Green Travel Options in Europe

Eco vacations are becoming increasingly popular. While Americans are used to driving their cars just up the street while checking the clock to ensure punctuality, Europe offers a more peaceful, relaxed way of life. To reduce your carbon footprint for your next vacation, check out these destinations and environmentally-friendly activities.

1) Amsterdam, Netherlands: in a country where biking is the preferred method of transportation, how could this vibrant city not make the list? This city is currently nominated for the European Green Capital 2010 award for its commitment to sustainability. As a tourist, you can support this city ecologically in various ways.

+take a guided bike tour. Numerous sites, like the fishing village of Voldendam to classic windmills, are all within biking distance.

+view the canals via pedal boat. Near Ann Frank’s house in the heart of the city lies a pedal boat rental company where you can pedal at a relaxed pace past some of Amsterdam’s greatest sites.

+support the local farmer’s markets: organic produce from local farmers are exchanged every Saturday from 9-3pm at the Noordemarkt, 1015 MV Amsterdam (also within walking distance from the Ann Frank House).

+dine at the eco-restaurants: all throughout the city boasts cafes who use organic ingredients and incorporate fair-trade practices. For a comprehensive list of these restaurants, see this website. The website explains how these cafes come in a variety of settings and styles, from urban and trendy, to comfy and homey.

*To support one eco-friendly tourist company in the area, use Amsterdam City Tours, offering guided tours of the city through various ways from canal cruises to bus tours.

Stay in a Gite while in France: peppering the French countryside are numerous cottages providing a more bucolic experience. While the Eiffel Tower tour won’t make the list, Gites offer many other eco-friendly activities. Below is a list of gites, each with their own personality.

+Normandy Seine Maritime: beautiful gardens are on site, while close to the historic Seine. If escaping city life for a more natural, peaceful setting, visit here for your next vacation.

+Bas Rhin: if learning how to be an organic farmer has always been of interest, this place can teach you how to prune trees, maintain fruit trees, and even how to make apple vinegar.

+Pyrsenees Atlantiques: if a rustic fishing tour is preferred, this gite is right by the river with guides on the types of fish, best fishing grounds, and its home is stocked with the appropriate equipment on caring for your catch of the day. The home is also stocked with literature on fishing magazines, books, and other resources.

Eco Tourism in Italy:

+Take a taxi bike: if staying in the heart of Italy, consider taking a taxi bike instead of a cab. For around 30 euros, some will even offer private tours of the city for an hour. If split between another person, the cost isn’t too high… especially when supporting a more sustainable mode of transportation!

+Take a farm holiday: like French gites, numerous farms are located throughout the Italian countryside. “Agriturismo” is becoming more popular, translating to “agro-tourism.” Instead of partaking in city life, the tourist enjoys the farm life. One location, the Serafina farm, offers room and board for a mere 30 euros per night. Staying in such places supports local farms and businesses as opposed to large American chain hotels.

For a comprehensive list of such farms that have things like golf, fishing, tennis, horse-back riding, see here

+Take a horseback riding tour through Italy: not only do horses have virtually no carbon foot print, but such tours throughout the countryside enlist the help of natives for food and lodging. Equitours is one such company that offers an amazing horseback riding experience all over the world, Tuscany included.

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