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.
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: