Cultural Routes of
The Council of Europe

Cultural routes are those itineraries for tourists that connect destinations, create and bring to light unique experiences and cultural knowledge. They provide a cohesive narrative to engage different nations, communities and organisations that, to a greater or lesser extent, play a role in providing a quality experience for tourists, whether international or not.
In this vein, they provide platforms for cultural exchange and creative cultural expressions and, in doing so, contribute to strengthening local life.

The power of culture
in sustainable tourism

Culture is one of the driving forces for the growth of tourism. As such, cultural tourism can bring many opportunities and benefits such as deseasonalization and a diversification strategy for a destination.
The safeguarding of cultural heritage and activities is the key to preserving the cultural identity of territories and to more effective sustainable development.

What is behind the
concept of cultural routes?

The “Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” Programme was started by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Declaration of Santiago de Compostela. The “Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” are an invitation to travel and to discover the rich and diversified European cultural heritage.

The aim was to create a network of people and places linked together thanks to a common history and heritage.

The Cultural Routes put into practice
the values of the Council of Europe

Human rights

Cultural diversity

Intercultural dialogue

Mutual exchanges
across borders

How to be certified as a cultural route of Europe

To become part of the Cultural Route of Europe certain criteria need to be fulfilled to obtain the official certification. The certification is a guarantee of excellence. Once a year, the certification is awarded to legally constituted networks focusing on a European theme and implementing activities in at least three Council of Europe member States.
The certification gives visibility to European initiatives which bring to life Council of Europe values, such as cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and mutual exchanges across borders.

Through the Cultural Routes programme, the Council of Europe offers a model for transnational networks working on the promotion of European heritage. The Cultural Routes bring together (to name only a few) heritage sites, universities, national, regional and local authorities and socio-economic actors such as SMEs and tour operators.

In this context, due attention needs to be paid to the criteria established by the Council of Europe for the certification of Cultural Routes:


Involve a theme that is representative of European values and common to at least three countries in Europe


Be the subject of transnational, multidisciplinary scientific research.


Enhance European memory, history and heritage and contribute to interpretation of Europe’s present-day diversity.


Support cultural and educational exchanges for young people


Develop exemplary and innovative projects in the field of cultural tourism and sustainable cultural development.


Develop tourist products and services aimed at different groups.

The Cultural Routes of Europe

The Cultural Routes demonstrate, by means of a journey through space and time, how the heritage of the different countries and cultures of Europe contributes to a shared and living cultural heritage.

Over 45 Cultural Routes provide different themes that illustrate European memory, history and heritage and contribute to an interpretation of the diversity of present- day Europe.

There is a need to build up an area of peace and stability in the Mediterranean, reducing disparities, increasing opportunities for decent quality of life and jobs for all, and promoting dialogue and understanding for peaceful coexistence.

The CROSSDEV project, an example that promotes
cultural routes

The CROSSDEV project seeks to increase tourism competitiveness and the attractiveness of lesser-known destinations and rural areas, enhancing the Cultural Routes experiences such as those of the Council of Europe (e.g., Phoenicians Route and IterVitis), Palestine (Palestinian Heritage Trail) and Jordan (Jordan Trail). To achieve this goal, a cross-border tourism framework shall be set-up to enhance sustainable tourism policies, promote tourism-related business and to develop community-led action plans.

Change in the concept of travel and the use of time during the trip.

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Based in environmentally sustainable activities that help to preserve and support the local community and the ecosystem of the location

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Today’s demanding and discerning tourists don’t just want to observe, they wish to experience places

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