Drinking Tap Water Abroad: Where You Should And Shouldn't

Here's where you can (and can't) trust the tap.
Close-up of a young woman filling a bottle of water over the sink.
urbazon via Getty Images
Close-up of a young woman filling a bottle of water over the sink.

Ah, holidays ― the perfect time for some much-needed R&R. But, if you’re anything like me, stress-researching the entire trip before going is very much a part of your eventual de-stressing dreams.

Alongside checking for vaccine, VISA, and other requirements, it’s well worth knowing before you travel what the water sitch in your dreamy destination is going to be.

Thankfully, travel insurance company AllClear shared the locations most people are looking up regarding water safety, adding where it is, and is not, to drink some sweet H2O straight from the tap.

Let’s start with the most commonly-searched-for locations:

AllClear used Google Keyword Planner to find the destinations where most people were checking tap water status. 13 of the 15 most-searched-for spots were in Europe, researchers found.

“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),” explained All Clear.

The most searched-for locations worldwide included:

  1. Italy
  2. Spain
  3. France
  4. Portugal
  5. Greece
  6. Croatia
  7. Germany
  8. Japan
  9. Singapore
  10. Cyprus
  11. Poland
  12. Turkey
  13. Malta
  14. Iceland
  15. Switzerland.

Only two of the most-searched-for locations had potentially unsafe tap water

AllClear’s researchers looked at a Yale study, which measured life-years lost per 100,000 persons due to exposure to unsafe drinking water. “To ascertain if a country’s drinking water is safe to consume, https://www.iswatersafetodrink.in/ 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,” AllClear added.

“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 two of them ― namely Cyprus and Turkey,” they add. Though it’s important to say that this is only from the list of most-searched countries ― if you want to be as crystal-clear on the topic as your ideal glass of aqua, check the water status for your destination.

After all, “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, but if you venture further out into more rural locations, or if you head to an island like Ibiza, the water quality can change drastically. Think twice if you’re travelling more remotely.”

If you’re not sure about the water quality, be careful with more than just drinks

“If you know you shouldn’t drink the tap water in the country you’re visiting, then 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,” AllClear says.

They add that you should watch out for items like ice and salad, 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 won’t be needed. Similarly, avoid salad and anything else that might be washed with tap water in locations where it isn’t a drinkable quality,” they add.

If you want to be extra-safe, bring water-purifying tablets with you on your travels.

If you’re after a truly satisfying sip, here are the ten safest countries according to the Yale study.

The ten top-performing countries are:

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

So, if the cozzie livs has changed your holiday plans, at least you don’t have to travel too far for a quality glass of water.