The Insider’s Guide To Sustainable Travel – Part One

Welcome to part one of a two-part special report on sustainable travel destinations. Sustainable travel is more than just a trend. It is a way of traveling that respects the environment, the culture, and the people of the places we visit. It is also a way of traveling that enriches our own lives, by opening our minds, expanding our horizons, and creating meaningful connections. In this two-part report, we will introduce you to eight destinations that are leading the way in sustainability, and show you what they have to offer to travelers who want to make a positive impact on the world. We will also hear from travelers who have visited these destinations and share their experiences and insights.

This is the ultimate guide to sustainable destinations that are a mix of urban and rural locations spread across our globe.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is Europe’s sustainable city pioneer, and the recipient of the European Green Capital Award in 2024. The Danish capital aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025, by generating 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, and biomass. Copenhagen also boasts 500 hectares of green spaces, including urban parks, gardens, and farms, that provide fresh air, recreation, and local food for residents and visitors. The city is also a paradise for cyclists, with 200km of bike lanes and a bike-sharing system that allows you to explore the city on two wheels.

Copenhagen is not only green, but also vibrant and diverse, with a rich cultural and historical heritage, a creative and innovative design scene, and a cozy and friendly atmosphere. You can visit the colorful Nyhavn harbor, the iconic Little Mermaid statue, the majestic Rosenborg Castle, and the futuristic Opera House. You can also enjoy the world-class cuisine, the lively nightlife, and the hygge (coziness) of the Danish lifestyle.

Traveler’s perspective:

Anna is a 25-year-old graphic designer from Vancouver, Canada. She visited Copenhagen in June 2022, and stayed for a week.

“I have always been interested in sustainability and design, so Copenhagen was the perfect destination for me. I was amazed by how green and clean the city was, and how easy it was to get around by bike or public transport. I loved visiting the different neighborhoods, each with its own character and charm. I especially enjoyed the Christiania area, which is a self-governing community that promotes alternative lifestyles and values. I also had a great time exploring the museums, galleries, and shops, where I saw some of the most beautiful and innovative designs in the world. Copenhagen was a truly inspiring and enjoyable city, and I would love to go back someday.”

2. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a pioneer of sustainable tourism, and a model for other countries to follow. The Central American nation has been committed to protecting its natural resources and biodiversity for decades, and has achieved remarkable results. Costa Rica is home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity, and has managed to conserve 25% of its land as national parks and reserves. It also produces 99% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar. Costa Rica aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral country by 2025, and has launched several initiatives to reduce its emissions and promote green development.

Costa Rica is also a paradise for nature and adventure lovers, with a variety of landscapes and activities to choose from. You can explore the lush rainforests, the majestic volcanoes, the stunning beaches, and the diverse wildlife. You can also enjoy the thrill of zip-lining, rafting, surfing, diving, and hiking. Costa Rica is also known for its friendly and hospitable people, its rich and colorful culture, and its delicious and healthy cuisine.

Traveler’s perspective:

Carlos is a 32-year-old teacher from Bogota, Colombia. He visited Costa Rica in January 2024, and stayed for two weeks.

“I have always wanted to visit Costa Rica, because I heard so many good things about it. I was not disappointed. Costa Rica is a beautiful and amazing country, with so much to see and do. I was impressed by how well they take care of their environment and their people, and how they balance tourism and conservation. I had the opportunity to visit several national parks, such as Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero, and Arenal, and I was blown away by the scenery and the wildlife. I also had a lot of fun doing some of the adventure activities, such as zip-lining, rafting, and surfing. Costa Rica was a dream come true, and I learned a lot from their example of sustainability.”

3. Bhutan

Bhutan is a small Himalayan kingdom that has been praised for its approach to sustainable development and happiness. Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures its progress by Gross National Happiness, a holistic indicator that considers the well-being of its people, culture, environment, and governance. Bhutan is also the only carbon-negative country in the world, meaning that it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits, thanks to its extensive forest cover and renewable energy sources. Bhutan has pledged to remain carbon-neutral for all time, and has set aside more than half of its land as protected areas for wildlife and biodiversity.

Bhutan is also a fascinating and enchanting destination for travelers who want to experience a different way of life and a rich cultural heritage. Bhutan is known for its stunning landscapes, its majestic dzongs (fortress-monasteries), its colorful festivals, and its friendly and hospitable people. You can visit the iconic Tiger’s Nest monastery, perched on a cliff above the Paro valley, the capital city of Thimphu, where tradition and modernity coexist, and the Phobjikha valley, where you can spot the rare black-necked cranes. You can also enjoy the authentic and organic cuisine, the traditional arts and crafts, and the serene and spiritual atmosphere.

Traveler’s perspective:

Emma is a 28-year-old journalist from London, UK. She visited Bhutan in October 2019, and stayed for 10 days.

“Bhutan was a life-changing experience for me. I was curious to see how a country that values happiness over wealth could function and thrive. I was amazed by how Bhutan has preserved its culture and environment, while also embracing change and innovation. I learned so much from the people I met, who were so kind, generous, and content. I also loved the scenery and the architecture, which were breathtaking and unique. Bhutan was a truly magical and inspiring place, and I felt a deep connection with its philosophy and values.”

4. New Zealand

New Zealand is a leader in sustainable tourism, and a destination that appeals to travelers who love nature and adventure. The island nation has a strong commitment to environmental protection and conservation, and has implemented several initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and enhance its biodiversity. New Zealand has set a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and has invested in renewable energy, electric vehicles, and green infrastructure. New Zealand has also launched the Tiaki Promise, a set of principles that guide visitors and locals to care for the land, the sea, and the culture.

New Zealand is also a wonderland for nature and adventure lovers, with a diverse and spectacular range of landscapes and activities. You can explore the snow-capped mountains, the pristine lakes, the lush forests, and the rugged coasts. You can also enjoy the thrill of bungee jumping, skydiving, skiing, and kayaking. New Zealand is also home to the Maori culture, which is an integral part of the country’s identity and heritage. You can visit the marae (meeting houses), the geothermal sites, and the cultural performances. You can also taste the delicious and fresh food and wine, and experience the warm and friendly hospitality.

Traveler’s perspective:

Liam is a 35-year-old engineer from Sydney, Australia. He visited New Zealand in March 2023, and stayed for three weeks.

“New Zealand was an amazing and unforgettable trip for me. I have always wanted to see the natural beauty and the adventure opportunities that New Zealand is famous for. I was not disappointed. New Zealand has some of the most stunning and diverse scenery I have ever seen, and some of the most exciting and fun activities I have ever done. I especially enjoyed hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which was a challenging but rewarding experience. I also appreciated the culture and the people of New Zealand, who were very welcoming and respectful. I was impressed by how New Zealand is taking care of its environment and its future, and I was happy to support their efforts by following the Tiaki Promise.”

Join us tomorrow for the second half of this guide.