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Travel and Things To Do

Best Holiday Destinations for Over 50s

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Oak Tree Team

19th April, 2023

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While the rising cost of living has meant all of us have to watch our budgets more closely, one area Brits seem reluctant to cut back on is a good summer holiday - and a recent study by Saga found that this is particularly the case for older Brits.

The survey of almost 3,000 people over the age of 50 found that the majority still plan to spend time abroad in 2023, with two thirds planning between two and four holidays this year.

If you’re looking for a summer trip but you’re still stuck for somewhere to go, we’ve crunched the numbers on the top European destinations for travellers over 50.

Which countries have the most ‘bucket list’ locations?

We analysed 28 European countries on metrics that will contribute to a more positive holiday experience for travellers over 50 years of age. According to Saga’s 2023 over 50s travel trends, 47% of those surveyed said the opportunity to learn about local culture, see a natural phenomenon, and visit places of historical and archaeological interest was important in choosing a holiday destination.

With this in mind, we looked at the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in each country - these are unique landmarks with special cultural or physical significance, such as areas of natural beauty, historical structures, or ancient ruins.

Italy has 58 World Heritage Sites

On this measure, Italy scored full marks, being home to 58 World Heritage Sites - with the historic centres of Rome, Florence, Naples and other Italian cities identified for their rich cultural and historical significance.

Germany and Spain filled the remaining podium places on this measure, with 51 and 49 designated sites respectively.

Accessibility of hotels across Europe

Of course, a consideration for some travellers is the accessibility of their accommodation. While requirements will differ across individuals, we recommend holidaymakers with accessibility needs confirm at the time of booking that their chosen hotel is equipped to ensure a pleasant stay. We’ve analysed the ratio of wheelchair accessible hotels on TripAdvisor in each country to provide a general indicator of accessibility on our leader table. 

3/4 of hotels in Portugal listed on Tripadvisor or wheelchair accessible

The winner in this regard is Portugal, where an impressive three in four (76%) of hotels listed on TripAdvisor are wheelchair accessible. Neighbouring Spain follows closely behind, with 74% of its hotels being suitable for wheelchair users.

Both of these destinations have more than 650 suitable hotels for wheelchair users, but the country with the highest number of suitable hotels is Poland, with 697 of its 984 hotels (71%) being wheelchair accessible.

The top European holiday destinations for over 50s

When deciding on a holiday, ensuring your chosen spot has enough ‘bucket list’ activities to fill an itinerary is important, as is accommodation equipped for your or your party’s accessibility requirements, but we wanted to further determine each country’s suitability as a holiday destination for over 50s.

We looked at each country’s median age - a higher median age means an older population. Countries with an older population are more likely to be accessible to older travellers which will reduce the sense of culture shock when exploring a new country. These countries are generally better equipped with activities and things to do that will appeal to an older demographic.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Germany has the highest median age of the 28 European destinations assessed, with half of its population aged 47.8 years or older. Its ageing population means Germany has the fourth highest median age in the world, behind the territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon (48.5), Japan (48.6), and Monaco (55.4).

We also looked at the general safety of each country by looking at the Global Peace Index, which assesses the overall peacefulness of countries across a range of factors including safety and security, as well as risk of domestic or international conflict. The higher a country scores on this measure, the safer the country is to visit.

The best rated European destinations on peacefulness are Iceland, which is top of the Global Peace Index, Denmark, which is 4th, and Austria, which is 5th.

Combining these ranking factors to determine an overall winner, Oak Tree Mobility has determined the top 10 European destinations for over 50s are:

Percentage of Wheelchair Accessible HotelsUNESCO World Heritage SitesMedian AgeGlobal Peace Index RankTotal/112Rank
Czech Republic50.6%1643.38746

Portugal is the best country for over 50s to visit on holiday

Portugal is the best country for over 50s to visit on holiday. Illustration of a map of Europe with Portugal highlighted.

Scoring 99 out of a possible 112 points, Portugal came top of our ranking. The country has the highest percentage of wheelchair accessible hotels, with more than three quarters of those listed on TripAdvisor being suitable for wheelchair users.

Portugal also scores well for its higher median age of 44.6, and is home to 17 World Heritage Sites including the Alto Douro Wine Region and the historic centres of cities such as Lisbon and Porto. And of the 28 countries assessed, Portugal is the fourth highest on the most recent Global Peace Index behind Austria, Denmark, and Iceland.

Saga’s study found that France, mainland Spain, and Italy were the most popular European destinations for over 50s this year - so Portugal seems to be a bit of a hidden gem!

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