May 16, 2024 | Samantha Henman

The 10 Best Travel Destinations For Retirees—And The 5 Worst

Never Stop

Just because you’ve stopped working doesn’t mean you’ve stopped living. After all, you’ve waited this long for a little freedom—not why not explore the world? Not all trips are made equal, but we sorted out the best and worst travel destinations for retirees—and added a few tips along the way.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Looking for something different than your usual US road trip or Euro vacation, but still want a good night’s sleep and a sense of security? Istanbul is one of the top-rated destinations for seniors, according to a 2023 survey.

aerial view from Istanbul turkeynurullah bulut, Pexels

Istanbul Pros & Cons

More than anything, the ranking for peacefulness in Istanbul outdid any other destination. This means that, while you can go out and have a good time in the evening, you won’t be disturbed by loud nightclubs and partying like you might in other cities. There’s also fantastic healthcare and it’s a very walkable city.

As for cons? That’s it—there’s none!

image of Busy Turkish StreetAlex Berger, Flickr

Things To Do In Istanbul

Istanbul is home to some incredible cultural landmarks, including the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. There’s also the traditional Turkish baths, sightseeing cruises, and the possibility of a full-day trip to Troy to explore the area’s rich history.

interior of Hagia SophiaDaniel Peckham, Flickr

Athens, Greece

Athens was a close second to Istanbul, according to Forbes. One reason why it’s such a good destination for seniors? Well, it has a large and thriving seniors population itself. Over 22% of the population is over 65—so the lifestyle in Greece is definitely geared to seniors.

image of Athens, Greece aerial viewpixabay, Picryl

Athens Pros & Cons

While Athens is replete with activities aimed at seniors, it does lose points for peacefulness. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle and a booming nightlife in Athens, as well as many other places in Greece. It has a wide range of seniors tours, though.

aerial view of Athens, GreeceGiuseppe Milo, Flickr

Things To Do In Athens

Visit the ancient ruins of the Acropolis or the Parthenon in the morning, before it gets too hot and crowded, and then retreat to the air-conditioned museums in the afternoon, when the sun is at its peak. Athens center is quite compact and walkable, but if you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle, join a guided day trip to another historical site, like Piraeus or Mycenae.

image of Parthenon in GreecePixabay, Pexels

Rome, Italy

From one ancient world capital to another—Rome is a highly-rated destination for seniors. With some of the world’s most notable historical sites and great art museums, it’s a feast for the eyes…and also, unsurprisingly, a foodie’s dream. The wine and food is unmatched—and don’t forget a little gelato for after dinner.

image of building with statues in RomeMartin Péchy, Pexels

Rome Pros & Cons

Rome shares many of the same pros and cons as Athens. It’s actually considered one of the most walkable cities in the world, with many of the notable historical sites within walking distance of each other. The quality of the things to do in Rome is ranked quite high.

However, it will be crowded with tourists and locals alike, and there will lines for many activities and famous restaurants.

People in St. Peter's SquarePixabay, Pexels

Things To Do In Rome

There’s the essentials: the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum—but there’s also so much off the beaten path. If mobility is an issue, it’s possible to pay for a fast track tour of the Colosseum that takes you right to the arena floor with a small group. There are also fantastic day trips to take from Rome, including ones to Pompeii and Capri and the Blue Grotto.

image from The Colosseum, RomePixabay, Pexels

Bangkok, Thailand

And now for something completely different…Bangkok nearly tied with Rome for scores on many metrics. It’s beautiful, colorful, and lively, with nearly endless activities to engage in and a rich history to explore, including impressive temples and palaces.

Brown Concrete Building Under the Blue SkySansern Prakonsin, Pexels

Bangkok Pros & Cons

Bangkok is highly-rated for healthcare and walkability. Though it’s sprawling, there are many activities in each district to explore. Unfortunately, it has a medium rating for peacefulness and is low-rated for activities, with 0 tours geared toward seniors. Of course, you can always make your own fun! Make sure to drink plenty of water, as the city is very hot and humid.

