Is there such a thing as a sustainable travel destination? All destinations require some form of travel to get to which immediately gets you in the carbon deficit before you’ve even arrived. However, when you do arrive, the place you’re in makes all the difference to whether your trip can be eco-friendly/sustainable compared to other destinations.
Destinations that can be travelled to via train can limit your carbon emissions before you even arrive. However, there are some cities that stand out from the rest with green spaces, electric transport and eco-friendly accommodation and activities.
We take a look at some of the top destinations that place an emphasis on sustainability to create a better environment for all.
As a city that has won the title as the world’s most walkable and bikeable city several times, Copenhagen is considered by many as one of the top sustainable destinations in the world. Nearly all of the larger venues and hotels in the city have a 3rd party eco-certification as it aims to become the first carbon neutral capital city by 2025.
Copenhagen has also just finished the expansion of the metro’s City Ring that connects all parts of the city within 12 min. ride directly to the airport meaning you can be as carbon neutral as possible visiting this gorgeous city.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers
This hotel takes the title of Denmark’s first carbon neutral hotel building. To obtain this result the hotel has cut down energy consumption via innovative solutions such as the largest building integrated solar panel park in Northern Europe, the first ever groundwater-based cooling and heating system in Denmark, intelligent light saving measures and water saving measures.
What to do
Dry slope skiing on the Copenhill, the world’s cleanest waste-to-energy power plant
Visit Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world
Experience urban farming at an oyster opening workshop in a sea farm
Another city that comes to mind when thinking of bikes is of course Amsterdam.
Transport around Amsterdam is some of the most environmentally friendly in the world, with bicycles, canal boats, trams and e-scooters making up a large portion of the way people get around.
And with great train links throughout Europe, Amsterdam can also be travelled to using low carbon methods which significantly decreases your carbon footprint before you've even got there!
Where to stay: Hotel Jakarta
Hotel Jakarta is said to be the most sustainable hotel in the Netherlands. The construction uses natural wood as the main building material and nearly no non-recyclable products. There are also a number of energy-saving measures implemented such as collecting rainwater for the subtropical indoor garden, solar panels that transform solar energy into electricity to heat the shower water, and a warmth and cold storage system that regulates the temperature in the hotel.
What to do
Cruise through the canals collecting plastic waste with Plastic Whale
Cycle tour through the city
Visit Anne Frank’s house
Dine at Restaurant de Kas, a green house restaurant serving organic ingredients grown onsite
As a country that heats 85% of all houses using renewable geo-thermal energy, and provides nearly 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources (73% from Hydro, 27% from geo-thermal), Iceland is one of the top destinations that can provide for your trip in an eco-friendly way.
Iceland is also home to The Blue Lagoon, a geo-thermal spa that is rich in a unique combination of natural minerals, which gives the lagoon its soft, milky aquamarine colour. Enjoying a bath in the warm water of the lagoon, surrounded by black lava is the perfect way to relax without harming the environment.
Where to stay: The Retreat by Blue Lagoon
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland encompasses a subterranean spa, a geothermal lagoon, a restaurant that reimagines Iceland’s culinary traditions, and a 62-suite hotel encircled by the Blue Lagoon’s mineral-rich waters. The Retreat is a place where guests can leave the world behind and enter a timeless realm of relaxation, rejuvenation, and exploration.
What to do
Relax and unwind in one of Iceland’s geo-thermal spas
Enjoy a wildlife tour in a kayak, getting up close and personal with Iceland’s most iconic wildlife
Plant trees to offset the carbon emissions of your trip
Enjoy fresh hot bread at a geo-thermal bakery
Tourism in Costa Rica has increased over the last couple of years, and with the country now letting in double vaccinated individuals from any country enter, it’s a great option for an incentive trip further afield.
Costa Rica is widely recognised for its sustainable tourism and its effort towards being more environmentally friendly. It actually was voted the second most sustainable country in the world by the World Energy Council. 99.2% of the energy Costa Rica uses is renewable, 78% from hydroelectric and 18% by geothermal. A quarter of the country’s land has been turned into protected parks and reserves, which is no surprise considering 51% of Costa Rica is forested.
Where to stay: El Silencio Eco Lodge
This 4 star hotel gives the illusion that it is floating like a cloud in the rainforest, and is situated near the Poas Volcano. You will definitely be able to disconnect at this hotel as you are surrounded by a tropical forest, waterfalls and wildlife. El Silencio features an array of sustainable programmes and initiatives to reduce their environmental footprint. It also aims to give back to the community through local employment opportunities, local purchases and energy conservation.
What to do
Hike a coffee plantation of Costa Rica
Tour the Canopies
Snorkel around the Island
Go bungee jumping at the old Colorado River Bridge
Oslo has been voted in the top 5 most sustainable cities in the world, and has one of the biggest targets of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. As with other Scandinavian countries, the air and water are one of the purest and it is surrounded by nature (particularly the Fjords).
Another great thing about Oslo is that it is a gateway to exploring other beautiful and natural parts of the country. This includes a hike to Frognerseteren and Vettakollen, or a day trip to Bergen where you can find the Sognerfjord.
Where to stay: Hotel Bristol
Located one street down from Karl Johan in the city centre, the Hotel Bristol has earned its eco-friendly certification by using sustainable energy, environmentally friendly suppliers and limiting waste. The hotel has a gym, meeting rooms and conference facilities and has over 250 guest rooms.
What to do:
Visit the Nobel Peace Prize Center
See an interesting collection of sculptures at Frogner Park
Join a walking tour around the city to learn about the history and fun facts about the country
Take a fjord cruise
Kayak through the fjords with evening BBQ and overnight stay
Ljubljana is becoming one of the top European cities for travel and it’s not hard to see why. The diversity the city, and country of Slovenia offers makes it perfect for anyone who is interested in nature, history or adventure.
The capital of Slovenia has previously been ranked the #1 European Green capital, and is also a beautiful location to visit in the Spring or Summer months. The city centre has been car-free since 2018 and provides locals and visitors free access to a bike-share scheme. There are also tons of green spaces including a ‘Bee Trail’ which consists of 4,500 hives placed around the city.
Where to stay: Zlata Ladjica Hotel
This 5 star boutique hotel is located just by the river, one of the most picturesque spots in the city. They are also aiming to leave a minimal environmental footprint, by ensuring that all the food and drinks they provide in their hotel are locally sourced and in-season. They use minimal plastic throughout the hotel and it’s also good to note that the tap water in Ljubljana is perfectly safe to drink. So much so that you’ll see plenty of water fountains around the city.
What to do:
Visit/Hike Lake Bled
Try one of their innovative tours such as the ‘Moustache Tour’ , Taste Ljubljana food tour, or the Beer Experience
Visit the abandoned Hotel Bellevue
Contribute to a wildlife conservation project
If you want to find out more about these destinations and the sustainable activities, hotels and restaurants that can be experienced there, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written in collaboration with Tea With Gi. For more fun reads about lifestyle and travel, check out her blog here.