Sustainable holidays are now a lot easier than you might think
Sustainable holidays are now a lot easier than you might think
Do you see yourself as a sustainable traveller? Almost one in three (32%) travellers say they don’t know, according to Booking.com research polling 10,000 respondents across 10 markets[i] (even though 62% said they intend to stay at least once in an eco-friendly accommodation in the upcoming year). Added to this confusion is the perceived cost factor with over one in 10 (15%) of global travellers confirming they haven’t chosen an eco-friendly accommodation in the past because they thought they were too expensive.
But what if you didn’t have to break the bank to go sustainable? Or even change your style of travelling? Europe’s most sustainable destinations are more accessible than you might think, ticking all the boxes that tourist hotspots offer including affordable prices, but minus the guilt.
With more awesome, unique places to stay than any other travel company in the world, Booking.com is unveiling the best places to go for feel-good travel in destinations that rank highly for sustainability by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), plus the best time to visit to get the most bang for your buck. With over 84 million reviews on Booking.com, would-be-explorers can learn more about places to stay from others who have already stayed there.
Ponta Delgada, The Azores
Only around 5% of this lush, volcanic archipelago is built upon, meaning visitors are spoilt for choice with natural surroundings. Thanks to its remote location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are never crowded -even in peak summer season. For the best value-for-money, visit towards the end of May. Though Azores weather can be unpredictable. Spring is usually warm and sunny while the islands explode into bloom with vibrant flowers. There’s lots of outdoorsy stuff to do too, from whale-watching and sailing to hiking and mountain-biking around blue crater lakes.
Best time to go: During the last week of May 2015, the average price per night for a 3* accommodation was €60, 27% cheaper than the most expensive week at €82.
The beaches along the Algarve stretch of coastline are one of Europe’s most popular destinations. But the town of Lagos in the south of the region still scores highly for sustainability. This historical maritime town offers romantic, rustic architecture and 16th-century walls enclosing the old town. It also tends to be used as a springboard for exploring the Algarve’s rugged coastline, known for its dramatic cliffs and Atlantic beaches. The area boasts a variety of marine life and outstanding beaches like the rocky headland of Ponta da Piedade. It’s best to visit at the end of September when sea temperatures are still warm but beaches have emptied out.
Best time to go: The last week of September saw an average price of €66 per night for a 3* accommodation, 47% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year in mid-summer at €125.
Baiona is a relatively undiscovered and well-preserved town in the verdant region of Galicia.
With a generous sustainability rating from the WWF, Baiona offers the best aspects of the more well-trodden spots along the Spanish shoreline while also being lesser-known. Stumble upon quaint ports and stroll down stunning beaches that line the outskirts of dark green pine forests. Savvy travellers head there in late spring, when the flora blossoms and the meadows are a cacophony of colour.
Best time to go: The average price per night in a 3* accommodation during the last week of June 2015 was €56, which was 24% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year at €74.
Not only winning on the sustainability front, Pafos is a Mediterranean idyll. So much so that the Greek goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, is said to have been brought to life from the azure waves of Pafos beach. But the region’s golden sands are best enjoyed in the autumn sun, when the sea and weather are both pleasant but considerably emptier.
Best time to go: The average price of a 3* accommodation during the second week of October 2015 was €57, 30% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year at €82.
Some of Spain’s most pristine natural landscape can be found around Noja, in the Cantabria region of northern Spain. One third of Cantabria is made up of parks or reserves and the area is an important ecosystem. As well as walks through the magnificent wetlands or along scenic clifftops, Noja offers the softest of pale, sandy beaches.
Best time to go: The second week of July 2015 was €85 on average, 26% cheaper than the peak price of the year at €115.
Though its days as a hidden gem fishing village are gone, Cascais is still quiet by Mediterranean standards. It retains its original allure, with the daily catch still sold fresh in the main square each day. Its outdoorsy appeal lies in its great Atlantic surf, walking and cycling opportunities, as well as the surrounding area’s biodiversity. The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is a nearby swathe of protected mountainside that slopes into the sea and is home to rare species of flowers and animals.
Best time to go: The second week of May 2015 was only €91, 31% cheaper on average for a 3* accommodation than the city’s most expensive week at €132.
The heavenly island of Crete is a popular summer hotspot for tourists. But if you head to Ierapetra on the coast of the Libyan Sea, you’ll also be visiting one of the WWF’s top sustainable destinations. From this laid-back city it’s easy to explore the many golden coves nearby as well as Chrissi Island, an uninhabited 5km long island nature reserve. With gleaming white sands and clear blue water, this island makes a brilliant day trip and boats depart daily from May to October.
Best time to go: The average price of a 3* accommodation during the second week of October 2015 was €44, 38% cheaper than the most expensive week of the year at €71.
[i] Data was collected across 10 markets, with 1,000 respondents in each. Respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in 2015 and be planning at least one trip for 2016. All respondents had to be at least part of the decision-making process when planning most of their trips. Data was collected in March 2016 by Booking.com with the assistance of an international panel provider.