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Safest Places to Travel 2021 (Updated)

By Kit KieferNovember 5, 2020

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

Like everything else in 2020-21, this version of the World’s Safest Places to Travel is a little different, having been preempted by a global pandemic, among other catastrophes.

As a result, the list may seem a little academic. After all, what’s the use of saying Australia is safe if you can’t go there?

Ah, but nothing is forever – even pandemics. Soon we’ll be able to travel the world, and when we do, more than ever we’ll want to go somewhere safe (in addition to protecting our flights and cruises).

So from that standpoint, this version of the World’s Safest Countries might be the most important one yet.

With that thought in mind, let’s dive in.

Here are the 10 countries around the world that we believe will be safest for travelers in 2021:

1. Canada
2. New Zealand
3. Australia
4. Iceland
5. Switzerland
6. Germany
7. Sweden
8. Italy
9. Ireland
10. Japan

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

What You Need To Know About The World’s Safest Countries

History

We’ve done this research the last three years.

Methodology

We don’t just rely on our own research. We use it as a starting point and augment it with other indices and information, including the Global Peace Index and the State Department’s own travel safety ratings. (Of course, those are all drastically different now thanks to the pandemic, but we have used them in the past.)

This year, because we have three years of data and other safety measurements aren’t being done or may lack the reliability of past years, we relied more on our own historical data.

However, we did add data on how well countries have handled their pandemic responses from the OECD, Pew Research Center, Our World in Data, and YouGov.

Even if you travel to these countries after the pandemic has waned, this is a really strong measure of how well they handle public-health crises in general.

Changes

After three years of doing this, it’s clear that travelers think that Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland, and Japan are pretty safe countries.

Photo by Tsunami Green on Unsplash

Still, a couple of countries made big moves in 2021

  • Canada had not been part of our rankings in the past. Entering the rankings this year, it debuted at #1.
  • Iceland came in 32nd (!) in our Safest Places survey last year, and only made the top 10 because it scored highly everywhere else. This year, order was restored and Iceland is a top-5 safest destination.
  • Germany had never been a top-10 safest destination. This year, it checks it at #8 – and made the top-5 for Millennial travelers.

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. Last year we said Australia is extremely safe just before the devastating wildfires began.

Like any other measurement, you need to balance it with what’s going on in the world at the very time you’re booking your travel.

Invitation

Because COVID-related travel restrictions change all the time, bookmark this post and visit it frequently for updates.

If you need the most up-to-the-minute information, visit the State Department’s site for COVID-related travel updates.

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

Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

The Top 10 Safest Countries in the World

1. Canada

Rank Last Year: Not part of our rankings

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Canada was rated as the safest destination among respondents to our survey. It also receives high marks for the way it’s handled the pandemic.

Can Americans Travel There?

Not right now. Canada has closed its borders to American tourists. However, if you have dual citizenship, you’re allowed to go.

Top Attractions

Vancouver and Montreal are two of the world’s most beautiful cities, and Jasper and Banff are two of the world’s most beautiful national parks. What’s between is a lot of open space, and people like that, too.

Photo by Michael on Unsplash

2. New Zealand

Rank Last Year: 3

Why It’s Ranked Highly

New Zealand has been one of the world’s best countries when it comes to controlling the pandemic. It’s a peaceful country at heart, and it always ranks highly among survey respondents.

Can Americans Travel There?

Not now.

Top Attractions

An amazing array of natural beauty – everything from snow-capped mountains to rainforests in the stretch of several hundred miles. The Lord of the Rings filming sites continue to attract travelers.

Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash

3. Australia

Rank Last Year: 1

Why It’s Ranked Highly

What goes for New Zealand goes for Australia: Australia always ranks highly among BHTP survey respondents. It’s done a good job with the pandemic, and it’s a peaceable country.

Can Americans Travel There?

Not now.

Top Attractions

Sydney is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and Melbourne and Brisbane are no duds, either. Beauty (and crazy wildlife) abounds everywhere in the country, from the rainforest beaches of the north to the eerily beautiful outback.

Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

4. Iceland

Rank Last Year: 7

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Always a popular destination to explore, Iceland’s high scores on peaceability and COVID response have helped it rocket back into the top five.

