Whether you’re globetrotting or going on a short break to a new destination, kindness goes a long way. Perhaps you were greeted by an outgoing local or were offered directions, or you were impressed by the hospitality at a popular restaurant while on vacation.
Wherever you travel or relocate to, knowing that the locals are welcoming and friendly makes the endeavour much easier. The buzzing sense of adventure and curiosity in a new city, as well as being surrounded by happy people can take your visit to new heights. After all, travelling is all about expanding your horizons and ultimately, boosting your mood. So, which cities in the world are considered the friendliest?
Here at William Russell, we’ve used our expertise in international health insurance to dive into the data for some of the world’s most popular visited cities.
We recognise that some cultures may have different expectations when it comes to friendliness, so we looked at a number of factors, including:
- resident happiness
- LGBT+ inclusivity
- top attractions
- highest-rated hotels
Our round-up of the friendliest cities in the world
- 1/ Melbourne
- 2/ Paris
- 3/ Vienna
- 4/ Madrid
- 5/ Brussels
The friendliest cities in the world
We took a total of 23 of the most visited cities around the world, and ranked them on the factors above to find the most friendly city. Some cities were removed from the list that didn’t have data based on every one of our factors.
1/ Melbourne, Australia
Friendly City Score: 6.06
Melbourne, the coastal capital of Australia and largest city of the Australian state of Victoria, is the friendliest city on our list. Often referred to as the ‘capital of cool’, the residents are known for their friendliness.
We looked at data from city residents’ quality of life in Melbourne, and the city scored an impressive 7.296 out of 10. Melbourne’s top attraction, according to Yelp, is the Queen Victoria Market, with 237 reviews. Out of these reviews, 0.42% agreed that the market was friendly and welcoming.
Melbourne is a forward-thinking, rapidly growing city, and it is recognised for being a fully open, inclusive and competitive city, as well as a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community, who are often among the most marginalised communities around the world.
2/ Paris, France
Friendly City Score: 5.99
The romantic city of Paris in France ranked in second place for its friendliness. Paris’s luxurious dining scene with cafes and restaurants on every corner providing delicious food could be a contributing factor to why its people are so happy.
The city scored 6.635 out of 10 for its happiness, and its top attraction, the Musée du Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, was reviewed by 1,934 people, of which 0.98% of users agreed the museum was a friendly place.
Paris also has the second highest number of hotels reviews four-stars and above (23.94 hotels per mi²).
3/ Vienna, Austria
Friendly City Score: 5.91
Vienna, the capital and largest city in Austria, scored in third place among our friendliest cities. Vienna has been voted the most liveable city in the world many times over, with the parks, the Vienna Woods and its vineyards being the highlights of this wonderful city.
Vienna has one of the highest safety index scores on our list of cities (72.59), and also one of the highest resident happiness scores at 6.998 out of 10. Vienna is a fully inclusive city and scored three out of three for being fully ‘open for business’.
The top 10 friendliest cities in the world
Friendly city score / 100
1/ Sky Tower – Auckland, New Zealand
Total Reviews Mentioning ‘Friendly’ and ‘Welcoming’: 7.06%
In first place for our friendliest attractions is Auckland’s Skytower, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, which measures more than 300 metres high. The Sky Tower’s main observation deck is open to visitors who wish to view the panoramic 360˚ views. The tower is also a very friendly attraction, with 7.06% of 85 reviewers agreeing it is friendly and welcoming.
2/ Guinness Storehouse – Dublin, Ireland
Total Reviews Mentioning ‘Friendly’ and ‘Welcoming’: 5.00%
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland, scored second on our friendliest attractions list. With a total of 1,561 reviews and 5% mentioning that the storehouse was friendly and welcoming, it’s worth discovering the tale of Ireland’s famous beer.
3/ Griffith Observatory – Los Angeles, United States
Total Reviews Mentioning ‘Friendly’ and ‘Welcoming’: 4.16%
The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is the third friendliest attraction on our list. With a total of 4.16% of reviewers mentioning that the observatory is ‘friendly’ or ‘welcoming’. With free admission, South California’s gateway to the cosmos is not to be missed.
