By Barbara L. Nelson – Content Writer
The last couple of years has changed people’s priorities in many aspects, but one of the largest shifts is in the tourism industry. People are now demanding greener experiences in their travels, and 10 European countries rank high on their eco-conscience bucket list.
What these ten countries have in common is a thriving natural environment as well as leading sustainability in five categories: climate, natural assets, pollution, and energy and water conservation.
With 11 green ‘hotspots’ in the Netherlands, this country makes an excellent destination for eco-conscious travellers. Amsterdam is 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, stroll alongside the idyllic canals of many of its beautiful thoroughfares or explore its scenic beaches.
Amsterdam – More than 100
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 vacation 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 of 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 bike or foot, or take a ride on the excellent public transportation system that includes boats to the islands and trains to other destinations in Finland.
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.
Vila Praia de Âncora
Switzerland is among the top destinations for eco-travellers with breath-taking 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.
Norway is often ranked as one of the best and happiest countries to live in, and eco-conscious tourists love it too! This mountainous country, located at the tip of Northern Europe, is also one of the greenest. Conservation plays a large role in the Norwegian culture, and no less than eight Norwegian tourist destinations have been certified as sustainable by the international Sustainable Tourism initiative. Their official slogan is Norway is “powered by nature.” Norway has many green initiatives working to promote responsible tourism. And its glacial landscapes and stunning fjords are proudly preserved. While here, you can also embark on a trip to the Arctic, which will take you to Spitsbergen to view its fascinating wildlife up close.
Austria is a world leader in sustainable tourism and boasts a wide choice of environmentally-friendly accommodations and tours. Austria remains a top eco-friendly destination offering national parks, adventure sports, organic farm experiences, and spa getaways are a few ways to discover the country while being eco-conscious. And don’t forget Austria’s urban centres of Salzburg, Graz, and Vienna are known for art and culture, are famous for palaces, churches and chapels, museums and exhibitions, and musical performances of the highest standard. Each city has a large amount of green space to enjoy as well as bike paths and bike rentals in which to see the sites.
Slovenia is the most-awarded destination by the European Commission for its sustainable tourism that features destinations such as Bohinj, Soca Valley, Lasko, and Idrija. Slovenia occupies a small corner of south-eastern Europe but has four distinct environments: the Alps, the Mediterranean coastal towns, the limestone hills (karst), and the eastern plains. With over 60% of Slovenia covered by forest, over a third of the country is protected for nature conservation. Slovenia also has high levels of marine and terrestrial protected areas. The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, often ranks as one of Europe’s greenest capital and has been car-free since 2008. With more than 542 square meters of green spaces, including a Bee Trail, which encompasses 4,500 hives placed around the city to pollinate the flora, it’s a beautiful city to walk or cycle.
A popular destination for eco-friendly tourists all year, Iceland is one of the most environmentally conscious countries globally. This island country is known for its fjords, natural hot springs, volcanoes, and opportunities for whale watching and seeing the Northern Lights. Visit the capital city of Reykjavik, which has been officially dubbed one of the ‘cleanest’ cities on the planet. Explore the number of immersive tours of Iceland, which allows the visitor to enjoy the country in its natural beauty.
To help you reach your sustainable travel goals in 2022 and beyond, Bidroom is partnered with some of the top eco businesses to provide you with eco-certified hotels as you travel worldwide. Bidroom has a fair supplier policy for hoteliers and supports the hospitality ecosystem with a lower commission and increased customer value.