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Friendliest cities in the world

  • Friendliest cities in the world

    There’s nothing like a vacation to lift one’s spirits, especially during the doldrums of winter. For many, jetting off to new and exciting locales is one of life’s greatest pleasures—but it’s important to complete some research before picking a destination for that next hard-earned vacation. It’s easy to research common factors like popular tourist attractions, weather, or exchange rates, but one much less covered factor is the friendliest of the local people. The friendliness and happiness of locals goes a long way toward turning a fun vacation into the trip of a lifetime.

    In 2017, Travelbird addressed this issue by compiling a list of the 100 friendliest cities in the world. The travel site analyzed the top 500 global tourist destinations, paying special attention to factors that make tourists feel welcome. They ranked the top 100 cities by creating a combined score that took into account whether a city had a welcoming port of entry—like an accessible airport or train station—the happiness of its citizens, their openness to hosting tourists in their homes, English language proficiency, and the amount of over-tourism each locale has to contend with during the year. To create the final results, Travelbird then combined their own data with a poll of 15,000 travel journalists who weighed in on how welcoming they found each city from their own experiences.

    The result is a well-researched list of the 100 most welcoming destinations for tourists. These locales are waiting for visitors to bask in the sun, take in historic sites, and to shop and dine. Tourists are helping the local economy rather than just contributing to chaotic traffic and endless lines. This list is your first step towards not only vacationing, but vacationing responsibly in cities waiting with open arms.

    You may also like: Most popular countries for tourists

  • #100. Budapest, Hungary

    Total score: 3.74
    City scores—Expert opinion: 4.3; Port of entry: 4.6; Safety: 2.3
    People scores—Happiness: 3.2; English proficiency: 6.2; Openness to host tourists at home: 7.6
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 2.9

    A visit to Budapest is actually a visit to three cities in one. The historical destination was formed when Old Buda, Buda, and Pest joined in 1873. These days, the city is known for having the world’s second-largest synagogue and architectural wonders like Buda Castle, Gellért Hill, Vajdahunyad Castle, and the Baroque Széchenyi Baths. History abounds in this stunning riverside city.

  • #99. Bucharest, Romania

    Total score: 3.82
    City scores—Expert opinion: 5.0; Port of entry: 2.7; Safety: 6.5
    People scores—Happiness: 3.7; English proficiency: 6.0; Openness to host tourists at home: 4.9
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 3.2

    Local legend has it that Bucharest derives its name from a founder whose moniker literally meant “joy.” Whether Bucur the merry shepherd is responsible for creating the vibrant city, there's no denying that Bucharest remains a happy metropolis. In the 1900s, the city was nicknamed “Little Paris” because of the architectural decadence that greets visitors upon their arrival. If you need further proof of Bucharest’s charms, take a stroll down Calea Victoriei, the city’s oldest street and a hub for high fashion.

  • #98. Hanoi, Vietnam

    Total score: 3.98
    City scores—Expert opinion: 5.5; Port of entry: 4.8; Safety: 2.5
    People scores—Happiness: 2.1; English proficiency: 4.5; Openness to host tourists at home: 5.7
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 2.4

    For many years, the capital city of Vietnam was off-limits to visitors because of wars and a restrictive government. However, this resilient city is making up for lost time. Visitors can experience the joys of haggling with real farmers in the street markets of the Old Quarter, honoring a culture of learning at the Temple of Literature, and engaging with the youth culture that has come to define the West Lake area. Hanoi is the perfect getaway for people looking for a city teeming with history and embracing progress.

  • #97. Moscow, Russia

    Total score: 4.12
    City scores—Expert opinion: 4.5; Port of entry: 8.1; Safety: 2.8
    People scores—Happiness: 4.1; English proficiency: 4.1; Openness to host tourists at home: 9.7
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 3.3

    Know that before Americans can visit the bustling city of Moscow, they will need a travel visa. Once that’s out of the way, a bustling metropolis that’s home to the Kremlin, the famed multicolored St. Basil's Cathedral, and a metro system lined with intricate works of art awaits. Russian culture can be found in every corner of Moscow, right down to the customs surrounding the city’s most famous beverages—tea and vodka.

