What are the European Green Capitals, and what to do there?

Go Green and visit the European Green Capitals during your DiscoverEU trip!

What is this?

Every year, the European Commission awards the title of “European Green Capital” to a big city that is particularly good in making their city a better, greener place to live and work. Why? In the long term, we need to make sure that our cities stay cool and healthy for all generations. European Green Capitals show others that green cities exist, that ‘going green’ is worth it and how it’s done! A similar competition, the European Green Leaf, exists for smaller cities.

To get this title is not an easy job – in fact, it is a very tough competition. Competing cities must demonstrate a real commitment to improve the environment of their city. Once a city has won the title, they must work with others – basically show off – and inspire them to join the green city club. 

On the map


What to do there on your trip?  

The first title European Green Capital was awarded in 2010 and eleven really cool cities have been awarded so far.  Check out what there is to do for you below. 

The European Green Capitals to date are:

2010: Stockholm 2011: Hamburg 2012: Vitoria-Gasteiz 2013: Nantes
2014: Copenhagen 2015: Bristol 2016: Ljubljana 2017: Essen
2018: Nijmegen 2019: Oslo 2020: Lisbon

Lisbon (2020)

Most Beautiful Parks and Green Spaces in Lisbon: Lisbon is one of the greenest capitals in Europe. From small parks that are integrated into the center of the city, to great gardens that exhibit true natural beauty – the Portuguese capital has some of the most outstanding parks and gardens. Read more on The Culture Trip.

Oslo (2019)

USE-It Oslo: USE-IT stands for no-nonsense tourist info for young people. USE-IT maps and websites are made by young locals, are not commercial, free, and up-to-date. Some also have a visitors desk, mostly run by volunteers. Every USE-IT publishes a Map for Young Travellers that will guide you through the city in a no-nonsense way. Click here to get a free printable version, or simply get the app.

Inspiration for an eco-friendly stay: Oslo is full of people and businesses who work towards a healthy environment: From restaurants that serve organic foods to city developers searching for eco-conscious solutions. Together they have turned Oslo into a sustainable destination to be reckoned with, and Oslo has been named the 2019 European Green Capital. Access Visit Oslo's green guides here.

Nijmegen (2018)

DiscoverEU Meetup in Nijmegen: Join us in Nijmegen for a DiscoverEU meetup that will take place on 11-13 July 2019. Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands, but with a young vibe. Don't miss out on this meetup and watch the FB Group! Registrations will be open in April. 

USE-It Nijmegen: USE-IT stands for no-nonsense tourist info for young people. USE-IT maps and websites are made by young locals, are not commercial, free, and up-to-date. Some also have a visitors desk, mostly run by volunteers. Every USE-IT publishes a Map for Young Travellers that will guide you through the city in a no-nonsense way. Click here to get a free printable version, or simply get the app.

Cycling Capital of the Netherlands: Nijmegen is known for being the Netherlands’ oldest city and the country’s ‘Cycling Capital’ is a thriving heartland for all things sustainable. Whilst once this was for political battles, it’s now for its clear-sighted approach to developing as a green and sustainable city.

Enjoy the beach: Go for a pick-nick by the Room for the River project (climate adaptation project) or admire the wild horses at the Waalbeach/Ooipolder.

Essen (2017)

The Ruhr region in Germany is known for steelmaking, metalworking and mining. But there is so much more to it than that - especially in the city of Essen. 

Top cycling routes around Essen: Cycle around Essen to discover its historical parks and modern green spaces . There is an extensive network of cycle paths which make for an outstanding recreational experience. Get inspiration for cycle routs on the North Rhine-Westphalia Tourism website or Komoot.

Ljubljana (2016)

Ljubljana, elegant and leafy: Car traffic is restricted in the centre, leaving the leafy banks of the emerald-green Ljubljanica River, which flows through the city's heart, free for pedestrians and cyclists. Read more on Lonely Planet. The city’s BicikeLJ bicycle-sharing system gives you an opportunity to hire bikes from self-service terminals located across the wider Ljubljana city centre.

