Where To Go For A Green City Break in Europe
There are many different cities that call themselves the ‘greenest’ in Europe. Depending on how they measure this, they might be right. European cities have long been working towards making their cities more sustainable and have taken environmental initiatives to lower their carbon footprint by increasing the number of public green spaces, reducing air pollution, and combating urban mobility issues. These measures make cities not only more sustainable but also more enjoyable for residents and tourists alike. The list below is by no means exhaustive but hopefully gives you at least one or two new ideas for a destination for your next city break.
- Lisbon, Portugal
Rightly tops this list as it won the 2020 European Green Capital Award earlier this week. This award recognizes European cities that have adopted innovative environmental initiatives and are committed to sustainable urban development. Surrounded by a stunning coastline and with no shortage of beautiful parks to visit, you get why it is such a popular destination for tourists.
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
This capital has a beautiful, pedestrian-only city centre and an abundance of green spaces. Ljubljana is also the winner of the 2016 European Green Capital Award and the first EU capital to take part in the zero waste programme. Slovenia as a whole is also remarkably green; it is the third most densely forested country in Europe and is very rich in biodiversity.
- Oslo, Norway
Nearly always present on ‘green city lists’, Oslo is undeniably one of the greenest European capitals. The city is not only blessed with a stunning natural environment, it is also serious about its sustainability initiatives. With one of the lowest carbon footprints globally and plans to cut emissions in half by 2020, it is no surprise that Oslo is the winner of the European Green Capital Award 2019. Oslo is also one of my personal favorites, with so many outdoor activities to choose from and great eco-friendly places to eat and visit. If you want to know more about what to do and where to eat in Oslo, check out Radical Broccoli for inspiration.
- Reykjavik, Iceland
With most of Iceland consisting of nature, it is not surprising that Reykjavik makes the list. And with only just over 120.000 inhabitants and 411 square meters of green space per person, Iceland’s capital also lays claim to being the greenest capital in Europe. The city’s use of geothermal power is certainly impressive; its volcanoes fuel its geothermal heating system and provide the country with electricity and renewable energy. And if this is not enough to convince you to go, visiting Reykjavik is just the perfect excuse to see more of this spectacular country; from its Icelandic horses to one of the many hot springs.
- Edinburgh, Scotland
I have to admit I am a little biased; I live in Edinburgh and one of the things I love most about this place is the abundance of parks, hills, and beaches in and around the city. It is one of the greenest cities in the UK, consisting of almost 50 percent of green space and with more trees per capita than any other city in the UK. Scotland has set a very ambitious target with a 66 percent emission cut by 2032 after hitting its target of 42 percent for 2020 six years early. More and more venues make a commitment to operate eco-friendly and it is quickly getting easier to find great vegetarian and vegan food when eating out. Some of my own favorite places are Hendersons, Roots, and the Secret Herb Garden. And don’t forget to visit the Pentland Hills when you’re visiting!