The Healthy Vacation Index

Are you considering a vacation that not only relaxes but also rejuvenates? From destinations rich in sunshine and clean air to cities abounding in parks, hiking trails, and sports complexes, a healthy vacation can provide the perfect setting to unwind and revitalize.

At Healthnews, we recognize the value of a vacation that leaves you healthier than when you arrived. That's why we've developed a comprehensive index to help you find the ideal destination for your next health-conscious getaway.

Whether you're an overworked executive or a dedicated professional, our guide aims to kickstart a healthier lifestyle that lasts well beyond your trip.

Methodology

To create the Healthy Vacation Index, we systematically gathered data on 20 relevant metrics across 42 sought-after vacation destinations. A full list of these metrics and their respective sources is provided below.

Each metric was numerically ranked in ascending or descending order based on its impact on the index. For instance, a lower cost is considered more favorable, whereas a higher number of sunshine hours is perceived as better. To synthesize these rankings into a composite score, we applied weighted averages to each metric, reflecting its relative importance to the overall index.

The summation of these weighted scores yielded the final Healthy Vacation Index, providing a robust measure of each country's suitability as a healthy vacation destination.

Results: top 10 destinations for a healthy vacation

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Barcelona, Spain
  4. Seoul, South Korea
  5. Toronto, Canada
  6. Istanbul, Turkey
  7. Rome, Italy
  8. London, United Kingdom
  9. Milan, Italy
  10. Lisbon, Portugal
CityWhole grains intake (g/day)Seafood omega-3 fatty acids intake (mg/day)Nuts and seeds intake (g/day)Fiber intake (g/day)Water (1.5 liter bottle) price, $Apples (1kg) price, $# of sunshine hours per yearAir pollution scoreWater quality score% Obesity Life expectancy (both sexes)Number of crimes per 100KCO2 emissions per capita (tons)% of non-smokersUV Radiation scoreFruit consumption (kg/year) per capitaVegetable consumption (kg/year) per capita# of parks# of hiking trails# of sports complexes
Amsterdam89.8138618.990.821,6624910015.0582.5826.29.5478.71662168.42169.8228120
Vienna69.3150318.450.822.722,0483410018.8182.5727.68.4474.51888127.39165.8139419
Barcelona10.35403.119.210.832.182,5912594.819.3984.0535.85.4271.62705116.81107.876412
Seoul14.65612.917.581.126.722,0665784.68.8284.1425.311.7774253554.59234.9781626
Toronto57.4819.317.11.823.962,066.402090.928.1683.0242.618.7276.71887130.13126.15881513
Istanbul5.435813.823.410.411.212,21874726.2278.6840.24.5477.52924139.38248.536478
Rome9.82331.418.580.42.222,4733297.817.9784.247.35.9677.32444128.42136.3363331
London75.92633.713.261.653.171,6337210026.9482.3146.95.669.41576107.8170.11174547
Milan9.82331.418.580.592.431,9152397.817.9784.247.35.9677.32444128.42136.3355215
Lisbon72.95121.820.450.822.322,8063185.721.9782.4230.74.8569.52585161.54117.0319014
Tokyo7.66191.914.960.865.31,876.702991.87.6384.9522.99.7670.8252143.75114.78539197
Berlin135.3199322.040.972.851,6265498.623.0882.18389.4278.71812102.31200.9856034
Copenhagen76.49562.618.391.543.021,9121895.815.782.0326.66.6683.91691119.17171.281618
Athens47.41945.221.560.931.892,7732010030.068246.56.3167.22753128.54156.561003
Dubai36.19111.519.90.642.263,508.702951.729.0280.4614.624.3379.34862117.54151.8416024
Osaka7.66191.914.960.753.3821524591.87.6384.9522.99.7670.8252143.75114.7883119
Prague13.392323.180.711.671,6684565.230.7279.8226.810.6273.2170793.26127.9242226
Sydney71.22352.521.221.653.222,468.101081.232.0583.7346.717.1577.8320687.45163.23561214
Paris29.13361.716.880.993.331,6622693.810.1883.3554.65.1865.51907126.32120.2170219
Munich135.3199322.040.922.9118623398.623.0882.18389.4278.71812102.31200.981618
Stockholm82.93561.516.771.383.071,8033297.917.1883.6548.14.4971.11587105.49175.212648
Frankfurt135.3199322.040.822.831,6623098.623.0882.18389.4278.71812102.31200.981407
Kyoto7.66191.914.960.834.492,0114391.87.6384.9522.99.7670.8252143.75114.7831515
Madrid10.31863.119.210.942.422,7696694.819.3984.0535.85.4272.52705116.81107.835215
Rhodes47.41945.221.561.161.582,7735310030.068246.56.3168.52753128.54156.56201
Edinburgh75.92633.713.261.562.781,4272810026.9482.3146.95.669.41576107.8170.111128
Zurich74.61864.219.431.523.811,5665210015.0784.3824.94.7477.22158124.79158.131404
Nice29.13361.716.880.872.782,760.502593.810.1883.3554.65.1866.41907126.32120.21222
Melbourne71.22352.521.221.352.982,362.606081.232.0583.7346.717.1577.8320687.45163.237277
Brussels13.32401.718.481.22.681,546749319.7982.4648.98.3769.41645124.7237.933614
Singapore8.1411.919.471.324.182,022.403188.916.0984.2723.18.4779.1397986.91100.02802221
Dublin69.2891.115.11.722.821,4535810030.782.8846.18.2963.51509112.95185.393426
Beijing13.1352.710.340.52.092,670.807658.48.9478.7960.87.4475.42908109.19399.038735
Las Vegas47.81233.715.822.075.013,825.302889.341.6479.7449.215.3281.12736181.78126.47172512
San Francisco47.81233.715.822.36.823,061.701689.341.6479.7449.215.3280.12736181.78126.4757124
Los Angeles47.81233.715.822.225.553,254.203989.341.6479.7449.215.3280.72736181.78126.4748139
Shanghai13.1352.710.340.572.231,775.805358.48.9478.7960.87.4475.42908109.19399.0390110
Bangkok50.970827.911.180.4332,623.8010742.712.179.9140.043.8481.5486271.8340.0630016
New York47.81233.715.822.416.842,534.704089.341.6479.7449.215.3280.72736181.78126.4795214
Honolulu47.81233.715.822.676.223,035.902989.341.6479.7449.215.3280.52736181.78126.4724252
Guangzhou13.1352.710.340.61.981,6286858.48.9478.7960.87.4475.42908109.19399.034926
Miami47.81233.715.822.075.693,1543189.341.6479.7449.215.3280.12736181.78126.473817

