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The World’s 12 Safest Countries to Visit in 2019

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Nothing can beat the thrill of discovering new places that are completely different from anywhere you have been before. But what you might enjoy less is putting your life in danger while you’re there. If you’re looking for somewhere inspiring to be on your next holiday without a safety risk, read on for our list of the best safest countries to visit in 2019.

How we chose the countries

Vision of Humanity, a part of the Institute for Economics and Peace, rates countries across three major categories to create an annual Global Peace Index (GPI). This allows them to rank countries according to how peaceful they are.

Our list of the top 12 safest countries to visit is compiled from the 30 safest countries in the world (according to GPI) and then narrowed down based on what makes a country good to visit, such as infrastructure, cultural interest, natural appeal, landmarks or attractions and ease of travel.

1. Iceland

glacier tour on jokulsarlon in iceland
Take in the stupendous view of Jokulsarlon glacier in Iceland
Skogafoss, possibly the most famous waterfall along Iceland's Ring Road
A hiker admires the awe-inspiring Skogafoss waterfall

The land of fire and ice has successfully captivated the imagination of travellers around the globe. What helps to make Iceland the next best destination for even nervous travellers is its GPI ranking. Iceland yet again takes first place on the GPI league table, for the 8th time in a row. It’s excellent infrastructure, and an extremely low crime rate only helps its case.

  • GPI rank: 1
  • Travel highlights
    • Be awed by Iceland’s dramatic otherworldly landscape of malevolent volcanoes, ethereal glaciers, majestic fjords and bubbling hot springs.
    • Get your culture fix by day in Reykjavik’s many worthwhile museums before hitting the tiles in the evening to sample its lively and sometimes boisterous nightlife.
    • Get behind the wheel and explore Iceland’s famous Ring Road. Along with the scenic views and highlights of the road trip, the country’s excellent infrastructure and the well-connected road system are sure to impress any traveller.

2. Portugal

Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world to visit
Blessed with beautiful beaches and complemented by world-class infrastructure, Portugal is a desired travel destination for many

Sharing a continent with tourism heavyweights like France, Italy and Spain, Portugal may pass under the radar for some. However, it is a place that boasts still-unspoiled beaches and rugged coastline, exciting cities such as Lisbon and Porto and a distinctive and delicious cuisine of its own. Furthermore, very favourable GPI ratings in all categories and a relatively low crime rate make Portugal one of the safest countries in Europe.

  • GPI rank: 4
  • Travel highlights
    • Explore Lisbon. Ride the Ascensor da Glória, wander the maze-like streets of the Bairro Alto, take a trip to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, marvel at one of the world’s largest oceanariums, savour delicious Portuguese cuisine – and if it all gets a bit too much, get out of town and hit the beach.
    • Spend your days basking on the yellow sand beaches that dot the coastline of the Algarve before enjoying long and leisurely dinners of delicious and inexpensive seafood.
    • For something more unusual, head to the far-flung and little-known Azores, nine volcanic islands that are mere specks of land in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. Relish in hiking, diving or whale and dolphin watching, and make sure you sample cozido das furnas, a traditional dish from the island of São Miguel cooked underground in the heat of an active volcano.

3. Japan

Kyoto is one of the most well preserved places in Asia.
Visiting Kyoto is like diving head-first into ancient Japan
Japan is one of the safest countries to visit in the world
Enjoy Tokyo's beautiful skyline while in Japan

Although relations with nearby North Korea and China may have a negative impact on Japan’s scores, it remains one of the world’s safest countries to visit, as reflected by an excellent GPI. Explore the country’s unique vibe, a fascinating juxtaposition of deeply traditional culture and relentless modernity. From the neon lights of Tokyo’s Shibuya neighbourhood to the temples of Kyoto and everything in between, sometimes it can be hard to believe that it is all part of the same country. Japan also has one of the world’s lowest crime rates, making it a place you can travel with barely a thought for your personal safety.

  • GPI rank: 9
  • Travel highlights
    • Traveling in Japan is always reliable, punctual and safe. From the world-famous Shinkansen bullet trains that run throughout the country to Tokyo’s metro system, transportation in Japan is frighteningly efficient.
    • Spend time soaking in an onsen, a traditional Japanese hot spring, to recharge your batteries ready for the next leg of your trip.
    • Japan is big on food culture. From traditional cuisine to new spin-offs, there is a host of dishes to relish on. In fact, when in Japan you could eat a different Japanese cuisine every day for a month and not repeat yourself.

4. Ireland

Ireland is listed as one of the safest countries to travel in the world
Explore the streets of Dublin on your next visit to Ireland

Ireland may not have the best weather, but it makes up for it with bucolic rolling landscapes, a proud cultural heritage and some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals you are likely to come across. It also has good GPI scores across the board, making it one of the safest countries in the world to choose for a holiday.

