When it comes to travelling responsibly, there are many different factors to consider. Firstly, think about your mode of transport. Is this the most earth-friendly way to travel? Are there alternatives which could reduce your carbon or print?. Secondly, consider the sort of holiday or travel experience you want. Are you looking for green hotel stays? Or do you want to volunteer and help out with conservation / local communities? And of course, there’s choosing your destination. Because the reality is, some countries are much greener than others.
Discovering the greenest countries in the world
Here is a list of the most environmentally-friendly destinations to travel according to the world’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
Ranking in first place in the EPI, Finland has a plan to become completely carbon neutral by the year 2050. Initiatives include the development of smart technology to provide on-demand buses (eventually making car ownership a thing of the past) as well as strict eco policies across all areas such as tourism. For green foodies, this is a country where sustainability and organic food have always been a part of their restaurant concepts, so you won’t find it hard to eat responsibly. Foraging is a popular way to source produce, which means that menus are always refreshing, clean and exciting.
Where to go: visit Finland’s capital, Helsinki, a city which aims to become carbon neutral much sooner than the rest of the country (2035 is the target) and book yourself into the green Klaus K Hotel.
Being one of the most tectonically active places in the world, with more than 200 volcanoes and 600 hot springs, Iceland is able to generate almost all of its electricity from hydro and geothermal power. Not only that, but the country’s unique position on the mid-Atlantic ridge means that it has one of the most incredible natural landscapes.
Where to go: stay in Reykjavik, but hire a car and drive along the south coast to see some of the waterfalls and glaciers. Jökulsárlón is not to be missed, and get as remote as possible to catch sight of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).
Home to Växjö, the ‘greenest city in Europe’, Sweden is a great place for eco-tourism. Växjö became the first city to set a target for becoming fossil fuel free by the year 2030, and half of its energy and electricity comes from trees. Cycling is also promoted as a transport alternative, so don’t forget to hire a bike when you arrive – it’s the best way to explore and sight see!
Where to go: Vaxjo is famous for its beaches and lakes, the most famous being the Evedal beachfront area at Lake Helgasjön which is also a well known nature reserve (so a great place for wildlife spotting).
Another place in the world where cycling is the way to get around is the city of Copenhagen in Denmark. It’s also one of the coolest, hippest city break destinations in Europe for those who enjoy food, drink, culture and sightseeing. There’s a green roof policy for all new buildings (think gorgeous rooftop gardens that pump CO2 into the air) and local restaurants are encouraged to use would-be-waste products to create their unique and interesting dishes. Additionally, the country produces clean air solutions across a number of areas (including shipping and road transportation) and its clean air technologies are worth more than €940 million each year.
Where to go: explore the city of two wheels and stop off for organic delights at places like Restaurant Biom, Geranium by head chef Rasmus Kofoe, or the world famous Noma.
Slovenia has been declared ‘the world’s first green country’ by Green Destinations, and got a high score of 96% compliance across 100 criteria. This small country is now recognized for its big efforts in eco-tourism, and the capital city, Ljubljana, is the first to take part in a zero waste program to preserve its green public areas. These green areas make up over a third of the city’s area, making it a spectacular place to travel to for those who enjoy being surrounded by nature.
Where to go: Mount Saint Mary is a verdant hill just north of Ljubljana centre and provides travellers with the perfect landscape for hiking and walks with panoramic views. Also not to be missed (and also close by) is the beautiful Lake Bled, one of the most famous locations in the country, and the Karst Region.
Cover image via Pixabay