With Earth Day just around the corner, we wanted to give a shout out to some of our favorite green destinations. Whether it’s a great bike trail, beautiful park, environmentally-minded residents (or all three!), see what makes these cities the best places to go green around the globe.
Nordic countries always top lists of the greenest places on earth, and it’s no wonder why. From residents who bike everywhere to the countries’ commitment to climate-friendly design, there’s plenty for the eco-conscious to love about Scandinavia.
Copenhagen stands out for its commitment to become the first carbon-neutral city in the world by 2025. They’re already well on their way—more than 40% of residents bike to work, garden-topped “green roof” buildings are sprouting up everywhere and sustainability plays a major role in everything from the city’s world-famous restaurants to its alternative energy sources.
Great spot to go green: Restaurant Cap Horn, where many seafaring men once sought respite (and a hearty supper) after a long sail, now dishes out delicious meals made with organic ingredients.
Berlin’s graffiti-adorned streets might belie a less gritty personality—it’s the greenest city in mainland Europe. There are over 2,500 parks in Berlin, more than any other European city, and many have reclaimed once-industrial sites. The Natur-Park Sudgelaende was once a deserted railyard, and the “mountains” at Volkspark Friedrichshain were created from wartime detritus.
A major way Berlin helps the environment? Alternative transportation. The U-bahn and the S-bahn carry more than 500 million commuters a year, and an estimated 500,000 make bikes their preferred way to get from point A to B. Like many major German cities, Berlin also abides an “Environmental Zone” law, wherein only cars that meet emissions standards are allow to drive in the center of the city.
Great spot to go green: Das Lokal dishes out farm-to-table fare in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood, offering a menu that changes weekly, reflecting the seasonality and availability of local ingredients.
San Francisco, Denver, Burlington—there are plenty of green U.S. cities we love, but Portland is first on our list. The City of Roses has long been on the forefront of environmental action, establishing carbon emissions limits way back in the ‘90s (long before any others).
Portland denizens are committed to sustainable living, and they have plenty of spaces to get out and enjoy nature right in the city. Forest Park, which is only minutes from downtown, offers 70 miles of trails for hiking, biking and soaking in the sights.
Great spot to go green: Hopworks Urban Brewery supports two things Portlanders love—beer and bicycles. From sustainable brews to their upcycled pubs around the city, Hopworks is green from head to toe.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is ahead of most major African cities when it comes to going green. The city aims to increase its reliance on solar power and other renewable energy resources by 2024, and locally sourced products abound in the city’s markets. Table Mountain National Park is also right nearby, offering plenty of chances for outdoor adventures, including hiking, biking or even penguin-sighting!
Great spot to go green: La Motte Winery, set in the idyllic Cape Winelands, has been recognized by the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative for its sustainable, organic grape harvesting—and its delicious wines.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is in a race to become the world’s greenest metropolis, vowing to reduce city-wide emissions by 33%. By 2050, Vancouverites hope to get all of their energy from renewable resources, and eventually become a zero-emissions, zero-waste city. More than 90% of the population lives within five minutes of a park or green space, but the city hopes to make it 100% in the coming years.
You can see residents embracing the city’s green mission everywhere—from public garden plots and environmental art to organic markets and sustainable clothing shops.
Great spot go green: Granville Island was once the city’s industrial sector, but today it’s transformed into a bustling marketplace and community center. At Granville Island Public Market, you’ll find locally-sourced goods from fresh fish to fruits and veggies.
Have one of these cities on your wish list? Know any great travel tips for going green? Tell us in the comments!