The world's friendliest and unfriendliest cities — as voted by you

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 17.05.2023

Prepare to nod in agreement or, quite possibly, to be well and truly riled! It’s fair to say that our countdown through the top five friendliest and unfriendliest cities in the world — as voted by hundreds of Rough Guides' readers — contains a few surprises and plenty of brutally honest (and entertaining) opinions. 

For more insight into where our readers received wonderfully warm welcomes, find out where you voted the friendliest countries in the world.

What are the world's friendliest cities?

5. London

Praised for its “straightforward, friendly people”, and vibrant “hustle and bustle”, good old London was voted the fifth friendliest city in the world. 

You also love the fact that Londoners were “very helpful” during your visits. This was especially true when it came to offering tips on where to eat and drink like a local, along with info on the best free things in London and the best walks near the city.

That said, while some of your shared your experience of Londoners’ generosity — for example, being “driven to places difficult to reach by bus” — a bunch of you did not feel the same way.

In fact, one of you advised: “avoid London like the plague”. As for Londoners, they were variously described as “unhelpful, unfriendly people”, and “grumpy, aggressive people". As they say, you can't win them all!

River view of Big Ben and-Houses of parliament in London, England, United Kingdom © S.Borisov/Shutterstock

London — voted one of the friendliest cites in the world © S.Borisov/Shutterstock

4. Singapore

A rewarding entry point for first-time visitors to Southeast Asia, you praised the city-state of Singapore for exuding “so much positive energy, you find yourself responding the same”.  

In addition to being wowed by the city’s infectiously upbeat vibe, interactions with Singapore’s citizens also warmed your hearts.

As one reader reported, “Singapore people were incredibly helpful and friendly to me and, although it’s a big city, I felt everywhere I went was very friendly and welcoming”.  


Singapore's impressive skyline © Shutterstock

3. Tokyo

Alongside ranking Japan as the sixth friendliest country in the world, you declared Tokyo the third friendliest city in the world. 

In summary, you loved the fact that “fellow diners talk to you”, and "people couldn't do enough to help and went far out of their way to assist". 

Many of you also rated being “offered help when lost or looking for something without having to ask”, not least when getting off the beaten track and exploring Tokyo’s quirky side.

In the Tokyo metro

You rated Tokyo highly when it came to getting a friendly reception © Shutterstock

2. Bangkok  

Neatly tying in with voting Thailand the second friendliest country in the world, you named Bangkok the second friendliest city in the world. 

Though vast, many of you felt at home in the city. In the words of one Rough Guides’ reader, "I felt welcomed and at ease while touring Bangkok".

Many respondents who praised the warm welome they received from locals when getting to know the Bangkok's food scene. If you're a foodie too, our Bangkok Gourmet itinerary will make your mouth water, and your feet itch!


You loved Bangkok for its friendly reception and fine food © Shutterstock

1. Dublin – world's friendliest city

Rough Guides' readers sure love the Emerald Isle! As well as hailing Ireland the friendliest country in the world, you also decreed Dublin the friendliest city in the world. 

Praising its “warm welcome and helpful people” who give visitors “a hundred thousand welcomes”, you loved the fact that “everyone is your friend when you visit a pub in Dublin”. Not least when enjoying a pint (or two) while listening to lively traditional music

On the subject of drinking in Dublin, one of you claimed, “you get a free pint wherever you go!".

While we can't verify the truth of that statement, the sentiment is in keeping with your general appraisal of Dublin as a place of exuberant, friendly joy — sláinte! 


Dublin — voted the friendliest city in the world © Shutterstock

What are the world's least welcoming cities?

5. Barcelona

Moving now to the unfriendliest cities in the world — as voted by you.

Though one of the best places to enjoy a city break with a twist, Barcelona did not fare well on the friendly front. 

That said, this had less to do with your general reception in the city, and more to do with one particular issue: “Barcelona — great city, but pick-pocketing is still a major issue”. 

It’s fair to say that petty theft is often an issue in cities, especially in areas that attract huge numbers of tourists.  

