Northern lights over snowy mountainPhoto by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

SAFEST PLACES TO TRAVEL 2023

November 9, 2022

Each year, regardless of what’s going on in the world, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection produces its list of the safest places to travel. And over the years, US consumers have seen travel threats from A (Hurricane Andrew) to Z (Zika) impact their travel plans and their perception of travel safety, and influence where they travel.

A couple years ago it was the pandemic. Then it was staff and equipment shortages. Now it’s inflation and global warming.

Assuming we can clear these final hurdles, it’ll be all systems go for travel, and the only thing we’ll have to worry about is which travel insurance plan we want to protect our flights and cruises.

With that thought in mind, let’s dive into the 2022-23 version of the Safest Places To Travel.

Here are the 15 countries around the world that we believe will be safest for travelers in 2023: 


THE SAFEST PLACES TO TRAVEL

1. Netherlands
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Australia
5. Norway
6. Canada
7. Germany
8. Sweden
9. Switzerland
10. New Zealand
11. Spain
12. Ireland
13. United Arab Emirates
14. United Kingdom
15. Belgium

 

Globe sitting on tablePhoto by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD’S SAFEST COUNTRIES

Changes

After years of doing this, it’s clear that travelers think that Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, and Canada are pretty safe countries, and their perceptions are reinforced by other measurements.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t movement in our rankings. Over the last year:

  • Australia crept up to fourth overall from sixth.
  • Because of the number of new countries on the list, more countries fell than rose. For instance, New Zealand fell from second to 10th, Canada dropped from third to sixth, and Ireland fell from eighth to 12th.
  • Some of the biggest fallers were Japan (down from fifth to 19th), Costa Rica (down from 15th to 31st) and Brazil (down to 42nd from 25th).

Just for comparison (and in case you're keeping score at home), here is last year's list:

1. Iceland
2. New Zealand
3. Canada
4. Sweden
5. Japan
6. Australia
7. Switzerland
8. Ireland
9. Germany
10. United Kingdom
1
1. Spain
12. France
13. Italy
14. South Korea
15. Costa Rica

History and methodology

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has a long history of asking travelers where they’re going, why they’re traveling, and what constitutes a safe destination to them. We conducted our first traveler research in 2016 and have been doing studies ever since.

In our survey, we ask people where they’ve traveled in the last five years, and only the people who have visited specific countries are allowed to rate those countries on safety.

We then augmented those ratings with other indices and information, including the Global Peace Index and the State Department’s own travel safety ratings. We also average the GeoSure Global scores of the major cities in each country.

From there, we calculated a weighted score that reflects each country’s overall safety.

The beauty of this approach is its balance. No one score tips in balance in favor of one country over another, and each score contributes to the overall score.

Woman in mask walking through woodsPhoto by Tsunami Green on Unsplash


Caveat

These ratings aren’t predictive – that is, just because we say Canada is safe that doesn’t mean it will rank in the Top 10 in the future.

It also doesn’t mean that any given country is safe right this moment.

For instance, several years ago, our survey respondents named Australia the world’s safest country, and by the time the findings were released the country was being decimated by forest fires … in the middle of a pandemic.

Like any other measurement, you need to balance our rankings with what’s going on in the world as you’re booking your travel.

Let’s learn a little more about the safest countries for travelers.

Bikes parked on bridge over river in cityPhoto by Gaurav Jain on Unsplash


THE TOP 15 SAFEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

1. Netherlands

Rank Last Year: Not ranked

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Spoiler alert: Amsterdam is one of the world’s safest cities, according to the American travelers we surveyed. If Amsterdam is a super-safe city, it would make sense that it’s located in a really safe country.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Demonstrations, maybe? Honestly, the State Department’s country information page for the Netherlands struggles to come up with anything beyond the usual amorphous threats of terrorism and pickpocketing.

Boardwalk with brightly colored buildings and boatsPhoto by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash


2. Denmark

Rank Last Year: Not ranked

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Like the Netherlands, Denmark is home to one of the world’s safest cities in Copenhagen. Beyond that, Denmark is a famously mellow destination without the occasional discordant note struck in Sweden or Norway.

And like the Netherlands, good beer and good cheese go a long way toward mollifying a population.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Drugs. According to the State Department, “Freetown Christiania, located in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen, is known for illicit drug activity. Drug enforcement efforts have resulted in clashes between the police and Christiania residents.”

Best to just keep your distance.

Rows of colorful city buildingsPhoto by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


3. Iceland

Rank Last Year: 1

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Iceland has always been considered one of the safest places on earth. The only question is where in the top of the list it will fall.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Leaving your bag on the floor in a nightclub. Honestly – that’s all the State Department’s got.

Actually, driving can be treacherous. Less than one-third of Iceland’s roads are paved, and many roads outside the capital are impassable from October through April – and then mud makes many roads impassable in July.

