Inspiration Santiago Suárez

Sustainable travel: four ideas for a different kind of summer holiday

Environmental awareness has never influenced the tourist industry as much as it does today. Increasing numbers of travellers are concerned with leaving things as they found them and, if possible, leaving a positive mark on the communities they visit. Whether it’s volunteering, solar-powered boating or a stay on an island that’s free of traffic and plastic... here are four ideas for more sustainable summer holidays.


Cover image: Victor Frankowski for La Bella Verde

  1. 1 Sailing with the sun

    Those who know Ibiza well say that the island has two faces. One is the party-centred, hedonistic face. The other is the more laid-back, spiritual and nature-loving one. With a view to protecting the environment, the La Bella Verde leverages the long hours of sun on the island to offer trips through the Pityusic Islands aboard its fleet of silent electric catamarans that are powered exclusively by solar energy. What’s more, the La Bella Verde Foundation is involved in initiatives protecting the posidonia sea grass in the Ses Salines natural park and helping local companies become plastic-free to reduce their environmental impact. 

    Fly to Ibiza from 9,000 Avios (return flight).

    Sustainable holidays in Ibiza with La Bella Verde
    The posidonia is precisely the aquatic plant responsible for that turquoise color so characteristic of the Pitiusan waters - image by Victor Frankowski for La Bella Verde
  2. 2 Volunteering in the European Capital of Culture

    Located one hour’s drive from Bari (where Iberia is flying this summer), the charming city of Matera, where many of the cave-houses are excavated in volcanic tuff, is a European Capital of Culture 2019, a title it shares with Plovdiv, Bulgaria. More than 200 cultural activities are planned this year in this municipality in the region of Basilicata. Besides visiting it as a member of the public, it is also possible to do so as a volunteer, taking photos and sharing them on social networks, handing out brochures or offering ideas and solutions for organising the event, which will continue until December.

    Fly to Bari from 15,000 Avios (return flight).

    Sustainable holidays in Matera, European Capital of Culture
    Many of the cave-dwellings of Matera are excavated in the tuff canyon - image by Luca Lancieri
  3. 3 Disconnecting on a car-free island

    Croatia is a European destination that is perfect for enjoying a holiday at the sea on one of its more than 1,200 islands. One of these is Zlarin, on the Dalmatian coast, just 60km from Split. With a population of 344 that swells to 4,000 in the summer, this Adriatic paradise that can be explored only by foot, bicycle or kayak (car traffic is prohibited), is a pioneer in sustainability. A project led by local activists has won the Adriatic Plastic Challenge, turning Zlarin into Croatia’s first disposable-plastic-free island.

    Fly to Split from 15,000 Avios (return flight).


    Zlarin is the first free island of disposable plastics in all of Croatia
    To get to the island, the ferry from Šibenik takes about 25 minutes and the one from Vodice, 45 - FotoGec / Tourist board Zlarin image
  4. 4 Exploring Caribbean nature

    The disaster brought about in Puerto Rico in 2017 by hurricanes Irma and María – from which the island has completely recovered – increased the number of volunteers who travelled there to help with reforestation and road repairs. Almost two years later, the non-profit organisation Para la Naturaleza – which has received a tenfold increase in international volunteers – offers travellers the opportunity to discover the country’s biodiversity by taking part in volunteer activities. These include planting native trees such as magas and ceibas, an iguana census, bird counting and pruning.

    Fly to Puerto Rico from 34,000 Avios (return flight).

    Sustainable holidays in Puerto Rico
    The organization has carried out planting work on the beaches of San Juan, like that of Ocean Park - image by Para la Naturaleza