What is the best destination for a healthy vacation?

Amsterdam, Netherlands, excels as a top destination for health-conscious travelers, offering a well-rounded approach to wellness. The city boasts a high intake of whole grains at 89.8 grams per day and a moderate seafood omega-3 fatty acid intake of 138 mg/day, supporting cardiovascular and cognitive health. Amsterdam's perfect water quality score of 100 and low air pollution index of 49 contribute to its pristine environment.

Amsterdam city
Image by Andrew Hawkes via Pexels

Residents enjoy affordable health essentials with water at $0.8 per 1.5-liter bottle and apples at $2 per kilogram. The city's health statistics are impressive, with a high life expectancy of 82.58 years and a low obesity rate of 15.05%.

Amsterdam promotes an active lifestyle through its 28 parks, has a low crime rate of 26.2 incidents per 100,000 people, and maintains sustainability with CO2 emissions at 9.54 tons per capita, making it a prime location for those prioritizing health and safety.

2. Vienna, Austria

Vienna city
Image by Pierre Blache via Pexels

Vienna matches Amsterdam with its pristine water quality and enhances its profile with additional environmental benefits. The city boasts low UV radiation and minimal CO2 emissions at 8.44 tons per capita, creating a clean and hazard-free atmosphere. It also offers a substantial intake of seafood omega-3 fatty acids at 150 mg/day, contributing to cardiovascular and mental health.

With 39 parks and a robust air quality score, Vienna supports active lifestyles and respiratory health. The city’s high life expectancy of 82.57 years and a modest obesity rate of 18.81% reflect its overall health-oriented environment.

3. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona city
Image by Apasaric via Pexels

Barcelona enjoys 2,591 hours of sunshine annually, promoting vitamin D synthesis. The cost of essentials like a 1.5-liter bottle of water and 1 kg of apples is also relatively low, priced at $0.83 and $2.18 respectively, making healthy options accessible.

Barcelona's moderate air pollution score of 25 fosters a healthier living environment, complemented by 76 parks and 4 hiking trails. The local life expectancy is impressive at 84.05 years.

4. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul city
Image by Pixbay via Pexels

Seoul excels in urban wellness with 81 parks enhancing active lifestyles. It also has one of the highest seafood omega-3 intakes at 561 mg/day, contributing to heart and brain health.

The city's impressive number of sports complexes (26) and hiking trails (6) promote physical activity, while its relatively low CO2 emissions per capita (11.77 tons) and high non-smoker percentage (74%) underline its commitment to clean living.

5. Toronto, Canada

Toronto city
Image by Sahil via Pexels

Toronto is recognized for its high nut and seed intake, with 9.3 grams per day supporting a nutritious diet. It stands out with 88 parks and a substantial number of sports facilities (13), promoting active and sustainable lifestyles.