One of the most important things to consider when we looked at the friendliest cities was safety. The safety levels in a city boil down to many different factors, including safety when walking alone at night, worries about violent attacks, and the levels of crime. These cities had the lowest rates of worry, in terms of visitor perceptions in the city:
1/ Taipei, Taiwan
Safety Index Score: 84.78
Taipei, Taiwan had the highest safety rating on our list of cities. Taiwan is governed by the Republic of China and with over 23 million people, it is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations.
The risk of mugging and public transport is low, although there is a heightened risk of pickpockets in Taiwan, since it has around 10 million visitors a year.
2/ Tokyo, Japan
Safety Index Score: 75.59
Tokyo, Japan, scored second place among the safest cities. Tokyo is Japan’s busy capital city, with a mix of traditional buildings and super modern skyscrapers.
In 2019, the city was named the world’s safest city by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), in a ranking of the digital, health, infrastructure and personal security of 60 major metropolitan areas.
3/ Prague, Czech Republic
Safety Index Score: 75.43
Prague, Czech Republic’s capital city, scored third place on our list of safest cities. It is nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires” because of its beautiful cathedrals and pointed spires.
The Czech Republic is known for its low crime rates, and well-trained police force equipped to handle any situation you may encounter in this beautiful city.
The top 10 safest cities in the world
Safety index score / 100
1/ Copenhagen, Denmark
Happiness Score: 7.53 out of 10
Copenhagen in Denmark scored first place for the happiest city on our list, with a score of 7.53 out of 10. The city has time and time again been voted the happiest city in the world, thanks to its fantastic transportation system, low pollution levels and national healthcare system.
Denmark’s happy and healthy residents have contributed to the highest percentage of voters during elections, compared to any other democratic country in the world.
2/ Stockholm, Sweden
Happiness Score: 7.373 out of 10
Stockholm, Sweden, scored second place on our list of happy cities, just behind Copenhagen. The city’s residents had an overall happiness score of 7.373. Stockholm is also a fantastic city for tourists to visit, with a rich history and wonderful attractions, the Scandinavian charm has won over the hearts of many travellers.
Stockholm also boasts incredible restaurants that are paving the way for a new outlook on Scandinavian cuisine.
3/ Toronto, Canada
Happiness Score: 7.298 out of 10
The scenic city of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, took third place among our happiest cities. There are a host of reasons why Torontonians love the city, one of the main ones being that it is full of culture. The Distillery District is full of galleries, fashion designers and artisanal food establishments.
Toronto is also a one-stop shop destination, with unique homeware shops and retro vintage clothing malls. There are also plenty of foodie spots across the city.
The top 10 happiest cities in the world
Safety index score / 100
Cities with the top rated hotels
By looking at our cities’ hotels, we were able to find the top rated by looking at traveller reviews. We looked at the total number of hotels rated four stars and above, and also the area of the city to make for a more fair result.
1/ Barcelona, Spain
Total 4*+ Hotels per mi²: 24.45
Barcelona, Spain, scored first place for its number of four-star and above hotels. The picturesque Spanish city had a total of 962 four-star and above hotels, which is very impressive for its small size (39.3mi²).
2/ Paris, France
Total 4*+ Hotels per mi²: 23.94
The romantic city of Paris in France took second place for its top-rated hotels. Paris is host to plenty of luxurious accommodation options, with a total of 2,523 four-star and above hotels. It fell just behind Barcelona for its larger size (105.4mi²).
3/ Brussels, Belgium
Total 4*+ Hotels per mi²: 9.75
The historical capital city of Belgium, Brussels, took third place for its top-rated hotels. Despite its much smaller size than other cities on our list (32.6mi²), it boasts 328 four-star and above hotels.
