Easy adventure travel: 12 best safe countries for active holidays

Mar 19, 2021 BY Luke Rees

Do you want an adventurous holiday just without difficult logistics, in your face locals or less safe conditions? Well lucky for you we have pulled together the 12 best safe countries for active holidays. These destinations all offer easy adventure travel while still providing plenty of thrills.

New Zealand adventure capital Queenstown from Bob's Peak Wikimedia CC image by Lawrence Murray

12 best safe countries for active holidays

What is safe and easy adventure travel?

Before we get started I feel we should define what we mean by ‘safe’ and ‘easy’. Both of these terms are highly subjective. What I consider easy travel would be difficult for my less adventurous friends. Likewise, what I consider to be safe is wildly different to what my mum considers to be an acceptable risk.

So for this article about the best safe countries for active holidays we are looking at each destination relative to others in the same region. The idea is to pick out the gems where you can have an adventure holiday, but risks and hassle are both minimised.

Being an action sport and adventure travel website what you can do in each destination is key. So we are looking for countries with a diverse range of activities that are easily accessible. Now don’t forget your safety will also be influenced why the activities you choose to do. Also we are not factoring natural disasters into this article.

Iceland one of the top 5 European off-road adventures Royalty free image from Pxfuel

With that in mind, it’s worth adding that nowhere is 100% safe. Covid19 is affecting countries worldwide, so travel risks are currently different to normal (what this post is based on). However, it is clear that some countries are safer than others, plus some destinations are much better set up for travel and far less hassle for tourists.

Being a Brit I would always use the FCDO (formerly FCO) travel advice as a gauge for how risky a destination is. While none of the countries on this list are high risk, it’s always worth checking the latest travel advice, particularly during the Covid19 Pandemic.

Entry requirements and Visas

Part of easy adventure travel is seamless entry into a country. If getting a visa requires weeks of advance notice, a visit to an embassy or an extortionate fee then it is not easy to visit.

Entry requirements vary depending on your country of origin, and in some instances where else you have visited. Being British, we are basing this article on entry requirements for UK residents. But these are mostly the same for Europeans, American’s, Aussies, Kiwis, and Canadians – so it is a good base.

easy adventure travel screenshot from Byevisa-com

It is worth checking out the likes of Byevisa.com. They offer electronic visas to more than 50 countries that you can arrange online in just a few clicks. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, New Zealand to Nepal and UK to UAE their easy to use website will help you seamlessly arrange a visa.

Best safe countries for active holidays

To choose the safest countries we consulted the Global Peace Index and picked two from each region that are adventurous and easy to travel in. For example, despite being very safe Singapore missed out as it is mainly a city with very little adventure. And Bhutan, despite being safe and adventurous, missed out as their visas are restricted and expensive.

Easy adventure travel in Africa

Let’s start with Africa. Not only does it embody adventure and exploration, but alphabetically it is also the first continent. Obviously parts of Africa are rather dangerous. However, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Ghana, Senegal and Madagascar all just missed out on this list offering safe, easy and adventurous holidays.

Rwanda

Rwanda comes 83rd in the global peace index, but is often described as the safest country in Africa. The genocide of 1994 prompted a rebuilding of the nation for the better. In 2017 the World Economic Forum ranked Rwanda as the 9th safest country in the world. As Africa goes it is low on hassle and high on friendly, helpful locals.

easy adventure travel screenshot from Byevisa-com

Plus for a small country there are plenty of adventures to be had such as caving, paramotoring and canopy walks. Safari is high on most visitors wish list and includes hiking to track mountain gorillas. But there is also good kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding on Lake Kivu – the largest African lake without crocodiles or hippos.

Know as the country of 1000 hills there is plenty to explore on bike or foot. The popular 10 day, 227 km Congo Nile Trail takes in a range of environments. There are also nine volcanoes (three active) that form the 4,507m Virunga Massif with great day hikes and overnight treks with camping.

