Ten Portuguese locations are among the 100 most sustainable destinations internationally selected by Green Destinations, the largest network of sustainable destinations. So, in order to help you organize your next ecological getaway, we bring you the most sustainable cities in Portugal, eco-resorts, and places you can't miss.
Are you increasingly concerned about the environment? When planning vacations, there are many ways to be sustainable, even contributing to reducing the impact of tourism on the chosen destination. Without further ado, let's get down to business.
The ten Portuguese destinations that are among the 100 most sustainable
The Alto Minho region includes part of the only existing national park in Portugal – the Peneda-Gerês National Park, also classified as a World Transfrontier Biosphere Reserve. In addition, two Protected Landscapes (Bertiandos and Corno de Bico), the North Coast Natural Park, and the Minho and Coura estuaries represent safe havens for several species, such as migratory birds.
Alto Minho is a sustainable destination due to measures to reduce energy consumption. In 2015, it became the only Portuguese sub-region fully certified with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism. An Action Plan for Sustainable Urban Mobility was put into practice with the aim of encouraging the use of means of transport that cause less environmental impact. There are several ecological paths and trails and several pedestrian routes with interpretive itineraries that encourage the discovery of the nature and culture of Alto Minho.
Águeda is a municipality in the district of Aveiro with diverse natural and cultural landscapes, where its people, culture, and traditions are valued. To improve sustainable tourism, Águeda has been promoting the requalification and enhancement of spaces, valuing them according to their history and culture. At the same time, the city combines technology and innovation with everything it has to offer, creating, for example, new mobile applications to help tourists improve their experience in Águeda by taking them to discover the territory.
Consisting of 12 municipalities, the Western Region of the country is unique in cultural terms. Here, each municipality promotes development and quality of life. The beaches are clean and have an “Excellent” status according to European Union directives and around 16 beaches are accessible for people with reduced mobility. In 87% of the Western Region, it is not possible to build and a large part of the territory is a protected natural area. The region also has the largest underwater reef in Europe, the Nazaré reef.
In addition, the region has a distinctive cultural heritage that translates into several restored museums and historic buildings, including the Monastery of Alcobaça, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Torres Vedras is a Portuguese municipality in the district of Lisbon with 20 kilometers of the coastal area, a rich historical heritage, and diverse cuisine. This municipality protects and promotes biodiversity and makes an effort to increase mobility opportunities.
Sintra is a coastal destination in the Lisbon region. Most of its beaches have the seal of "Excellent" for the quality of the water. Sintra also has a precious natural, architectural and archaeological relics recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Another coastal city that is very close to Lisbon is considered by Green Destinations as a sustainable destination in Cascais. The city is committed to reducing CO2 emissions by more than 20%. As a result, the municipality promotes the use of sustainable mobility, providing free bicycles in various parts of the city.
Lagos is one of the most visited places in the Algarve region, as well as in Portugal in general. More than 60% of its territory is a natural conservation area and all its beaches and the marina in Lagos are Blue Flag certified. There is a rich cultural heritage in Lagos with several important monuments and historical buildings. The municipality promotes and preserves local traditions, heritage, and culture.
The Azores archipelago is made up of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There are many activities available for visitors to the Azores: hiking through magnificent landscapes marked by dense coastal forests, playing golf on one of the best and least explored courses in the world, relaxing in natural carbonic waters, natural waterfalls and pools, whale watching, canoeing and kayaking, sailing and horseback riding.
Sustainable Hotels in Portugal
Imani Country House
In the tiny town of Guadalupe, in Évora, you can't imagine a house with one of the largest collections of neon signs in the country. Strictly speaking, one cannot even imagine the existence of a rural hotel with the level of coolness of the Imani Country House, where pesticides are not used, the hot water is preheated by solar panels and the firewood comes from forest cleaning. There are more than ten hectares to explore at your leisure, with orchards, gardens, and century-old olive trees, where two donkeys and a flock of sheep roam, which you can see from the hammock on the property's outdoor porch.
Areias do Seixo
We advise you right away that we do not assume any responsibility if you want to barricade yourself in one of the rooms of this charming hotel and start screaming that you can't leave, no one can take you away. The space is so beautiful that this is likely to happen, so it has to be strong. Areias do Seixo, an ecological refuge planted on the edge of Santa Cruz, less than an hour from the capital, is amazing for its proximity to the sea – five minutes on foot – but above all for the courage to defy the norm in a kind of “being- if in paint” for what is expected of a conventional hotel, starting with the building built using recycled materials, the use of rainwater and the use of renewable energy. There is also a specific place to build a fire, around which guests can gather, accompanied by a good wine.
Dá Licença covers 120 hectares of magnificent hills, including more than 13,000 olive trees, which rise from rocks of pure white and pink marble. Its location is unique, with its wonderful 360º view of the Serra d’Ossa forest and the castles of Evoramonte and Estremoz, in medieval and Manueline style. The Estate is part of the National Ecological Reserve, due to its ancient olive trees and natural landscape. It is home to birds, wild rabbits, and sheep. The various houses, which were once used to support agricultural activities, have been transformed into an elegant retreat in a rural environment.
Sustainable Wine Tourism Options
One hundred years after its foundation, Bacalhôa is making a real revolution with sustainability playing the main role in a transformation that will inevitably involve robotization, towards the greatest possible professionalization.
João Portugal Ramos
The João Portugal Ramos Group wants to offer its customers high-quality wines that represent the best of each region where the Group is present. A commitment based on a sustainable rural development policy, on the adoption and promotion of good winemaking practices, on respect for regional ecological and orographic values, on valuing local communities, as well as on the legacy for future generations.
José Maria da Fonseca
Since this is a company where there is vertical integration of production, the environmental component is of significant importance, namely through the exploitation of its 683ha of vineyards – concentrated in the Setúbal Peninsula, Alentejo, and Douro – and the entire production process of its wines to the final consumer.
Herdade dos Grous
The producer of wines and olive oils in the town of Albernoa, in the municipality of Beja, led by winemaker Luís Duarte, was the first to receive the seal certifying sustainable production. In the list of practices implemented by Herdade dos Grous, also evaluated by the certifiers, there is the promotion of a mosaic agricultural landscape, maintaining and increasing biodiversity; maintenance and reforestation of the cork oak forest; the creation of biodiverse permanent pasture seedlings; the olive grove and fallow areas; and the promotion of pollinator habitat banks.
Herdade do Esporão
With an eye on the future, the Herdade makes the optimized management of natural resources in order to eliminate the use of synthetic products. With the purpose of enhancing the quality of our fruits in a natural way.
'Green Michelin Star' for the Sustainable Practices in the restaurant
The 'green star' distinguishes restaurants “whose outstanding commitment to sustainable gastronomy, combined with a strong culinary identity, creates gastronomic experiences that are especially inspiring for gourmets”. It also highlights the restaurant's work with local suppliers, its zero-waste practices, and the elimination of plastic and other non-recyclable materials.
The restaurant at Herdade do Esporão uses in its menus products from an extensive garden area, its own animal production, as well as a protected forest area, where they collect wild products. Composting, reducing the use of plastics and paper and cooking geared towards zero waste are other practices and commitments that the restaurant assumes.
Talk to our travel advisors now and find out how you can design a 100% sustainable customized tour.