Toronto's low air pollution score (20) and high yearly fruit consumption at 130.13 kg per capita illustrate the city's effective green policies and focus on nutritional health.

6. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul city
Image by Hande Yavuz via Pexels

Looking for a more budget-friendly option? Istanbul provides a unique blend of cultural richness with cost-effective health-focused amenities.

It boasts the highest nut consumption at 13.8 grams/day. The city offers a high number of parks (64) and hiking trails (7), encouraging an active lifestyle. Its low water cost of $0.41 per 1.5-liter bottle makes hydration widely accessible, supporting overall health in a budget-friendly manner.

7. Rome, Italy

Rome city
Image by Julius Silver via Pexels

This destination excels with 63 parks, providing numerous opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation. Rome's high vegetable consumption at 136.33 kg/year per capita reflects its dedication to a healthful diet. Just make sure you don't overeat all that delicious pizza and pasta!

8. London, United Kingdom

London city
Image by Pixbay via Pexels

London is noted for its superior water quality and affordable fruit options, with a yearly fruit consumption rate of 170.11 kg per capita. The city also promotes an active lifestyle through 174 parks and extensive fitness facilities, alongside low CO2 emissions and low UV radiation rates.

9. Milan, Italy

Milan city
Image by Jackie Jabson via Pexels

As a global fashion capital, Milan also emphasizes wellness. It has clean water, low air pollution, and low obesity rates. Milan also boasts 55 parks, aiding in the integration of physical fitness into daily life.

10. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon city
Image by Mateus Castro via Pexels

Lisbon is celebrated for its laid-back atmosphere and ample sunshine (2,806 hours annually), enhancing vitamin D synthesis and promoting a stress-free lifestyle.

The city also stands out with a high intake of whole grains, at 72.9 g/day, and seafood omega-3s, at 512 mg/day, which support heart and brain health. With 161.54 kg of fruit consumed per capita per year, it's clearly committed to healthy eating.

Healthy vacation index heat map

An overview of the evaluation criteria

The Healthy Vacation Index is built on four foundational pillars that capture the most significant aspects of wellness. Here's a closer look at these pillars and why each metric matters.

Environmental and outdoor activity factors

Average sunshine hours per year

Increased sunshine improves mood and vitamin D synthesis, enhancing a destination's appeal for outdoor activities.

Average sunshine hours per year2

Average air pollution levels

Cleaner air is crucial for a healthy respiratory system.

Average air pollution levels2

UV rate

Knowledge of UV exposure is necessary for protecting skin health, especially in locations popular for outdoor activities.

UV rate

Number of parks

Parks offer spaces for exercise and relaxation.

Number of parks

Number of hiking trails

Trails are essential for tourists wanting to stay active while exploring.

Number of hiking trails

Number of sports complexes

These facilities support a range of physical activities, appealing to visitors who want to maintain an active lifestyle.

Number of sports complexes

Health standards

Water quality

High-quality drinking water is vital for hydration and preventing waterborne illnesses.

Water quality

Obesity rates

Lower obesity rates reflect a healthier lifestyle and superior local cuisine.

Obesity rates

Average lifespan

This metric indicates the general health of a population, influenced by local living conditions and healthcare.

Average lifespan

CO2 emissions per capita

Reduced emissions indicate a cleaner, more environmentally friendly setting.

CO2 emissions per capita

Economic and lifestyle metrics

Cost per kilogram of apples

As a staple consumed worldwide, apples are a reliable measure of food affordability and are important for health, rich in vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

Cost per kilogram of apples

Cost of a bottle of water

The price of bottled water reveals disparities in access to safe drinking water, directly affecting population health.

Cost of a bottle of water

Smoking rates

Fewer smokers suggest cleaner air and a health-focused local population, enhancing the destination's appeal for non-smokers.

Smoking rates

Crime rates

As a result of lower crime rates, vacationers can enjoy a feeling of safety.

Crime rates

Nutritional and dietary preferences

Dietary intake of fiber

High fiber intake is associated with better digestive health and reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Dietary intake of fiber

Dietary intake of nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, supporting heart health and reducing inflammation.

Dietary intake of nuts and seeds

Dietary intake of seafood omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids in seafood are crucial for brain health and cardiovascular function and help lower the risk of heart disease.

Dietary intake of seafood omega-3 fatty acids

Dietary intake of whole grains

Due to their high fiber and nutrient content, whole grains are linked to lower risks of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Dietary intake of whole grains

Consumption of vegetables and fruits

High vegetable and fruit consumption ensures a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Consumption of vegetables and fruits

Interested in knowing more about the Healthy Vacation Index? Contact us.


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