If you’re looking to make your next holiday a little greener then it can be hard deciding where to go. How do you strike a balance between eco-friendly and family friendly?
And are there any city breaks that eco-conscious travellers should consider? It’s time to think green and find out, as the travel blogging community is looking at the topic of Sustainable Travel this Tuesday, via Twitter.
If you want to share your eco thoughts then follow the Travel Talk on Twitter, which goes by the hashtag of #TTOT, and join in with the questions today, led by leading community figures including Melvin Boacher of Traveldudes.
The Algarve, Portugal – spas and salt pans
You can’t get enough of nature on a holiday to the Algarve – it’s surrounded by mountains and hills in the north and the Mediterranean Sea in the south, with plenty of rural villages and towns in between. A hiking trail called the Via Algarviana runs across the region, right up to the most south-westerly point in Europe: Cabo Sao Vicente.
Monchique is a small village in the west that was celebrated by the Romans for its healing spa waters, which you can still appreciate today. The thermal spa is a unique way to see the real Algarve, and Monchique itself is worth visiting for the panoramic views from the hills.
The Ria Formosa Natural Park is one of the Algarve’s main assets, as it’s home to all kinds of wildlife including its very own colony of flamingos. Hotel Vila Gale Albacora is set within the Park itself and has a Gold Award for sustainability, boasting beautiful gardens and its own private beach access. Another quirky aspect is the salt panning which takes place here, leaving large areas of the coastal landscape looking snow-covered, particularly around Tavira, which is a beach-side city that the whole family will enjoy. Lastly, if you're into golf (which the Algarve is famous for) then look no further than the region's first sustainable course, Espiche.
Rome, Italy – gardens and green hotels
Rome’s parks and gardens include Gianicolo Park, which is set on one of the city’s seven hills, and the Monte Pincio Gardens. Further afield, Villa Borghese has some very popular gardens dating back to the 17th Century where you can roller-skate or take children on a pony ride. Alternatively, just hire a boat and enjoy the lake's natural beauty.
The Orange Hotel is powered on 70% solar energy, making it an obvious choice if you’re cutting down your carbon footprint. Without even leaving the building, you’ll find a brilliant view of the Sistine Chapel. You're also close to the major tourist attractions, allowing you to walk around the city easily.
If you’d like to embrace eco fashion when you’re in Rome then make sure you visit the Sunday market in Trastevere, which has several vintage clothing stalls. Otherwise, head to the Monti district where you’ll be able to take your pick of retro shops, including Pulp and God Save the Look. They might be pre-loved, but the items you find in these stores will be completely individual and it’s a great way of saving clothes waste.
Majorca, Spain – mountains and Mondrago
You might think of Majorca as being a better destination for clubbing holidays than for all things eco-friendly, but there’s just as much to enjoy on the island if you like things a bit more natural – even the aquarium in Palma is 100% sustainable and has a commitment to protecting local wildlife. Eco hotels in the capital city include Palau Ca Sa Galesa, with views of the iconic La Seu cathedral.
The Tramuntana Mountains stretch across the north, where you’ll find mountain bikers, hikers and rock climbers exploring the landscape and the picture-perfect villages such as Deia, Lluc and Valldemossa. Don’t forget to take a trip on the iconic wooden Soller railway through the mountains, which runs from Palma to Puerto Soller.
Central Majorca is also incredibly rural, with cycling and walking being very popular, whilst coastal towns are perfect for water sports such as kayaking. Mondrago Natural Park, in the south east, is a haven for creatures such as falcons and lizards, and includes pine woods and secluded beaches.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands – bikes and bridges
Being the spiritual home of cycling, Amsterdam is perfect for exploring on two wheels. Why not leave the city behind for a few hours on a summer’s day? Head straight down Liedestraat and out of the central canal ring (you can come back in the evening for a leisurely peddle) to Vondelpark. You’ll pass gorgeous public flower displays in spring and summer, and there are a number of public art displays for you to discover - you could even catch sight of a Picasso in this park.
Museum lovers will also enjoy the convenience of being able to walk or cycle to many of the leading cultural spots in Amsterdam from their hotel or the city centre. Vondelpark meets the city again along Museumplein – or the museum quarter – home to both the Van Gogh and Rijkmusueums. If you’re looking for accommodation in the area then the Europa 92 hotel has a relaxing private garden.
Don’t miss the romantically illuminated Magere Brug (“skinny bridge”), a replica of the 17th century original - unsurprisingly in this largely car-free city, this bridge is for pedestrian and cyclist use only. Head away from the central route after Magere Brug, and you’ll find a historic sights litter your view as you make your way towards Oosterdok and Amsterdam’s historic defence tower.
Cornwall, England – waves and walks
Full of rural charm and surrounded by the ocean, Cornwall is a paradise for surfers, ramblers and lovers of the great outdoors. A major asset is the Eden Project, which is full of plant life and also regularly hosts music concerts. Other green attractions to walk around include the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the very atmospheric Tintagel, where King Arthur was said to have lived.
One of the most popular eco routes in Cornwall is the Camel Trail, which is a path for cycling or walking between the towns of Padstow and Wadebridge. Most people hire a bike to complete the route and it makes a fun activity for the whole family – just remember that you have to cycle both ways!
Of course, surfing and the sea are two of Cornwall’s biggest draws, and it’s worth visiting the nearest beach to check out the waves. In the summer Newquay plays host to the Boardmasters surfing competition, but all year round there are some brilliant beaches to visit, including Bedruthan Steps and Constantine Bay.
Tips for making your trip more eco-friendly
- Use public transport, rather than taxis, wherever you can. In cities you’ll find that Metro or tram systems are often reliable and cheap, as well as helping the environment.
- Bin or take your litter with you when you travel – don’t leave it on the beach or on the streets.
- If there are local markets nearby then make use of them! Not only will you get fresh fruit and vegetables, but you’ll be helping the local community.
- Try and alternate long day trips with activities closer to your resort, such as a visit to a nearby beach, museum or park.
- Look out for walking tours of the local area, rather than bus tours, where possible.
- Visit the tourist information office when you arrive, and check for any walking or cycling maps that are available – these are often free.
- Sample the local delicacies to really get a flavour of the destination. You won’t find them more authentic anywhere else!
Want to learn more about #TTOT? Check out the #TTOT Facebook page and add your own questions for the week's topic and get involved.