  • #96. Colombo, Sri Lanka

    Total score: 4.24
    City scores—Expert opinion: 4.6; Port of entry: 2.9; Safety: 5.4
    People scores—Happiness: 1.4; English proficiency: 2.0; Openness to host tourists at home: 1.9
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 4.4

    Colombo is a city on the rise. While it once served as a place tourists passed through as they headed to their beach vacations, Colombo is now a destination unto itself. From the Dutch Period Museum to the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara temple, this growing city is one that should be on every traveler's radar.

  • #95. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Total score: 4.27
    City scores—Expert opinion: 6.1; Port of entry: 5.7; Safety: 1.7
    People scores—Happiness: 1.1; English proficiency: 1.1; Openness to host tourists at home: 1.5
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 3.3

    The rule of the Khmer Rouge left Phnom Penh with a not-so-distant bloody past, and there are still signs of the city’s strife to this day. Despite its dark recent history, Phnom Penh remains one of the least Westernized capitals in all of Asia. As a result, travelers can experience unexpected foods—tarantula kabob, anyone? And temple tours that are a step back in time.

  • #94. Cairo, Egypt

    Total score: 4.28
    City scores—Expert opinion: 3.9; Port of entry: 1.9; Safety: 1.9
    People scores—Happiness: 1.7; English proficiency: 2.3; Openness to host tourists at home: 5.2
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 5.9

    Egyptians call Cairo "Umm Ad Dunya"—Mother of the World. The city is a crowded center of business where peace and quiet are hard to find. If that sounds like a holiday, then know that there’s seemingly no end to Cairo’s vibrancy. The Pyramids of Giza are about an hour away by car. Within the city, travelers can explore Khan Al Khalili, an ancient marketplace that feels virtually untouched by time.

  • #93. Nairobi, Kenya

    Total score: 4.31
    City scores—Expert opinion: 5.3; Port of entry: 3.4; Safety: 2.1
    People scores—Happiness: 1.4; English proficiency: 8.5; Openness to host tourists at home: 2.8
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 3.8

    Founded in 1899, Nairobi is unique in the sense that it coexists with the wildness at its borders. As the safari capital of Africa, trips to see the animals that live just beyond the city are plentiful, but once you finish taking in the wildlife, you can visit the home of "Out of Africa" writer Karen Blixen or engage with Nairobi’s culture at the Bomas of Kenya.

  • #92. Guangzhou, China

    Total score: 4.32
    City scores—Expert opinion: 4.5; Port of entry: 5.4; Safety: 9.0
    People scores—Happiness: 3.1; English proficiency: 3.6; Openness to host tourists at home: 4.4
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 3.2

    Guangzhou is the third-largest city in China, and twice a year it plays host to the China Import and Export Fair. As a port city, Guangzhou is a multicultural hub, and that vibe is present in its hottest tourist destinations. From Chimelong Paradise, an amusement park full of dizzying rides, to cruising down the historic Pearl River, Guangzhou is full of unexpected delights.

  • #91. São Paulo, Brazil

    Total score: 4.4
    City scores—Expert opinion: 5.9; Port of entry: 1.8; Safety: 1.5
    People scores—Happiness: 6.6; English proficiency: 3.3; Openness to host tourists at home: 6.5
    Over-tourism—Tourism carrying capacity: 2.9

    São Paulo is a beast of a city. With more than 12 million people calling the city home, travelers should be prepared to battle traffic and smog. Don’t let that deter you from visiting a locale that boasts 90,000 unique events per year. The diverse population includes the biggest settlement of people of Japanese descent outside of Japan, a thriving Italian community, and the largest gay pride parade in the world.

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