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Home » Blog » Press Release » Where you can drink from the tap around the world

Where you can drink from the tap around the world

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 4 October 2023 | Created: 25 August 2023

Most of us have plenty of questions when we’re planning a holiday, from which basic phrases to learn in the local language to figuring out what currency to use and what plug adaptors you’ll need. However, one of the most common questions, is “Can you drink from the tap?”

As a Medical Travel Insurance specialist, we’ve looked into which countries you’re still most uncertain about when it comes to drinking tap water. We’ve also put together some tips to help you avoid becoming unwell on holiday.

Global Google search data was analysed to pinpoint which country’s tap water was being queried the most. Most holidaymakers assume, or are already aware, that you shouldn’t drink from the tap in less developed nations. There is still confusion about whether tap water is safe to drink throughout Europe. 13 of the top 15 most searched for countries in Europe.

Italy and Spain seem to confuse travellers the most, both with 4,400 searches a month for questions around whether you can drink their tap water, while The top five is completed by France and Portugal (2,400 searches each), and Greece (1,900 searches).

Out of the top 15 countries the world is asking if they can drink tap water in, it’s only generally recommended to avoid drinking from the tap in Cyprus and Turkey.

Top 15 countries with the most queried tap water

Rank Can you drink water in [country] Continent Global average monthly searches Is it safe to drink?
1 Can you drink tap water in Italy? Europe 4,400 Yes
2 Can you drink tap water in Spain? Europe 4,400 Yes
3 Can you drink tap water in France? Europe 2,400 Yes
4 Can you drink tap water in Portugal? Europe 2,400 Yes
5 Can you drink tap water in Greece? Europe 1,900 Yes
6 Can you drink tap water in Croatia? Europe 1,600 Yes
7 Can you drink tap water in Germany? Europe 1,300 Yes
8 Can you drink tap water in Japan? Asia 1,300 Yes
9 Can you drink tap water in Singapore? Asia 1,300 Yes
10 Can you drink tap water in Cyprus? Europe 880 No
11 Can you drink tap water in Poland? Europe 880 Yes
12 Can you drink tap water in Turkey? Asia/Europe 880 No
13 Can you drink tap water in Malta? Europe 720 Yes
14 Can you drink tap water in Iceland? Europe 590 Yes
15 Can you drink tap water in Switzerland? Europe 590 Yes

The 10 safest places to drink tap water around the world

According to a Yale study, the 10 countries below have the safest drinking water. In fact, the tap water in some of these places is such high-quality, the locals find it amusing when people buy bottled water. For example, in Iceland it’s said that bottled water is labelled in English since only tourists consume it.

  1. Austria
  2. Finland
  3. Greece
  4. Iceland
  5. Ireland
  6. Malta
  7. Netherlands
  8. Norway
  9. Switzerland
  10. United Kingdom

How to stay safe when drinking water abroad

Consider your tolerance

While it is safe to consume water from the tap in many countries, it’s important to remember that the quality and composition will always differ from what you’re used to. In some countries, for example, the mineral content will be different, and it could irritate your stomach if you are already sensitive to gastrointestinal disruptions. In this case, it could be worth sticking to bottled water instead.

Be aware when travelling away from big cities or on islands

Again, although the country might be listed as somewhere ‘safe’ to drink tap water, Spain, for example, this can vary depending on where you are in the country. The water can be perfectly safe to drink in big, busy cities. Still, if you venture further into more rural locations or head to an island like Ibiza, the water quality can change drastically. Think twice if you’re travelling more remotely.

Don’t brush your teeth with tap water if you can’t drink it

If you know you shouldn’t drink tap water in the country you’re visiting, remember to close your mouth while showering and brush your teeth with bottled water too. It’s very easy to forget this, but if the tap water isn’t drinking quality, then even a small amount when showering or brushing your teeth could cause you stomach upset

Avoid ice and salad

It’s another easy one to forget, but if you can’t drink tap water while travelling – it’s best to avoid ice too. Ice should be made using filtered water, but you can’t guarantee this, so avoiding it altogether will help prevent you from getting sick. If you’re concerned, opt for beer or other chilled drinks where ice isn’t needed. Similarly, avoid salad and anything else that might be washed with tap water in locations where it isn’t a drinkable quality.

Consider getting a water-purifying bottle or tablets ahead of your trip

There are water bottles on the market with in-built filtration systems, or you can buy water filtration tablets that do the same thing. If you know you have a sensitive stomach and wish to avoid becoming sick, these are a great choice to give you that peace of mind while you’re away from home.

Chris Rolland, CEO of AllClear, comments: 

“Travelling abroad is often one of the most exciting times of our year. Whether you’re looking for a big adventure or simply some much-needed relaxation, the last thing you want from your trip is to become unwell. While much of Europe’s water has been safe for consumption for many years, it’s interesting to see how many of us are still unsure about drinking from the tap in these highly visited destinations.

 “We understand that if you already are living with pre-existing medical conditions, the idea of becoming sick in a foreign country can be very daunting, so having an awareness of the water quality in your holiday destination can help alleviate those worries. Make sure you always think twice about how rural your location is or how your stomach usually reacts when abroad; if in doubt, err on the side of caution and make sure you’ve got comprehensive Travel Insurance in place, just in case you should need it.”

Google Keyword Planner was used to ascertain the global average monthly search volumes for “can you drink tap water in [country]”, and the results were used to rank the top 15 countries where people search the most frequently for this query.

To ascertain if a country’s drinking water is safe to consume, was used and the country was given a “yes” status if the WHO (World Health Organisation) and CDC (Centres for disease control and prevention) agreed it was safe for consumption.