I'm from Austria and where I live it is completely normal to drink the tap water. I heard from my mum who spent some time in france and from my teachers that in countries like the US, France or Spain the tap water is not safe to drink, and if it is drinkable, then only in big cities.

But I found many lists and graphics (e.g. http://people.com/food/countries-drink-tap-water-safe/) that say that the water in these countries is drinkable. So what's not the truth?

I'm especially interested in the tap-water-situation in Ireland, both Dublin and smaller towns like Galway. Is the tap water drinkable there

  • Welcome to TSE. I can't think of anywhere in the US, France, or Spain where water from the tap supplied by a public utility is not safe to drink, but it is also true that each individual person has different sensitivities that may make them sick from drinking water that causes their traveling companion— much less the locals— no problems. Plus, sometimes it is not the water but, for example, a dislike of the local taste or smell which leads to under-hydration, which contributes to illness. As such, I don't think the question as worded is specific enough to be answerable.
    – choster
    Nov 30, 2017 at 17:47
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    The problem is that I don't know of a universal standard for "drinkable". Certainly in the US there are government standards for tap water to be safe, and with few exceptions, they are generally claimed to be met. But do those standards satisfy you? Do you know enough about water safety to be able to evaluate them? People reach different conclusions. Most people in the US feel safe drinking tap water, but some do not. How can we know which side you would fall on? Nov 30, 2017 at 17:54
  • I wouldn't put too much trust in the maps you are linking to. At least in most regions of Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria and in many regions of Serbia, tap water is safe to drink. Nov 30, 2017 at 19:18
  • Safe to drink all over Europe. Unless accidents contaminations etc.
    – Alchimista
    Dec 1, 2017 at 8:56
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    Your edit seems to show that you did not read the answers and comments given so far. Ireland is Western Europe, developed and safe. Water may not be to your taste but you should not get sick. (Might contain fluoride, which should not harm you for a couple of weeks.)
    – Willeke
    Dec 8, 2017 at 19:16

3 Answers 3


In much of the developed world and even some lesser developed countries, there is drinkable water on tap. Normally water is completely safe to drink in Canada and the USA but we do occasionally get a warning posted to avoid drinking water for certain periods of time when the processing facilities has detected an anomaly. Part of making sure tap water is drinkable is testing it regularly.

It has been a while since I have been to France but the tap water was drinkable then and so it is in all other European countries I have visited.

The WHO (World Health Organization) has guidelines for drinkable tap water and they have a website describing the state of things. Check the global map here.

  • In the past, (I think till the 1970's or so) France had areas with water that was not safe to drink, it might even have been a two different water taps. It has been changed a long time ago but warnings in (old) books and from people has not caught up.
    – Willeke
    Nov 30, 2017 at 18:04
  • When I was in Atlanta in 2007, I assumed tap water was safe to drink (at least, I didn't get any other information). However, when I tried, it tasted of chlorine so strongly that I just couldn't bring myself to drinking it.
    – Sabine
    Nov 30, 2017 at 18:10
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    There is a big difference between "it's not safe to drink" and "I don't like the taste" Nov 30, 2017 at 18:45
  • Note the map can be misleading. Brazil for instance, in most places tap water is safe to bath, clean and cooking but not to drink (in some places more due bad network maintenance). Also each country can have a different standart
    – jean
    Dec 1, 2017 at 12:33
  • The country may have it's own standard by the WHO has one.
    – Itai
    Dec 1, 2017 at 14:04

Do you mean safe to drink, or nice to drink? In southern England, the water is very hard, which gives the water a taste that a lot of people find unpleasant. However, the water is harmless.

  • The pipes, on the other hand can be made of lead in older houses. Of course the film of limescale from water helps to prevent contamination, so hard water helps in that sense.
    – origimbo
    Nov 30, 2017 at 20:07

Outside or extremely specific cases, such as Flint or post disaster (Earthquake, Hurricane, etc), the tap water in the US and Canada is perfectly safe to drink, everywhere.

Beyond that, I've found the water in Western to Central Europe perfectly safe, as well as Japan, China, the UAE, the Caribbean. Central America, except Costa Rica, would warrant some caution depending on exactly were you are. To young to remember some but I know for sure I've never gotten sick.

In Central & Southern Africa, I only drank tea/coffee (boiled) or bottled beverages. Though the hotels will probably insist the water in Capetown or Johannesburg is safe (expect the same in Mexico City).

Keep in mind, the people who live there drink the water and they haven't all expired so the water isn't necessarily dangerous. Some peoples' bodies overreact to otherwise harmless pathogens which leads to the proverbial Montezuma's Revenge.

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