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Five No-Fly Destinations to Inspire an Eco-Conscious Getaway

12 June, 2020

Words by
Rae Boocock

Cutting Cutting down your carbon footprint and avoiding the rigmarole of airports doesn't have to mean that your travel choices are limited to staycations. In fact, the world is connected by a network of trains, boats and roads - you just need to get creative and join the dots. Need a break from the UK? Read on for no-fly holiday inspiration that will whisk you from Ireland to island-hopping in Greece and on to Morocco. Yes, you read that right.

Travelling without wings: plane-free itineraries to inspire your next adventure

Galway

Ireland

Why? Crowned as the European Capital of Culture 2020, Galway toes the line between ecstasy and escapism, welcoming visitors into its knees-up bohemian city - think live music, street theatre and boutique shops selling handcrafted Claddagh rings - as well as being a gateway to the rugged Wild Atlantic Way.

How to travel: Catch a train to Holyhead in Wales, where two ferry services - Irish Ferries and Stena Line - take you to Dublin Port in two to three hours. Look out for combined rail-and-sail tickets; these are often the most budget-friendly option. From here, take a train west (about two and a half hours) to Galway.

Stay: Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites

Greece

Why? If there's ever a time to embrace slow travel, this is it. Reaching Greece by rail and sail may take a couple of days - a route could include trains from London St Pancras through France and Milan to Bari, a ferry ride from Corfu - but there's no feeling quite like gliding into a vibrant port or spotting ribbons of sand from on deck. Once you've touched base, there's an island to suit every kind of holidaymaker. For something more off the beaten track, make your way to Greece's remote northwestern region of Epirus and join The Slow Cyclist for a two-wheeled jaunt along the deserted roads and ancient mule tracks of Zagori.

How to travel: Sunvil can help you curate a rail-and-sail adventure from the UK to Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Parga and Sivota. If you plan on hopping from sun-soaked shore to shore by ferry, the Eurail Greek Islands Pass covers 53 islands.

Stay: Coco-Mat Eco Residences

Switzerland

Why? Sure, road trips are more eco-friendly than flying, but putting pedal to metal isn't fantastically green. Enter Switzerland's E-Grand Tour, a 1,970km route that threads from Geneva to Gallen, through a showreel of Swiss sites: five Alpine passes, 12 Unesco World Heritage Sites, 22 crystalline lakes, a few cities and a host of postcard-perfect villages and meadows. The route is lined with 300 charging stations and eco-friendly accommodation, and a retro-chic Grand Tour Snack Box can be purchased and refilled with regional foods en route. Like this? Catch a train to Saumur in France's Loire Valley, where the eco-conscious La Grande Mansion has launched zero-emission wine tours using electric cars and bikes.

How to travel: Take the Eurostar from London to Paris, and a TGV train onwards to Geneva (about six hours in total) or Zurich (seven hours) where you can hire an e-car.

Stay: Whitepod

Marrakech

Morocco

Why? After months of isolation, we're craving the sensory onslaught of ever-beguiling Morocco. Feel the pulse of the Red City as you navigate the dusty, bustling medina, working your way between colourful souk, through the Majorelle Gardens to Musée Yves Saint Laurent, before taking in sunset from the pink rooftop of Le Jardin Secret.

How to travel: It's a bit of a mission to get from London to Marrakech without taking to the skies, but feasible nonetheless - and, cliché as it may be, this is a journey that is as much fun as the destination itself. Our route? Take the Eurostar to Paris, followed by the TGV through the Pyrenees to Barcelona. Dart through the Spanish countryside on a high-speed AVE train to Antequera-Santa Ana for a regional service to Algeciras. From here, take a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, where the Al Atlas train rattles down the Atlantic coast, through Fez, Rabat and Casablanca, to Marrakech.

Stay: El Fenn

Val d'Isère, France

France

Why? Flying for a ski trip never made much sense. Airline baggage allowances are rarely accommodating for boots, skis and various gear, while Europe's airports are often a fair distance away from its best slopes. Trains, on the other hand, can hug mountains close to resorts (you're likely to get from your front door to the slopes quicker than by plane) and have more generous luggage allowances to boot. We're already planning our winter 2020/21 trip to Val d'Isère, where the snowfall is good and the après scene buzzing.

How to travel: Eurostar's Ski Train service runs on Fridays and Saturdays between December and April, with stops in Moûtiers (around nine hours from St Pancras), Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-St-Maurice. From Bourg-St-Maurice, it's an hour's bus journey (40 minutes by taxi) to Val d'Isère.

Stay: La Mourra

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Summary | 4 Annotations
How to travel: Sunvil can help you curate a rail-and-sail adventure from the UK to Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Parga and Sivota. If you plan on hopping from sun-soaked shore to shore by ferry, the Eurail Greek Islands Pass covers 53 islands.
2020/06/17 15:36
For something more off the beaten track, make your way to Greece's remote northwestern region of Epirus and join The Slow Cyclist for a two-wheeled jaunt along the deserted roads and ancient mule tracks of Zagori.
2020/06/17 15:36
How to travel: Take the Eurostar from London to Paris
2020/06/17 15:36
How to travel: Eurostar's Ski Train service runs on Fridays and Saturdays between December and April, with stops in Moûtiers (around nine hours from St Pancras), Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-St-Maurice. From Bourg-St-Maurice, it's an hour's bus journey (40 minutes by taxi) to Val d'Isère.
2020/06/17 15:41