Nothing can wreck your hard-earned European vacation faster than a doubt of diarrhoea or other sickness picked up from drinking non-potable water.

Potable water, also referred to as drinking water,  is defined as water safe enough for drinking and food preparation, according to Wikipedia.

drinking water in Europe

The European Commission takes potable water seriously. The European Citizens’ Initiative states that: Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!

As a result, all water in Western Europe is safe to drink. If you’re travelling to Eastern Europe, you need to check as it’s country specific. It’s worth noting that not all European countries belong to the EU and may have different standards.

It wasn’t always this way. In medieval times many people drank beer as a replacement for water since the beer was purified, whereas the water was contaminated! You won’t have that excuse today in most European countries, but I have no doubt that you’ll find no problem finding another reason why you MUST drink the beer during your vacation 😉

Finally, just because a country is listed as having non-potable, i.e. unsafe water, it doesn’t necessarily indicate polluted water, but it may contain certain pathogens that may cause intestinal issues for those who haven’t built up a tolerance to it.

For easy reference, check out the map below indicating which European countries have potable water:

Potable Water in Europe Placeholder
Potable Water in Europe

If you must drink non-potable water in an emergency, then follow these safety precautions outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Happy health and hydration during your European vacation. Bon Voyage!

Potable water research combined from:
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
European Commission

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.