When traveling, determining whether you can drink from the local water supply, in other words tap water, is always one of the first things that you should check.

While people might talk about “Bali Belly” and the “Rangoon Runs”, it is usually not the food that gives you a bad stomach. It’s the water. Of course, water is used to make food, clean salad and veggies, wash dishes, make ice, and more.


What Makes Good Tap Water?

It is important to avoid drinking tap water in places where it just isn’t safe to drink because it is contaminated with harmful substances such as lead, mercury, chlorine, and arsenic. This is the problem with tap water in countries such as Algeria, Cambodia, and Haiti. But some of the dirtiest tap water in the world is in the United States, we’re talking about you Illinois and Michigan.

In contrast, Chile has some of the purest tap water anywhere in the world. It is almost completely free of bad chemical compounds. But while locals in Santiago might drink it freely, visitors might want to think twice. The water has a high natural mineral content that can wreak havoc with your stomach if you aren’t accustomed to it. If you are staying for a couple of months, it is probably worth adapting. But if you are only staying for a few weeks, you might want to stick to bottled water.

But, to complicate matters, it is not just the water source that you need to worry about. Brazil has many excellent sources of very clean water, but it is still not recommended to drink tap water. This is because the quality of the pipe infrastructure in cities and individual homes isn’t great, so the clean water can become contaminated between where it is sourced and treated and where you turn on the tap.

With so many things to consider, you might think that it is safer to stick to bottled water in general when traveling. But, if the local tap water is safe to drink, you should definitely drink it.

Around 85% of plastic water bottles are thrown away rather than recycled. A huge volume of water bottles end up in the ocean, contributing to a “plastic smog” composed of around 171 trillion plastic particles. They also break down into microplastics, that make their way into food and water, making more of the world’s water unsafe to drink.

Plastic water bottles are an environmental disaster.


10 Countries with the Purest Drinkable Tap Water

So, of all the countries in the world, which has the purest tap water, and will you be adding any of these countries to your digital nomad destination list? Bear in mind that while we are talking about entire countries, you should always check local conditions. Are the locals drinking it?



Home of the Northern Lights and the Icelandic Viking Sagas, Iceland also has some of the purest tap water in the world. This is perhaps no surprise since around 6% of the country is covered in rivers and freshwater lakes, often fed by glaciers. It also has a small population density, which means less pressure on natural resources.

Iceland does actually have a digital nomad visa for six months renewable, but the minimum income requirement is more than US$7,000 per month. Read our guide to Iceland for digital nomads.

Greenland, which is politically part of Denmark, also has excellent water for similar reasons if you want to visit. Yes, people live there.


Switzerland and Austria

It should be no surprise that a wealthy country with excellent infrastructure and characterized by an Alpine Mountain landscape has some very good drinking water. Water is sourced from lakes, springs, and groundwater, and strict water quality procedures are in place.

Head to Switzerland for skiing in winter and walking the rest of the year where you can bathe in beautiful lakes while enjoying clean and delicious tap water. Discover the top places to visit in Switzerland.

Austria has excellent tap water for similar reasons, with water coming straight from the alps with minimal artificial intervention in terms of purifying and adding chemicals. Not only can you drink the tap water, but you can drink directly from street fountains, at least in Vienna.


Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark

The Vikings were seafaring people who knew their water, and all the former Viking nations of Europe (plus Finland, since the Finns weren’t Vikings) have great tap water.

Sweden is a land of fjords and lakes. Combine this with strict environmental policies, and Sweden has excellent tap water. While dams feed the major cities, in the countryside, many people rely on freshwater wells that are designed to be good for the environment and minimize pollution.

Norway has similarly excellent tap water, with 377 billion cubic meters sourced each year from lakes, glaciers, ponds, streams, and groundwater. However, locals are encouraged to use water economically to preserve the precious resource.

Finland actually had a major water problem until about 30 years ago due to factory residues polluting lakes and rivers. But following a concerted effort to stop water contamination, Finland now has some of the cleanest water in the world.

Finally, the seaside country of Denmark sources its tap water from deep underground reservoirs, where it is largely protected from contaminants. It is purified through sand filters before being sent to homes around the small nation.


Australia and New Zealand

A young nation with plenty of natural resources, Australia has many freshwater sources that it maintains through strict standards, monitoring, and control procedures. In some states, they even add one milligram of fluoride to the water per liter in line with medical guidelines, helping children develop stronger and healthier teeth.

But while tap water in Australia is safe and delicious, don’t forget that the center of the country is a giant desert and that it is prone to droughts. During drought seasons, while you can continue to drink the tap water, you can’t water your garden. You should also limit yourself to two-minute showers, do laundry just once a week, and flush only when “necessary”.

New Zealand joins its neighbor in having great tap water, with around 3% of the nation covered in fresh water. With a small population and an environmentally conscious government, water is managed well. Most New Zealanders choose tap water.



Canada is a land of mountains, lakes, and glaciers, so has plenty of freshwater sources to utilize for tap water. And Canadians take their tap water seriously! In Ottawa, over 125,000 quality tests are conducted annually, and in Toronto, water is tested every 4-6 hours.

Canada is a giant nation of natural (if chilly) beauty and is also very welcoming. Not only has Canada opened their borders to digital nomads, but you are free to look for work while in Canada and transition to a work visa.


Estonia and Lithuania

The Balkan countries of Estonia and Lithuania both have excellent tap water thanks to huge deposits of underground water which are fairly safe from human intervention.

Estonia also offers a digital nomad visa and has an innovative e-resident program that appeals to many digital entrepreneurs.


What About Everywhere Else?

These aren’t the only places in the world where it is safe to drink the tap water. You can drink it in the United Kingdom, Ireland, most of Europe, most of the United States, and many other places. But what can you do to minimize your reliance on bottled water where the water isn’t safe to drink? Also carry a reusable cup, as plastic cups are another major problem.

First, invest in a good quality water bottle that is convenient to carry with you. Maybe you prefer something that clips onto your backpack, or maybe something collapsable. Choose something that you will carry with you, everywhere, and fill it up with clean water at every opportunity.

In your accommodation, you can boil water before chilling it to drink. You can also carry purifiers, such as Aquatabs, or a sterilizing straw with you to clean water in emergencies. If you need a drink on the beach in a tropical country, think about getting a coconut instead. It is delicious, healthy, and the natural packaging is biodegradable.

Of course, sometimes you just need to buy a bottled water, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it as long as you are doing the right thing most of the time. But try and reuse or recycle the bottle wherever possible.