Lonely Planet names 2021’s most eco-friendly trips and best community experiences, from the Rocky Mountaineer train to food in Greece and UK city tours by the homeless

  • Lonely Planet has reimagined its Best in Travel listing to ‘reflect how attitudes to travel have changed’ 
  • The new ‘Best in Sustainability’ ranking includes Gothenburg, Greece and the Rocky Mountaineer train
  • San Diego gets the Best Cultural Diversity prize and Australia is praised for its post-bush fire restoration work 

Each year Lonely Planet produces a much-anticipated bucket list ranking of the top spots to travel to in the following year, called Best in Travel.

This year the adventure experts have reimagined the listing to ‘reflect how the world and attitudes to travel have changed’ – so now it’s all about celebrating commitment to community, diversity and sustainability across the world.

The new ‘Best in Sustainability’ ranking includes Gothenburg, Greece and the Rocky Mountaineer train journey; the Best Tour prize in the ‘Best in Community’ list goes to the UK’s homeless walking tours, Invisible Cities; San Diego gets the ‘Best Cultural Diversity’ accolade, and Australia is praised for its post-bush-fire restoration work.

Best Train Journey – Rocky Mountaineer. ‘This slow-travel option has reduced its Co2 emissions by 18 tonnes per year, increased onboard recycling and introduced initiatives to protect of local wildlife,’ says Lonely Planet 

Best Food Destination – Greece. Lonely Planet says: ‘Organic produce markets and island seafood makes it an unintentional leader of the world’s most sustainable food’

Best islands – Palau, Pacific Ocean. ‘Progressive policies and protective measures have put the pristine archipelago at the vanguard of environmental sustainability,’ says Lonely Planet

Gothenburg takes home the Best City Stay gong, which Lonely Planet says is because it has ‘introduced a range of progressive and measurable solutions to achieve fossil-independence by 2030’.

The Rocky Mountaineer is named as the Best Train Journey as a result of its Co2 emissions being cut by 18 tonnes per year, increased onboard recycling and initiatives to protect local wildlife.

Greece is 2021’s Best Food Destination thanks to ‘organic produce markets and island seafood’.

Other category winners in the Best Sustainability list are Palau, Best Islands; Grootberg Lodge in Etendeka Plateau, Namibia – Best Accommodation; and the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail – Best Cycling.

Describing Invisible Cities’ snaring of the Best Tour award, Lonely Planet says: ‘[Invisible Cities is] an exciting social enterprise that offers people affected by homelessness the opportunity to become a tour guide in their own city.’

It adds that it provides ‘engaging and alternative walks’ that ‘bring city stories to life with unique local perspectives for both tourists and locals in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York and Manchester’.

Best Tour – Invisible Cities. A UK city walking tour company and social enterprise providing people affected by homelessness the opportunity to become tour guides in their own city, while also generating funds for homeless projects 

Best City Stay – Gothenburg, Sweden. ‘Topping the Global Destinations Sustainability Index,’ says Lonely Planet, ‘the city has introduced a range of progressive and measurable solutions to achieve fossil-independence by 2030’ 

Zakia Moulaoui Guery, Founder & CEO of Invisible Cities CIC, comments: ‘Our social enterprise doesn’t believe in labels or stereotypes and we want to help as many people as possible to realise their true potential. 

‘Through supporting those who have experienced homelessness and training them to become tour guides in their own city, we can help them to change the direction of their lives whilst also offering these one-of-a-kind tours to both locals and tourists alike. It means the world to us that we have been awarded the Best in Travel 2021 award by Lonely Planet and it’s given us a well-needed boost in what has otherwise been a somewhat challenging year.’

Australia, in the same Best In Community ranking, is awarded Best Restoration.

Lonely Planet says: ‘Following the worst bushfire seasons in history, the rainforests, sapphire coasts and endemic wildlife are slowly rising from the ashes thanks to a number of community restoration efforts.’

Best Restoration – Australia. ‘Following the worst bushfire seasons in history, the rainforests, sapphire coasts and endemic wildlife are slowly rising from the ashes thanks to a number of community restoration efforts,’ declares Lonely Planet 

Best Accommodation – Kazakhstan. ‘Rural villagers are trained in hospitality to provide homestays while acquiring fresh economic opportunities for the local community,’ points out Lonely Planet 

Best Accommodation is Grootberg Lodge in Etendeka Plateau, Namibia – ‘a luxurious low-impact lodge helping to preserve lion and black rhino populations through community empowerment’

LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL WINNERS 2021 

BEST IN SUSTAINABILITY

Best City Stay – Gothenburg, Sweden

Best islands – Palau, Pacific Ocean

Best Accommodation – Grootberg Lodge in Etendeka Plateau, Namibia

Best Cycling – Virginia Mountain Bike Trail

Best Food Destination – Greece

Best Train Journey – Rocky Mountaineer

Best Emerging Destination – Antigua & Barbuda

Best Conservation Programme – Rwanda

Best Walks – Le Vie di Dante, Italy (Roads of Dante)

Best Storyteller – Soraya Abdel-Hadi

BEST IN COMMUNITY

Best Tour – Invisible Cities

Best Restoration – Australia

Best Tourism Project – The Burren Eco Tourism Network, Co Clare

Best Accommodation – Kazakhstan

Best Immersion Faroe Islands  

 

 

Best Revitalisation – Medellin, Colombia

Best Trekking – Tesfa Tours, Ethiopia

Best Storyteller – Hesham Moadamani

Best Small Business – Footprint Café, Siem Reap Cambodia

Best Expat Storyteller – Georgette Jupe, Girl in Florence

BEST IN DIVERSITY

Best Under-Explored History – Gullah Islands, USA

Best Cultural Diversity – San Diego, California

Best Welcoming Destination – Amman, Jordan

Best Emerging Voice – Gabby Beckford

Best Accessible Destination – Costa Rica

Best Multi-generational destination – El Hierro, Canary Islands

Best Indigenous food – Hiakai restaurant, Wellington, New Zealand

Best Inclusive Storyteller – Jeff Jenkins

Best Inclusive Tours – Wheel the World, California

Best LGBTQ+ Storytellers – Amsterdam-based bloggers A Couple of Men

 

 

 

Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison says: ‘There is no doubt that this has been the most challenging year our industry has faced, having to first deal with the impacts of last summer’s bushfires followed directly by a shutdown of travel due to Covid-19. But in response to these challenges, we really have seen the best examples of the Australian spirit shining through, particularly as people across the country rallied behind those communities both directly and indirectly impacted by the bushfires, with so many extending offers of support.’

Other winners in the Best In Community ranking include Kazakhstan – Best Accommodation; Faroe Islands – Best Immersion; and Medellin, Colombia – Best Revitalisation.

Further prize-winners in the Best In Diversity list, meanwhile, include the Gullah Islands, USA – Best Under-Explored History; and Amman, Jordan – Best Welcoming Destination.

‘Travel in 2021 and beyond will be a much more considerate exercise than it has been ever before,’ Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera says. ‘With travellers cautiously re-engaging with the world and focusing on ensuring their impact is safe and positive for host communities, we have decided to highlight destinations and individuals that truly enable visitors to make genuine contributions through regenerative travel.’ 

For more information on the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel. 

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