The top 10 cities with the top rated hotels
Safety index score / 100
1/ Istanbul, Turkey
Friendly City Score: 2.12
Istanbul, Turkey is the largest city in Turkey, and is the country’s economic and cultural hub. Unfortunately, Istanbul fell to the bottom of our friendliest cities.
This year, the metropolitan city of Istanbul ranked last in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) “Global Liveability Index 2022”. Our findings subsequently found that its residents were the unhappiest out of all our cities, with a happiness score of 5.44 out of 10.
Istanbul also took a low score of one for its LGBT+ inclusion, meaning the city is not ‘open for business’.
2/ Buenos Aires, Argentina
Friendly City Score: 2.50
Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina, and it scored second to last on our list of friendliest cities. The city had the lowest score in terms of safety, with a safety index score of 36.7 out of 100.
The levels of crime in Buenos Aires are high and it is important to be vigilant as a tourist. Another reason why Buenos Aires scored poorly is its LGBT+ inclusion, where the city scored a two, meaning it is only partially ‘open for business’.
3/ Lisbon, Portugal
Friendly City Score: 2.58
Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, fell close to the bottom of our list of friendliest cities. Although the coastal city is a safe place for visitors, its residents had a poor score of overall happiness, with a score of 5.66 out of 10, just above Istanbul.
The city is partially open for business in terms of inclusivity but is not fully inclusive.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is no definitive guide for the best place to move to, and it is important for an aspiring expat to physically breathe and live their chosen destination, literally.
It is a good idea to visit a couple of cities of your choice, to get a feel for the pace of the day-to-day life, culture, and work/life balance and to spark up a few conversations with other expats in the area.
You can rest assured that your savings are secure with our expat insurance, to protect your income while you’re living and working abroad.
Everyone has a different idea of what makes a friendly city, but for most, it’s feeling a sense of community and a general warmth of the people.
Many major cities in the world are not completely accepting of minorities including LGBTQ+ people, so it’s important to research and find out what life is like from a local’s perspective.
Wherever you move, go with total peace of mind
At William Russell, we have 30 years of helping expatriates finding best places in the world to move abroad and settle into their new lives overseas by providing world-class international health insurance. Plus, we produce lots of expert material to help you and your family adapt to life abroad.
Making the move to another country can be challenging. But no matter where you go, you can take one thing off your mind. William Russell offers international health insurance that covers you for everything from minor injuries to long hospital stays, and we can even offer medical evacuations to patients who require treatment in other countries.
Looking for expat health insurance?Learn more about our plans
We started by taking a list of Wikipedia’s List of cities by international visitors, and removed any cities that did not have all of the following data available:
Safety Index Score
We took the safety index score from Numbeo’s Crime rate pages. This data is accurate as of 20/09/2022.
We took a happiness score for each city from the World Happiness Report’s Cities and Happiness: A Global Ranking and Analysis. The rankings rely entirely on city dwellers’ self-reported quality of life, measured in terms of their subjective well-being. This data is accurate as of 20/09/2022.
LGBTQ Inclusion Score
We used Open for Business’ Open for Business City Rankings to find out which cities were open for business, partially open, or closed for business. This is related to many different factors, including eco-friendliness, transparent governance, quality of life, and inclusivity, meaning it is a welcoming place for the LGBT+ community. Using these ratings, we assigned a number to each with one indicating closed for business, two indicating partially open and three indicating open for business. This data is accurate as of 21/09/2022.
Miami is the only city that was scored a 0, this was added as the state has overturned a ban on conversion therapy, and it is one of only two cities in the US that has overturned the ban.
To find the top attractions for each city, we used Yelp to search the city and selected the highest-rated attraction. We then took down the number of reviews and filtered the reviews to find the words ‘friendly’ and ‘welcoming’. This data is accurate as of 21/09/2022.
Number of 4* and up hotels
We used TripAdvisor for each city to find the total number of hotels rated four-stars and above. This data is accurate as of 21/09/2022.
We used Wikipedia for each city to find the total area (mi²). This data is accurate as of 21/09/2022.