Earth Day Inspiration: 5 Green Getaways Across Europe

To mark Earth Day 2024, here is a round-up of some of the best outdoor and nature experiences across Europe.

Poland: Get up, close and personal with one of Europe’s largest and rarest land mammals

Nothing beats the heritage of Poland’s natural landscapes. Poland is at the forefront of preserving some of Europe’s finest ecological biodiversity. As well as the breathtaking Baltic coastline with its hundreds of kilometres of white sand beaches, and landscapes covered by lakes and marshlands – Poland’s 23 national parks are perfect examples of the country’s unique natural beauty and biological significance. In fact, national parks cover a total area of 317,386 hectares – that’s 1% of Poland! 

After being hunted to the edge of extinction throughout the 18th century, Europe’s largest land mammal, the European Bison, was rehabilitated after international efforts deemed them endangered. Today, the species thrive in their natural habitat, one of Europe’s last and largest primaeval forests, Bialowieza Forest National Park. Located on the border between Poland and Belarus, the world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site is valued for its rich biodiversity and gorgeous natural wealth. Wildlife enthusiasts are able to visit the national park and hike through the awe-inspiring forest and see the bison in person, along with  elk, wolves, red and roe deer, lynx and wild boar amongst the glorious pine, oak, spruce and beech trees. Poland is a must-see for any true nature enthusiast. 

For more information: https://www.poland.travel/en/podlaskie-voivodship-undiscovered-beauty/ 

Green Velo Trail: Cycling adventure in Poland’s land of 2,000 lakes

Explore one of Poland’s most under-the-radar regions in Masuria, known locally as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’. The Warmia-Masuria region is a haven for nature exploration, home to 2,000 bright blue lakes and 20,000 square miles of untouched green landscapes. Discover the very best of the Great Masurian Lakes taking on the longest marked cycling trail in Poland.

The Green Velo Cycling Trail stretches for 2000km and offers one of the most scenic cycling holidays in the world, including panoramic views and diverse wildlife to the shores of Masuria’s enchanting lakes including Mamry and Lampackie. Sharp eyes might spot local wildlife such as wolves, lynx, birds and wild boar. On your way, stop by Poland’s biggest lake, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, quaint villages and historical hot spots including one of the highest rail bridges in Poland. Use of the Green Velo Route is free throughout the year. 

For more information on outdoor experiences in Poland, please visit their website: https://www.poland.travel/en/warminsko-mazurskie-voivodship-three-colours/ 


Go wild on your next adventure…discover Czechia’s great outdoors

Earth Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than by immersing yourself in Czechia’s stunning natural beauty? While Prague may steal the spotlight, venture beyond its enchanting streets to discover the untamed wilderness that awaits. Spring and summer beckon outdoor enthusiasts to hike along picturesque trails or pedal through verdant landscapes on well-marked bike routes. With Czechia boasting one of the densest trail networks globally, adventurers are spoiled for choice amidst lofty peaks, crystalline lakes, and lush countryside.

For those seeking awe-inspiring vistas, Bohemian Switzerland, an European Destination of Excellence, enchants with its majestic rock formations and gorges. Embark on a 25km journey from Hrensko to explore the Edmund Gorge and Wild Gorge, uncovering hidden tales aboard a local ferryman’s rowing boat. Reach new heights in the Krkonoše Mountains, where Mount Snezka awaits with panoramic views stretching to the Polish border. Whether hiking or taking the chairlift, the summit promises unforgettable vistas.

Cycling enthusiasts can embark on the epic Moravian Cycle Path, traversing 300km of historic towns, castles, and vineyards, with intercity connections for added convenience. And for a leisurely pursuit amidst nature, tee off at Czechia’s splendid golf courses nestled in breathtaking settings. With over 100 courses, golfers can indulge their passion surrounded by the country’s natural splendour. This Earth Day, embrace the call of the wild and let Czechia’s great outdoors be your playground.

