Countries where you can legally drink an alcoholic beverage in public

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It is no secret that America is not exactly land of the free when it comes to liquor laws.

In addition to having the world's highest drinking age (a contentious honor we share with 12 other countries), the United States also has very strict laws on public drinking. Each state is allowed to make its own rules, but the list remains short of cities that actually take advantage of this freedom.

There are 11 American cities that condone open containers, and each comes with its own set of rules, like you must use a plastic cup in New Orleans or keep it to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.

If the idea of strolling by the river with a brew in hand or pouring an icy glass of wine in the park appeals to you, you should consider many parts of Europe and Asia for your next vacation.

Germany and Belgium celebrate their centuries-old beer brewing histories by allowing locals and visitors to sip on tangy ales throughout the country.

Meanwhile, in Czech Republic and Italy, countries that do not have sweeping open container laws, certain cities have made their own laws to stop disruptive partiers.

And if you hop over to Asia, you might think public drinking is totally acceptable thanks to the lax laws in China and Laos, but watch out for new regulations Singapore put into place last year.

This is not an exhaustive list and local rules change frequently, so always double check before cracking open a cold one in public when on vacation.

Countries where you can legally drink in public
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Countries where you can legally drink in public


Grab a beer and soak up the sun sit along the iconic Nyhanv canal in Copenhagen because public drinking is legal in Denmark. Just keep it calm and don't get too raucous.

Photo: Getty


Germany has a great tradition of beer brewing, and their laws reflect this. The drinking age is 16 and cheap beer can be purchased basically anyway. There are no open container laws and it is common to drink in public. But don't even think of drunk driving.

Photo: Getty

Hong Kong

There are no rules against walking around with a drink in Hong Kong as a long as you are over 18. 

Photo: Getty


While it is generally frowned upon to eat or drink in public in Japan, it is not illegal. Open container laws do not exist and locals do take advantage of this for particular festivals

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The tiny city-state just passed a new liquor law in 2015 that bans public drinking from 10:30 pm to 7:00 am to halt public disorder.  There are some parts of the city where it is enforced more heavily than others, but in general you can still drink in public during the day.

Photo: Getty


Public drinking is a bit inconsistent in France. You'll probably notice people sipping wine in Paris, and as long as you are discreet you should be fine, but there are several places within the city that it's disallowed. Each park and street could have its own rules. 

It is up to individual cities in France to make their own rules to establish order. So look out for signs, ask locals and do your research.


Starting at age 16, Swiss citizens and visitors can grab a beer, wine or cider and indulge in public.

Photo: Getty


Not only is drinking allowed in public in Brazil, but you can also drink in motor vehicles if you are a passenger. However, drinking is prohibited in most soccer stadiums.

Photo: Getty


Another country with a strong beer tradition, Belgium allows people to stroll with a brew beginning at age 16. You can even purchase beer from a vending machine!

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Just like France, Italy's rule change from city to city. Rome reintroduced a law in 2015 that banned public drinking on certain streets starting at 10 pm. Florence lacks an open container law, and Venice has bans on eating and drinking in some parks. To be safe, ask locals what the rule is for the particular city you are visiting.

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United Kingdom

People over 18 can technically drink in public in the United Kingdom except in parts of town where Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) are in place. Although there is no country-wide ban, PSPOs give police officers the power to take away your liquor -- and they absolutely will. Just look at this map of London where public drinking is banned. Drinking is legal in royal parks -- but again PSPOs ...

Photo: Getty


There are no laws in Colombia on public drinking, so you can pick up a bottle of aguardiente and make yourself comfortable anywhere.

Photo: Getty

Czech Republic

There are no widespread open container laws in the Czech Republic, but in order to curb the number of bachelor parties and students going wild in the streets, Prague has prohibited public drinking in about 800 locations throughout the city.

Photo: Getty


Drinking in public spaces is legal throughout much of Romania, including trains and sidewalks. The drinking age is 18.

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The possession of open containers of alcohol in Austria is allowed as long as you are at legal drinking age, which differs depending on where in the country you are. Some counties are discussing alcohol-free zones, however, to limit binge drinking, so check with locals in your area.

Photo: Getty


Drinking in public is commonly accepted in China and you shouldn't have a problem picking up a beer from a corner store and drinking it on the street. 

Photo: Getty


Laos has a reputation for being the party country in Southeast Asia thanks to its few barriers to drinking in general, let alone its lack of open container laws.

Photo: Getty


By: Morgan Giordano,

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