Wat Arun Temple in BangkokOlivier Darny, Pexels

Things To Do In Bangkok

The palaces and temples of Bangkok are absolutely stunning. There’s also the floating market, forest and elephant tours, and delicious street food. For a special experience, try an evening dinner cruise to see the city and temples lit up at night.

image of Bangkok street bazar selling fresh sea foodChait Goli, Pexels

Tallinn, Estonia

If you’re looking to visit somewhere that’s accommodating, but that few people you know may have visited, try Tallinn, Estonia, which has experienced a recent boom in tourism. It has old world flair, with beautiful architecture and ancient and medieval historical sites, but it’s also a start-up hub, meaning that the city is working hard to accommodate English-speakers.

image of Tallinn, EstoniaAlejandroFollow, Flickr

Tallinn Pros & Cons

As mentioned, it’s easy to navigate Tallinn as an English speaker. The city is also incredibly safe. Visitors have noted that it has a high quality of things to do and walkability—though, like Bangkok, it lacks a bit in peacefulness, and also has zero senior-specific tours.

image of Tallinn, Estonia streetsAlejandro, Flickr

Things To Do In Tallin

As Estonia’s cultural hub, Tallinn has no shortage of museums, including art & history museums and a maritime museum. There are many historical landmarks, including cathedrals and the imposing Gothic city hall, constructed in the 13th century. And if you’re a dog lover, it’s possible to take a day trip to husky farm!

Tallin Old town on julyRichard Cavalleri, Shutterstock

Vilnius, Lithuania

Like Tallin, Vilnius, Lithuania has become a hub for tech companies in the past decade. This means that the city retains all its old world charm, along with modern conveniences and a hip, young population that has spurred the opening of wonderful restaurants, cafes, and shops.

image of Vilnius, LithuaniaMaddie, Flickr

Vilnius Pros & Cons

Vilnius had the best rated attractions for seniors, according to a report. They are known especially for their highly-rated museums and stunning gardens. The Old Town is a UNESCO site, and it’s one of largest and most well-preserved old towns in Central Europe. There is still something of a language barrier, though it’s improving, and it’s very cold in the winter.

The Old Town in Vilnius, LithuaniaFromTheNorth, Flickr

Things To Do In Vilnius

There are tons of things to do in Vilnius, but one of the most enriching activities is to grab a coffee and soak in the atmosphere of the Old Town. There are many historical landmarks, including a KGB Museum, and one of the hottest cultural centers was built in a former prison. Vilnius also has a charming Christmas market if you happen to visit in winter.

view of the christmas tree in Vilniusastudio, Shutterstock

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague in the Czech Republic comes in at number 7 on the list of best travel destinations for retirees. The historical capital of Bohemia, Prague is a world-class rich with history and a vital cultural life.

Prague Castle District Lit Up at NightJulius Silver, Pexels

Prague Pros & Cons

Music lovers will love Prague for the part its played in the history of classical music. It has absolutely stunning architecture and the low cost of living trickles even affects the tourism side, leading to affordable restaurants and hotels. Although Prague is on a river, there’s no coast, and the language barrier can be an issue when traveling off the beaten path.

Close-up of the St. Vitus Cathedral FacadeDiego F. Parra, Pexels

Things To Do In Prague

There are few things as romantic as crossing the Charles Bridge as the sun sets. Prague Castle and the Bone Church are fascinating architectural sites. Bohemia was known for their glass, and it’s possible to visit glass blowers or go on a guided tour on the subject.

Dancing House in Prague, Czech RepublicIvan Dražić, Pexels

Riga, Lativa

Riga is the largest and most populous city in Latvia, and also the most populous in the Baltic States. It’s set at the mouth of the Daugava River and features beautiful architecture from all eras, including many buildings in the Art Nouveau style. Like Tallin and Vilnius, it has become a tech hub in the past decade.

Art Nouveau Townhouse in Riga, LatviaAnastasiya Badun, Pexels

Riga Pros & Cons

Riga is incredibly safe and has a very low crime rate. It has a rich history and is a cultural center. It’s also naturally beautiful. It’s very walkable, with few hills. The language barrier and cold weather are cons to visiting Riga.

Snow Covered Square in RigaRalfs Žīgurs, Pexels

Things To Do In Riga

The Freedom Monument, Central Market, Riga Castle, and Latvian Opera are all fun and accessible attractions for retirees. Riga also has some beautiful waterfront parks, like Bastejkalna, perfect for a summer picnic.

Latvian national opera and ballet theaterJuris Kraulis, Shutterstock

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a bustling metropolis, one of the coolest places in Europe, and has a long and storied history, good and bad. It’s a must visit for any WWII buff, and though it has a reputation as a young, party city, it’s also a great place to visit for retirees.

image of a building in Berlin GermanyNiki Nagy, Pexels

Berlin Pros & Cons

Berlin is very multicultural, and you might even be more likely to meet a fellow tourist or ex-pat than a native German. Those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city on vacation may regret a visit to Berlin the moment they need to get somewhere during rush hour. Though Berlin is walkable, cyclable, and transit it great, it’s also sprawling, so you’ll need to plan thoroughly to avoid you don’t have long trips between destinations.

image of The Brandenburg Gate in BerlinAndré  , Pexels

Things To Do In Berlin

There are hundreds of historical sites, museums, and attractions that will fascinate any history buff, including a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial. Berlin also has an award-winning food scene, and home to many fantastic restaurants and wine bars.

woman looking at a Berlin WallAnn Buht, Pexels

Helsinki, Finland

Though Helsinki has a long and deep history, it’s also home to fantastic modern architecture and a bustling contemporary art scene. Overlooking the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki is often called the “White City” due to the fact that many of its buildings are constructed of light-colored granite.