Know the road conditions before you set off on an Icelandic road trip.

Sunset over Uluru in AustraliaPhoto by Ondrej Machart on Unsplash


4. Australia

Rank Last Year: 6

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It’s a long way from anywhere – in a good way. The people are friendly, everyone speaks English, and there are long stretches where you can be absolutely to yourself.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Bar fights. Australia has a bit of a reputation as a hard-drinking country, and sometimes that drinking can get out of hand. Keep your wits about you, duck out when things take a turn, and you’ll be fine.

Bridge over river with waterfall behindPhoto by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash


5. Norway

Rank Last Year: Not ranked

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It’s Scandinavia, so people don’t go out much in the winter – and the winter can last a long time. And when it’s not winter, everyone’s so happy to be out and about that they don’t think about getting into trouble.

What You Need To Watch Out For

There aren’t too many other countries where the State Department is reduced to warning travelers about office burglaries, but that’s its red flag on Norway.

You should also be a particularly careful driver. As Jalopnik notes, Norway does not look kindly on speeders.

Large city boat dockPhoto by Eugene Aikimov on Unsplash


6. Canada

Rank Last Year: 3

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Another cold-weather country, Canada is so expansive that crimes stemming out of overcrowding are never an issue. And then there’s the whole “Canada nice” thing, which is 100% real.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Thefts from unlocked vehicles. But, hey, if you leave your car unlocked and someone steals your Timbits®, that one’s on you – no matter where you happen to be.

White castle on hill in GermanyPhoto by Rachel Davis on Unsplash


7. Germany

Rank Last Year: 9

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Germany has all the good stuff: It’s orderly and clean, with one of the best transportation systems in the world, and it’s populated by a whole lot of rule-followers.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Romance scams. Per the State Department, “Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters.  Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help.”

Small red shed on grassy shorePhoto by Patrik Carlberg on Unsplash


8. Sweden

Rank Last Year: 4

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It’s Scandinavia. No telling where Finland would have ranked had it been in our ratings.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Hotel-lobby thefts. The State Department claims that well-dressed individuals hang out around hotel lobbies and snatch unattended luggage.

Small lakefront townPhoto by Andreas M on Unsplash


9. Switzerland

Rank Last Year: 7

Why It’s Ranked Highly

You hear about Swiss banks, Swiss watches, Swiss chocolate – but never Swiss crimes. There’s a reason.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Alpine hazards. The State Department notes that avalanches, rock slides, blizzards and other hazards are common throughout the year and can strand skiers and hikers without warning. Have a contact system in place before setting out.

What They're Saying

"Switzerland is a wonderful place to visit. As a young adult traveller, I found it very safe, clean and so beautiful! People could be reserved but generally were very welcoming, helpful and respectful."

- Ali Malcolm, Editor at Bookmundi

Field of purple wild flowersPhoto by Aneta Foubíková on Unsplash


10. New Zealand

Rank Last Year: 2

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It’s like Australia, but more remote and even more beautiful.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Sheep. There are a lot of them in rural areas, roads are narrow, and Americans may not be used to driving on the left side of the road.

Row of small windmills on hillPhoto by Mick Haupt on Unsplash


11. Spain

Rank Last Year: 11

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Its cities are some of Europe’s safest, and any place not named Ibiza has a laid-back Mediterranean attitude.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Sexual assaults, particularly against students. The State Department has quite a detailed description of how it happens, what you should do if it happens to you, and the difficulties in getting justice.

Fog over grassy cliffsPhoto by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash


12. Ireland

Rank Last Year: 8

Why It’s Ranked Highly

It’s lush and green and incredibly hospitable. In Ireland even the drunks are happy.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Rental-car break-ins. Rental cars are easy to spot in Ireland, which makes them ready targets for smash-and-grab thieves. Never leave valuables in plain sight in a rental car.

Restaraunt in the middle of DubaiPhoto by Wael Hnieni on Unsplash


13. United Arab Emirates

Rank Last Year: Not ranked

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Being unsafe is against the law – and you don’t want to break the law in the UAE.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Terrorism. While high-profile terrorist attacks are relatively rare in the UAE, it’s not unusual for a political or religious terrorist to stage an attack on an individual, especially if they’re readily identifiable as an American tourist. The State Department has the details.

Passenger steam train on long bridge over countrysidePhoto by Jack Anstey on Unsplash


14. United Kingdom

Rank Last Year: 18

Why It’s Ranked Highly

They may have a new monarch, but it’s the same old safe-as-milk U.K.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Northern Ireland during the “marching season.” “The troubles” can still be troublesome, especially when rival religious groups conduct their annual marches. Things get particularly tense around the Protestant celebrations on July 12.

