If traveling is supposed to be fun, why does it often end up becoming so stressful? With schedules to plan, reservations to make, unexpected roadblocks and concerns over safety, a fun vacation can turn into a major stress. To alleviate those concerns, try choosing a travel destination that will put your mind at ease, such as one of the world’s most peaceful countries.

The Institute for Economics and Peace released its annual Global Peace Index earlier this year, ranking 163 countries on a variety of factors intended to determine their overall state of peace. Although the study determined that global peacefulness has deteriorated for the ninth year in a row, 84 countries recorded improvement in the past year.

The 10 most peaceful countries on the index deserve a spot on your list of ideal travel destinations for 2024.

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What makes a country peaceful?

The Global Peace Index measures a country’s “negative peace,” or absence of violence, through three main areas: ongoing domestic and international conflict, societal safety, and security and militarization. Researchers examined several factors within those three domains, including rates of crime, incarceration and violent demonstrations.

“Positive peace,” or the socio-economic attitudes and structures that contribute to a peaceful society, was measured through the following eight criteria:

  • Well-functioning government.
  • Sound business environment.
  • Acceptance of the rights of others.
  • Good relations with neighbors.
  • Free flow of information.
  • High levels of human capital.
  • Low levels of corruption.
  • Equitable distribution of resources.

Is America a peaceful country?

The United States of America does not score particularly well on the Global Peace Index, as it was No. 131 on the list in 2023. Since the index includes 163 countries, that puts the U.S. in the bottom quarter of the list. However, North America improved peacefulness by .84%, the largest improvement of any region in the 2023 GPI.

Top 10 most peaceful countries

According to the Global Peace Index, these countries have managed to stay relatively peaceful amid growing global contention.

1. Iceland

Iceland has retained its No. 1 spot since the index premiered 17 years ago and remains ahead of the pack. It’s a very safe, friendly country, and its breathtaking landscapes of glowing volcanoes, thermal springs, towering geysers and rocky coastline make it the perfect travel destination for the outdoorsy adventurer. Make sure to catch a view of the Northern Lights and go on a whale-watching tour.

2. Denmark

Another incredibly peaceful Scandinavian country, Denmark also consistently tops the list of the happiest countries in the world, according to the World Population Review. Explore Copenhagen’s historic architecture, learn about Viking history at the Viking Ship Museum or bike through one of the country’s many scenic cycling routes.

3. Ireland

Ireland has not always been in the top 10 of the GPI, but it’s made great strides toward peace in the past several years. The Emerald Isle is known for its hospitality and incredible landscapes, and its proximity to Scotland, Wales and England makes it a great destination if you want to visit more than one country during your trip. Visit the iconic Cliffs of Moher, the Giant’s Causeway and the Ring of Kerry, and immerse yourself in local culture and ancient Celtic tradition in Dublin, Cork or Galway.

4. New Zealand

The only country in the Southern Hemisphere to make the top 10, New Zealand is known for its opportunities for outdoor adventure. Hike the country’s tallest mountain in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, kayak through Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, bungee jump in Queenstown, sail the Bay of Islands and surf along Surf Highway. You can learn about indigenous Maori culture at Te Papa Museum in Wellington, and if you’re a “Lord of the Rings” fan, be sure to visit “Hobbiton” in the real-life town of Matamata.

5. Austria

This Alpine country is the home of several famous musicians and composers, including Beethoven and Mozart, and you can visit their houses in Vienna or listen to some of their works at the famed Vienna State Opera. The country is famous for its incredible skiing opportunities, but it’s also home to the Danube River Cycling Path, one of the most famous cycling routes in Europe.

6. Singapore

This Southeast Asian island country is renowned for its advanced architecture and incredible culinary scene. It’s a shopper’s paradise, with scores of malls and boutiques in the iconic Marina Bay Sands SkyPark and along Orchard Road. Adventurers will appreciate Sentosa Island, a resort island home to themed attractions and Universal Studios. If you appreciate horticulture, be sure to plan lots of time to spend in Gardens by the Bay, a futuristic nature park.

7. Portugal

The beautiful countryside and dazzling coastlines of this Iberian country are perfect for a relaxing vacation. Its capital, Lisbon, has a blend of historic neighborhoods and vibrant nightlife, and the islands of Madeira and the Azores offer incredible opportunities for hiking, diving, and whale and dolphin watching.

8. Slovenia

This hidden gem tucked between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea is one of Europe’s least-visited countries, according to Euronews. This means you can avoid crowds of tourists while exploring the country’s beautiful countryside full of mountains and lakes, and visit medieval castles and massive caves.

9. Japan

This country ranked second in safety and security on the GPI. Known for its incredible technology and modern attractions, it also has an incredibly rich history and culture. Admire the modern architecture of Tokyo and Osaka, the natural beauty of Mount Fuji and Okinawa, and the Zen Buddhist temples of Kyoto. Its culinary scene makes it an exceptionally attractive destination, as the nation is home to global favorites such as ramen and sushi.

10. Switzerland

Last on the top 10 list is Switzerland, another Alpine nation known for its historic cities, pristine natural landscapes and gourmet cuisine. It’s home to Europe’s largest waterfall, the Rhine Falls, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Aletsch Glacier, the largest glacier in the Alps. You can also learn about the country’s history and culture at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, the United Nations Office in Geneva and Altstadt, Zurich’s old town.