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Drinking Water

My first trip to Europe was in the early 70's and we were told not to drink the water. I always see locals buying drinking water in restaurants I always thought the water was not safe to drink. I believe a recent book or DVD of Rick Steves says it is okay to drink the tab water. There were many years when I would buy bottled water and brushed my teeth with it. What is the truth and everyone's experience with tab water?

Posted by
2706 posts

Tap water is perfectly fine everywhere in Europe I'm familiar with. Certainaly all of western and central Europe, Scandanavia, etc. Maybe somewhere in rural Eastern Europe or Turkey you would need to check.

Sometimes people don't like the tap water and don't drink it but they certainly brush teeth with it. You can drink it, but sometimes restaurants make it hard to order tap water.

Posted by
6624 posts

The European Union has drinking water standards that are pretty much the same as US & Canada. The multi-billion dollar international bottled water industry has been pretty successful at convincing the public in Europe and now here in US, that they need to spend big money for water. That being said, it is pretty hard to generalize about a whole continent and say you can never have a problem. Water quality is as much a funciton of the plumbing in the building as where it comes from.

Posted by
796 posts

In Western Europe and in cities like Prague in Eastern Europe, we drink tap water and have no problems. In Bulgaria, Turkey, and some other countries, we buy bottled.

Posted by
5784 posts

Good reminder from Laura that all European countries are not the same. Check out the CDC traveler's health website for specific counties:
Go to the "Stay Healthy and Safe" tap and expand "Eat and drink safely".

As an example, the CDC recomends for travel to Russia:

•Food that is cooked and served hot
•Hard-cooked eggs
•Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
•Pasteurized dairy products

Don't Eat
•Food served at room temperature
•Food from street vendors
•Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
•Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
•Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
•Unpasteurized dairy products
•”Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)

•Bottled water that is sealed
•Water that has been disinfected
•Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
•Carbonated drinks
•Hot coffee or tea
•Pasteurized milk

Don’t Drink
•Tap or well water
•Ice made with tap or well water
•Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
•Unpasteurized milk

Posted by
5784 posts

... in all of my travels i have drank the local tap water...

In areas with suspect water quality don't mouth the water while showering. The Dominca cross-country skier participating at the Sochi Winter Olympics showered in "brown" water. The results:

Downing described their untimely predicaments: “On Saturday, February
8 Gary woke up with severe abdominal cramps so severe he could not
walk nor even stand for more than a few seconds. […] Ultimately he was
diagnosed […] as having a serious bacterial gastroenteritis infection.
Our best guess was the water in our lodging as the culprit. The
symptoms came and went for over a week. In the best of times he could
ski, but felt very weak. At the worst, he was back to the day one
misery and barely able to walk or stand.

Posted by
11450 posts

Edgar.. was not aware Russia was in Europe?? I grew up thinking it was in Asia.. well what do you know.. learn something every day.. hopefully not something wrong however.

This thread on is on tap water in Europe.. and I think while some may have mentioned exceptions.. greek isles etc..

Posted by
4 posts

You know the water we use is not the same in other part of the world. People get used to its bacterials and live safely even while drinking it from everywhere.

Posted by
27713 posts


Russia is a big country. Some of it is in Asia. A smaller but still huge amount is in Europe.

Didn't you watch Eurovision this year see the white dress?