Great ecotourism destinations in Europe
Society’s awareness of the importance of caring for the environment is changing our priorities in many ways, including in the tourism industry, which is transforming itself to offer more sustainable travel experiences. Here are some of the best places for ecotourism in Europe, beyond our borders.
With 11 green ‘hotspots’ in the Netherlands, this country makes an excellent destination for eco-conscious travellers. Amsterdam was voted the fifth most environmentally friendly city in Europe by the European Green City Index. The best way to get around this Dutch capital is by bike, and bike rentals are plentiful throughout the country.
With the Netherlands having more than 15,000 km of bike paths, it’s a bike lover’s paradise. Additionally, many Dutch cities are also easy to walk, including Utrecht, Delft, and Rotterdam. And if you want to travel longer distances, the Dutch rail system is CO2 free. Whether you decide to walk, ride, or take the train, you can move around sustainably in the Netherlands. Also, make sure you enjoy this country’s many attractions, such as its quintessential windmills, or a stroll alongside the idyllic canals of many of its beautiful thoroughfares or explore its scenic beaches.
Sweden has made it easy to enjoy sustainable travel with its ‘Nature’s Best’ label for tour operators. Europe’s first eco-label ensures the quality of hundreds of tours run by eco-certified tour operators around the country. Sweden’s sustainable tourism offers a variety of sustainable outings, including a safari experience at the Stockholm Outback, building a log raft for a rafting adventure in Varmland, and partying at the Gothenburg Culture Festival of Sweden’s largest sustainable festivals. Gothenburg, by the way, has been named the world’s most sustainable destination for the past four years on the Global Destination Sustainable Index
Denmark is a maritime nation of islands, bridges, and ferries. Renewable energy and sustainable living are high on the public agenda, making Denmark a great choice for a green holiday. Denmark leads in wind power, with around half of the country’s energy being sourced from wind turbines.
The country is an ideal holiday spot for sea lovers and bicyclists. Denmark’s cities are filled with ground-breaking sustainable architecture you can enjoy by bike or a leisurely walk. Copenhagen is the world’s largest green city that is planning to be completely carbon-neutral by 2025. Adventure outside urban Denmark, and you will find a well-crafted web of bike, train, and ferry routes leading to a hinterland dotted with Viking remains, medieval cottages, magnificent castles, organic farms, and wonderfully wild beaches.
More than 70% of Finland is woodland areas, with the majority of it being protected to prevent deforestation and disruption of wildlife. Home to 40 national parks, it has a population of nearly 200,000 reindeer, more than 1,000 species of flowering plants, and is ranked as the most forested country in Europe. The bay city of Oulu is a gateway to the unspoiled countryside and tiny islands.
Lapland is also an ever-reliable winter wonderland for Northern Lights sightings and cross-country skiing. Stay in Helsinki, which is a leading example of sustainable innovation. Explore the Finnish capital on a bike or on foot, or take a ride on the excellent public transportation system that includes boats to the islands and trains to other destinations in Finland.
Recommended eco-certified hotel: Hotel Helka – Helsinki
Portugal has an incomparable variety of protected landscapes and nature areas, a plethora of leisure activities, and an overwhelming cultural heritage where the traditional and modern blend together. Its cuisine, fine wines, and hospitable people make this a great destination for the responsible traveller.
In 2019, Portugal won the Best of Europe Award for sustainable tourism at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading tourism fair. Nine destinations in Portugal are committed to sustainable tourism. They are participating in the programs of Green Destinations and Quality Coast. They are Águeda, Alto Minho, Azores, Cascais, Lagos, Serras do Socorro e Archeira, Sintra, Torres Vedras, and the West Region.
Switzerland is among the top destinations for eco-travellers with breathtaking views of lakes nestled in the Alps, picturesque alpine villages, and cities overflowing with art and culture. With its endless cycling and hiking trails, both city and mountain, the best way to see this beautiful country is by bike or foot.
For the less active but still respectful of the environment, you can choose to travel by rail. The railway network is virtually all electrified, with almost zero emissions reaching the country’s best sights. Switzerland has also launched a route for electric vehicles, with 300 charging stations covering 1,970 km through some of Europe’s most eye-popping scenery.
Recommended eco-certified hotel: Tschuggen Grand Hotel
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