The Best (and Worst) Destinations for Senior Travel

Updated: Oct 13, 2022
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Retirement is the most perfect time to check off your bucket list of things to see and places to visit. When it comes to retirement plans, taking a trip that you have always dreamed of can be therapeutic. While medical alert systems and properly-fit hearing aids are essential for your physical health, traveling is proven to improve mood and mental well-being.

With more choices than ever before on how to spend your time in retirement, traveling is one of the most popular retirement activities, with many seniors going abroad to walk and explore, experience warmer weather, and sightseeing.

The big question is, where to go? We compiled a list of all of the countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and some of the largest and most-visited cities in the US. We ranked each destination on its suitability for senior travelers, looking at public transport links, sightseeing opportunities, weather, and hotels.

The best countries for senior vacations
  1. United States | Retirement Travel Score: 9.14/10

The United States is one of the vastest and most diverse nations in the world, with overwhelming natural beauty and variation. From the mountains and glaciers of Alaska to Florida’s white-sand beaches, the US is the ideal location for any kind of vacation.

For seniors, the US is the best country to travel to, scoring 9.14 out of 10 across all factors we researched. The United States has more art galleries, nature and wildlife areas, and attractions than any other country on our list, giving endless opportunities for things to do while on holiday.

With the highest annual spending on inland transportation construction and maintenance, the United States is one of the best-connected countries on our list. The development of the public transportation system in the US makes it easy for retirees to get around while traveling.

Almost half of the hotels in the United States (46.85 percent) are marked as wheelchair-accessible on Tripadvisor. Out of all the countries we looked at, only Spain and Australia have a higher percentage of accessible hotels. For retirees, this indicates more accessible showers, bathtubs and larger hotel rooms to accommodate mobility restrictions.

  1. Australia | Retirement Travel Score: 9.04/10

A firm favorite among travelers, Australia offers sun, sand, and beaches, along with unrivaled nature and wildlife. From rainforests to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s natural landscapes are as breathtaking as they are unique.

One of the best destinations for senior citizen travelers, Australia scores 9.04 out of 10 for retiree travel, according to the criteria we compiled. Australia has the highest percentage of wheelchair-accessible hotels out of all countries on our list, at 50.89 percent, and the least amount of average annual rainfall. With minimal rain and lots of hotel options for travelers with reduced mobility, Australia is the ideal destination for retirees seeking a good-weather vacation.

Australia also has one of the highest annual investments into inland public transportation construction and maintenance, making it easier to get around the vast country.

  1. Canada | Retirement Travel Score: 8.49/10

Home to world-famous natural landmarks, great cuisine, and rich culture, Canada is one of the most-visited countries in the world, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Canada is also one of the best senior citizen travel destinations we looked at, scoring 8.49 out of 10 across all criteria. With an average of 537 mm of rainfall per year, Canada is one of the driest destinations on our list, giving you the best chance at a vacation without rain.

With more art galleries, attractions, and nature and wildlife areas than most countries on our list, there are endless things to do and sightseeing opportunities for retirees on vacation

The worst countries for senior vacations
  1. Iceland | Retirement Travel Score: 0.56/10

Iceland is a top travel destination for many, thanks to the enormous amount of natural wonders on the small island.

Despite its popularity as a vacation spot, Iceland is the worst country we looked at for traveling senior citizens. Iceland has the highest average annual rainfall out of all destinations on our list, at 1,940 mm.

With the lowest spending on public transport construction and maintenance out of all countries on our list, Iceland is one of the worst countries for getting around. Senior citizens have limited options for getting around in Iceland, with no rail network and cars being used as the primary form of transport in the country, 

  1. Luxembourg | Retirement Travel Score: 1.47/10

With historic sites, fairytale castles, and vast countryside, Luxembourg is a popular travel destination. However, for retirees, it ranks as one of the worst vacation spots, scoring 1.47 out of 10 across our criteria.