Can Americans Travel There?

Not now.

Top Attractions

The area around Reykjavik remains the chief draw for tourists, and while Iceland isn’t the hot destination it was half a decade ago, its steaming blue-water springs are still as hot as ever.

5. Switzerland

Rank Last Year: 6

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Switzerland scored highly in the Global Peace Index, though measures of its effectiveness in pandemic response were not as kind.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, but not for tourism.

Top Attractions

Mountains, railways, mountains, chocolate, lakes, mountains, and more chocolate, in that order.

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

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Photo by AC Almelor on Unsplash

6. Germany

Rank Last Year: 24

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Germany has received very high ratings for its handling of the pandemic. While BHTP survey respondents give it high marks, Germany has traditionally not scored well in other measures – until this year.

Can Americans Travel There?

Well, maybe ... if you’re a dual citizen of a country on Germany’s “allowed” list.

Top Attractions

As befits one of the world’s top tourist destinations, Germany has something for just about every traveler, from castles and river cruises to avant-garde art and the unmistakable metropolitan vibe of Berlin.

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

7. Sweden

Rank Last Year: 2

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Despite taking a novel approach to its pandemic response, Sweden is solidly above-average in the way it’s handled COVID. While its BHTP survey ratings have yo-yoed, for now it’s a top-rated destination for travel safety – and the Global Peace Index likes it, too.

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, but only if they’re students or “certain travelers.”

Top Attractions

Start with Stockholm as most travelers do, but the country’s northern stretches are beautiful and almost totally untouristed.

Photo by Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

8. Italy

Rank Last Year: 4

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Even though Italy had its crisis moments early on with the virus, it recovered well, and has continued to manage the pandemic at least as well as other EU countries.

Can Americans Travel There?

Not generally, though travel into the country is allowed for “students, businesspersons, EU residents, and relatives of Italian citizens.”

Top Attractions

Italy’s iconic cities felt the economic brunt of the initial shutdown, almost like no other places on earth. Images of an empty Venice will stick with us, though there’s so much more to the country, from Tuscany to Sicily. And did we mention the incredible food?

Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

9. Ireland

Rank Last Year: 8

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Ireland is an extremely safe and peaceable country that’s handled the pandemic moderately well. It’s also a favorite of BHTP survey respondents (though somehow it fell out of the top 10 last year).

Can Americans Travel There?

Yes, if they’re willing to self-isolate for two weeks.

Top Attractions

Just rent a car and start driving the coast. Stop in the first snug little pub you see and start talking to the barkeep and the patrons. You’ll understand the attraction right off.

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

10. Japan

Rank Last Year: 10

Why It’s Ranked Highly

Japan, as you might expect, was able to marshal its resources and mount an extremely effective pandemic response. It also scores fairly high for peaceability and has been rated between seventh and 14th on the BHTP Safest Countries scale for the last three years.

Can Americans Travel There?

Per the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, “U.S. citizens with resident or student status in Japan can enter/re-enter the country.”

Top Attractions

The high-speed glitz of Tokyo, the serene beauty of Hokkaido, and everything in between. Also, Tokyo is dead-set on holding the Olympics in 2021.

Photo by Jordan Opel on Unsplash

FULL Rankings by Age Groups

Millennials (ages 25-44)

1. Canada
2. Australia
3. New Zealand
4. Germany
5. Iceland
6. Switzerland
7. Italy
8. Sweden
9. Ireland
10. Singapore

Middle-Aged Travelers (ages 45-54)

1. Canada
2. New Zealand 
3. Australia
4. Iceland
5. Switzerland
6. Germany
7. Sweden
8. Ireland
9. Italy
10. Singapore

Mature Travelers (ages 55+)

1. Canada
2. Australia
3. New Zealand
4. Iceland
5. Switzerland
6. Germany
7. Sweden
8. Italy
9. Ireland
10. Japan

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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Kit Kiefer
Kit Kiefer

Kit Kiefer is a former travel writer for The New York Times and has more than 30 years of freelance experience writing about domestic and international travel. He blogs and produces content for Winbound, a content marketing firm.

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Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP) is a registered trademark and a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (BHSI), a leader in specialized casualty and liability insurance.  The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable.  BHTP disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information.  The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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