Key Rwanda adventure travel info

  • Activities in Rwanda: Safari, gorilla treks, hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, SUP, paramotoring, caving
  • Why is Rwanda safe and easy? A stable, well run African nation with low crime, great infrastructure, clean cities, friendly people and minimal hassle.
  • More info: www.visitrwanda.com

Seychelles

The Seychelles do not appear in the Global Peace Index because their population of around 100,000 is too small to qualify. But this Indian Ocean archipelago to the north east of Madagascar has become famous for luxury holidays and has the highest GDP of any African nation.

Easy adventure travel surfing in the seychelles image courtesy of VisitSeychelles Facebook page by knighttime_(IG)

Part of the reason it’s included in this article as one of the best safe countries for active holidays is the Seychelles response to the Covid19 Pandemic. They have already vaccinated the majority of the adult population and as of March 2021 the Seychelles are open for tourism.

There is world class scuba diving and surfing to enjoy plus other water sports like sailing, kayaking, SUP etc. On the larger islands, including Mahe, there is good hiking and biking into the mountainous interiors plus some rock climbing to enjoy. While known for luxury and honeymoons the the Seychelles also offer easy adventure holidays.

Key Seychelles adventure travel info

  • Activities in Seychelles: Scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, cycling, sea kayaking, SUP, sailing, climbing
  • Why is Seychelles safe and easy? The economy relies on luxury tourism, so the population are keen to keep guests coming and to make every visit very special.
  • More info: www.seychelles.travel

Safe countries for active holidays in Asia (inc Middle East)

The best safe countries for active holidays in Asia are among the safest worldwide, but the least safe are among the most dangerous. Not included below but considered pretty safe (although varying degrees of easy!) are Bhutan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Japan snowboard holiday in Hokkaido Photo by Antti Hentinen cropped

Asia includes most of the Middle East with some of the planets least safe countries. But not all of the region. In the Middle East Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan and Oman are considered the safest destinations.

Japan

Ninth in the Global Peace Index, people in Japan are so polite it is almost off-putting. The biggest challenge is the language barrier, particularly in places where signs are not in English as the Japanese alphabet is bewildering to a newcomer. That said people are very helpful when you ask.

Japan is also incredible for action sports and activities. As this guide to activities in Japan shows, pretty much every activity you can do elsewhere can also be done in Japan. The winters are great for skiing and snowboarding in Japan with hundreds of ski areas and some of the best snow on the planet.

In the summer the same mountains are good for hiking and biking but also white water rafting and so much more. On the coast there is world class surf, diving, kiteboarding, windsurfing and sailing. It’s worth noting that the sub-tropical south has completely different climate to the north.

12 best safe countries for active holidays Mountain biking in Japan Flickr CC image of by musumemiyuki

Key Japan adventure travel info

  • Activities in Japan: Everything! Skiing, snowboarding, scuba diving, surfing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, road cycling, kitesurfing, windsurfing and so much more
  • Why is Japan safe and easy? As one of the most peaceful countries in the world Japan is exceptionally safe for visitors and very welcoming.
  • More info: www.japan.travel

Malaysia

While Singapore is the safest place in Asia it is not good for adventure. Fortunately, next door is Malaysia which is full of activities. I have been to Malaysia a few times and to me it is like a toned down, more westernised version of Thailand. The food is incredible with a mix of Thai, Malay, Chinese and Indian giving the best variety in Asia.

There is spectacular scuba diving in Sipadan, the Perenthian Islands, and Tioman Island. While there are good adventures to be had on the Malay peninsula a visit to Borneo is where the country really excels. In both Sabah and Sarawak you’ll find jungle trekking and safaris, coastal kayaking, caving, and much more.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, is well worth the effort. Not only are the views stunning but you can try Via Ferra,,ta near the peak. Back down on the coast from November to March you can kite and windsurf in Malaysian waters.

