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A New Data Analysis Shows the 40 Best Countries for Sober Travel

News Food + Drink
by Matador Creators Jun 20, 2024

With how important food and drink are to the travel experience, it can sometimes feel like it’s tough to be a sober traveler — especially in countries where wine and spirits are a big part of the social culture.

And according to a new research analysis on sober travel, some countries are better for sober travel than others. And the countries that came out on top may be suprising.

Using data points collected by mentions of sober-friendly activities in TripAdvisor reviews, WHO Global Health Observatory studies, and United Nations publications on alcohol policies and consumption, researchers ranked the top 40 countries for staying sober. Here’s where you may want to go to enjoy sober travel, whether it’s an ongoing lifestyle choice or just a temporary wellness change.

Number five: Japan

sober travel countries - peaceful japan scene

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The fifth-best country for sober travel is Japan, according to the Lantana data analysis. It has a low percentage of citizens dependent on alcohol, and one of the healthiest overall populations in the world. It ranked fifth due to excellent public safety ratings and the prevalence of wellness and relaxation activities that don’t involve booze, like relaxing in onsen (natural hot springs) and visiting ancient temples.

Number four: Denmark

sober countries - people on coppenhagen boat

Photo: Maridav/Shutterstock

The first of a few Nordic countries recommended for sober travel includes Denmark, a country with great public safety records — and no legal age minimum for drinking alcohol. That may seem like an odd choice for sober travelers, but since alcohol isn’t hard to come by, it doesn’t have the allure and appeal it does in other countries, like the US. Danes drink more per person on average that the other Nordic countries, but it’s still way below the average for citizens in other European countries.

Number three: Norway

sober travel - hiker in lofoten islands, norway

Photo: BublikHaus/Shutterstock

Norway took the number three spot among sober travel countries, earning very high marks for having a healthy population and being a very safe country, as well as having strict alcohol laws. Like other countries on the top five list, the availability of outdoor and adventure activities make it easy to avoid drinking — especially if you’re taking advantage of the country’s long daylight hours and start an epic hike in the late evening.

Number two: Italy

sober travel - women cycling in italy

Photo: WineDonuts/Shutterstock

It may come as a surprise that Italy, a country known for being the land of endless vineyards and winery regions you’ve never even heard of, was the second-highest ranked country for sober travel. It earned the runner-up spot by having lots of activities and attractions unrelated to travel and a low rate of alcohol dependency among its citizens. It could also be that wine is so readily available in Italy that having it available is no big deal — meaning it’s also no big deal if you don’t drink it.

Number one: Iceland

iceland beach at night

Photo: Yevhenii Chulovskyi/Shutterstock

Iceland took the top spot thanks to factors like having a generally healthy population, having lots of safe cities and towns, and having plenty to do that doesn’t have anything to do with drinking. With extremely long daylight hours in the summer and popular routes like the Ring Road or Westfjords Road taking drivers past gorgeous natural sites, hikes, and waterfalls, it’s not a mystery why Iceland took the top spot. There’s plenty to do without ever cracking a beer (but be sure to drink lots of water if you’re hiking and sightseeing).

Click here for the full list of the top 40 best countries for sober travel.

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