Most people love to travel, but we all have different priorities that influence how we choose a vacation destination and arrange our itineraries. One jet setter might care about how clean the beaches are in a vacation hot spot, while another craves the local cuisine above all else.
But there is one factor that probably unites us all: The safety and security of a country, especially in this era when we hear all too often of tourist scams and terrorist attacks abroad. To help address these concerns, a new report pinpoints the safest places in the world to travel.
The World Economic Forum compiled a “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report” for 2017, and there’s a lot of data that is layered into this report. Some of the data analyzes how smoothly the airports run. Other scientific metrics evaluate the beauty of landmarks. Even the number of ATMs that are easily accessible to tourists is consindered. Based on all of the factors, a score is assigned to each country. Here, you can find the 12 best countries in the world to visit, according to the report.
But the report also breaks out subsets of data, including safety and security. Several indicators factor into these rankings, including terrorism incidence rates, how reliable police are in the countries, homicide rates and the cost of crime and violence on businesses, among other factors.
For those who rank safety as a top priority, but also love traveling the world, know this: Safe doesn’t have to mean boring. There’s plenty to do and see in these top-scoring countries.
Here are the 12 safest countries to visit, according to the 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. (Notably absent from the top countries is the United States, which ranks No. 84, below Benin and above Ecuador).
When it comes to Western Europe, France, Switzerland and Germany tend to draw the bulk of tourists. But Luxembourg has some gems, including the Notre-Dame Cathedral and a gorgeous hiking trail called the Mullerthal Trail that winds through the Mullerthal Region, which is known as “Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland.”
Overall rank: No. 28
Already been to Spain and Italy? Put Portugal on your list for your next European trip. Here you can choose your own adventure, exploring hilltop castles, drinking vino in the famous vineyards, lazing on the Algarve’s beaches or trying the country’s famed sardines.
Overall rank: No. 14
You don’t have to choose between desert or beach here. You can spend one day along the Persian Gulf and the next buggying in the sand dunes. The Museum of Islamic Art is located in Qatar as well.
Overall rank: No. 47
About 987,000 visitors flock to this East African country every year, according to the report. A must-visit for all tourists: Volcanoes National Park, the forested home of mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.
Overall rank: No. 97
World-renowned skiing in the Alps, gourmet chocolates and famous spas? This indulgent trifecta certainly makes Switzerland a draw for tourists.
Overall rank: No. 10
An outdoor lover’s paradise because of its great fishing and hiking, Norway also has some cool historical sites vying for your attention. Among them? The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo that’s flush with archaeological finds and immaculately preserved ships from the Viking era.
Overall rank: No. 18
It’s as though you can feel the buzz of the financial and shipping industries in this fluourishing tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Here you’ll find luxe resorts, public gardens, temples (including one said to house one of Buddha’s teeth), a world-famous rainforest zoo with the must-see red river hogs, beaches and theme parks. You’ll also get to sample plenty of delish Chinese and Indian food in this cultural melting pot.
Overall rank: No. 13
5. Hong Kong SAR
Planning a trip to Hong Kong? You might want to do so around one of its epic festivals or events, which range from large-scale celebrations like the Chinese New Year to the Marvel 10K, when superheros take over the city.
Overall rank: No. 11
Mountains, desert, coastlines—Oman has a diverse landscape that will make you feel like you’re getting three vacations in one. You can go on a dolphin-watching excursion and relax on serene beaches in Muscat, or head north to Al-Sawadi beach, which is covered with gorgeous shells at low tide.
Overall rank: No. 66
Tourism is booming in Iceland, and we surmise that’s partly because of the relatively cheap flights you can get to the country coupled with swoon-worthy photos shared all over social media of the Blue Lagoon.
Overall rank: No. 25
2. United Arab Emirates
Like to play it safe, but also crave adventure? Put Dubai on your radar. While it’s known for it’s over-the-top architecture like the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall (which makes Minnesota’s Mall of America look like a strip mall), Dubai is also an adventurer’s paradise. Let the desert be your playground: You can go skydiving, para-motoring and get a glimpse of gazelles sprinting through the sand from the aerial view of your hot-air balloon.
Overall rank: No. 29
And the safest country for travelers goes to … Finland! If you’re traveling with children, know this: Santa is from Finland (maybe just his workshop is at the North Pole?) and you can visit him in his office throughout the year in Rovaniemi. Also, if you’re looking for a relaxing escape, put the new Allas Sea Pool on your itinerary. Saunas are a huge part of the Finnish culture and this sauna is a serene oasis in the center of the city.
Overall rank: No. 33