Top 12 Sustainable Travel Destinations for Your Bucket List

By Andi Croft

Are you planning your following eco-conscious excursions but don’t have enough destinations in mind? This article covers a few sustainable travel destinations that might interest your eco-conscious and adventurous soul.

12 Sustainable Travel Destinations

1. Costa Rica

bridge through rainforest
Photo by Fabio Fistarol on Unsplash

Costa Rica is one of many countries actively creating policies for the betterment and protection of the environment. That’s why it’s one of the most suitable sustainable travel destinations to add to your bucket list.

According to GreenMatch, Costa Rica is the seventh most eco-friendly country globally. It’s also the only non-European country in the top 10 as of this writing.

If you’re thinking of sustainable travel activities here, you can’t go wrong with sweeping through their numerous national parks.

Tortuguero National Park is a favorite given its accessibility and mostly remote environment, which makes it great for camping. Arenal National Park is also great if you want diverse hiking options for both beginners and experts, and it’s great for bird spotting and looking for animals in general.

Another way to travel sustainably through Costa Rica is to support local businesses as much as possible. If you’re planning on buying souvenirs for friends and loved ones, consider local craftspeople. They’re less likely to exploit resources, and you’ll be supporting the local economy instead of large businesses.

The local Coopedota coffee is an excellent souvenir for coffee lovers or even for anyone who wants to remember Costa Rica. It’s one of the first carbon-neutral coffee cooperatives in the Americas, making it a greener souvenir that’s a pleasure to receive.

2. Belize

ancient ruins in forest
Photo by Stephanie Klepacki on Unsplash

There are many reasons why Belize is a strong contender in your sustainable travel destination bucket list. Their active steps to fight against harmful practices such as offshore drilling and single-use plastics have all contributed to a greener and safer environment in the country. 

Another notable achievement for Belize is that they restored the Belize Barrier Reef to the point where it’s no longer on the danger list. Given these achievements, it should be on your bucket list.

That said, if you plan on traveling to Belize, there are a few things you can do to support its fight to protect the environment. One straightforward way to do that is to ensure that the tour company you work with is one of the many reputable ecotourism companies operating in Belize.

If you’re looking for destinations in Belize, San Ignacio has been a popular stop for many. That’s because of its proximity to the local wildlife reserves, cave systems, and the Maya ruins.

Another sustainable way to enjoy an eco-friendly trip in Belize is to visit the many local towns and dive deep into each culture. You can try local cuisine and participate respectfully in some of their cultural traditions while supporting these small towns with your presence.

3. Norway

lit city by night
Photo by Himmel S on Unsplash

Sustainable Tourism Norway: Experience the Flora & Fauna on Earth, so it will always be on many ecotourists’ travel bucket lists.

What’s excellent about Norway is that they are always welcoming towards tourists but also acknowledge that tourism in itself can be a damaging and harmful endeavor for the environment if poorly managed. That’s why Norway has launched the Sustainable Destination designation to pinpoint locations that fit their sustainable tourism principles.

If you’re a traveler heading to Norway, follow and go to the destinations the country has declared a Sustainable Destination. Luckily, many of the popular spots in Norway have gotten this designation, so you can enjoy your trip to Norway without missing out on what makes Norway unique in your desire to be more eco-conscious.

An example of such a destination would be Tromsø, the city that experiences the Northern Lights more than any other place. If you’re headed to Norway to see the Northern Lights, this city is a great spot to tour.

The Northern Lights aren’t the only thing you can do there. If you want a unique experience, why not try a road trip using electric vehicles?

Norway has tons of charging stations, and you can plan a route that will go through these charging stations. You can even use an electric bike if you want a shorter trip.

4. Denmark

three people riding bikes by waterway, with eateries visible across the water - Sustainable Travel Destinations
Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash

Denmark is consistently one of the world’s most sustainable destinations, so it’s an excellent choice for your next sustainable travel destination. 

If you want to do eco-friendly traveling, go to a destination with many alternative public transportation options that make you not want to rely on cars. Denmark is one of them.

One of the great things about traveling to Denmark is its extensive bike lanes, which encourage many people to leave cars behind and, instead, board a bike to get to where they need to be. You won’t have to worry about parking, and it’s easier to find spots that you might not have discovered if you weren’t riding a bike.

If you plan on eating out at restaurants, consider going to spots that use local produce, especially in-season ingredients. There are also many plant-based restaurants for those who want to follow a particular diet.

5. Ecuador

waterbirds sitting on rocks by the ocean
Photo by Bjarn Bronsveld on Unsplash

Ecuador is at the top of the list for destinations with the most diverse ecosystems and wildlife. Ecuador is known for its biodiverse environment, especially since it’s home to the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands.

