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Sustainable travel tips for Barcelona

Share your advice for visiting Barcelona, Spain
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Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

Hello all :-)

I am writing on a sustainable travel guide to Barcelona, and I would love, if you would share your best tips for the city.

I am looking for sustainable experiences as what to see, activities, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian and organic restaurants and cafées and sustainable shopping.

I will be grateful, if you can help.

Thanks

Hanne

4 months ago (edited)
Nature guide | Founder, ConservationMag.org

Hi Hanne, if you have any relevant experience, it would be great if you could write something for conservationmag.org

2 months ago

hello.. have lots of tips on how to travel more responsibly.. see store.bookbaby.com/book/are-we-there-yet1

4 months ago
Ian
Founder, Travel Massive

That really doesn’t answer the question, and neither does the link you posted.

4 months ago

I just provided overall tips on how to book, pack and travel better.... for specific tips for Barcelona I didn't include.... I would suggest focusing on staying away from crowded places and respecting residents... not using single use plastic, not taking plastic bags, buying local etc. ... for the specific names of places and ideas on Barcelona I would suggest looking at www.barcelona.cat/en/living-in-bcn/environment-and-sustainability

4 months ago
Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

Hi Rachel,

Thank you for your link to your book. I am looking for specific places, I might have overlooked in the City. But thanks for sharing :-)

4 months ago
Sustainable Tourism Specialist, Self employed

Due to the overtourism suffered by Barcelona, traveling there may cause more harm than good, even if people travel sustainabily, and with recommending that people avoid crowded places there is a risk this will extend the overtourism problem to further areas of the city over time, once 'hidden gems' get discovered and become more popular. In my opinion, the most sustainable advice you could give is to encourage people to visit lesser known places in Catalonia that would benefit from increased visitation instead of suffering from it.

4 months ago
Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

Hi Manuelle

Thank you for your comment and adwise. I have been working very closely with Barcelona Sustainable Tourism Board since 2019, and Barcelona is actually one of the most progressive sustainable cities in Europe. The City also recieved and award for the work af changing the tourism in the city.

And yes, it is all about making people to avoid the most touristic places, and Barcelona has a lot to offer besides the touristic areas. That is why I am working on a guide book. I do know a lot of sustainable places in BCN, but I asked because some of you might know places, I have not discovered yet.

Sustainablity is not about avoiding a City. Is is about making changes so it does not harm the City and the locals, in my (and the Spanish Tourism Boards opinion). The locals main income comes from tourism. And they still need tourists. The challenge is how to keep the tourists without harming the environment.

So I do not agree with you. I also live in a City (Copenhagen), where we learned to value tourists during Covid and lockdown. Same challenge. How to share your city with tourists with respect for the earth and its people.

But thank you again so much for your input

Best,
Hanne

4 months ago
Sustainable Tourism Specialist, Self employed

To each his own :) I live in an area affected by overtourism and where we are trying to attract 'high value visitors' (which I do not necessarily agree with as it is discriminatory) and at the same time to disperse visitation to areas that need it. Venice is going to charge day visitors a fee. Each area has its own ways of coping according to their particular situation.

4 months ago
Head Chef, Travelfish Pty Ltd

I can’t speak to the specific example of Barcelona, but I can using Bali (where I live) as it, like Barcelona, is a horror story.

I think, as a writer, it’s important, vital even, to highlight businesses that value and act on sustainability, as that’s the best way to highlight them to readers and thus encourage more business to them, which in turn hopefully illustrates to other businesses that sustainability is a viable path. I think saying “don’t go” isn’t a practical/responsible approach, rather “go, but do it this way” is a better approach. We made the mess, so it’s a duty to try and fix it until legislation appears to make a clearer path.

There’s no point giving up in my humble opinion.

4 months ago
Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

Hi Stuart

Thank you for your inputs. Exactly how I work on the guide. Have lots of local business on my list. I am just looking for specific places in BCN I might have overlooked.

4 months ago
Founder, 196 Destinations

On sustainable travel to/from Barcelona, using the train, we're building a portal at toTravelTo.com - as part of a campaign to move the top EU air routes to train, from the plane. Barcelona to Madrid was number 1 in 2018, with 3.5 million passengers, so it's important we change.

General thought. What do we call the next generation of digital nomads? The ones who care for the environment and sustainability? So many conferences and retreats in inaccessible locations by train. Crazy, when we're in a climate emergency ey. I was thinking maybe of trying #trainNomad - what do you think?

