Post Banner Image
Culture

What Are the World’s Friendliest Cities?

By Rachel Gresh
Read time: 6 minutes

No one wants to feel like an outsider when visiting a new city. Indeed, part of the fun of travel is immersing yourself in local culture and interacting with residents to learn what they love most about their home. While there are thousands of friendly locales across the globe, we set out to determine which cities go the extra mile to make visitors feel like one of their own. To find the most welcoming cities, we combined rankings from expert sources, including Condé Nast Traveler, Insider Monkey, and Preply. Their rankings were based on reader surveys, analysis of social media trends, and parameters such as visitor return rate, community safety, and acceptance of diversity. So, if you’re looking for smiles on your upcoming travels, check out the 10 friendliest cities in the world below.

10. Québec City, Canada

Park overlooking Old Quebec and St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, Canada
Credit: Pgiam/ iStock via Getty Images 

You don’t have to travel across an ocean to find a friendly locale with old-world European charm. Instead, set your sights on Québec City, the capital of its namesake French-speaking Canadian province. Touted as one of North America’s friendliest cities, Québec City has much to offer visitors. Old Québec is the only fortified city in North America north of the Mexican border. The old town is a treat during any season, but winter might be the best time to visit. Though you will most likely have to contend with chilly weather, the city lights up with welcoming European-inspired holiday markets, as well as North America’s only ice hotel.

9. Madrid, Spain

Tree-lined street leading to church in Madrid, Spain
Credit: Jose Miguel Sanchez/ iStock via Getty Images 

Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid, is no stranger to welcoming international guests — more than 1 million foreign nationals live in Madrid today, accounting for over one-sixth of its population. The city is just as friendly to its many visitors, who can enjoy world-class museums such as the Reina Sofía, Thyssen, and Prado (the Spanish national art museum). Whether you’re strolling through urban green spaces such as Retiro Park with a churro in hand, or stopping by a street-side cafe for tapas at happy hour, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere is evident throughout Madrid.

8. Calgary, Canada

Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Credit: Philippe Widling / Design Pics/ Design Pics via Getty Images 

Lovingly nicknamed “Cowtown” for its popular 10-day rodeo that takes place each July, this southern Alberta city is Canada’s answer to the Wild West. Located in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics and is still a snow sports hot spot. The city revels in its Western roots but has undeniably transformed into a bustling modern metropolis, with sleek high-rises, art galleries, and a burgeoning craft beer scene. It’s also a popular gateway to some of Canada’s finest national parks, Banff and Jasper.

7. Victoria, Canada

Manicured gardens in Victoria, British Columbia
Credit: Manjurul/ iStock via Getty Images 

Hop on an two-hour flight west of Calgary for a warm welcome in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. It recently held the coveted No. 1 spot in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards for friendliest cities. The city’s British colonial past is apparent in its ornate Victorian architecture, and there are plenty of parks and green spaces for relaxing — the best of which might be Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of sprawling landscaped gardens to explore. At the Inner Harbour, enjoy afternoon tea at the elegant Fairmont Empress Hotel or board a boat for a marine wildlife tour along the coast to see orcas, humpback whales, and seals.

6. Lisbon, Portugal

Domed church towering above red-roofed buildings in Lisbon, Portugal
Credit: jirivondrous/ iStock via Getty Images 

Lisbon, Portugal’s coastal capital on the Tagus River, features one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. The city’s historic Tram 28 welcomes visitors and locals alike to explore the hilly city and its diverse neighborhoods, all while avoiding sore feet. Along the way, stop to marvel at street art or enjoy Fado music at a corner bar or cafe. This friendly and welcoming city also boasts an array of medieval architecture, from the Lisbon Cathedral to St. George’s Castle. The latter offers some of the best views of Lisbon from its perch on Alfama, the highest hill in the city. 

5. Melbourne, Australia

Grand yellow train station on street corner in Melbourne, Australia
Credit: Photo by Benjawan Sittidech/ Moment via Getty Images

Food, art, sports, and plenty of wine — Melbourne has it all. It’s also one of the friendliest cities Down Under. The tourist mecca is home to the National Art Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, sports stadiums, food markets, and many other historic sights. Melbourne is also a stone’s throw from some of Australia’s most popular wine regions, making it popular with vino lovers. Meanwhile, outdoor adventurers can enjoy hiking and soaking in natural springs, also nearby. Give a cheerful Aussie “hello” to the penguins on Phillip Island, or for the brave, take a hot-air balloon tour over wine country. At the end of a fun-filled day, head to a rooftop bar to sample an eclectic mix of international cuisine and local favorites. 

4. Dublin, Ireland

Charming cobblestone street in Dublin, Ireland
Credit: levers2007/ iStock via Getty Images

This friendly capital city is home to centuries of history and culture, and its many well-preserved historic sites include the medieval Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Temple Bar neighborhood has a lively entertainment scene, and the nearby Guinness Storehouse teaches guests about one of the world’s most famous beer brands. Toast “Sláinte!” to good health at a local pub, where you’re bound to chat with friendly bartenders, locals, and other tourists. Dublin is often a starting point for visitors to Ireland, offering them a welcome greeting before they head off to explore the idyllic coastal cliffs and quaint villages of the Emerald Isle.

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

Clock tower above skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland
Credit: Byjeng/ iStock via Getty Images 

Like Dublin, Edinburgh is steeped in history, and has witnessed centuries of conflict, royal inhabitants, and, of course, whisky making. To start off your visit, head to the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s historic swath of streets that connects the medieval Edinburgh Castle with Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland. Along the mile are charming hidden alleyways to explore, with cafes, gift stores, museums, and restaurants. A climb up the extinct volcano known as Arthur’s Seat offers the best views of this historic city. End the day with a wee dram of whisky while chatting it up with friendly locals at any of the nearly 400 pubs in the city.

2. Toronto, Canada

Red-and-white streetcar in Toronto, Ontario, with CN Tower looming overhead
Credit: benedek/ iStock via Getty Images 

Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is no stranger to foreigners — more than half its residents were born outside of Canada. The first stop for most visitors is the 1,815-foot-tall CN Tower, which dominates the skyline of Canada’s largest city and offers panoramic views of the Greater Toronto Area. East of downtown, the Distillery District is a pedestrian-only neighborhood dating to the early 19th century. Lining its Victorian industrial architecture and cobblestone streets are galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and holiday markets. The nearby St. Lawrence Market is Toronto’s oldest public market. The Hockey Hall of Fame, Royal Ontario Museum, and Toronto Zoo (Canada’s largest) are other major draws in this friendly Canadian city.

1. Sydney, Australia

Sailboat in Sydney Harbour with view of Sydney Opera House
Credit: Manfred Gottschalk/ Stone via Getty Images 

Australia’s most popular tourist city is also the friendliest city in the world, according to our findings. This quintessential Aussie metropolis is home to a famous namesake opera house on its scenic harborfront. The vibrant city is also known for its live entertainment, museums and galleries, and scenic ferry rides. No visit to Sydney is complete without sunbathing or surfing at one of its sandy beaches, where you’re bound to get chummy with the locals. The nearby Blue Mountains National Park provides a tranquil respite from the bustling city, with hiking trails to waterfalls and remote campsites. 

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Email

Featured Stories

What the Data Says About the Best Times to Book Flights

Tips

What Is Airplane Mode — and Why Do You Need to Use It While Flying?

Tips

Here’s What You Should Clean Yourself When You Check Into a Hotel Room

Tips

10 Most-Visited Tourist Destinations in the U.S.

Culture