Best Sustainable Tourism Experiences in Greece

Greece has always been one of the most popular destinations in the world, and the gradual growth of tourism over the decades has made the state and industry aware of its impact on the environment. The country is now at the forefront of efforts to address the environmental challenges of modern travel.

Intense efforts have been made over the past few years to reinvent the country’s tourism products and create a sustainable and environmentally friendly image. Through new, greener and smarter technologies and infrastructure, Greece aims to preserve the country’s natural beauty during times of extraordinary numbers of visitors and longer stays, and to achieve an equitable distribution of benefits among local communities.

For decades, the traditional summer holiday model has been popular with visitors and promoted by the country. This has resulted in a geographic concentration of tourism in relatively limited areas – places with easy access to airports, beaches and accommodation. Consequently, most of Greece is unaffected by mass tourism and is now being developed from the ground up with an eye towards sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

Greece boasts an impressive 446 sites protected by Natura 2000, the European Ecological Network of sites that contain natural habitats for species © Balate Dorin / Shutterstock

Protecting unique ecosystems

Greece boasts 10 outstanding wetlands protected under the international Ramsar Treaty and an impressive 446 sites (more than a quarter of the country’s area – one of the highest in Europe) protected under Natura 2000, the European Ecological Network of Sites where natural habitats are located. types. Another 800 districts are protected by national legislation.

The country’s flora and fauna are among the most diverse in Europe, with 309 species (61 exclusively Greek) protected under EU law, and 57 species, including bears, wolves and many birds, are endangered. Rare and endangered aquatic species such as the Mediterranean monk seal and Loggerhead turtle are strictly protected by law in their respective underwater parks.

Chasing Legends in the Stunning Greek Peloponnese

There is usually no need for vehicles on most of the smaller islands, and some, including Spetses, have total or partial vehicle bans © stefanel / Shutterstock

Vehicle-free and self-sufficient islands

Most of the islands do not have airports and can only be reached by relatively more energy efficient ferries. Vehicles are generally not needed on most of the smaller islands, and some have total or partial vehicle bans, including Hydra and Spetses.

Some islands have achieved energy self-sufficiency using renewable sources (Thilos, Halki) and many are following suit. Others have set ambitious goals to go plastic free (Paros, Donusa).

Finally, a groundbreaking experiment – “Astypalea: A Smart and Sustainable Island” – is underway, which promises to turn the entire island into a zero-impact zone using…

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