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Top 15 Eco-Friendly Destinations to Visit

With so many amazing places to visit around the world, how can you narrow down your list and select your next one of the year? Well, if the environment is important to you, consider prioritizing eco-friendly and sustainable destinations that help offset the carbon footprint of travel. Environmentally conscious travel destinations use renewable energy, fight climate change, and offer opportunities for volunteerism to conserve natural resources. Here are a few examples of eco-friendly travel destinations for your bucket list.

Costa Rica Costa Rica
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Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to many protected areas and home to lots of different species of wildlife and plants. Here you can experience a wide range of natural habitats, including rainforests, volcanoes, and beaches. Here you can find many eco-conscious hotels to stay in and restaurants that source local ingredients to support the region’s farmers. Much of the country gets its electricity from renewable sources, and volunteering opportunities are available for passionate travelers too. Plan to visit the Osa Peninsula when you are in this part of the world to experience rich biodiversity and learn about the local way of life.

Galapagos Island Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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Galapagos Island

Travelers who care about environmental conservation enjoy traveling to the Galapagos Islands because of the many species living here and nowhere else on earth. A large percentage of the land in the islands belongs to the national parks. To preserve the islands in pristine condition, the number of tourists is restricted, so start planning your trip early. The Villa in the Galapagos is an example of a place to stay that strives to reduce waste and electricity overuse.

Patagonia Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile
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Patagonia is at the southern tip of the world and always a favorite spot among nature enthusiasts and environmentalists. The landscapes here are unlike anywhere else, from the glaciers to the mountains, lakes, and epic hiking trails. The Torres del Paine National Park is a popular place to visit. To have the least environmental impact, consider exploring Patagonia on foot.

New Zealand New Zealand
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New Zealand

You can also enjoy an eco-friendly vacation when you travel to New Zealand and enjoy the country’s surreal landscapes of forests, fjords and postcard-perfect mountains. Much of the country is part of the national park system, and many areas are protected, including Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Reserve. The country is synonymous with ecotourism, with a wide range of unique and awe-inspiring natural wonders, from fjords and glaciers to pristine beaches and ancient forests.

Norway Trondheim, Norway
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Norway has been a long-time leader in sustainability, with ample geothermal energy for heating and cooling and eco-friendly hotels you can stay at. The Norwegian Fjords are a prime spot for eco-tourism to add to your list of European travel goals. You can also make your trip to Norway greener by taking trains instead of driving a car and spending as much time outside as possible doing recreational activities.

Peru Paracas
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Peru has many natural reserves and protected areas of rainforests that you can experience on an eco-friendly trip. A few areas to visit are the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Manu Biosphere Reserve, and Tambopata National Reserve. Efforts are being made here to curb deforestation and keep the activities of tour groups safe and sustainable. While you’re here, make a point to visit the remote area of the Tampopata National Reserve that is open to volunteers because there are opportunities here to learn about conservation projects and participate in wildlife-focused visits.

Vietnam Hoi An, Vietnam
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For eco-friendly accommodations and tours at an affordable price, consider planning your next eco-adventure to Vietnam. This is an amazing destination in Asia for biking and hiking, as well as exploring the national parks, lagoons, and amazing food scene. Places to visit here include Ba Be National Park, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, and Cat Ba National Park. There are tour operators here that care about sustainability and arrange trekking and cycling tours to help you experience these landscapes for yourself.

Borneo Orangutan in Sabah Borneo
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Borneo is also a biodiverse area that is full of reefs and animal species in need of preservation. The island prioritizes eco-friendly services and sustainability though its tours that are offered. Epic adventures that you can have here and feel good about include scuba diving, hiking, and snorkeling. Do your research before your trip to choose a responsible tour operator that supports the protection of natural wildlife. While you’re here, spend your time visiting the national parks, supporting local businesses through homestays and independent shops, and looking into volunteer opportunities to get involved in the community.

Iceland Skogafoss
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Travelers can also plan a trip to Iceland and make eco-tourism a priority. This is a ruggedly beautiful and increasingly popular destination with glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, and other impressive landscapes. The country uses lots of geothermal and hydro energy to power its electricity and serve as an example to the rest of the world. It’s easy to live an eco-friendly lifestyle when you’re in Iceland because of the hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities that you can choose over driving a rental car.

British Columbia, Canada Okanagan Lake near Summerland British Columbia Canada with orchard and vineyard
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British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia, Canada is a nature lover’s paradise and a great place to visit to keep up with your eco-friendly lifestyle. Vancouver is a city here that embraces sustainability through public transportation, biking and pedestrian initiatives and using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. Consider booking an eco-tour with a local guide and staying in a cozy cabin during your trip to southwest Canada.

Netherlands Lisse, Netherlands
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Another European destination to add to your eco-friendly travel bucket list is the Netherlands. This country has been working to meet its environmental goals for decades in an effort to reduce air pollution, clean up rivers, and improve waste management.

Palau Palau islands from above
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The Micronesian island of Palau is a travel destination rich in biodiversity, many species of fish, and unbelievable coral reefs. The island is dedicated to protecting its natural landscapes and ensures that travelers do the same when they visit. Eco-lodges are available here for accommodations, while the Blue Planet United Palau Project helps students learn about the island’s ecosystems.

Finland  Saimaa Lake, Finland
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Finland is at the top of the list when it comes to “green” countries, along with its Scandinavian neighbors who have similar priorities when it comes to preserving forests and conserving power. A little over a third of its power comes from renewable sources, and the nation also works hard to protect endangered species like the world’s rarest seal, the Saimaa ringed seal. It’s the most forested country in Europe and offers lots of opportunities for enjoying nature, including nearly 40 national parks. The capital, Helsinki, boasts numerous historical sites like Suomenlinna Fortress and Helsinki Cathedral.

Slovenia Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Slovenia is filled with forests, with 60 percent covering this country, and it makes preservation a high priority. In 2016, it was named the first Certified Green destination in the world with a score of 96 out of 100 sustainability factors like air quality, water and waste, wildlife, and green businesses. Nestled in an alpine valley along the Ljubljanica River, the capital city of Ljubljana is often ranked as the most beautiful in Eastern Europe. It’s laid-back, slightly quirky, incredibly romantic, and walkable. Stroll the cobblestone streets lined with hip, trendy bars and charming cafes, art galleries, and museums, and visit its hilltop castle to learn about Slovenian history in the interactive museum.

The Azores Flores Island, Azores
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The Azores

An archipelago made up of nine islands located 800 miles off the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic, the Azores are beautiful islands with lush mountains and valleys, volcanoes and thermal hot springs, waterfalls, and wild coastlines. They offer exceptional whale, dolphin and bird watching while being known for their environmentally conscious way of life. You won’t find any mega-resorts here, and most of the food is locally sourced, unique to the island you visit. Flores Island is named for its abundance of flowers, particularly hydrangeas – it’s also a standout for waterfalls and sunsets.

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