Guide to the best Malaysian scuba diving in Sipadan Flickr CC image of Barracuda Point by No dust

Key Malaysia adventure travel info

  • Activities in Malaysia: Scuba diving, surfing, hiking, trekking, kitesurfing, windsurfing, safari, caving, Via Ferrata and much more.
  • Why is Malaysia safe and easy? As an old British colony English is widely spoken and the country is very westernised with minimal hassle for tourists.
  • More info: www.malaysia.travel

Easy adventure travel in Europe

Unlike Asia and Africa most of Europe is considered safe and is very easy to travel around. In fact six of the top ten and 21 of the top thirty countries in the Global Peace Index are in Europe.

Iceland

Top of the Global Peace Index and an incredibly adventurous, Iceland is one of the best safe countries for active holidays. The people are friendly, holidays are hassle free and out of the entire world it is the place where bad things are least likely to happen. On the downside it is expensive.

Iceland one of the best safe countries for active holidays Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in iceland Max Pixel royalty free image

We don’t have space to summarise everything you could try in Iceland, but you can pretty much do every extreme sport and outdoor activity you could wish. From skiing and snowboarding, to surfing and snowkiting, to snowmobiling and scuba diving – and that is just some of the activities beginning with S!

Hiking, biking, 4×4, climbing, kayaking, rafting – you name it you can do it. Check out these summer activities in Iceland and the best outdoor activities in Iceland for much more detail and plenty of ideas.

Key Iceland adventure travel info

  • Activities in Iceland: Everything! Skiing, snowboarding, scuba diving, surfing hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, ice climbing, 4×4, camping and so much more.
  • Why is Iceland safe and easy? It is considered to be the safest country on earth.
  • More info: www.visiticeland.com

Portugal

Appearing in third spot on the Global Peace Index, Portugal offers easy adventure travel in a safe and sophisticated country. With some of the best weather in Europe, well developed infrastructure great food and a friendly vibe Portugal is the perfect holiday destination.

Where to paraglide in Portugal Serra do Larouco in Montalegre wikimedia CC image by Turismo En Portugal

And fortunately it is blessed with some of the best surf on the planet. Surfers, kiteboarders and windsurfers flock to the coast for reliable wind and impressive swells. Add to that stunning coasts, inland national parks and mountainous areas and there are many trails for hikers and bikers.

There is also excellent paragliding in Portugal and very good dropzones to skydive. Coasteering and canyoning are both possible and popular. Kayakers and paddle boarders will find plenty to keep them interested in the more sheltered waters and there are plenty of other activities to try.

Key Portugal adventure travel info

  • Activities in Portugal: Pretty much everything except winter sports! Kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing, hiking, biking, skydiving, paragliding, canyoning, kayaking, SUP, coasteering and so much more.
  • Why is Portugal safe and easy? Low crime, friendly, super safe and fairly cheap by European standards. As the closest country to the UK on this list, Portugal is an easy country to visit.
  • More info: www.visitportugal.com

Best safe countries in North America (Inc. Caribbean and Central America)

North America is not just Canada, United States, Mexico and the often forgotten about Greenland. The continent also includes the Caribbean and Central America all the way down to Panama.

Mont Tremblant Quebec the Best east Canada ski resort Image courtesy of tremblant.ca

The USA comes 121st (out of 163) in the Global Peace Index, so it doesn’t make the list. But there are near misses for Bahamas, Nicaragua, Greenland, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Canada

With just four people per square kilometre the population density of Canada certainly helps to keep people friendly and crime low. It comes sixth on the Global Peace Index and is renowned for warm welcomes even in the cold of the winter.

It is also one of the best countries if you are looking for adventure with everything from skydiving to scuba diving and climbing to canoeing. The winters are all about snow sports and ski resorts in Canada are some of the best on the planet. There is also world leading heli-skiing, back country adventures, dog sledding expeditions and snowmobiling safaris to enjoy.

When the snow melts you’ll find some of the best trails on the planet! There is everything from easy walks and bike rides to mountaineering and full on downhill mountain biking. The coasts and lakes are popular with water sports and everything from kitesurfing or kayaking with orcas and wakeboarding or windsurfing with whales is possible.

