Many cities feature beautiful buildings, clean paved streets, and a welcoming atmosphere. However, one important aspect that we often neglect to analyze on our travels is the city’s water quality. After all, it’s crucial to our health to ingest water free from harmful chemicals or pathogens!
Although it’s generally a good idea not to drink from the tap of an unfamiliar city, there are some places in the world where the water is sparkling clean and safe to drink. Keep reading for a list of cities featuring water of the best quality! If the city you’re visiting isn’t one of these, make sure you do thorough research before drinking anything that isn’t bottled!
UPDATE: 2023/02/06 18:56 EST BY AARON SPRAY
More Of The Cities With The Cleanest Water
Asking whether tap water is safe to drink is one of the first questions anyone asks when visiting a new city or country. This article was expanded with more cities where the water is safe to drink - as well as a couple of countries. These countries have some of the cleanest potable water in the world - so one can be confident the water is extremely clean in all of their cities.
13 Copenhagen (Denmark)
Copenhagen is a beautiful city in Denmark known for being home to the famous Tivoli Gardens as well as gorgeous canals and harbor. However, another amazing aspect of the city lies in its drinking water. In fact, the drinking water is so clean and good tasting that the city doesn’t add any amount of chlorine or other purifying chemicals!
The secret behind the water lies in strict daily quality controls to ensure perfectly safe H2O. Furthermore, Copenhagen is strictly against plastic waste and has put up a plethora of free public water fountains all over the city. If you visit the gorgeous capital of Denmark, be sure to toss the plastic bottles and opt for fresh, free water instead!
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12 Reykjavik (Iceland)
Reykjavik is a historical gold mine featuring countless museums and natural sites focused on their Viking history. In addition to preserving ancient culture, the officials of Reykjavik also maintain very stringent quality control of their water in order to guarantee its residents' safety and health.
Additionally, 95 percent of the water comes from springs in the ground anyway, so there aren't any chances of pollution compared to river water. Tests have concluded that Icelandic water, in general, does not contain harmful amounts of chlorine, calcium, or nitrate. Even so, tap water is very well monitored to eliminate any possible chances of contamination. Bottoms up!
11 Nuuk (Greenland)
In addition to featuring a gorgeous seaside landscape of colorful houses and amazing nature, Nuuk also provides clean, safe water for their residents. Although there are programs to provide clean water sourced from icebergs, the majority of the supply is collected from lakes and rivers with regular monitoring and controls.
The government of Greenland is overall very involved in not only quality control but regular inspection of the control plants to ensure that there’s no foul play. The result is a ready supply of fresh, clean water for both residents and visitors to enjoy! Although bars and alcohol, in general, are rare in Nuuk, you can bet that you’ll have access to a vast supply of safe, thirst-quenching water!
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10 Helsinki (Finland)
Known for clean air and beautiful, untouched nature, Helsinki is already an (albeit cold) paradise. However, they’ve also managed to provide extremely high-quality tap water to all of their residents. Collected from Lake Päijänne, the harvesting of the water is described as both ecological and cost-efficient, saving the city from mountains of plastic waste.
The Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority takes the subject of water very seriously and maintains daily monitoring of the water quality. Not only does tap water meet the strict standards for chemical and microbiological limits, but it also appeals to the senses as some of the freshest water in the world.
9 Munich (Germany)
Aside from the infamous beer during Oktoberfest, Munich is also known for maintaining surprisingly clean tap water. In fact, according to the German Consumer Organization, the tap water found in Munich is actually much healthier than bottled water! It contains more minerals and, of course, is way more environmentally friendly.
Citizens are encouraged to fill their bottles from the tap instead of creating plastic waste, and you can rest assured of the water’s safety and quality. In fact, one known source of Munich’s water is from the Alps, where the mountain springs are known to be fresh and clear. Even so, the water goes through vigorous filtration processes to guarantee the removal of any harmful pathogens while keeping the minerals.