With fewer art galleries and attractions than any other country we looked at, Luxembourg has fewer options for sightseeing and things to do for senior citizens. Luxembourg also has fewer areas of nature and wildlife than most countries we researched.

Although Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries on our list, only 16.15 percent of all hotels in the country are wheelchair-accessible, a smaller percentage than most other countries, leaving limited options for retiree travelers with movement restrictions.

  1. Slovenia | Retirement Travel Score: 1.57/10

Slovenia is a favorite travel destination for many, thanks to its beautiful nature, food, history, and culture. While Slovenia is a top pick among travelers, it is one of the worst destinations we looked at for seniors looking to vacation.

With fewer art galleries, nature and wildlife areas, and attractions than most countries we looked at, Slovenia is one of the worst choices for seniors desiring sightseeing on their travels.

Slovenia also receives on average 1,162 mm of rainfall each year, making it one of the rainiest destinations we looked at. Furthermore, just 10.42 percent of all of Slovenia’s hotels are wheelchair accessible, leaving limited options for seniors with reduced mobility.

  1. Iceland | Retirement Travel Score: 0.56/10

Iceland is a top travel destination for many, thanks to the enormous amount of natural wonders on the small island.

Despite its popularity as a vacation spot, Iceland is the worst country we looked at for traveling senior citizens. Iceland has the highest average annual rainfall out of all destinations on our list, at 1,940 mm.

With the lowest spending on public transport construction and maintenance out of all countries on our list, Iceland is one of the worst countries for getting around. Senior citizens have limited options for getting around in Iceland, with no rail network and cars being used as the primary form of transport in the country, 

  1. Luxembourg | Retirement Travel Score: 1.47/10

With historic sites, fairytale castles, and vast countryside, Luxembourg is a popular travel destination. However, for retirees, it ranks as one of the worst vacation spots, scoring 1.47 out of 10 across our criteria.

With fewer art galleries and attractions than any other country we looked at, Luxembourg has fewer options for sightseeing and things to do for senior citizens. Luxembourg also has fewer areas of nature and wildlife than most countries we researched.

Although Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries on our list, only 16.15 percent of all hotels in the country are wheelchair-accessible, a smaller percentage than most other countries, leaving limited options for retiree travelers with movement restrictions.

  1. Slovenia | Retirement Travel Score: 1.57/10

Slovenia is a favorite travel destination for many, thanks to its beautiful nature, food, history, and culture. While Slovenia is a top pick among travelers, it is one of the worst destinations we looked at for seniors looking to vacation.

With fewer art galleries, nature and wildlife areas, and attractions than most countries we looked at, Slovenia is one of the worst choices for seniors desiring sightseeing on their travels.

Slovenia also receives on average 1,162 mm of rainfall each year, making it one of the rainiest destinations we looked at. Furthermore, just 10.42 percent of all of Slovenia’s hotels are wheelchair accessible, leaving limited options for seniors with reduced mobility.

Best worst countries table
The best cities in the United States for senior vacations
  1. Las Vegas | Retirement Travel Score: 7.95/10

One of the United States’ most popular destinations for travelers from all over the world and the States, Las Vegas is the best city for retired vacationers.

Despite its reputation as the ultimate playground for nightlife and casinos, Sin City has endless opportunities for senior citizen travelers. Las Vegas is home to more art galleries, areas of nature and wildlife, and attractions than most other cities on our list. With so many options for sightseeing, a vacation in Las Vegas is guaranteed to be entertaining for seniors.

The driest city on our list, Las Vegas, gets on average 106 mm of rainfall each year, increasing the likelihood of a good-weather vacation.

  1. San Francisco | Retirement Travel Score: 7.73/10

San Francisco is known worldwide for its culture, art, and growing technology scene, making it one of the hottest travel destinations in the world.

Ideal for senior travelers, San Francisco has more art galleries and areas of nature and wildlife than most cities we looked at, providing endless options for sightseeing and exploring the city’s natural beauty.