So, don’t be hasty to rule out beautiful Barcelona. Just have your wits about you while meandering places like Las Ramblas. It's also worth bearing in mind that Barcelona is a great place to enjoy a rural escape

    Find out for yourself

  • Into food and the arts? Our Cultural Getaway trip has you covered, and kicks off in Barcelona.
Scenic aerial view of La Rambla, tree-lined pedestrian mall and popular tourist sight in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Rough Guides' readers issued warnings about pickpocketing in Las Ramblas, Barcelona © Shutterstock

4. Marrakesh

Though Marrakesh is often rated highly by travellers who love to get hands-on with local food, some of you felt that people in the city “pretend to be friendly, but all they want is your money”. 

Perhaps heightened by the fact that shopping in local markets is one of the best things to do in Morocco, this kind of appraisal saw Marrakesh ranked as the fourth unfriendliest city in the world. 

With that mind, consider exploring beyond the souks — you’ll find lots of ideas in our feature on the perfect weekend in Marrakesh

    Find out for yourself

  • Uncover Moroccan culture and cuisine on our customisable Imperial Cities trip, or discover Marrakesh and the desert on our Iconic Morocco tour.
Marrakesh, Morocco, Jemaa el Fna © Shutterstock

Marrakesh — voted the fourth least welcoming city in the world © Shutterstock

3. Madrid

Busy, busy, busy! That’s essentially why you ranked Madrid the third unfriendliest city in the world. 

In your words: “people always seem to be in a hurry and haven't got the time to stop and talk”. And, taking that a step further: “they can be very curt at times”. 

To counter the city’s hecticness, our day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid will help you experience the city at a slower pace.  

You could also take time out in the city’s astounding number of world-class art museums.  

    Find out for yourself

  • Immerse yourself in the Spanish capital on our Made for Madrid trip. Can't decide between Madrid and Barcelona? Take a look at our Tale of Two Cities itinerary.

Take time out in a park to counter Madrid's "unfriendly" busy vibe © Shutterstock

2. Moscow

Deemed to have “very rude people who appeared uninterested in visitors and very unhelpful”, Moscow did not float your friendly boat.  

Arguably revealing that this isn’t a recent phenomenon, another respondent related a tale from visiting the city some decades ago: 

“Moscow in 1970 was not very friendly. Our tour group was carefully monitored by guides. Meals were taken in our hotel and consisted mostly of meat and starches. I recall a “salad” that had a small piece of lettuce adorned with five green peas and half a teaspoon of dressing”. 

If you’re planning to travel to Moscow, don’t be put off by that overview of the food. Instead, read up on the top places to eat out — things have moved on since 1970, on the food front, at least.

Things not to miss: Red Square, Moscow, Russia.

Red Square, Moscow, is a "rude" city that made many of you see red © Shutterstock

1. Paris — world's unfriendliest city

Ouch! Don't shoot the messenger, but you voted Paris the unfriendliest city in the world.   

And the reasons? While some readers conceded that “the place is wonderful”, many of you criticised the city for giving visitors a chilly welcome.  

“Parisian staff can be brusque and unwelcoming", one reader remakred, while another declared them “snooty and rude”. Not holding back, one respondent went so far as to claim that “Parisians do not like the English. I was nearly pushed off the Metro by one of them".  

Just as damning, another commented, “I believe they hate anyone who is not a Parisian”. So much for entente cordiale!

All this being said, we can’t ignore the fact that you also voted Paris one of the best cities in the world. Fickle, much?! 

Given that Paris is famously one of the most romantic places in the world, blessed with fascinating, tucked-away places to explore and brilliant things to do on a budget, don't be too quick to dismiss the City of Light.

Read a response from a passionate Parisian writer who takes issue with Paris’ position at the bottom of the list!

Parisian cafe © Anna Tryhub/Shutterstock

Is Paris the unfriendliest city in the world? © Anna Tryhub/Shutterstock

For more insights from Rough Guides' readers, discover the friendliest countries in the world, as voted by you.

Looking for inspiration for your 2023 travel plans? Read the Rough Guide to the best travel destinations for 2023.

Not keen on spending hours planning a trip? Check out our tailor-made trips — 100% customisable itineraries, curated for you by local experts.

Header image © Shutterstock

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 17.05.2023

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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