8 Oslo (Norway)
Norway is already home to one of the popular higher-end water brands, Voss. However, Oslo (and other cities) also feature impressively clean tap water, as well. Due to the country’s focus on hydropower, tap water in the capital city of Oslo has been known to be always safe to drink.
In fact, one report ranked Oslo’s water cleanliness to be 94 out of 100, which is astonishingly high on the scale. The reason behind the safe and clean water in Oslo (and Norway) is that the government plays a huge role in constantly monitoring and maintaining water quality. If you’re in Oslo, make sure to bring a reusable water bottle to fill up instead of purchasing plastic bottles!
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7 Bern (Switzerland)
Aside from creating amazing inventions such as the Swiss Army Knife and Velcro, Switzerland is also home to cities such as Bern, which has some of the best water in the world. About 40 percent of the water comes from natural springs, such as ones found in the Alps.
These mountainous springs are self-purifying, seeping through layers of rock similar to groundwater. Even so, cities such as Bern practices further treatment of both spring water and groundwater. Several reservoirs can be found around the city that further purifies spring water as well as transfer it to all household pipes in a quick, cheap, and ecologically effective manner.
6 Stockholm (Sweden)
Although the lakes in Sweden had been the victim of acidification, the country has made advancements since then to purify the water. The water supply in the city of Stockholm is the result of all the hard work, receiving a certification of quality by the ISO in 2017, stating that the water is of high and consistent quality.
The secret lies in purifying the lake water through several stages, incorporating both mechanical and chemical methods to remove any pollutants and improve the overall taste of the water. Don’t be concerned if it’s slightly salty, though; it could mean that the water is rich in minerals.
5 Toronto (Canada)
Toronto is a beautiful city in Ontario, Canada, home to the infamous CN Tower and plenty of other attractions. In addition to maintaining a beautiful city, the officials also keep a tight grip on the quality of the tap water. In fact, tests are run on drinking water once every 6 hours to guarantee safety and taste!
Even without constant inspections, the water collected from Lake Ontario must pass through a rigorous test of mechanical and chemical filters in order to be admitted to the supply. The result is totally safe tap water that tastes clean and remains abundant. Since the water is thoroughly tested for chemical debris and bacteria, you can rest assured about drinking Toronto’s water.
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4 Des Moines (USA)
Ranked by Forbes as the top clean water city of the United States, this Iowa city surpasses the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards by far, with extremely low levels of bacteria, lead, haloacetic acid, and turbidity in comparison to its competitors. The secret is simply a rigid, tightly run filtration system from the second the water is harvested from the Raccoon River and Des Moines River. In fact, automatic nitrate detectors are installed within the rivers to allow constant monitoring of mineral levels. The website is updated every few days so that everyday citizens can be in the know for various chemical readings!
3 Austin, Texas
Also, according to Forbes, the second-best city in the United States is the capital of Texas. Note that this information could be out of date as the report was released in 2008, and a lot can change in 14 years. But still, go to the Lone Star State's "Live Music Capital of the World," and one should be greeted with some of the best potable water in the country. In the 2000s, Austin was noted for being among the top 10 metropolitan statistical areas for the lowest levels of lead, turbidity, and haloacetic acid.
2 New Zealand
Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
Yes, New Zealand is a country and not a city, but as a unity state, it can exercise very strict and uniform regulations for its drinking water. This means anyone can rest assured no matter what city in New Zealand one is visiting. The stunning country has plentiful water resources to draw from. The drinking water regulations in New Zealand are some of the strictest in the world. No one needs to bother buying bottled water in New Zealand (bottled water is surprisingly expensive there, anyway).
Green powerful bright aurora above igloo house in Finland
Finland is also not a city and its capital city, Helsinki, has already been listed. But Finland as a whole gets a special mention here as it is ranked by waterdefense.org as having the best water in the world. This means that people can relax as they travel anywhere in Finland with the confidence that the water will be great. Most of the drinking water in Finland comes from the country's 168,000 lakes (with the rest coming from tributaries and rivers).