The predicted travel trends for the new decade are geared towards more eco-friendly options and shying away from the usual capital city tourist hotspots in favor of the serenity of more rural landscapes. Here are our top picks for conservation-conscious cities to make your 2020 travel experiences fresh and exciting, and gentle on the planet.
Kicking off the list is the Global Destination Sustainability Index’s chart-topper for the third year running. With all major venues, amenities and public spaces carrying eco-certification, just about every holiday activity in Gothenburg is ecologically clean. For music lovers, enjoy the three-day Way Out West festival, which promotes completely vegetarian food stalls, and aims to reduce its environmental impact every year. The city also boasts the largest half marathon and annual swim-run event and offers local sustainable transport options, such as bicycle hiring depots, canoe hire, and the Älvsnabben ferry which is set to be fully electric this year.
The founding city of Greenpeace has a lot to brag about, including sprawling forested parks, mountain biking trails, and a travel time of 20 minutes no matter the destination. The city also started the trend of consuming produce grown within 100 miles of one’s home, also known as the 100-mile diet. Vancouver is further anchoring its conservation roots with its Greenest City Action Plan by planting thousands of trees annually, and the city saw the takeoff of the first fully-electric commercial aircraft just last month.
Since 1993, this Spanish island has been a Unesco biosphere reserve and avoided the overdevelopment exhibited by much of the Spanish coast. Marine ecosystems are carefully mapped and protected with the funds gained from tourism tax, ensuring pristine shores, crystal waters and teeming marine wildlife for snorkelers. Enjoy a variety of local produce and homemade eats at Saturday morning markets. There is also the annual Fiestas de Sant Joan in the coastal town of Ciutadella every June where spectators can behold horse parades, jousting tournaments, and fireworks, just a ferry ride away from the bustle of Barcelona.
Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
The epitome of seaside holiday fun, the Isle of Wight also displays a unique integration of village life with extraordinary natural beauty. Wildlife superhighways have been open since 2013, and the island is one of seven Unesco biosphere reserves in the UK. Travel around the island is bolstered by non-car transport modes, encouraging locals and visitors to use buses, trains, bicycles or footpaths for their explorations, and efforts are also being made for eco-friendly building projects, and restoration of natural landmarks and habitats.
Val di Vara, Italy
The largest valley in Liguria took steps at the dawn of the century in the wake of an exodus from rural life to become more ecologically responsible by focussing on organic production, an initiative that quickly spread to the local hospitality, culinary, artisanal and tourism industries. Over half of the valley’s terrain is dedicated to organic cultivation and farming efforts, including free-range-to-the-point-of-wild cattle, and using ancient cheese-making techniques in local dairies. The 12th century walled village of Varese Ligure is a must-see in the valley, where one can sample the region’s stamped corzetti pasta discs and traditional walnut sauce – all organic, of course!
If you’re weary of the bustle of capital city travel and are looking for a slower-paced, more enriching travel experience in 2020, consider traversing just as majestic and culturally impactful destination alternatives in the country’s rural towns. Odds are, going off the beaten track is also better for the environment and astronomically more beneficial to the local community and small-town commerce you would be supporting. There’s plenty of choices to make your next holiday guilt-free, carbon-conscious and even more memorable!
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