Around 31.6 percent of the San Francisco population commutes to work via public transport, a higher percentage than in most other cities. With one rapid transit system and three commuter rail lines, many in the city use public transportation as a primary means of travel. Indicative of the public transportation connections in the city, San Francisco is one of the easiest cities to get around on our list.

  1. Chicago | Retirement Travel Score: 7.35/10

Famous for its architecture and food, Chicago attracts thousands of tourists each year from the United States and globally. One of the nation’s most-visited cities, Chicago is also an ideal destination for senior citizens on vacation.

Chicago is one of the best cities we looked at for sightseeing and culture, with more art galleries and attractions than most cities we researched.

Chicago also has one of the most-used public transportation systems out of all cities in the US we looked at, with 26.2 percent of all commuters choosing to travel by bus, rail, or public transportation.

The worst cities in the United States for senior vacations


Known as the birthplace of blues, Memphis is popular among music and history-loving travelers. Despite its popularity, Memphis is the worst city we looked at for senior citizen vacationers, scoring 1.54 out of 10 across all criteria.

Memphis has fewer attractions, art galleries, and areas of nature and wildlife than most cities on our list, leaving limited options for seniors who love sightseeing. With an average of 1,395 mm of rainfall each year, Memphis is a vacation spot to avoid if you prefer dry weather.

Just 1.3 percent of all commuters in Memphis travel via public transport. Most in the city travel by car, making it potentially difficult to get around for senior travelers.

  1. Mesa | Retirement Travel Score: 1.97/10

One of Arizona’s largest cities, Mesa is best known for its stunning views of the Superstition Mountains and natural desert landscapes.

Mesa has fewer art galleries and areas of nature and wildlife than any other city on our list, leaving limited opportunities for seniors who love to sightsee while on vacation. Around 31.6 percent of all hotels in Mesa have wheelchair access, providing fewer options for seniors with reduced mobility.

With one of the smallest percentages of public transport usage, at 1.4 percent of commuters, visitors have limited options for public transit as a way of getting around the city.

  1. Oklahoma City | Retirement Travel Score: 2.86/10

A popular and vibrant travel destination, many visit Oklahoma City for its small-town feel, unique neighborhoods, and culture. The city also ranks as one of the worst we looked at for senior citizen vacationers, scoring 2.86 out of 10 across all factors.

With the smallest percentage of public transport usage out of all cities on our list, just 0.5 percent of commuters travel to work via bus or rail, limiting the options for seniors to get around while on vacation.

Although 67.73 percent of all hotels in Oklahoma City are wheelchair-accessible, an essential feature for retirees with reduced mobility, there are just seven art galleries in the city and one area of nature and wildlife.

Best worst US states table


Methodology

We wanted to find the best countries and cities in the United States for retirees to vacation, so we looked at every country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and some of the largest and most-visited cities in the US, according to WorldAtlas and Ballotpedia.

We ranked each location based on the following criteria:

The number of art galleries, nature and wildlife areas, and attractions, in each location was sourced from Tripadvisor on 3/23/22. The average annual rainfall in millimeters in each US city was sourced from Current Results on 3/23/22.

The average annual rainfall in millimeters in each OECD country was sourced from Worldbank and is accurate as of 2017.

The latest 5-year estimates on the percentage of people that commute to work via public transport by US city was sourced from the American Community Survey. The total inland transport infrastructure investment and maintenance spending in each country in 2020 or the latest available year in euros was sourced from OECD. The exchange rate from euro to US dollar was sourced from XE on 3/24/22.

The percentage of hotels with wheelchair access was sourced from Tripadvisor on 3/25/22, by taking the total number of hotels in each area and the number of hotels with “wheelchair access” listed as an amenity.

We gave each location a normalized score out of 10 for each factor and calculated the retirement travel score/10 by taking an average of the scores for each factor.

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