If you’re looking for sustainable travel destinations, the Amazon Rainforest and the Galapagos Islands should be on your itinerary. Touring the Amazon Rainforest with local tour guides and reputable tour companies will ensure you enjoy its lushness without harming it.

You can also book a sustainable scuba diving session in the Galapagos to see the various marine animals there. Remember not to step on the corals when scuba diving, and avoid touching the animals as you see them.

6. Bhutan

city on mountainside
Photo by Aaron Santelices on Unsplash

Bhutan is a country in the Himalayas with magnificent landscapes worth traveling to. To conserve that beauty, they have decided to cap its tourists by 200,000 a year. Since the country is already 72% carbon-negative, its fights for conservation are working for the better.

If you’re lucky enough to be part of the 200,000, some things that you can do in Bhutan to support their conservation efforts while being a tourist there would be traveling with a mountain bike.

Another activity to do while in Bhutan is a hot spring trip to Gasa. Not only do the locals consider this a healthcare practice, but the hot springs there have cultural and spiritual significance, too. So make sure to be respectful when you take a dip in their public baths.

7. Iceland

green plains with snow-covered mountains beyond
Photo by Josh Reid on Unsplash

There’s nothing quite like an ecotour of Iceland’s unique landscapes. The combination of volcanoes, glaciers, and hot springs creates an almost magical experience, so it’s a great place for a walking tour or even a hike.

Bathing in the Blue Lagoon, a popular geothermal hot spring water destination, is a must-try.

If you plan on bringing souvenirs from here, consider some of the artisanal crafts, such as handcrafted sculptures, local crocheted, knitted, or woven clothing, and more.

8. New Zealand

yellow rolling hills and blue water
Photo by Benjamin Kraus on Unsplash

New Zealand has always been known for its verdant green scapes, especially since it’s been the backdrop of so many blockbuster films for its beauty. That’s why it’s one of the best additions to the travel destinations for your ecotourism bucket list.

Traveling to the many parks and wildlife reserves is always a great choice here. You should also add to your itinerary any way to explore and engage with the indigenous Maori culture and the local small businesses.

A simple activity that you can do in New Zealand is stargazing. Since Aotearoa has five Dark Sky Sanctuaries, you can surely enjoy a night under the beautiful blanket of stars and see the nightscape clearly.

9. Portugal

seaside cliffs
Photo by Polina Kocheva on Unsplash

Portugal should also be on your bucket list if you want the embrace of warm weather coupled with delicious local cuisine and cool beaches.

A unique place in Portugal that you should try if you’re a surfer would be Ericeira. This seaside community is also the surfing capital of Europe and is recognized as one of the most outstanding surf spots in the world.

Touring local farms and vineyards is also a great day activity that isn’t too taxing on you while you still get to support the local businesses in Portugal. You can even enjoy wines from these vineyards.

10. Singapore

greenery and beautiful architecture
Photo by Sergio Sala on Unsplash

Despite being primarily urban, Singapore is still a very eco-friendly travel destination, with the vision of being a “city in a garden.”

If you want to explore Singapore uniquely, consider doing a kayak tour. You can kayak through the mangroves in Singapore.

You can also enjoy the local Singaporean cuisine by going on a bike and cuisine tour. On this tour, you cycle through different local food spots to try different local cuisines.

11. Greenland

colourful houses in the snow
Photo by Visit Greenland on Unsplash

Greenland’s icy setting isn’t stopping it from continuing to pursue sustainable tourism initiatives that attract tourists without harming the local environment.

Traveling to Greenland sustainably is about being open-minded. For example, you may have to try local meat sources that are free and wild-caught. Usually, these may be more unconventional meat sources, such as reindeer and seal. However, since most vegetables don’t organically grow in Greenland, it might be more eco-friendly to try these meats instead.

Aside from trying local produce, dog sledding is a distinctive activity in Greenland. Many reputable tour companies provide dog sledding tours.

You can also weave through the icebergs floating around Greenland and go on a kayaking tour.

12. Peru

a river winds through a lush forest
Photo by Hans Luiggi on Unsplash

Although Peru has become a sustainable travel destination for many, mass tourism has had unfortunate effects on its natural beauty. This is why it’s imperative that if you travel to Peru, you work with reputable ecotourism companies.

Clean Up Treks are a great way to hike through the different trails of Peru’s natural environment while using that opportunity to eliminate any waste along the way.

If you want to experience a cultural journey, there are tours involving local communities. The organization La Tierra de los Yachaqs, or the Land of the Yachaqs, supports eight indigenous communities through tour programs with tourists.

Conclusion

Any of these destinations can be a worthwhile travel destination to add to your sustainable bucket list.

No matter which destination you choose, doing sustainable practices and respecting local cultures can go a long way in ensuring that you are a responsible ecotourist doing their part in ensuring these gorgeous destinations stay just as beautiful as they were when you were there.