Eco-cultural tourism is presented here as a concept in which ecological and cultural aspects of a landscape are combined to create a site for tourists. It is proposed as a way for communities with otherwise marginal cultural or ecological resources to develop. Sustainability and participation are both crucial for the longterm future of this form of tourism. Case studies from the Federsee in Germany and the Lac de Chalain in France discuss the innovative ways in which cultural tourism (in the form of open-air museums) can be combined with eco-tourism to conform to every principle of sustainability. A key element to the success of eco-cultural tourism is local control in the planning, development and maintenance of these sites. This is discussed particularly in the context of a third site, the Saimaa Lakes in Finland, where there is a nuanced complexity involved in the ways local people view their environment and ecologists regulate it. The potential of eco-cultural tourism as a tool for empowerment and development at the Saimaa Lakes is highlighted. Eco-cultural tourism also provides ways for the practice of archaeology and anthropology to mix and to articulate with wider society, although it may also pit the two disciplines against each another. Eco-cultural tourism reflects present-day practice, but also acts as a model for how cultural and eco-tourism could be employed by local people to build an empowered, sustainable future in similar settings elsewhere.