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Silver Years Travel Index: The Best Destinations for Travellers Aged 50+

There are a lot of different articles out there analysing where’s best to travel for millennial travellers, or couples on a romantic break, or gap year enthusiasts, but one significant data set is missing: where’s best for the over 50s? Given that they make up about a quarter of the UKs population, it’s not exactly a minority group and yet they are often the most neglected.

Older people spend £2.2billion more on travel than millennials and the “silver pound” is reportedly worth more than £43billion; the over 50s hold 75% of Britain’s housing wealth, for example. Not only this, but their share in the UK’s travel and tourism spending has risen to 58% and they account for well over a third of all holiday bed-nights by UK tourists – pretty impressive for an age group that only takes up 25% of the population.

That’s why here at Pettitts Travel we set out to discover where in the world is the best holiday location for the over 50s. Pettitts is dedicated to carefully curating holidays for our customers, combining their ideas with our own personal knowledge and experience and that’s why it’s so important that we get to know all of our customers.

We compiled our Silver Years Travel Index by analysing a variety of factors that those aged over 50 said were important to them while travelling and then identified which countries around the world offered the best for these factors. These included bucket list experiences, natural sights, historical landmarks, accessibility and safety.

Coming out on top was Japan, which we were thrilled to see had ranked so high –due to its incredible blend of modern and traditional, futuristic cities and snow-capped mountains, ancient temples, palaces and museums.

Other Pettitts Travel destinations we were excited to see topping the index were China in seventh place, Canada in ninth place and Russia rounding out the top 20.

Read on below to find out the full results of our Silver Years Travel Index.


Silver Years Travel Index

Table header courtesy of Freepik

Japan was ranked as the number one destination for the over 50s after it scored highly in bucket list experiences, historical sites, safety and accessibility. The country has a massive 52 bucket list experiences, 59 organised activities and hobbies, as well as 55 historical landmarks. It is home to Mount Fuji, one of the most walked mountains in the world (over a million people climb it every summer as an act of pilgrimage, which culminates in watching the sunrise from the summit).

Japan also scored highly in our research because it had an exceptionally low level of crime when compared to 49 other countries. Residents of the country were asked how serious they believed the level of crime was in their country and only 12.8% of respondents believed it was an issue.

Following Japan, the top 10 countries are:

  1. Germany
  2. Italy
  3. Switzerland
  4. Croatia
  5. Spain
  6. Portugal
  7. Canada
  8. France
  9. Greece

Germany ranked second due to the sheer number of historical sites (48), which includes the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the ultimate Fairytale Castle in Neuschwanstein and, of course, what remains of the Berlin Wall. It also ranks in the top 20 for naturally protected areas in a country – in 2017, 37.8% of Germany was a protected natural area.

We were excited to see our destinations of Canada, China and Russia taking some of the top spots in this research. They ranked highly for a number of reasons: China is the number one for bucket list experiences (unsurprising since it is home to the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army) as well as historical sites, of which it has 69. Canada is number one for accessibility, which is crucially important to older travellers for a myriad of reasons. Russia, on the other hand, is in the top 10 for bucket list experiences, likely due to the Kremlin as well as the Temple of All Religions in Kazan, which combines 16 different religions together to create an inclusive mix of different styles and cultures.

The results by continent are as below:

Best country for travel for those aged over 50 in Africa: South Africa
Best country for travel for those aged over 50 in Europe: Germany
Best country for travel for those aged over 50 in Asia: Japan
Best country for travel for those aged over 50 in North America: Canada
Best country for travel for those aged over 50 in South America: Argentina
Best country for travel for those aged over 50 in Oceania: Australia


To compile the Silver Years Travel Index, we used the following methodology. We analysed a variety of studies and surveys of travellers over the age of 50, in order to find out what they looked for from a travel destination. The elements we found to be important were:

  • Bucket List Experiences
  • Nature
  • Organised Activities/Hobbies
  • Historical Sites
  • Safety (Crime)
  • Safety (Terrorism)
  • Accessibility
  • Age of Population

To identify exactly what each destination had to offer, we searched through a variety of sources – including how many UNESCO sites the destination offered, so you can tick off your bucket lists, as well as historical landmarks, organised activities listed on TripAdvisor and official reports detailing crime levels, terror threats, natural beauty and airline infrastructure. We also added in the median age of the population to our analysis, which is useful when assessing the potential for a culture shock and how likely it is for the general society to be able to cater to the over 50s. 

For each of the above categories, we scored each country from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest) and added these scores together in order to get our final SYTI score, with a total of 40 being the highest available. We then ranked the countries based on their scores.

The full dataset is available upon request.



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