Category City guides

Green city guide: Barcelona

The cultural heavyweight of Catalonia offers everything a tourist could want, but what are its green credentials?


You’ll find it all in Barcelona. The Catalan capital has a vibrant cultural scene, a huge beach, excellent food (the tapas are particularly renowned), world-class architecture and a rich history. There is sport too: the city is home to FC Barcelona, the famous football club, while the 1992 Summer Olympics site can still be visited. Around the city, much of Barcelona’s identity is shaped by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. His famous works include Park Güell, Casa Milá, Casa Battló. And of course La Sagrada Família – a masterpiece of a church, which is still under construction.

But although the past has given Barcelona many gifts, the city is looking towards the futur...

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Green city guide: Freiburg

Freiburg is among Europe’s most sustainable cities, having invested heavily in public transport, solar power and green spaces.


Much attention is given to large cities striving to reach green goals, such as Sydney and London. Less, however, is said about smaller, cosier places. One example that deserves attention is Freiburg: a charming, idyllic city in south-western Germany, and one of the country’s famous old university towns. Since the 1970s it has followed a green agenda whose cornerstones have included public transport investment, sustainable energy, waste management and green economics.

Individually, the green initiatives are almost too many to count...

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Green city guide: San Francisco


San Francisco is not quite like other cities. The mid-1800s gold rush transformed what was a small settlement into a booming city; then, a century later in the post-war period, an influx of liberal activists made it the home of American counter-culture, as epitomised by the 1967 Summer of Love. Beyond the Golden Gate Bridge today, a diverse and energetic society is setting its own agenda. Gay rights, feminist views and political liberals have grown strong roots, as have immigrants from every corner of the world. To call it ‘cosmopolitan’ would be an understatement.

Alongside its rebellious attitude, San Francisco has a history of radical environmental action. Vibrant NGOs and charities hold public conferences, workshops and lectures on green issues...

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Green city guide: Copenhagen


For a city whose biggest attraction is a bronze statue of a mermaid, Copenhagen has a lot to offer. The Danish capital is Scandinavia’s chief economic and cultural centre, a status underpinned by strong sectors in information technology, shipping and banking; and a horde of residing designers, artists and chefs. Here, narrow cobblestone streets and old buildings blend with wooden houses along the channels and avant-garde architecture; a combination of Amsterdam’s carefreeness, the Nordic Oslo and the historical charm of an eastern European city, such as Prague.

Copenhagen is also among the world’s greenest, happiest and healthiest cities...

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Green city guide: Sydney


It is easy to love Sydney. Like a pick ‘n’ mix sweet bag, the multicultural Australian capital contains the best bits of the classic tourism cities; its corporate city skyline supplemented with beautiful harbours, green natural parks, kilometres of beaches and a vibrant cultural scene. The most iconic works are the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a certain opera house.

What about its green prospects? City of Sydney Council aims to provide low-impact energy and water via green networks and infrastructure hubs as part of a scheme dubbed ‘Sustainable Sydney 2030’. There’s also a strong emphasis on business with the introduction of a voluntary ‘carbon offset’ scheme, green conference centres and energy-efficient offices...

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Green city guide: Bilbao


If Bilbao’s ecological progress had equalled that of its economic, cultural and aesthetic revitalisation in recent years, it would probably be among the world’s greenest cities. After the Guggenheim Museum opened in 1997, new buildings and infrastructure projects fronted by star architects have transformed what was a declining industrial city into a vibrant economic and cultural hub.

Central to that has been the transformation of decontaminated industrial sites into urban regeneration projects. Around Bilbao, world-class architecture now springs up between charming structures of old. The river snaking through the city has also been cleaned, allowing state-of-the-art buildings to reside by the waterfront. Bilbao has not just received a facelift, but a thorough health check too.

So how ...

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