onboard storage for 650 songs, plus third-party music apps from Deezer and Amazon Music. You can view your day's schedule at a glance, check your heart rate, water intake and stress level, log period symptoms, receive smartphone notifications (and send replies) and more.
This is all made possible by the super high-resolution AMOLED display, with three brightness settings and an optional always-on mode that allows you to see a huge amount of data at a glance, without digging out your phone. A superb all-purpose Garmin watch, the Venu 2 comes highly recommended.
In January 2022, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus was released – a new smartwatch that keeps all the best features of the Venu 2 and adds a microphone so you can make calls and access your phone's voice assistant from your wrist. It's an excellent addition, and if you can afford the extra cost, well worth considering.
Read our full Garmin Venu 2 review
The best cheap Garmin watch
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you don't need a fully-fledged running watch like the Forerunner 955, but still want to get as much data as possible on your health and fitness, the Vivosmart 5 is the Garmin watch for you. It's super small and lightweight, but still provides an impressive stream of stats for you to pore over. In our tests we were particularly impressed by its sleep tracking tools, and the device is so comfortable, you'll forget you're wearing it at night.
Its screen is a small monochrome affair. However, Garmin's interface designers have done a truly impressive job of cramming in a wealth of data without things ever looking cramped.
Sure, its not quite as attractive as Fitbit's latest devices, but it's extremely practical and, best of all, there are no features hidden behind a paywall. Everything in the Garmin Connect app is free to access, with no need to subscribe to a premium service to get deep insights into historic data and trends.
Read our full Garmin Vivosmart 5 review
The best Garmin watch for runners
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Garmin Forerunner 265 was released as an update to the 255 series, which was less than a year old. The fact it's a fairly iterative update, changing too little about its predecessor, and it loses some battery (no doubt rerouted into power for that new AMOLED screen) is the only thing stopping it from getting our elusive five stars. It's the reason the 265 has supplanted our previous best watch for runners, the Forerunner 955 from our list.
It's an excellent running watch by any metric, and would do well on the wrist of any runner. It packs a lot of features into a compact package, with an impressive range of workout modes, dedicated feedback on your training load including the new Training Readiness score feature, which debuted on the 955. Onboard storage comes as standard, so you can download music onto your phone or just use it to control Spotify.
If you're primarily a runner and are looking to upgrade your entry-level watch to something more advanced, the 265 is well worth your consideration. Even if you're a regular marathon runner, this will see you right. It's lightweight and unobtrusive enough for everyday wear and is tough enough to shrug off rough treatment. With a gorgeous new screen, it'll stand up to modern conventional smartwatches too, and won't look out of place in the office.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 265 review
The best outdoor Garmin watch for most people
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
We were big fans of the original Garmin Instinct, but it was always a very functional looking watch – chunky and stoic. The Instinct 2 keeps all the best features of its predecessor (including a shockproof fiber-reinforced resin case and exceptional battery life) and tucks it all into a slimmer package that's now available in two sizes: 45mm or 40mm for smaller wrists.
It's a full multi-sports watch, with carefully designed tracking modes for a wide range of activities, and runners, cyclists and swimmers are particularly well served. You get the advanced training tools you'd expect from a modern Garmin watch, including workout suggestions, recovery time guidance, and load monitoring so you can strike the right balance between effort and rest
The Instinct 2 also allows you to download new apps, data fields, and faces from Garmin Connect IQ, and is available in a choice of more fun colors than the original Instinct. It's overall a more wearable watch whether you're working our or not.
The standard Instinct 2 offers impressive battery life, but While the first-gen Instinct Solar could hypothetically keep running indefinitely on a single charge, the company says that it's now a practical possibility if you spend enough time outdoors. We were certainly impressed by its performance in our tests; even with regular workouts, the power meter barely budged when we got enough sun.
The only downside is the fact that its monochrome memory-in-pixel display isn't great for maps, and you'll get far less detail than you would with a watch like the Fenix 7 or Epix (Gen 2). The Instinct 2's mid-range price makes it very tempting though, and it comes highly recommended. If you want a cheaper version, the Garmin Instinct Solar, a version of the original watch, can be bought for a lot less than the updated model.
Read our full Garmin Instinct 2 review