Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With over 80 million visitors stepping foot on the Iberian Peninsula in the past year, the good news is that this Mediterranean country continues to push for ways to keep tourism green. Just a couple facts to know about Spain’s efforts in sustainability: It’s ranked at number five worldwide in terms of wind power production and also has the highest number of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, at 48. The capital city, Madrid, has more green zones than any other European capital. Explore Spain and do your part with some recommendations to enjoy a bit of sustainable travel in the land of flamenco and sangria.
The Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela is a network of pilgrim paths that stretches nearly 500 miles from France to the shrine of Saint James in northeastern Spain. A UNESCO destination, Camino de Santiago has a long religious and spiritual history, but nowadays it is a popular route for hikers, cyclists, and those seeking a bit of fresh air and scenic views. You don’t have to walk the whole length of the path, as you can customize your start and endpoint as you wish. There are local tour operators who offer a variety of walking, trekking, or cycling activities for all ages at different package types. During the summer months it gets pretty busy and not to mention, hot, so better to embark on this eco-adventure in the shoulder seasons.
Walking and Bike Tours
Must-see cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Valencia are best seen on foot, bike or even Segway. All 3 options are environmentally friendly and also let you get up close and personal with the city you’re exploring. Spain’s Mediterranean climate offers year-round opportunities to get outside, be active, and see the cities. There are numerous tour providers throughout each city offering paid or free experiences available during the morning, evening and even night hours. Guided tours are packed with historical knowledge, cultural tips, and visits to fascinating monuments and locations. Opt for a self-guided tour with the use of an electric bike and scooter rental available.
La Gomera Island (Canary Islands)
La Gomera, a UNESCO world heritage site and World Biosphere Reserve, is a charming island in the Canary Islands. Its volcanic past is still present with craggy volcanic cliffs and mountains traversed with footpaths and trails. Evergreen forests are tucked inside the Garajonay National Park, and on the Atlantic side, black sand beaches make for a scenic getaway. In addition to hiking and beachcombing, La Gomera is world-renowned for its dolphin and whale watching. Whether you want to take a wildlife adventure or a simple leisurely hike through the island, you can also book with a local, sustainable tour operator to help in the island’s preservations efforts.
Ebro Delta Nature Reserve
Heralded as a European Destination of Excellence for sustainable tourism, the Ebro Delta Nature Reserve in Tarragona has a diverse and unique landscape. Sandy beaches, dunes, gardens, rice fields and lakes make for endless exploration. Furthermore, the reserve is widely regarded as a birdwatcher’s dream. There are hundreds of species to see, such as the pink flamingo, herons, warblers and wildfowl. Other popular activities in the reserve are cycling, horseback riding, and canoeing. There is delicious locally grown food available at the reserve, so you can support local farmers with your food choices here as well.
Spain remains a top worldwide ecotourism destination for a reason. With gardens, green spaces, beaches, mountains, nature reserves, islands, and even historical pilgrim sites, the country has plenty of options for those wanting to do their part in keeping this Mediterranean paradise a global sustainability leader.