Top 40 countries for a good trip
Join us as we count down the top 40 best countries for a good trip, according to our Good Trips Index.
To help make travelling responsibly less of a hassle, we pulled together seven of the definitive country-level indices that cover the main ethical issues UK holidaymakers told us were important to them when deciding where to go on holiday.
Sustainable travel. Human rights, with a separate index for both women's rights and LGBTQI+ rights. Press freedom. Animal welfare. And wellbeing and quality of life in the country.
Using the brand new list for 2023, we've pulled out the top 40 destinations for a good trip.
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40. South Africa
South Africa's highest scores are in quality of life and animal welfare – so it works out pretty well that it's such a popular destination for safaris. The country has a colourful mix of habitats, from forests to deserts and grasslands, that provide home for countless unique species beyond the lions, elephants and rhinos the country is famous for.
You've also got cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, and incredible natural landmarks like Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope – famous for the high waves that have caused many shipwrecks throughout history. Including the legendary ghost ship Flying Dutchman.
Chile also scored pretty high on animal welfare and overall it's 10 points up from its position last year, securing its position in our new top 40.
Chile is the original skinny legend. Skinny because of how long and thin it is, legendary for its wine and incredibly varied geography all wedged between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. Trek across the Valley of the Moon, walk along the top of a glacier or take in the fascinating mix of indigenous and European heritage that makes the country so unique.
Romania is actually down a few points overall from last year, but it still scored just high enough to stay in our top 40 for 2023.
This eastern European gem has a bit of everything, bordering several other equally iconic European countries and home to the year-round spookiness of Transylvania. If that's not your vibe there's also the beautiful Carpathian Mountains, the beach resorts of the Black Sea coast, and the stunning River Danube, which empties into the sea after its 1,800 mile-long journey from its source in the Black Forest.
Israel remains in the same spot as it was last year, so no changes here.
For tourism your best bet is Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Or, if you want to experience the extreme saltiness of the Dead Sea, the popular resort of Ein Bokek with its fancy spas.
Cyprus has a particularly high score in quality of life – might have something to do with the pretty much year-round sunshine and warm temperatures.
It offers ancient Greek ruins, mountainous scenery and, in winter, relatively warm temperatures - it can reach the low 20s. That makes it warm enough for days on the beach under the sun, only without the crowds.
Popular party town Ayia Napa also becomes much quieter at this time of year, so if boisterous nightlife isn't your scene it's a great opportunity to explore the resort's more traditional heritage.
35. South Korea
South Korea did pretty well on animal welfare and quality of life, securing it eight places up from its position last year. Well done!
A global leader in tech, but with a history stretching back thousands of years and countless dynasties, the best place to start your exploration is of course Seoul. The dynamic capital is the perfect contrast between old and new, where super-modern skyscrapers jostle over historic temples and palaces, and high-end shopping districts neighbour traditional markets.
Japan is up there with our highest scorers for quality of life, in part because of its healthcare and public safety.
We went to Tokyo a few years back and we loved it, so if you want to experience this chaotic, vibrant city take a look at our guide before you go.
Tokyo Travel Guide
The best place to find out everything you need to know before you travel to Japan.Read more
Argentina is up there in points for LGBTQI+ travel and is up 13 points from last year. That's the biggest jump of our top 40, a number Argentina shares with its neighbour Uruguay – more on them later.
Among its most famous exports are tango (not a drink), wine (a drink) and incredible football talent like Maradona and Messi. Buenos Aires, affectionately known as the Paris of South America, is an intoxicating mix of European and Latin American influences with some incredible architecture and a vibrant culture.
You've also got stunning natural wonders like the Iguazu Falls and the breathtaking, wildlife-filled landscapes of Patagonia.
An autonomous island nation off the east coast of China, Taiwan has actually moved down four places since last year.
But it's still safely in our top 40, so don't be put off exploring its unique blend of Chinese and Japanese heritage best experienced in the capital city of Taipei.
Bubble tea also originated in Taiwan, so if you want to experience it the traditional way then this is the place.
Italy is down four points from last year but that's ok. It's still doing pretty well.
It has faced problems in the past with overcrowding due to tourism but since the pandemic efforts have been made to preserve the country's most popular and historic destinations.
For example, there are now limits to the size and number of cruise ships that can dock in Venice. Tourists are also being encouraged to visit lesser-known regions like Tuscany or Lombardy – where you can explore the gorgeous foothills of the Lombardy Alps.
Italy Travel Guide
Italy is a country steeped in ancient history and culture. With bustling cities and stunning coastline you'll be hard pressed to choose just one place to visit!Read more
Malta is the top scorer for LGBTQI+ travel. Coincidentally, Valletta, the island's capital, is the host for 2023's Europride, which takes place in a different European city every summer.
