Major urban cities of the world probably don’t immediately make you think eco-friendly thoughts. Car and noise pollution, huge buildings, millions of people. These are all the characteristics of a city that just seem inherently eco un-friendly, in fact.
However that’s not always the case; there are a number of progressive, thoughtful, innovative cities spread across the globe that are re-defining what it means to live responsibly in a modern urban city.
More and more city planners are investing time and resources into protecting the future of the worlds major cities. Ensuring for future generations that these eco green cities play their dutiful part in securing the longevity of our amazing planet.
The Greenest Cities in the World You Have to Visit
Below is a list of the 10 greenest cities to visit across the world that any traveler simply has to explore and appreciate. Simply use the slide controls to navigate each of the green cities.
A hipster joke aside, Portland, Oregon is serious about serious long term sustainability. In 1971, Portland became the first city in the U.S. to legislate a refundable deposit for bottles and cans.
In the same year, the city also began enforcing the Urban Growth Boundary which helps keep urban sprawl in check.
In the intervening years, Portland has become a Platinum Bicycle-Friendly Community, has the most LEED certified buildings per capita and boasts close to 300 parks, dozens of farmers markers and multiple forms of public transportation. The city hosts thriving art, theater and music scenes.
Portland is also Oregon’s largest city and now one of the most eco friendly. Portland is located by the Columbia and Willamette rivers. The city sits in the shadow of nearby snow capped Mount Hood that overlooks the entire cityscape.
Portland is very famous around the country for its well tended parks, fine bridges and bicycle paths. As well as for its eco friendliness, forward thinking climate friendly outlook and relaxed places to stay and charming coffeehouses.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
For the local government of Vancouver, making sure their city is as green as it can possibly be isn’t just a plan; it’s a competition.
In Vancouver city planners have a strategy in place to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.
To accomplish this, they’ve implemented small steps like more bike lanes, community gardens, city composting centers, LED street lights and chicken coops in backyards.
Bigger goals include doubling the number of green jobs from the 2010 levels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33% of 2007 levels. They also require that all buildings built as of 2020 be carbon neutral.
If we’re talking green cities and we’re talking Amsterdam then we’re obviously talking about…bicycles (right?)
The city of Amsterdam has long been heralded the most bicycle-friendly green city in the world; not only does it make it fun to get around but it also cuts down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions and factory pollution.
Additionally, Amsterdam has begun installing energy-saving electricity systems in all city homes. Solar panels have been installed in major shopping in business areas and other changes have been made to ‘green up’ the city’s overall infrastructure.
Nicknamed the ‘Green City,’ Singapore is ahead of many of the other green cities on this list in terms of their innovation in eco-friendly living.
Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial centre with a tropical climate and multicultural population.
The city of Singapore collects and recycles all rainfall for drinking and industrial development.
Its cars and public transportation are almost all electric and the city even subsidizes it’s citizens to get married ‘green!’
Oslo in Norway is another bike-friendly city that is perfect for eco-friendly travelers. Oslo, the capital of Norway, sits on the country’s southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord, and is known for its citywide green spaces and museums.
In fact, the city plans to completely phase out the use of fossil fuels altogether by the year 2020.
Additionally, Oslo’s heating system is currently 80% renewable energy sources and plans to be fully carbon neutral by 2050. There’s also the highest number of electric cars per capita in the world with free parking and charging stations all around the city.
You’ll definitely want to stay at the Hotel Skeppsholmen an an eco-friendly traveler in Stockholm.
The hotel is housed in a royal marine’s home from 1699 with alterations so restricted that any alterations made in the 2009 remodel have to be reversible.
Sweden’s green cities also rank #1 in the world for the consumption of organic food so you know you’ll also be eating green and eating well.
Often referred to as Europe’s Greenest city, Copenhagen boasts some of the best vintage shopping, organic vegetarian restaurants, eco-friendly public transportation, green spaces, environmentally friendly hotels and even carbon neutral beers!
Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, sits on the coastal islands of Zealand and Amager, linked to Malmo in southern Sweden by the Öresund Bridge.
Almost 40% of all of the Copenhagen’s residents get to work by way of bicycle, making their rush hour a sea of bipedals, not large SUVs.
San Francisco, California
This hilly metropolis of San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags at grocery stores and restaurants.
In doing so the city achieved it’s goal of cutting down significantly on their overall waste in a single blow. Living and visiting San Francisco in an eco-friendly way is quite easy and it deserves its place on our list of greenest cities.
The city employs house cleaners who only use biodegradable, environmentally safe products to a high majority of new buildings using eco-friendly products and designs. The city of San Francisco also has a 77% recycling rate which is reported to be the highest in the world.
Cape Town, South Africa
As of the year 2008, Cape Town started using energy from South Africa’s first commercial wind farm.
Their goal in Cape Town is to get 10% of their energy from sustainable sources by 2020. Additionally, they’re looking to improve their public transportation and increase the number of bikes used in the city.
Camps Bay which is pictured above is an affluent coastal suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. In the summer time Camps Bay attracts a large number of foreign visitors as well as South Africans to Cape Town.
An ultimate location, Camps Bay near Cape Town is reputed for restaurants, sightseeing, beaches as well as famous landmarks such as Table Mountain and outstanding hospitality. Take a peek at some of our suggested places to stay in Cape Town.
Freiburg is a vibrant university city in southwest Germany’s Black Forest, is known for its temperate climate and reconstructed medieval old town.
Many of the citizens of Freiburg live in ‘passive homes’ which barely use any electricity or heat, even in the dead of winter, due to the installation of super-insulation systems. They are avid recyclers and promote living car-free.
In fact, to park your car in Freiburg, you will have to pay hefty yearly allowances. The entire city center has been made a pedestrian only zone. Truly one of the greenest cities.
Simply use the slide controls above to navigate each of the green cities featured.
There we are, the greenest cities in the world you have to visit. See for yourself how these city planners are ensuring that their home green cities are eco friendly for visitors and for future generations to come.
What will amaze any visitor to each of these fabulous cities is the level of innovation and thought that has gone into protecting the environment and preserving energy, resources and the identity of each city. True travel bucket list material.