The Five Best Sustainable Travel Destinations For 2020

© Ana Galvañ / Culture Trip
© Ana Galvañ / Culture Trip
Photo of Tristan Kennedy
16 December 2019

Ethical, eco-conscious travel is the hot topic for the new decade. From rewilding in the Highlands to reef conservation in Belize – here’s where to go and what to do to help reduce your carbon footprint on holiday.

Embark on a sustainable odyssey in Norway

While you might quite like to take a year off work to kayak UNESCO-listed fjords and camp out under the stars, with sustainable-travel start-up Much Better Adventures you can get lost in Norway’s epic wilderness while using just a day and a half of your holidays. Based in London, the company specialises in weekend activity breaks led by local people; your cash goes to the community and the tours are designed to have as little environmental impact as possible. What’s more, all packages are sold with carbon mitigation as standard.

Explore the Segla mountain in Norway on a sustainable trip | © Ruslan Kalnitsky / Alamy Stock Photo

Reconnect with nature in the Scottish Highlands

Rewilding – the process of rebuilding native ecosystems – is an idea that’s gained traction in recent years. Its appeal lies in the ability of diverse landscapes (meadows, woodlands, bogs) to reduce emissions by absorbing and storing more CO2 than grass. At the Alladale Estate, the owner hopes to reintroduce wolves and even bears, after an absence of several centuries. A stay here, whether in a luxurious lodge or rustic bunkhouse, supports this conservation work and grants you access to incredible hiking and mountain biking.

Visit Helsinki, one of Europe’s most eco-friendly cities

The Finnish capital aims to be carbon neutral by 2035. To help itself get there, it has launched a programme that points people towards the most environmentally friendly cafés, bars and hotels in the area. The aim of Think Sustainably Helsinki is twofold: help visitors get into the sustainable spirit and encourage local businesses to adopt greener practices in order to win their favour.

Helsinki counts sustainability as a priority and aims to be carbon neutral by 2035 | © Westend61 / Getty Images

Learn to dive and conserve coral in Belize

Once you see firsthand what humanity stands to lose as a result of climate change, it’s hard not to become an ambassador for the cause. This five-day package from Brighton-based Responsible Travel teaches you to dive – on the world’s second-largest barrier reef, no less – and throws you into the conservation effort; you’ll be earning your PADI while helping to protect underwater ecosystems for future generations.

Responsible Travel helps travellers to get involved in conservation | © Keith Levit / Alamy Stock Photo

Visit Bhutan, the greenest country in Asia

This Himalayan kingdom isn’t just carbon neutral – as most nations dream of being – it’s carbon negative. This is thanks to its extensive forests, which are protected by the country’s constitution: amazingly, 60% of Bhutan will always be the domain of trees. When it comes to visitors, the government prefers small numbers and deep pockets to minimise the impact to the environment. You have to book your trip to the country through local tour operators, so it’s not the easiest place in the world to get to, but the sky-high monasteries and beautiful temples make it worth the effort (and every penny).

This story appears in Issue 5 of Culture Trip magazine: The Celebration Issue.

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