Photo of Cathedral Near Buildings and River in HelsinkiTapio Haaja, Pexels

Helsinki Pros & Cons

Helsinki is imminently walkable, and some of the best routes take you by the picturesque waterfront. It’s clean, safe, and vibrant. One con is that it can be expensive compared to other European destinations. Others have commented on the fact that the experience can feel somewhat unfriendly—it’s unusual for Finnish people spark up a conversation with strangers.

image of Helsinki, Finland aerial viewNinara, Flickr

Things To Do In Helsinki

There are many examples of beautiful old architecture to check out in Helsinki, but one of the most remarkable buildings is Temppeliaukio Church, a Lutheran Church built in the modern style, completed in 1969. There are many day trips you can take outside of the city to experience Finland’s lush countryside, including an overnight trip to see bears!

image of The Helsinki Cathedral towersyoungrobv, Flickr

The Bottom 5

The same study that identified the abovementioned cities as the best to visit for seniors also tallied the lowest ranked cities for seniors—each with its own reasons for landing in the bottom 5.

image concept for TravelingJanis Abolins, Shutterstock

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo has a great variety of things to do, it’s true. After all, it is the most populous city in the world outside of Asia. But for that very reason, it can be incredibly overwhelming, and due to sprawl, isn’t really walkable. The air pollution can be very intense as well.

Downtown of Sao Paulo in BrazilKelly, Pexels

San Jose, Costa Rica

Like Sao Paulo, San Jose, Costa Rica has no shortage of fun and enriching activities—as well as access to some beautiful beaches in just a couple hours’ drive. The cost of living is low, which means great meals at incredible prices. It has a strong healthcare system as well. However, many parts of the city can be gritty, and it’s very noisy.

image of Costa Rican National Theater BuildingSaintdags, Shutterstock

Antwerp, Belgium

Like many other European cities, Antwerp has a rich history and thriving culture, and is picturesque as can be. Antwerp’s Plantin-Moretus Museum is the only UNESCO World Heritage-listed museum in the world. However, transit options are limited when navigating the city as a tourist. Antwerp is also more expensive than other cities on this list.

Cathedral Buildings in AntwerpPenelope Thomas, Pexels

Santiago, Chile

Santiago sits in a valley between the Andes and the Chilean Coast range, making it a breathtaking destination. It has some stunning architecture and is very safe, with a low crime rate. However, it has a high cost of living. It’s also very, very crowded and it can be difficult to get around the sprawling city in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Santiago white cityscapeMarianna Ianovska, Shutterstock

Port Louis, Mauritius

Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius, sitting in the Indian Ocean. With a stunning waterfront and no shortage of French colonial architecture, it’s a lively destination for anyone looking to visit a place at the intersection of history and modernism. The Mauritians are very welcoming, and the island is safe. Lack of healthcare and senior tours contributed to its poor ranking.

The most beautiful island in the world Mauritius from a droneaerophoto, Shutterstock

How The Cities Were Ranked: Tourism

When ranking the cities for tourism, the number of tours geared toward seniors were tallied, and the average ratings for the top attractions were averaged out.

Woman Taking Pictures of RuinsHaley Black, Pexels

How The Cities Were Ranked: Wellbeing

Accidents and emergencies happen—even on vacation. For this reason, it’s important for any retiree to know and prepare for any possibility while traveling, and ensure that they have access to adequate medical care. The Health Care Index was used to come up with ratings. Cities were also measured by peacefulness—not just noise, but also safety, security, and conflict.

Health and wellbeing conceptStunningArt, Shutterstock

How The Cities Were Ranked: Accessibility

Most people who travel outside the US prefer not to rent cars and risk dealing with traffic or accidents. Therefore, it’s important that each city’s walkability was accounted for. Alongside walkability/in the absence of it, public transit quality was also assessed.

Vehicles on the Street in Blurred MotionMaximilian Jähnichen, Pexels

How The Cities Were Ranked: Demographics

The more retirees or seniors that a city has, the more friendly they are to that demographic. For example, Tokyo, Japan, has the highest average population age at 49, meaning there will be more services and activities geared toward that group. However, due to the crowded nature and sprawl, it didn’t make the top ten.

one of the busiest crosswalks in the worldESB Professional, Shutterstock



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