Calm canal between houses in townPhoto by Elijah G on Unsplash


15. Belgium

Rank Last Year: Not ranked

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Belgium is a country where the chief tourist activity is biking from brewery to brewery. That’s how chill Belgium is.

What You Need To Watch Out For

Pickpockets. The State Department recommends you be particularly vigilant “in public areas such as restaurants, the Brussels metro at night, buses/trams, and all train stations.”

Pair riding vespa holding selfie stickPhoto by Jordan Opel on Unsplash


TRAVEL SAFETY HAS MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS

Because people who had actually visited specific countries do our safety ratings, we felt comfortable asking them about multiple aspects of travel safety, including safety from crime, terrorism, and disease, and safety for groups such as travelers of color and LGBTQ+ travelers.

We used an average of six sub-category scores as the basis for the Safest Places calculation employed above. Here are the top-10 lists for the sub-categories.

Safest Places To Travel – Safety From Violent Crime

1. Germany
2. Netherlands
3. Denmark
4. Canada
5. Australia
6. Norway
7. Japan
8. Iceland
9. Ireland
10. Sweden

A perennial top-10 safest country, Ireland finally cracks the top 10 here.

Narrow Japanese side streetPhoto by Alex Knight on Unsplash


Safest Places To Travel – 
Safety From Terrorism

1. Netherlands
2. Australia
3. Canada
4. Iceland
5. Japan
6. Sweden
7. Denmark
8. Norway
9. Germany
10. Ireland

Same names, slightly different order, all fairly safe from terrorist activity.

Safest Places To Travel – Transportation Safety

1. Australia
2. Netherlands
3. Denmark
4. Canada
5. Germany
6. Japan
7. Sweden
8. Iceland
9. Spain
10. New Zealand

Despite the presence of sheep-forward countries at the top and bottom, these are countries with either well-developed road and transportation systems (everywhere but Iceland) or a limited need to travel far (Iceland).

Woman in facemask leaving airportPhoto by Atoms on Unsplash


Safest Places To Travel – 
Health Measures

1. Netherlands
2. Denmark
3. New Zealand
4. Sweden
5. Germany
6. Iceland
7. Australia
8. Canada
9. France
10. Japan

France makes its first appearance in a top 10, but not its last.

Safest Places To Travel – Women/LGBTQ/People of Color Safety

1. Australia 
2. Netherlands
3. Denmark
4. Sweden
5. Canada
6. Iceland
7. Germany
8. Spain
9. France
10. New Zealand

Outside of the Aussies, Kiwis, and Canucks, a clean sweep for Europe.

Person lounging in beach chair with hat over facePhoto by Jordan Opel on Unsplash


RANKINGS BY AGE, GENDER, AND INCOME

Like last year, survey respondents had wildly different perceptions of the world’s safest countries depending on their age, gender, and income. After we broke apart the responses, here are some of the categories with the biggest deviation from the overall scores:

Millennial Survey Respondents (ages 25-44)

1. Canada
2. Denmark
3. Belgium
4. Australia
5. China
6. Japan
7. Germany
8. Greece
9. Italy
10. Jamaica

Jamaica? Based on our article on safe travel in Jamaica, we’ll let you make that determination for yourself.

Respondents With A Household Income Of More Than $100,000

1. Canada
2. Denmark
3. Japan
4. Australia
5. Belgium
6. Ireland
7. Germany
8. Iceland
9. France
10. Italy

Normally higher income travelers travel overseas to exotic destinations – so why the love for our neighbor to the north? Maybe the grass really is greener in Moose Jaw.

Steps leading up to gold domed mosquePhoto by John T on Unsplash


Respondents Spending More Than $10,000/Year On Travel

1. Australia
2. Canada
3. Japan
4. Belgium
5. Italy
6. Denmark
7. Germany
8. France
9. Costa Rica
10. Jamaica

Virtually all the destinations on our top-10 lists are northern-tier, European or English-speaking countries – except for Costa Rica and Jamaica, which are evidently safe destinations for big travel spenders.

Mature Survey Respondents

1. Hungary
2. Australia
3. Ireland
4. Canada
5. Japan
6. Brazil
7. Denmark
8. Germany
9. Bahamas
10. Iceland

Hungary? Hmmm. One possible explanation for its high ranking: older river cruisers who stop in Budapest.

Parents

1. China
2. Canada
3. Belgium
4. Greece
5. Australia
6. Japan
7. Italy
8. Germany
9. France
10. Israel

China has not usually been thought of as a family travel destination, but based on this, maybe it’s time to rethink that perception.


FINAL NOTES

Remember that the top-10 lists above only show survey results. They don’t include the additional data from GeoSure, the Global Peace Index, and the State Department that are factored into the overall top 10. And survey results can be variable.

Regardless of when you feel able to visit the World’s Safest Countries, be sure to choose travel insurance from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection to cover all your travels. Discover what makes our coverage special here.


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