4 months ago
Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

Hi Ian

Thank you for your input. Yes, it is so easy to travel by train in Spain, and they are still improving.
A huge challenge is, that it is very difficult to get from Northern Europe (where I live) to Spain. I really hope, that they change it soon.

And the next generation of digital nomads could very well be named TrainNomad :-) Like the idea.

4 months ago
Founder, 196 Destinations

Hey Hanne, thanks for the supporting comments, and liking the label #TrainNomad

From the nordics, there's a popular route down to Hamburg, with either the SJ or Snalltaget night train from Stockholm. From here you head to Frankfurt with DB, and pickup the French double-decker super fast TGV from inOUI. At Avignon or Lyon, you depart and probably want to stay the night and explore. From here you have two options. You can pick up a local French train to Portbou, and then the Catalan trains after to Barcelona.

For me it's not an easy decision to travel by train. But we have to make changes. This means, yes, it takes longer. But it's not all pain. Endless view changes are great. The chats in the restaurant car. The work you can get done on the tables at your seat on often reasonable/good wifi, and well, the chances to note worthwhile places you would like to return to.

And as nomads we can have the flexibility to stop where we want. Probably one of the biggest travel segments than take our time to travel.

But there's always lots of excuses. Hope to find ways to help people give it a go just see how far they can go on the train :)

4 months ago
Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

Hi Ian,

Yes there are trains from Sweden - and also Denmark, where I live to Spain. But the trip takes 1,5 to 2 days from Copenhagen to Barcelona, so if people are on holiday, they will not spend 3-4 days out of a week to travel.

The trip is not a nice and comfortable journey either, so even though I love to travel by train, I will not spend 2 days on at trip, I can do in 3 hours.

Yes, we need to change. And I agree, that train is one of the ways to go. But also we need to work on how to get the aircrafts more sustainable. I do not believe we can stop the world from using aircrafts when they travel.

4 months ago
Founder, 196 Destinations

Thanks for the considered reply, Hanne.

In the future, we may have zero carbon emission planes.
But we don't right now. And that's a major problem.
Planes are emitting between 8 and 20 times more carbon than trains.
Carbon being the main cause of global warming, or even wierding like the Artic being 30C that people often just call the Climate Emergency.

In the future efforts by Norway and others, to make electric planes the norm - at least for island hoppers, will pay off. But, we're not there yet. And we cannot afford to present the distant future as just around the corner, and therefore allowing the current status quo to continue.

It's likely that Putiny will have the biggest effect on the climate this winter. But it's something that 'The West' should have arrived at as a way of operating on its own terms! We need to stop burning carbon.

If there's an alternative that takes longer, but people can keep connected, then it should be the only way of travel. The transition is NOT easy. I've done some crazy journies by train, and I still feel like I am in transition. But I now feel it is possible, and that I realise you have to think about the journey slightly differently.

Yes, you need more travel time, and therefore more holiday time. But, 2 weeks holiday used to be the norm. So firstly, think of things in the way of a fortnight, being the norm. Make your life so that is possible. Secondly, what can you do en route? That may mean, seeing another city, or perhaps seeing friends. Think that a night en route to the destination will be the norm.

However, it maybe you can find a night train you are comfortable with? It maybe that more good night sleeper trains start to exist, then you have another option. 1 night train, and a fast train may well get you to where you're going to go..

I hope you can see the transition path, and the pitcure I am painting. To go on as before, is no longer possible. We have to transition to a more viable future, but hopefully one where we are still connected inperson, rather than the damn zooms ey

4 months ago
Travel journalist and blogger, Spain by Hanne, Hanne Olsen

I do agree with you, that we have to change things. But I do not agree with you on, that people just have to live with the bad opportunities we have now. In Europe the governments has to make it simple to travel through Europe by train. If the governments around the world don't take big actions and change things, it will not change a lot.

Unfortunately, they closed down the night trains some years ago. So that is not an option :-)

4 months ago
Founder, 196 Destinations

Hey, definitely agree a lot of aspects of rail travel have to get better.
But the environment does not have time.
So we have to make the most of the low-carbon travel we do have.
And campaign for it to be better.
With new private operators, governmetns, the eu, and existing operators.
We cannot wait for it to get better to use it though. Especially if we're talking about sustainability.

We are campaigning for the top 30 flights to be converted.
A friend has just finished an epic 40 day trip around the EU trying to survey what can be done to improve rail across borders.

There's a resurgence of interest in night trains. The more people buy train travel, now, the more money there will be to make it better :)

4 months ago