Top 20 most sustainable travel destinations in the world

It’s time for travellers to become conscious of their environmental footprint and make choices that support the sustainability of the destinations they visit.

The future of travel is sustainable. Less of a belief and more of a necessity, global exploration can only continue at current levels if nature and wildlife conservation, reducing waste and pollution, are prioritised by governments and travellers alike. The tourism sector accounts for around eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while affordable flights and ease of access contribute to over-tourism, placing excessive pressure on cities, ecosystems and communities. However, eco-responsible tourism to sustainable travel destinations can reduce our environmental footprint, and consumers are willing to pay for it. 

Recent data released by Euromonitor International found that almost 80% of travellers will pay at least 10 per cent more for sustainable travel features despite the cost of living crisis. According to the Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey, included in Euromonitor’s Sustainable Travel Index 2023, 41 per cent of travellers are also prepared to pay more than 30 per cent extra for adventure and eco-tourism. A study by found 83 per cent of travellers reported sustainable travel is important to them, and 75 per cent say they want to travel more sustainably over the next 12 months.  With this in mind, Euromonitor International has created a list of the world’s most sustainable travel destinations, broken up into countries and cities, based on data obtained between 2021 to 2023.

An aerial view of Melbourne and Flinder's Stations
Melbourne, Australia © Unsplash/ Dmitry Osipenko

World’s most sustainable travel destinations 

Melbourne came out on top of Euromonitor’s Top City Destinations Index thanks to its ambitious target to reach net zero emissions by 2040, recent retrofitting of buildings to reduce their carbon footprint, its transition to renewables and street-greening initiatives. Euromonitor International’s 2023 Sustainable Travel Index crowned Sweden the world’s most sustainable travel destination. This is unsurprising given Sweden’s heavy investment in sustainable programs, such as Stockholm’s public transit running on 100% renewable energy, pushing 250 accommodations to qualify for the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, and the introduction of the ecotourism charter, Nature’s Best, certifying tour operators focused on sustainable travel.

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Tallinn city at night from above
Tallinn, Estonia © Unsplash/ Gleb Marakov

Top 20 most sustainable travel destinations

  1. Sweden 
  2. Finland
  3. Austria
  4. Estonia 
  5. Norway
  6. Slovakia
  7. Slovenia
  8. Iceland
  9. Latvia
  10. Switzerland
  11. France
  12. Lithuania
  13. Denmark
  14. Czech Republic
  15. Germany
  16. Portugal
  17. Croatia
  18. Uruguay
  19. Romania
  20. Poland
the waterfront of stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden © Unsplash/ Oscar Nord

Top 10 most sustainable cities

  1. Melbourne, Australia
  2. Madrid, Spain
  3. Seville, Spain 
  4. Stockholm, Sweden
  5. Tallinn, Estonia 
  6. Toronto, USA
  7. Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  8. Las Vegas, USA
  9. Lisbon, Portugal
  10. Munich, Germany 
trams on the road in Lisbon
Lisbon, Portugal © Unsplash/ Andreas M

How to be an eco-responsible traveller 

  • Visit popular locations and destinations during off-season
  • Choose lesser-known or emerging sustainable travel destinations for your holiday 
  • Adopt a ‘slow travel’ approach and spend more time in one place rather than destination-hopping 
  • Try to book with eco-certified accommodation providers 
  • When shopping for souvenirs, look for locally sourced and made products, constructed from organic or enviro-friendly materials, and check the label for authenticity 
  • Choose trains over plains to reduce your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, or pay the carbon offset when you do fly 
  • When moving around your destination, use public transport such as trams, trains, buses or bicycles 
  • Bring a reusable shopping bag, drink bottle, straw and coffee cup with you
  • Use solar-powered chargers and gadgets 
  • Use digital tickets and check-in where possible to reduce paper waste
  • When joining tours or excursions, make an effort to ensure they are ethical and eco-conscious 
  • Don’t support organisations or businesses exploiting animals, or with unethical operations 

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