5 green destinations in Portugal for your next holiday
turn it sustainable with our tips
28 november '22
Reading time: 5 minutes
Planning your next vacation in Portugal? Green Destinations has a great collection of eco-friendly locations for the perfect sustainable adventure. Here are some details about the nonprofit and its list of sustainable tourist spots in Portugal.
Words by Shivani Karnik
Picture by Veronika Jorjobert: Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal
Green Destinations is a nonprofit organization that certifies sustainable locations over the world based on their thorough and unique criteria. They place substantial importance on local communities and their contribution to sustainable tourism. They also conduct training so that cities, towns, and villages can earn from tourism in a way that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.
Today, we’re going to explore the green destinations in Portugal, the winner of the ITB Berlin Best of Europe Award for ecotourism in 2019, which has many cities and towns representing its unique culture, food, beaches, and activities.
Here are 5 such wonderful sustainable locations for your next holiday in Portugal.
Sintra is a village beautified by verdant mountains and the blue sea. It is just 30 minutes away from Lisbon. The Capital of Romanticism in Portugal, Sintra was classified as a Cultural Landscape and a World Heritage site due to its mesmerizing history. This is reflected in many historical monuments like Palácio Nacional da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira, Palácio Nacional de Sintra, the Castelo dos Mouros and museums that adorn its map.
But how did it become a green destination? The answer is in its rivers: Sintra’s Native Fish Project. The project encouraged learning and awareness in schools about native fish species in the rivers and monitored their population. These rivers and streams now act as a protection and conservation area for the fish. This makes Sintra a sustainable tourism hub and perfect for your eco-friendly vacation.
Picture by Mark Lawson: Pena Palace, Estrada da Pena, Sintra, Portugal
Another city with a rich history, Lagos brings together culture and arts through an array of events on music, dance, theater, gastronomy, literature, and nature. Truly being at the intersection of cultures, Lagos is almost equidistant from Lisbon and Seville, Spain. Lagos is also known for its natural beauty because of the Barão de São João National Forest, Costa d’Oiro (Gold Coast), and Ponta da Piedade (confluence of land and sea), all of which can be explored on cycle or foot.
Maintaining these picture-perfect natural heritages requires focused efforts. For this, the Municipality of Lagos has taken steps for the rehabilitation of the forest and the coast and promoting entrepreneurial awareness for their sustainability. More than 60% of Lagos’ territory is a natural conservation area. A campaign called Lagos in the Summer Wave informs its residents of the ecological problems and small solutions to tackle them during the busy tourist season. Lagos brings together community welfare and sustainable development to be your favorite green destination.
Picture by Reiseuhu: Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal
3. Torres Vedras
Famous for its fine golden sand beaches and two thermal rivers, Torres Vedras promotes slow tourism through its culture. The museums, interpretation centers, libraries, galleries, and the theater provide year-long organized activities and programs which emphasize the local, authentic experience. Its carnival is renowned for being the most authentic Portuguese carnival in the country.
Torres Vedras imbibes sustainable tourism through these events and by encouraging soft mobility or alternative transportation. The local authorities have also made efforts to rehabilitate Castro do Zambujal, a human dwelling site dating back to 5000 years. However, the most innovative of their efforts was the conversion of a slaughterhouse and its surrounding area into a vibrant Arts and Creativity Centre. Torres Vedras has utilized its creative and cultural capital to become an ecotourism spot.
The archipelago of Azores was created by volcanic activity, making it perfect for ecological tourism. Nature truly nurtures you in Azores as you can relax in the natural carbonic water, waterfalls, and iron water pools. Golf lovers can also enjoy playing at one of the most environmentally friendly courses in the world.
Azores maintains this scenic beauty and protects its marine biodiversity through renewable energy and rationed use of water. But the most successful story of sustainable tourism in Azores is that of the model island of Graciosa. The island uses solar and wind power that can supply electricity for 24 hours consecutively. Despite the popularity of sustainable tourism in Azores, it has maintained low urbanization which only adds to a pristine experience.
Cascais, like Azores, offers many nature-related activities like water sports and golf. It has a mild climate all year round which is why the Portuguese royal family chose it as their summer residence. The region became a respite for spies like Ian Fleming during World War II, turning it into a prominent seaside resort for foreigners. Aside from the sea, Cascais’ main attraction is also the Sintra-Cascais National Park which combines a variety of landscapes with dunes, high cliffs, forests, and lagoons.
The National Park is also home to many animal species including the rare Bonelli eagle and peregrine falcon. After a 2018 forest fire, the government’s quick actions on assessment and fundraising for restoration with local collaboration have made Cascais much less ecologically vulnerable. The nature-based tourism that you can indulge in Cascais now protects the region even for the future.
These were just a few of the top eco-friendly vacation spots in Portugal. Green Destinations has a diverse list of locations around the world. You can put together the perfect itinerary with their resources for a sustainable and enjoyable trip to Portugal this holiday season!