For more information on outdoor experiences in Czech, please visit their website: https://www.visitczechia.com/en-us/things-to-do/places/summer-sports/hiking-and-nordic-walking/s-jeseniky-walk 

Vilnius, Lithuania 

Walk the city – Vilnius 

A couple in the centre courtyard street of Vilnius

Celebrate Earth Day by exploring the eco-friendly and sustainable wonders of Vilnius, Lithuania, with stress-free guided walking tours that offer a hassle-free way to discover the city’s highlights.  Embrace the compact and walkable nature of Vilnius as you traverse its charming streets, taking in its rich history and vibrant culture. For those seeking an inclusive experience, the Touch and Hear Vilnius Route provides an innovative audio guide designed specifically for blind and visually impaired individuals, allowing everyone to immerse themselves in the city’s story. And for budget-conscious travellers, free walking tours offer a fantastic opportunity to explore Vilnius’ top landmarks with knowledgeable local guides.

Dive deeper into the local culture with guided visits to bustling markets like Hales Market, where you can discover the flavours and foods of Lithuania firsthand. And for a truly immersive experience, venture beyond Vilnius to Trakai, just 28 kilometres away, with guided day trips that offer insights into the history and beauty of this former capital. This Earth Day, let Vilnius be your gateway to eco-conscious travel experiences that leave a positive impact on both you and the planet.

For further information: www.govilnius.lt 

Tampere, Finland

Walk this way… to Tampere

Celebrate Earth Day by lacing up your shoes and discovering the eco-friendly wonders of Tampere, Finland. The National Parks are close to the city for anyone wanting to combine outdoor activities with a city break and urban attractions – and perhaps a fresh new destination to try in 2024.

In the Hervantajärvi hiking area, which opened in 2021, there are about 10 km of guided hiking trails and two campfire sites. As a special treat, visitors can take the tram from the city centre and go deep into the forest. 

Helvetinjärvi National Park’s hiking trails are part of the extensive Pirkan Taival network (300 km), with routes leading towards Ruovesi, Kuru and Virrat and all the way to Seitseminen National Park (which celebrated 40 years in 2022). 

Kauppi is a popular spot for walkers too. The location of Kauppi only a stone’s throw away from Tampere city centre on the shores of Näsijärvi Lake make this area an excellent destination for daily exercise and the forests of Kauppi feature a number of exercise routes of varying lengths.

The Niihama Nature Trail runs through the wooded terrain around Niihamajärvi Lake and Soukonvuori hill. The trail is over three kilometres in length, has ten checkpoints and features both fresh and dry heath forest, birch groves and herb-rich forests.

Whether you’re hiking through nature reserves or strolling along scenic lakeshores, Tampere invites you to celebrate Earth Day by embracing sustainable travel and connecting with the beauty of the natural world.

For further information: https://visittampere.fi/en/ 

Vale of Glamorgan, Wales

Explore 14 miles of dramatic coastline and hidden beaches in this underrated Welsh region

Looking for a nature-break? Taking a staycation to the Vale of Glamorgan in southern Wales will not disappoint. Although it is under half an hour from Cardiff, this region is home to a diverse range of countryside, coast line and woodland. Escape the usual crowds of the popular scenic hotspots Cornwall and Devon and head instead to the unspoilt coastline of the Vale of Glamorgan. Discover 14 miles of untouched coast, stretching from Aberthaw to Porthcawl, designated with heritage status in 1972.

Explore the breathtaking cliffs, secluded coves, wooded nature reserves and golden sandy beaches that adorn the coastline. Be sure to visit iconic landmarks such as Nash Point Lighthouse and Southerndown Beach for unforgettable vistas. Monknash Beach is one of the most secluded beaches in the Vale, featuring a dramatic cliff backdrop, golden sands in low tides and Nash Brook overflowing to create stunning gushing waterfalls and rock pools. This tidal bay is an excellent wild swimming spot for those that dare to brave the sea temperatures (featured in South Wales edition of Wild Swimming Walks and shared by Visit Wales as one of the best wild swimming walk in the country). Spot jurassic fossils and graves for the shipwrecked in the limestone cliffs – and a vast array of alive species, including peregrine and chough birds.
For inspiration on other ways to see what the Vale has to offer, see the Vale Trails, 10 carefully chosen off-the-beaten-track walks: https://www.visitthevale.com/inspiration/vale-trails


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