  • GPI rank: 10
  • Travel highlights
    • Explore the Shannon region — a part of the country that features castles, rugged Atlantic coastline and numerous picturesque villages, including Adare, arguably the most attractive in the whole country.
    • Try a pint or two of Guinness in a traditional Irish pub.
    • Enjoy the fun and atmospheric town of Galway. Visit its venerable pubs as well as many enticing places to eat.

5. Australia

Honeymoon in Australia, visit Uluru Rock
Located right at the center of Australia, Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park is truly romantic
Snorkeling is the main thing to do in Great Barrier Reef
Explore the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef
best cities in Australia Alice Springs
Alice Springs is the perfect base to explore Australia's outback
Visit the 12 Apostles on a honeymoon in Australia
12 Apostles is one of the highlights of the Great Ocean Road

There might be snakes, spiders, sharks and crocodiles, but thanks to very respectable GPI scores, Australia comfortably ranks among the safest countries to travel in the world. Famed for its outdoor lifestyle, the Great Barrier Reef and some of the most laid-back coastal towns around, Australia is a must-visit for any traveller.

  • GPI rank: 13
  • Travel highlights
    • Witness the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef. A mecca for divers, it is the most popular place in the world for people to complete their open water diving course.
    • Visit Melbourne, arguably Australia’s most trendy city. With good surfing opportunities nearby, it’s also the ideal place to sample Australia’s famous beach culture.
    • A trip to the remote Alice Springs will allow you to explore the heart of the outback. It is also possible to visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park from here to see Uluru (formerly Ayer’s Rock), although it involves a drive for several hundred kilometres!

6. Finland

Helsinki, the capital and the largest city of Finland
Spend a few days exploring the fun and friendly city of Helsinki 
Best places to see the northern lights Finland
Kuusamo in Finland is a great place for northern lights hunting

A country of timeless forests and tranquil lakes, Finland is populated by people with a love of the great outdoors. The towns are small and welcoming — even the capital is a city of only 600,000 people — and with favourable GPI scores across the board, Finland is high on the list of the safest countries to travel.

  • GPI rank: 15
  • Travel highlights
    • Steal a chance to see the haunting and mysterious Northern Lights in the far north of Finland — one of the few places in the world where you can see this stunning natural phenomenon.
    • Make Turku the jumping off point for an exploration of the Archipelago Sea, a collection of islands and islets that number in the thousands.
    • Spend at least a couple of days in Helsinki — a modern and easy-to-navigate city filled with friendly locals. It is among one of the safest capitals cities you can visit.

7. Bhutan

Bhutan is one of the most exotic places to visit in Asia.
Visit the famed Tiger's Nest monastery that rests on a cliff in Bhutan

With a policy to concentrate on ‘high-value’ tourists and charging a steep daily tariff simply to stay in the country, Bhutan has protected itself from the ravages of mass tourism. This makes it one of the least visited countries in the world, but those who do manage to travel there will find an unspoiled Himalayan kingdom that retains much of the traditional way of life. While not among the cheapest destinations, it ranks highly among the safest.

  • GPI rank: 19
  • Travel highlights
    • Clinging to the side of a mountain in gravity-defying fashion, the spectacularly-located Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest, is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. You’ll just need a good head for heights to visit.
    • The Bhutanese countryside is scattered with traditional fortresses known as dzongs, which are built according to the spiritual inspiration of a high lama and without any formal architectural plans. They are also repositories for valuable art and artifacts, and you should visit at least one or two during your trip.
    • A more unconventional choice for Himalayan trekking than northern India or Nepal, Bhutan offers some exceptional mountain trails, including the Snowman Trek, reputedly one of the hardest treks in the world.

8. Mauritius

Mauritius is one of the safest countries in the world to visit
It is impossible not to fall in love with this island country

Located in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, this island paradise of sun, sea and palm-fringed beaches has highly favorable GPI scores, making it one of the safest countries to visit for a tropical getaway.

  • GPI rank: 20
  • Travel highlights
    • Try deep-sea fishing! Unsurprisingly for an island nation, sea-based activities figure highly. Mauritius is an ideal place to try deep-sea fishing, with many species of large fish present.
    • If you don’t plan on hooking the fish and are happy just to observe them in their natural habitat, Mauritius is surrounded by safe coral reefs, making it a playground for divers.
    • If you’ve had enough of the sand and sea of the coastline, the interior also offers some challenging hiking trails that will reward you with stupendous views of the island.

