Traveling increases the size of our carbon footprint, but there are ways to minimize its impact. Do the earth a favor and consider planning a stay in one of these eco-conscious destinations. These cities are on the leading edge of low impact tourism while still offering a great vacation. We’ve handpicked the world’s top green cities—plus green hotels in each—so you can start planning your green getaway now.
Often found toward the top of the list when it comes to green cities is the Danish capital. The city is so sustainable that it plans on becoming the world’s first carbon neutral capital city. And Copenhagen isn’t just green—it’s also yellow, blue and orange as in the colorful houses of Nyhavn Harbor. Continue the green theme with a visit to the ever popular Tivoli Gardens, where eco-friendly initiatives include LED bulbs and a bee program. At day’s end, feel good about laying your head at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, which consumes 65% less energy than comparable properties and is frequently named the city’s greenest hotel.
San Francisco, CA
Most people think of the big red bridge when they think of San Francisco, but they should also think green in a big way, too. The city is on course to be zero-waste by the year 2020 and has made major investments in zero-emission public transport. The list goes on about what makes SF green, but an even longer list is the huge amount of things to see and do in the city. The Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf are standouts among hundreds of smaller gems all across the city. Make the very eco-friendly, LEED-certified Orchard Hotel your base while exploring all that San Francisco has to offer.
The small island of Iceland is doing big things in the way of environmental sustainability. The residents of Reykjavik have embraced renewable energies and nearly 100% of hot water, heating, and electricity come from hydro and geothermal sources. Icelandic people have taken advantage of living on top of a geothermal hot spot and put the earth’s natural energy to work, shedding the need to burn fossil fuels for many things. As a tourist, take advantage of some of the more fun geothermal delights like the ever popular Blue Lagoon natural hot springs. Then rest up at the Iceland Air Hotel Reykjavic, whose thorough green policy includes natural, locally sourced products.
Vancouver is no stranger to speaking up for our earth. The city was the first major metropolis to address climate change back in 1990. Since then, they’ve been hard at work trying to reach a goal to be 100% renewable by the year 2050, which is among the most ambitious goals on the planet. Surrounded by beautiful nature, it’s no wonder residents and the local government are trying to protect it. Even the hotels are getting in on the green initiatives; the Sheraton Vancouver, for example, offers reward vouchers for its guests when they’re green too.
It’s no wonder that a city that fines people for spitting on its sidewalks would have a similar approach when it comes to the environment. With more than 5 million people calling this small city-state home, Singapore has become a master of efficiency. Among world leaders in public transport, Singapore boasts that the vast majority of its residents are less than a 10-minute walk to a train station, reducing the need for cars. The city’s most recognizable landmarks might be metal trees, but don’t let that fool you. Hidden in the 150-foot-tall Supertrees are photovoltaic systems that take the sun’s light and convert it into energy, which is then used to power lights in the park, serve a vertical garden, and also collect rain water. Feel good about your sleep at the green-minded ParkRoyal on Pickering, which minimizes its carbon footprint through rain harvesting, natural sky gardens and other innovative methods.