You'll find easy adventure travel in Canada Pixabay royalty free image from Canada

Key Canada adventure travel info

  • Activities in Canada: Everything! Skiing, snowboarding, kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing, hiking, biking, skydiving, paragliding, kayaking heli-ski, dog sledding – the list could go on.
  • Why is Canada safe and easy? The friendly Canadian attitude combined with great outdoors makes Canada one of the best safe countries for active holidays.
  • More info: www.canada.travel

Costa Rica

Located between Nicaragua and Panama near the bottom of the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica has both a Pacific and Caribbean coast. It is politically stable, with a friendly, tourist focussed population and is a safe option in this part of the world.

The pacific coast is peppered with great waves making Costa Rica surfing holidays very popular. Kitesurfing and windsurfing are also possible, with waves on one coast and flat water on the other. Staying in the water, scuba diving is excellent and relatively low cost, plus kayaking, SUP and rafting are all available.

Much of the country is well preserved natural habitats, making wildlife and birdwatching trips very popular. The many national parks are also great for hiking, mountain biking and horse riding with single day options and multiday trails. You can even get involved in caving, canopy walks or ziplining adventures.

Puerto Rico Rafting Wikimedia Commons image by Autentico Adventures Costa Rica

Key Costa Rica adventure travel info

  • Activities in Costa Rica: Surfing, scuba diving, kitesurfing, windsurfing, hiking, biking, kayaking, SUP, safari, caving, horse riding, ziplining.
  • Why is Costa Rica safe and easy? As Central America goes travel doesn’t come easier or safer. Costs Rican’s are friendly and they have embraced tourism in a sustainable way.
  • More info: www.visitcostarica.com

Easy adventure travel in Oceania (includes Pacific)

Excluding Antarctica, Oceania is the least populated continent and has the smallest land mass. But if you are looking for the best safe countries for active holidays almost any destination here fits the bill. Although most are so small they do not feature in the Global Peace Index.

New Zealand

Second the the Global Peace Index New Zealand is widely regarded as one of the safest countries. They have handled Covid19 exceptionally well, although their quarantine rules currently make it a bit tricky to visit. But normally New Zealand is as welcoming as it is safe and easy to travel around.

And in many regards it is one of the most adventurous countries on the planet. Queenstown – New Zealand’s adventure capital – is the birthplace of commercial bungy jumping and at least three other extreme activities. Skydiving is very popular as is rafting, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing. Name the sport and you can do it in NZ!

Guide to New Zealand overland trips & best NZ adventure sports Flickr image by Percita

The wilderness and national parks in New Zealand are incredible and easy to access, meaning hiking, trekking, horse riding and mountain biking are all excellent. You can also get into the wilderness on quad bikes, 4x4s, jetboats or kayaks. From mountain to coast, volcano to glacier there is so much variety in a relatively small country.

Key New Zealand adventure travel info

  • Activities in New Zealand: Everything! Skiing, snowboarding, kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing, hiking, biking, skydiving, bungy jumping, kayaking, heli-ski, rafting, jetboating, horse riding and much more.
  • Why is New Zealand safe and easy? Coming second in the Global Peace Index and renowned for easy travel means NZ is one of the best safe countries for active holidays.
  • More info: www.newzealand.com

Australia

The other antipodean big hitter 13th spot in the Global Peace Index warrants it a spot in this list of countries with easy adventure travel. Crime rates are a little higher than its neighbour, but then the cities have higher populations so it is to be expected. But Australia is still a remarkably safe country to visit.

That said the many Aussie critters may disagree! We have not considered them in this article, but in reality shark, crocodile, spider, snake and jelly fish problems are very rare, particularly if you take sensible wildlife precautions. Your reward is almost every adventure sport known to man in a friendly country with great weather.

12 best safe countries for active holidays windsurfing in Australia Flickr CC image from Australia by texaus1

Two of the most popular sports are surfing and scuba diving, but sailing, windsurfing, SUP, kayaking, kiteboarding and rafting are all world class. On land there are plenty of great trails for hiking and biking, some of the world’s best rock climbing, ranching, horse riding and interesting wildlife. To top it off you can ski and snowboard and even skydive and bungee jump.