With more than 7,000 years of history and some of the oldest ruins in the world, Malta is filled to bursting with fascinating things to do and learn, and eye-poppingly beautiful things to see, from historic cities to blissful lagoons.
It also boasts one of the mildest winters in the Mediterranean, with temperatures not dropping much below 15ºC.
Slovakia is one of our highest scorers for sustainability, which has helped it to move two points up from last year.
By focusing on renewable energy sources and encouraging eco-tourism, Slovakia is slowly making sure that its stunning natural scenery is protected for future generations. This is complemented by sustainable agriculture and conservation to ensure that the country's stunning landscapes stay that way.
Among Croatia's highest scoring areas were quality of life and sustainability.
No surprise given its absolutely stunning Adriatic coastline, peppered with pristine islands, gorgeous lagoons and the beautiful cities of Dubrovnik and Split.
It's perfect for beach breaks or exploring national parks, like Plitvice Lakes National Park, with its interconnected waterfalls. More experienced travellers might enjoy a visit to Zagreb, the capital city in the country's northwest.
27. Costa Rica
Animal welfare is high in Costa Rica and the country is up five points from last year.
The dry season in Costa Rica coincides with our winter, making it a popular time to visit as the rains of the previous season will have left the forest beautifully lush and green.
The country's national parks combine rainforests with volcanoes as well as rich and unique wildlife. In fact, the country is famous for its wildlife, which ranges from the sloth and toucan to teeny tiny frogs and high-pitched howler monkeys.
That's to say nothing of the tropical Pacific coastline, with pristine sands and shimmering blue sea all backed by dense jungle.
Uruguay got a super-high score in LGBTQI+ travel. This makes it the most gay-friendly country in South America – according to our data at least.
Visitors can expect a fusion of European, African and indigenous cultures in charming colonial towns, along with beautiful beaches and dramatic plains and plenty of national parks. The country has a big focus on environmental sustainability too, with a huge chunk of its energy coming from wind and solar power.
Slovenia sits right in the middle of Europe surrounded on all sides by other countries and with a tiny sliver of coastline on the Adriatic sea. The capital, Ljubljana, is a green haven and this probably has something to do with how well Slovenia scored in sustainability.
Green is the word here, as the city has more than 542 square metres of green space per person! There's also easy access to national forests, mountains and even wildlife – Slovenia is one of the best places to see the Eurasian brown bear in the wild.
There's also Lake Bled, a stunningly gorgeous lake in the Julian Alps overlooked by an enchanting castle.
High sustainability and animal welfare scores have secured Lithuania's place, even if it's two points down from its position last year.
The country is the southernmost of the Baltics and boasts enchanting landscapes, a charming medieval capital and one of Europe's best basketball teams. You heard correctly. Basketball is the national sport of Lithuania. That's a fun fact you can put in your back pocket for the next pub quiz.
In the same position as last year, the USA scored quite well in quality of life but particularly low for women's rights for some reason.
Famous for all things big, the USA is jam-packed full of things to see and do. Think big cities, big brands and big cars. Whether national parks, monuments or one of its 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are more your thing you're guaranteed a memorable trip.
We've got plenty of tips and guides for some of the USA's most popular cities – take a look.
USA Travel Guide
Famous for all things big, the USA is jam-packed full of things to see and do. Think big cities, big brands and big cars.Read more
22. Czech Republic
Or Czechia as it's also known. It's moved down one point since last year but still has a pretty healthy position just outside our top 20.
Prague is one of the big draws here, traditionally one of the most popular destinations in Europe for a city break. Iconic castles, bridges and squares alongside the world's oldest still-working astronomical clock, in case you want to know what time it is on Mars. Pretty sure that's what it does.
The country is equally popular for its beer, as it's the place where pilsner was created. Beer gardens, pubs and breweries are around every corner.
Latvia lies on the Baltic Sea with its capital, Riga, overlooking the gulf of the same name. This magical city is known for its art nouveau architecture, with intricate sculptures and artistic carvings adorning many of the buildings.
The country's highest score was in sustainability, and it's super easy to have a green break there. They're really into more eco travel options, with loads of eco-friendly accommodation options to pick from and a focus on outdoor activities that minimise the impact on the environment – think hiking, kayaking, cycling or some laid-back birdwatching.
France scored fairly high on sustainability despite moving down one point from last year overall.
They've made efforts in adapting aspects of their culture and industry to more sustainable methods. Ranging from winegrowing to fine dining, and architecture to fashion – pretty much everything that makes France French!
There's plenty to do in France if you want a sustainable trip too. It's one of those places that has a bit of everything – gorgeous beaches, historic cities, mountains and countryside.
It also has a total of 11 national parks, which cover 60,000 square kilometres. Plus it boasts some of the greenest cities in the world, including Nantes, Dijon and Grenoble, all of which have been shortlisted for the European Green Capital Award. There's also Lyon, which was named French Diversity Capital in 2019.
