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Planning a sustainable Portuguese vacation

Planning a sustainable Portuguese vacation involves making smart and informed choices that minimize your environmental impact and support local communities.

As Portugal enjoys a record-breaking year in tourism, it's time to address the impact of non-sustainable travel on its landscapes and cultural heritage. While iconic destinations like Sintra and the Benagil Sea Caves have captured the world's attention, they are now facing serious challenges of overcrowding, pollution, and diminished authenticity.
 
We, as responsible travelers, have a shared duty to preserve the charm and uniqueness of Portugal. Please rethink how you plan that trip to Portugal, moving away from the 'bucket list' mentality and embracing a more sustainable 'life list' approach.
 
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Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan an eco-friendly and sustainable trip:

Choose Eco-Friendly Transportation:

-Opt for direct flights to reduce your carbon footprint.
-Consider taking CP trains or Rede Expresso buses on shorter distances.
-Use public transportation or bicycles in cities. Skip tuk-tuks with motorcycle engines that emit fumes.

Select Green Accommodations:

-Look for eco-certified hotels, hostels, or eco-friendly inns.
-Consider staying only at locally-owned accommodations to support the local economy.
-Choose local hotels and inns over Airbnbs: Experience genuine Portuguese hospitality without contributing to rising apartment prices.

Support Sustainable Activities:

-Participate in eco-tours of cork forests and natural areas and activities that promote wildlife conservation and local cultural traditions.
-Choose outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, or cycling, which have a lower environmental impact over bus tours that drop you at the door.
-Visit the untouched Alentejo coast, the pristine beaches of the Centro Region, and the secluded cove beaches of the Azores. Experience the beauty of Portugal's coastline without the crowds and commercialization..

Respect Local Culture and Environment:

-Learn about and respect local customs, traditions, tipping and etiquette before you go.
-Conserve water and energy in your accommodations.
-Dispose of waste properly and recycle whenever possible.

Eat and Shop Locally:

-Dine in locally-owned restaurants that serve locally sourced and traditional foods. Skip foreign foods and high-tourist area eateries.
-Visit local markets and shops to buy souvenirs and support local craftspeople.
-Carry a reusable water bottle and shopping bag.

Learn About Responsible Tourism:

-Educate yourself about  local communities and sites in advance. Invest in a good guidebook, and work with a travel agent. Please don't crowdsource your vacation on social media - or only go to "must sees."  Look out of you see spots full of errors such as "Duoro," Peña Palace," and "Sinatra." If they can't spell it, how much did they learn there?
-Embrace lesser-known cities, like Viseu, Vila Real and Portalegre. Check out industrial tourism, learning about local crafts like wine and olive oil production, marble and rugs, supporting skills and traditions unique to each region.
-Visit other fun walled towns like Linhares, Almeida, Castelo Mendo, and Marvão. These towns offer historic charm, hiking trails, and a glimpse into Portugal's past.
-Discover the Raia borderland between Spain and Portugal, discovering nearby cities like Badajoz, Caceres, and Merida as well as Elvas, Moura and Estremoz. These cities offer historic monuments, river beaches, wineries, and a booming food scene minus the crowds.

Travel During Off-Peak Seasons:

A-void peak tourist seasons to reduce overcrowding and stress on local economies.
-Traveling during the shoulder seasons is more affordable and enjoyable.

By following these guidelines and making sustainable choices, you can enjoy a memorable vacation while minimizing your environmental impact and supporting local communities. Let's work together to create a positive impact and offer travelers truly authentic and unforgettable experiences in 2024.

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