Valencia lays claim to Europe’s green capital  

Valencia lays claim to Europe’s green capital  

Valencia’s credentials as one of the greenest and most visitor-friendly cities in Europe has been endorsed by two accolades handed out by the European Commission (EC).  

Next year, Spain’s third-largest city will celebrate a key recognition of its commitment to city-wide sustainability: its role as European Green Capital 2024.    

Its nomination by the EC recognizes efforts to improve the environment and the quality of life of both residents and visitors and takes into account factors such as the number of green spaces and sustainable mobility initiatives.   

And, in mid-October, Valencia was one of just 10 European cities awarded the Label of the EU Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities*, which recognises cities’ plans to achieve climate-neutrality by 2030 and aims to facilitate access to public and private funding towards that objective.  

Valencia’s Minister for Tourism, Innovation and International Relations, Paula Llobet, who is leading the European Green Capital Programme 2024, says Valencia has long set the pace in sustainable tourism as it was the first city in the world to verify and certify the carbon footprint of all tourist activity and is working towards the goal of carbon-neutral tourism activity by 2025.  

“This certificate from the EU is a stamp of recognition of our sustainability brand. It will help us attract people who will be confident they will spend time in a quality city with lots of green areas and where the tourist attractions and services are all integrated and working towards the same goal of a cleaner, greener experience,” she said.  

Valencia’s has multiple green spaces in its urban centre, increased pedestrianised areas and over 160 kilometres of bike lanes.   

Two natural parks on its periphery are easily accessible by public transportation or bicycle.  That adds up to five million sq ms of green areas in the city environs.  

Adds Llobet: “In Turia Natural Park (pictured) we have the longest urban garden (at 9 km long) in Europe anywhere in Europe. We also have one of the largest and best beaches in Europe that is just a short bus ride from the centre. 

“Valencia is also known for one of the biggest historical districts of any European city, and one full of art and architectural masterpieces; a marina that has been transformed with wide spaces for walking, and cycling; and really fabulous gastronomy.  

Visitors to Turia Natural Park’s more than 8,000 hectares of Mediterranean forest can explore on foot, by bike, by horseback or, in the warmer months, take a dip in its natural pools.  

The Parque Natural de l’Albufera is a place for strolling, biking or taking a boat ride but also of thousands of birds that frequent its important wetlands. There’s also a restaurant serving traditional Valencia paella among the rice fields that gave birth to this dish.  

“I think visitors are looking for a city break that makes them feel comfortable and safe but also where they can leave a low carbon footprint,” said Llobet.  

“Climate change is a factor in this too because with summer temperatures now rising up to the 40C, it is important we are able to create more green spaces where visitors have room to breathe and cool down away from the crowds.  

“We want to offer high quality experiences and thus attract a high quality of tourist…but for this to happen we also need to have sustainability initiatives front of mind to ensure a low impact and minimum footprint for our neighbourhoods,” added the minister.   

“That is why it is important to promote different areas of the city, develop new tourist routes and guided tours, to disperse tourists around.”  

Those tourists are growing with record numbers visiting this summer.   

The city hotels have been 80% full throughout the year and people are staying a day or two longer than they were a few years back.   

Traffic at the city’s airport in August grew by 20%, with more than one million visitors in the month.   

And UK visitors are leading the charge: 68,000 arrived between January and August, up 12% on the same months last year.   

Ryanair will launch a new flight route from Birmingham to Valencia at end of October.  

Image credit: Visit Valencia

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