Bruges, the ancient capital of West Flanders, has topped environmental NGO Greenpeace’s ranking of sustainable short-break locations, as it is aptly located and well-connected to many major European cities.
Sustainable travel is a crucial factor in the fight against climate change. "To limit global warming to 1.5℃," the group says, "we should emit less than three tonnes of CO2e per year and per person by 2030, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)." Planes alone can exceed this target for CO2 savings in just one trip.
Greenpeace ranks 41 of the top eco-friendly travel destinations in its 'guide to green holidays'. The city of Bruges, famous for its historic canals and architecture, is first on the list for stays of up to a week.
"There are many direct trains to Brussels: 30 minutes from Lille, 1 hour 30 minutes from Paris, 4 hours from Lyon or Strasbourg, 4 hours 30 minutes from Rennes, 5 hours from Nantes or Aix-en-Provence. Just add an hour to get to Bruges," the Greenpeace guide notes. The eco-travel brochure praises Bruges for its excellent medieval architecture, canals, nightlife and proximity to the sea.
Other destinations listed in the guide for a short holiday include the Black Forest, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna and the Channel Islands.
Holidays by train
All the European destinations listed in the guide are easily accessible by train or ferry. The guide to sustainable travel avoids any destination that is only easily accessible by aircraft.
"Not all means of transport have the same impact. Flying is the worst for the climate: it emits a lot of greenhouse gases per kilometre, per passenger and we use it to travel the most kilometres on average," Greenpeace notes.
An aeroplane emits around 147 kilograms of CO2e per passenger for a journey from Paris to Milan. On the train however, this is just 2.8 kilograms, or just over 1% of the emissions from the same journey by plane.
Have a look at The Brussels Times' guide to a day out in the city to plan the perfect weekend escape to Bruges.