Are you one of the millions of tourists who’s concerned about the environment? Perhaps you want to visit Europe’s must-visit cities such as Barcelona without contributing to the inevitable environmental stress of mass tourism. If so, you’re in the right place. This article describes the best ways to make sure your trip to Barcelona is as green and sustainable as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to stay in one of the luxury homes in Barcelona or are travelling on a shoestring, being responsible should be among your top priorities. So without further ado, here are seven ways to make your trip as sustainable as possible with a few tips on healthy travel thrown in too.
1. Eat at ‘Slow Food’ Restaurants
With 30 million annual tourists and a reputation as a tapas capital of Spain, it stands to reason that there’s a huge demand for food. Some restaurants take shortcuts using low-quality food to increase their profits. Others generate a lot of waste and end up throwing away large quantities of food from the hundreds of daily diners. If you want to avoid contributing to this situation, consider dining at one of Barcelona’s ‘Slow Food’ restaurants. The owners collect locally grown food from farms within a 100 kilometre radius of the city. Vegetarian and vegan travellers will find that the food at these places tend to meet their dietary requirements more than mainstream restaurants. Search online to find the must-visit spots.
2. Stay at Environmentally-Friendly Accommodation
Some hotels and vacation rentals follow sustainable practices while others don’t. A quick read on the hotel’s website or listing should reveal whether they have green tendencies or not. It’s always a better idea to give your money and support to the smaller places that are trying to reduce their footprint and to encourage their business over the large chains who don’t. But the advantage of staying at an eco-friendly resort means you’re contributing in some way. And you’ll have the chance to meet other like-minded people and share tips and suggestions. Owners are always happy to chat with you and tell you their often inspiring story.
3. But If You Don’t, Be Responsible
Not everyone will be able to find eco-friendly accommodation in Barcelona. For some, the price might be too high when they’re travelling on a budget. Or the demand during peak season can mean the amount of choice is more limited. If this happens, don’t despair. You have some kind of control over how much energy you use in the room at least. If you’re visiting in summer and the weather is hot, use the air-conditioning sparingly. Or ask for a fan and open the windows instead. Another way is keep the same bed clothes and don’t ask the hotel to replace your towels every single day. It might sound small and insignificant, but if everyone followed these suggestions, the not-so-green hotels would be much more sustainable.
4. Don’t Rely on Taxis
This suggestions combines both sustainable travel with an element of keeping fit. For some, hailing a taxi to get from one attraction to the next is second nature. It avoids the need to wait for public transport and the passengers will arrive at their destination much faster. But using taxis all the time is both costly and has a negative effect on the environment by contributing to the city’s carbon emissions and pollution. A better way might be to use the metro, which caters for hundreds of people at any given time. Or if the attraction is nearby, simply walk.
5. Barcelona is Pedestrian-Friendly: Make the Most of it
Unlike other destinations around the world, Barcelona is pedestrian-friendly and has wide pavements, no-car zones and attractive boulevards. Walking reduces your carbon footprint and keeps your body active and healthy. But another advantage is that by exploring the city on foot, it reveals lots of hidden and serendipitous experiences. From stumbling upon a quaint café to turning into a hidden square or spotting incredible street performers, walking allows tourists to get a different perspective of the city.
6. And If Walking Isn’t For You, Rent a Bike
As you’re strolling through the streets, you’ll notice City Bike in convenient locations. Tourists can rent the public bikes for between 30 minutes and two hours making a cheaper way to get from one side of the city to the next. You don’t need to return the bike to the same place as you picked it up from giving even more flexibility. Barcelona is cyclist-friendly and you’ll see lots of locals pedalling down the streets. Why not join them and experience the city from the saddle in the knowledge you’re practising sustainable tourism.
7. Go for a Jog at Barcelona Beach
What can be a better way to end the day than a jog along Barcelona Beach? The beach itself stretches for several kilometres with soft sand and a long promenade. Everyone feels better after running and exercising. And a short 30 minute run will burn off the extra calories from all the delicious Spanish food and tapas. The best time to go for a run is either early in the morning or just before sunset when the air temperature is at its coolest. Anticipate a rewarding jog and be mesmerised by the views and surroundings.
Doing Your Part for the Environment in Barcelona
Despite the inevitable pressures tourism puts on Barcelona’s environment, there are a few ways to reduce your impact. Remember to book eco-friendly hotels, eat at ‘Slow Restaurants’ and to use your legs and walk whenever you can.