Paris Travel Guide
Paris, the capital of France, is a vibrant mix of fascinating history and cosmopolitan modernity.Read more
Our neighbours across the Channel are down two points from last year but still just in the top 20.
Beer, chocolate, the seat of the European Parliament – Belgium has it all. Whether you're exploring the historic landmarks of Brussels, the romantic canals of Bruges or just filling your belly with waffles, fries and beer.
Quality of life was the highest scoring area in Spain, but we're into the top 20 now so it's high scores all around really.
Spain is a hugely popular destination for UK travellers and it's easy to see why. From the cultural hotspots on the mainland, to the volcanic Canary Islands and the stunning beaches of the Balearics. Spain has everything you need for every kind of holiday, whether you're celebrating pride in Barcelona or wandering the romantic streets of Seville.
Being one of the most popular holiday spots in Europe, Spain is on a mission to preserve its environment for future visitors. Part of this is promoting ecotourism as an alternative to the typical fly and flop holiday. Next time you're planning a trip away, why not opt to stay in a converted farmhouse or convent instead? Smaller, independent places like that are a great way to support the local economy and immerse yourself in the culture.
Spain Travel Guide
From the cultural hotspots on the mainland, to the volcanic Canary Islands and the stunning beaches of the Balearics - Spain has everything you need for every kind of holiday.Read more
Australia's highest scores were in quality of life and LGBTQI+ travel. What a combo.
With plenty of unique (and terrifying) wildlife, eye-popping scenery and modern cities, there's no shortage of things to do.
For pride, Sydney is the place to go, with the renowned Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras taking place every year in February/March time. It's the biggest pride event in Oceania, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year, and has been host to plenty of iconic performers over the years – Boy George, the sisters Minogue, Loreen, Kim Petras, Dua Lipa, Courtney Act…
The city will also be hosting WorldPride in 2023, so now might be a good time to plan your visit.
Luxembourg got the highest possible score in quality of life. Carry on reading while I move there.
This teeny, tiny country is wedged between France, Belgium and Germany and even though it's small, it has a great deal to offer travellers. From the extravagant palaces and medieval towns to the rolling countryside and forests of the Ardennes region.
Good scores all around for the Netherlands, with its famous fields of flowers, delicious cheeses and of course the iconic capital, Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular destinations in Europe as millions of people are drawn to the laid-back culture, hundreds of museums, galleries, the coffee shops and canals.
We went and we loved it. So much so we wrote a guide.
Amsterdam Travel Guide
But before you head off on your Amsterdam city break, here's the lowdown on all the city's hidden gems, like where to get the best food and proper bicycle etiquette.Read more
Down from its position in the top 10 last year, but still scoring pretty well overall, Estonia did best in sustainability.
It's easy to be green in Estonia, especially when everything is so close together. Travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, so it's a good thing that in most Estonian cities you can get around on foot. If you do need to get around a bit quicker, public transport is efficient and electric. In Tallinn, the transport network is free for city residents and those visiting for certain events.
There are plenty of ways to make your visit here low impact too, with a bunch of eco-themed activities to take part in. Take a walk through the country's unique wetland and bogs, or forage for berries and mushrooms with an expert guide. You'll have a choice of green hotels as well – just keep an eye out for the Green Key label, which is only awarded to those that follow a strict set of rules.
13. United Kingdom
We moved two places up from last year, and this is almost certainly because of our Good Trips Index helping everyone have a much better holiday.
UK Short Breaks
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Right in the middle of Europe, surrounded on all sides by other countries, Austria did the best in quality of life and sustainability.
Explore the magical streets of Vienna, the alpine beauty of the Tyrol or live your The Sound of Music fantasy in the city of Salzburg, where the von Trapp family lived.
A high scorer for LGBTQI+ rights and quality of life, our ranking of Portugal also covers the island of Madeira - a popular spot for a bit of winter sun.
Roll out your towel on the golden beaches of the Algarve, perfect for a relaxing holiday in the sun. Or soak up a bit of culture in Lisbon, one of Europe's oldest cities. You could even admire Gustave Eiffel's iconic architecture in the city of Porto, or take a cruise along the River Douro famous for its endless vineyards.
Up three points from last year, Ireland scored highest in human freedom.
We went to Dublin a few years ago and had an absolutely wonderful time.
It may be small for a capital city, but it more than makes up for it in character and atmosphere. At just an hour's flight from London or a seven-hour ferry from Liverpool, it has long been popular with tourists looking to get away for a good time in one of the city's hundreds of pubs and bars.
Dublin Travel Guide
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Canada's best score was in LGBTQ+ travel and they've also made huge strides in sustainability.
Just under 80% of Canada's energy comes from renewable resources – which is comforting to know since it's the world's second-largest country. Filled with so much biodiversity, from dense forests to lofty, snow-crested mountains, it's an excellent choice for an eco adventure.