9. Malaysia

Mabul in Malaysia
Mabul makes for a fabulous alternative diving site if Sipadan is not possible
Batu Caves in Malaysia
The statue of Lord Murugan is one of the biggest attractions in Malaysia

For anyone used to other countries in Southeast Asia, Malaysia can come as a surprise. One of the safest countries in the region, expect comfortable, efficient public transport, a network of modern, well-maintained roads and locals who almost all seem to speak excellent English. If you are arriving from somewhere like Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, you might even find things a little too easy!

  • GPI rank: 25
  • Travel highlights
    • Home to three major ethnic groups — Malays, Chinese and Indians — Malaysia is a country with more than its fair share of vibrant festivals. For example, head to Malacca during Chinese New Year for celebrations that are perhaps more traditional than those in China itself.
    • Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo offer an entirely different adventure. The former may be home to tribes once known as formidable head hunters while the later might provide habitat for fearsome saltwater crocodiles, but they are both still relatively safe places to travel and great for wildlife explorations or beach hunting.
    • Thanks to the blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian culinary traditions, Malaysia is a foodie’s dream. A particular highlight is Georgetown on the island of Penang, here you’ll find a wealth of restaurants as well as innumerable street food stands.

10. Chile

Ice-hiking on Glacier Grey in Patagonia
Hikers on an ice-hike trip of Glacier Grey
Moon Valley in Atacama Desert
The Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert closely resembles the surface of the moon
Easter Island in Chile is a must visit
The giant statue heads called Moai makes Easter Island in Chile a major tourist attraction
Things to do in Chile Lake District
Cycle a short stretch along the banks of Lago Llanquihue in Bariloche

Much of South America has a reputation for being a place where travellers need to keep their wits about them. However, with good GPI scores across the board and perhaps the lowest crime rate in the region, Chile is one of the safest countries to travel on the South American continent.

  • GPI rank: 28
  • Travel highlights
    • Hike through the Atacama Desert. The world’s driest region boasts attractions such as the Valley of the Moon as well as nearby Incan ruins.
    • A world away from the desert north of the country, Chilean Patagonia offers landscapes of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, lakes and forests, and is any adventure seeker’s dream.
    • Fly to Easter Island — a remote island in the Pacific Ocean renowned the world over for the enigmatic moai, colossal stone statues carved hundreds of years ago by Polynesian settlers.

11. Botswana

Botswana is perhaps the most inspiring destination in Africa
An elephant and her offspring move across the river in Chobe National Park

Choosing a destination for an African safari holiday can be a challenge. Classic options like South Africa or Kenya may offer the chance to see the continent’s iconic species in the wild, but due to levels of crime or political volatility, these countries are not always entirely safe. If you want to see Africa’s majestic wildlife with a minimum of risk, Botswana could be the ideal alternative. This is perhaps the safest destination in the region.

  • GPI rank: 29
  • Travel highlights
    • Head over to the Okavango Delta to experience one of the world’s most amazing wildlife sightings — think cheetahs, lions, and the endangered black and white rhinos.
    • For a different kind of safari set against the intense arid backdrop of the Kalahari Desert, head to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Shared with South Africa the park weaves a picture-perfect African safari amidst black-maned lions, hyenas, antelopes and cheetahs.
    • Botswana’s capital, Gaborone is relatively small, is clean and safe and boasts several attractions worth checking out. The National Museum, showcasing the nation’s culture and history, is a particular highlight. 

12. Spain

Spain attraction Ibiza
Ibiza is the sun city, it sees 10 hours of sunshine 300 days per year
Alhambra in Granada Spain
The Alhambra in Granada, Spain

The country’s southern coast may be the original package holiday destination, but there is so much more to Spain than merely the resorts of the Costa del Sol. Spain is known for is excellent food, is a geographically diverse country and has good infrastructure, boasting the longest network of motorways in Europe. It also has favourable GPI ratings, placing it among the safest places to travel in the world.

  • GPI rank: 30
  • Travel highlights
    • Go on lonely hikes into the brooding hills of Picos de Europa National Park — a wild and mountainous corner of Spain that is about as far from the popular image of Spain as it is possible to get.
    • Centred on the elegant Plaza Mayor and boasting a collection of fine sandstone buildings including an impressive cathedral, Salamanca is a friendly and unhurried town that merits at least of few days of exploration.
    • If you are looking for beaches with serene turquoise waters that are safe for everyone, the Balearics, Spain’s exquisite Mediterranean islands are an obvious choice. For those in search of nightlife, the summer months also see the island of Ibiza transformed into the party capital of Europe.

Put your worries aside and enjoy your exotic holiday without having to be too concerned about safety. As you can see from our list of the safest countries to travel around the world, there are many options that offer the possibility of exploration and excitement with minimum danger. All that remains is for you to decide where to go first.

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