This European city is rewarding well-behaved tourists with free meals and activities

Tourists will be rewarded for litter-picking, travelling by public transport or cycling

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
The most bike-friendly city in the world? Welcome to Copenhagen
Photograph: Nick N A /

This year alone, parts of Europe have experienced their earliest-ever heatwave, and the Caribbean was battered by its earliest-ever category five storm – it’s clear that being environmentally conscious with our holidays is more important than ever. 

There are plenty of ways to become a more sustainable tourist, but Copenhagen is taking it one step further. 

To offset the ‘environmental burden’ of tourism, the Danish capital is launching a scheme to reward tourists for environmentally friendly behaviour. 

A trial of the ‘CopenPay’ scheme begins on July 15, and under the initiative, visitors can claim anything from a free lunch or glass of wine to a free kayak rental in return for completing tasks such as litter-picking, travelling by public transport or cycling. 

‘When you travel abroad – if you fly to other places or you travel by car – you pollute,’ says Rikke Holm Petersen, Copenhagen tourist board’s communications chief, to the BBC, ‘One of the things we can change is getting people to act more sustainably at the destination.’

So far, 24 organisations have signed up to the trial. There’s no infrastructure for them to be reimbursed by the government – seemingly, they’re participating out of their passion for protecting the city.

What’s more, the project is ‘trust-based’, meaning attractions and businesses are unlikely to ask for proof, but it might be handy to keep your transport pass or have a photo of you riding a bike, just in case. 

Mr Petersen estimates that only a small proportion of visitors to Copenhagen (last year the capital hosted 12 million overnight stays) will participate, but if it’s deemed a success, CopenPay could be rolled out throughout the year.

A bike ride or a bit of litter-picking hardly sounds like hard work, right? And cycling is already part of this marvellous city’s cool Scandi aesthetic. What more motivation could you need than a cheeky glass of glögg or a smørrebrød at the end of it?

Take a look at our full guide to Copenhagen here, or our idea of the perfect 48 hours in the city. 

Did you see that it’s official: this entire European country is now powered by renewable energy?

Plus: this Spanish city will fine you €750 for peeing in the sea

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