A great way to see a big chunk of the country is to travel by train, and if you really want to treat yourself why not book a cabin on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer? This luxury train is one of the best ways to experience the Canadian wilderness, allowing you to admire the jaw-dropping scenery during the day and staying in a comfy hotel at night. Plus it allows you to visit some of Canada's most popular destinations, like Vancouver or Banff, without hiring a car or taking a coach.
The highest scores for Germany were animal welfare and quality of life and it's up two points from last year.
The capital is a cultural hub with a fascinating history, many remnants of which still pepper the streets – the ruins of the Berlin Wall being a famous example. Outside of the capital you've got countless other historic cities like Nuremberg, Hamburg and the beautiful Dresden.
That's not to mention some absolutely incredible natural landscapes like the Black Forest and the Rhine Gorge.
7. New Zealand
New Zealand has moved further up our top 10 since last year, scoring particularly well on human freedom and quality of life.
Something that sets New Zealand apart from the other countries on this list is its relative lack of pollution. There are a few reasons for this but the main being the respect and dedication the citizens have to preserving the beauty of their home. When you combine that with low population density you get a pretty clean environment.
As it happens New Zealand only contributes about 0.2% of the world's total greenhouse emissions and is fully committed to a carbon neutral future. Plus, around a third of the land is protected or part of the country's 13 national parks – so there are plenty of opportunities for a green holiday there.
Quality of life and sustainability were the highest scorers here. In fact, Finland got the highest score possible for sustainability.
The country relies mainly on hydroelectric power, has made huge efforts to preserve its vast forests, and even puts emphasis on sustainable travel – providing eco accommodation and creating initiatives that preserve the country's natural beauty for everyone.
The capital, Helsinki, is the perfect springboard for exploring, and there's also the snowy reaches of Lapland in the north where Santa is available for appearances during the winter.
Big scores across the board but with particular attention given to women's rights, quality of life and sustainability.
Iceland is one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the world, and the country wants to make sure it stays that way. It has ambitious goals to be carbon neutral by 2040 and free of fossil fuels by 2050. It's almost there too – thanks to a combination of hydropower and geothermal energy, 90% of Iceland's energy needs are met by renewable sources!
They're also working on removing excess carbon – using technology to suck it out of the atmosphere, store it safely underground and then dissolve it. Just don't ask us to explain how. Many of the attractions in Iceland revolve around the island's natural beauty and bountiful renewable energy sources, many of which come from the volcanic rumblings constantly happening underground.
Iceland Travel Guide
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Best in the world for women's rights and press freedom, and up there in sustainability as well, having made a huge commitment to going fossil fuel-free.
Currently 95% of the country's energy comes from hydropower and pretty soon the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be outlawed. In fact, Norway has the biggest market for electric vehicles in Europe.
One of the country's biggest assets, especially when it comes to tourism, is the fabulously pristine and stunningly beautiful fjords. These coastal inlets and the jaw-dropping scenery that often accompanies them attract travellers in their millions every year. Many of them visit aboard cruise ships, which is why Norway will only be allowing electric ferries from 2026 to keep the waters as clean as possible.
Of course, large cruise ships will still be able to visit, however this comes with higher tax on emissions. They are also looking into ways they can guide ships into the fjords using electric-powered tug boats, effectively cutting emissions to zero while in the fjords.
Down from its number one spot last year, but fresh from yet another Eurovision win (is there anything they can't do?), Sweden still holds the highest score for sustainability.
Sweden definitely understood the assignment when it comes to sustainability. In fact, Stockholm was the first city to win the European Green Capital by the EU in 2010, and they were the first country to set up an environmental protection agency way back in 1967. They've been on it since before sustainability was cool.
The country is on track to be completely fossil fuel free by 2045, and it has plenty of sustainable travel options too. Go dog sledding in the Arctic Circle, go camping out in the wilderness, or even enjoy a city break in Stockholm or Gothenburg.
Switzerland got the highest scores possible in human freedom, animal welfare and quality of life. That's what they call a hat trick.
It's high up in the Alps so the scenery is famously awe-inspiring, with many of the cities set against the backdrop of mountain peaks on the shores of pristine glacial lakes. Excellent healthcare, a good education system and efficient public transport all go towards improving the quality of life score, but the biggest contributor is probably the chocolate. Imagine being that close to Swiss chocolate all the time.
You heard it here first. Denmark is officially the best country in the whole word (according to our data anyway). With high scores in all categories, it's the best place to live for every kind of person and animal.
We've been, and we particularly liked our time in Copenhagen which was filled with palaces, museums and attractions and parks. Also the pastries. It's also great because you can explore pretty much all of it by bike, helping you cut down on your carbon footprint while you're there.
Take a look at our full guide to learn more about this incredible city.
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