Bristol (2015)

Green activities in Bristol: Bristol has a long association with the 'green' movement. Not only is it the UK's first Cycling City, Bristol is also a Fairtrade City which sees it trading fairly with nearly five million workers in 58 developing countries. Visit Bristol has a useful article on how you as a visitor can experience Bristol as a green city

Look up at the night sky at The Downs: If you want stars in your eyes then the Downs is apparently one of the best places in Bristol to go. Away from the worst of Bristol's light pollution, and without too many trees and buildings to obstruct your view, it is one of the top locations in the country to look at the night sky. 

Discover woodland and riverside path: Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills has it all. A picturesque and diverse estate, it combines woodland and riverside paths with historic parkland. Its popular for its varied landscape and panoramic views, and only located three miles from Bristol city centre. An ideal place for a day out!

Travel to the Leigh Wood Nature reserve, or the Cadbury Hill Nature Reserve.

Copenhagen (2014)

8 perfect, green getaways in Copenhagen: More than a metropolis, Copenhagen is also home to lots of green oases and getaways. Here are 8 of our favourites spots to go unwind or get a taste of nature. Read Visit Copenhagen's green getaway suggestions. 

Bike city Copenhagen: Life in Copenhagen is lived in the saddle of a bicycle. Everybody does it. Bike that is. In Copenhagen we bike whether there is sun, rain or snow. We bike to work, to school, to bring the kids to kindergarten, to shop for groceries and to social gatherings. Find out how to discover Copehagen by bike.

Nantes (2013)

USE-It Nantes: USE-IT stands for no-nonsense tourist info for young people. USE-IT maps and websites are made by young locals, are not commercial, free, and up-to-date. Some also have a visitors desk, mostly run by volunteers. Every USE-IT publishes a Map for Young Travellers that will guide you through the city in a no-nonsense way. Get the app.

Stroll around one of France's "remarkable gardens": The Jardin des Plantes packs 10,000 species into its seven hectares. The gardens are right in the middle of the city, and are not ordinary. Discover plants from tropical America, Africa and Asia. As you walk the paths you’ll see mature trees like the 220-year-old magnolia and two huge sequoias that were planted 150 years ago.

Hire a bike: Nantes has a bike-friendly city center and a vast network of cycle lanes makes it possible to get just about anywhere on two wheels. Sign up for the Bicloo city bike scheme and make the most of the self-service bikes which cost just €1 a day. Each time you pick up a bike, you get 30 minutes free, which is plenty of time for cycling between the sights.

Vitoria-Gasteiz (2012)

Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Belt: The Vitoria-Gasteiz Green belt is made up of a group of parks and areas with high ecological interest surrounding the city. It surrounds the centre and brings nature into the city, ideal for green walks around the area. 

New use for an Art Deco petrol-filling station: As citizens in Vitoria-Gasteiz give up their cars to walk and cycle, an Art Deco petrol-filling station found its new life as the city's tourist office. Why not start your green journey from there?

Hamburg (2011)

The green shores of Hamburg: The green shores in the large Alsterpark extend over 1.5 km from Harvestehude. You can observe sailors, take walks or simply drink coffee on the banks. 

Spend time in the largest cemetery of Europe: The Ohlsdorf cemetery is both the largest cemetery in Europe and Hamburg's largest park. It not only serves as a burial place, but is also a cultural monument and nature area prized both within Hamburg and beyond. 450 species of deciduous trees and conifers thrive here, and the ponds and brooks are full of waterfowl. A rare breed of kingfisher as well as long-eared and tawny owls breed in the cemetery.

Stockholm (2010)

Meet the Animals of Stockholm: In the mood for a hike in the forests of Stockholm? Visit Stockholm put together a list of the city's four-legged and winged inhabitants that you might encounter! Read the article here. 

How to best explore the forests of Stockholm: An archipelago trek or a stroll in Hellasgården? Breezy shorts or practical cargo pants? Hot chocolate, coffee or tea? Visit Stockholm chatted up nature lover Karin Skelton to get some solid tips on how to best explore the forests of Stockholm. Read the article here. 

Enjoy Sweden's right to roam: It is easy to go camping, hiking, swimming, biking or paddling in Stockholm’s many green areas and the archipelago.  “Allemansrätten”, the Right of Public Access, is granted by the Swedish constitution and gives you free access to the outdoors. Just keep this maxim in mind: “Do not disturb, do not destroy”. Read here Visit Stockholm's best tips!

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