Key Australia adventure travel info

  • Activities in Australia: Everything! Scuba diving, surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, hiking, biking, skydiving, bungy jumping, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, rafting, horse riding and much more.
  • Why is Australia safe and easy? Australians are laid back – except when it comes to cricket! – and this leads to a country that is easy and safe to travel around.
  • More info: www.australia.com

Easy adventure travel in South America

South America had a reputation for dangerous destinations, but this has improved over the last decade or two. These days only really Venezuela is considered very dangerous for visitors. While French Guiana, Paraguay and Argentina all just missed out on this list.

Uruguay

The capital Montevideo has the highest quality of life in South America and the rest of Uruguay is not bad either. The country is relaxed and chilled out compared to much of the continent. Uruguay is also the highest ranked South American country in the Global Peace Index.

best safe countries for active holidays horse riding and ranching in Uruguay image courtesy of Urugay Natural Facebook page

In Uruguay you have to hunt the adventures, they’re there but it’s not as in your face as many of the countries in this list of safe and easy adventure travel. On the coast there is good kite and windsurfing, plus more than 80 surf breaks that are mostly empty. There are also three dropzones if you like to skydive.

The highest point is just 500 metres, but there is plenty of hiking through rolling and diverse landscapes. Uruguay is also pretty good for road cycling and mountain biking – although more cross country then downhill. There are also five areas for rock climbing and bouldering plus horse riding, ranching, quad biking and 4×4 tours.

Key Uruguay adventure travel info

  • Activities in Uruguay: Surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, hiking, biking, skydiving, horse riding, rock climbing, ranching, bouldering and more.
  • Why is Uruguay safe and easy? The most laid back country and 35th on the Global Peace Index makes Uruguay the safest place to visit in South America.
  • More info: www.turismo.gub.uy

Chile

As the second best ranked Global Peace Index country in South America, Chile is one of the best safe countries for active holidays. Politically it is very stable and although crime is higher than in European countries it is lower than a lot of the region. Travelling in Chile is also less hassle than many countries in Latin America.

Guide to Chile trekking holidays and 10 best Chilean treks Pixabay royalty free image of Torres Del Paine

In terms of adventures Chile has plenty of Pacific coast and a huge swathe of the Andes within its borders. It also shares Patagonia with Argentina in the far south. From hard core mountaineering expeditions to day hikes, and long distance mountain biking routes to some of the best southern hemisphere skiing, Chile has a lot to offer.

The pacific coast is dotted with surf spots and great places to kite and windsurf. There is plenty of opportunity for kayaking, canoeing and SUP both on the coast and in rivers. There is also some some of the world’s best white water rafting on the Futaleufu River in Chile.

Key Chile adventure travel info

  • Activities in Chile: Mountaineering, surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, hiking, mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, rafting, horse riding and much more.
  • Why is Chile safe and easy? Politically stable and the second highest ranked South America country in the Global Peace Index.
  • More info: www.chile.travel

We hope you found this guide to easy adventure travel interesting and useful. If you want to visit one of the 12 best safe countries for active holidays then check out our adventure holidays to start planning.

 
 
     

    Related Articles

     

    20 best kite spots in Europe: Kitesurfing European style

    Kitesurfing European style is not some newfangled way of riding, it's about experiencing the continent and enjoying some epic kitesurfing. But with 66,000 kms of...

    Activities: Kitesurfing
    Read Article
     

    Helly Hansen Verglas Icefall review: Lightweight down insulator jacket

    Looking for a lightweight down insulator jacket? Then read this Helly Hansen Verglas Icefall review to find out how it performed in the wind and chill of a British...

    Destinations: N/A
    Read Article
     

    Where to stand up paddleboard in England? 6 best English SUP spots

    If you want to know where to stand up paddleboard in England then start with your nearest body of water. Whether it is coastal, river or lake there is bound to be...

    Activities: SUP
    Read Article

    Newsletter sign up