When travelling to a new place, nothing stirs your soul like receiving a warm welcome. But what are the friendliest countries in the world? Hundreds of Rough Guides' readers recently answered that very question. And the results of our survey, counting down from the tenth to the most friendliest country in the world, make for fascinating reading, and might just inspire your next trip.
From countries to cities: for more reader insights and frank opinions, find out what you recently voted the friendliest (and unfriendliest) cities in the world.
“Shopkeepers giving you apple tea. Street food vendors giving you free food and water. Locals chatting to you as you pass their houses”.
Generosity was the overriding reason readers ranked Turkey the tenth friendliest country in the world. That and being made to feel totally at home, “as if we were old acquaintances”.
This was summed up by the respondent who shared the welcoming words of their hosts in Antalya: “You are our guests, we will help you”.
And it seems this hospitable spirit extends across the whole country: “I’ve been to Turkey on many occasions on both city and beach vacations, and always experienced very friendly people”.
If that wasn’t enough, you also rated the staff you encountered in hotels and restaurants: “the service is excellent!"
The exuberance of “open and friendly” Americans pretty much sums up why you voted the USA the ninth friendliest country in the world:
“Everyone gives you the feeling that they are endlessly happy to have made you acquaintance”.
In good news for Brits, many of you mentioned America’s anglophile outlook: “Once someone from Britain starts to speak, in the USA they are amongst friends”.
Put simply, “They love Brits!”
Coming close behind America, you found plenty of reasons to vote Portugal the eighth friendliest country in the world.
You especially loved the attentiveness of the people you met, reporting they "have time for travellers. They always welcome you to hotels, cafes and shops, and want you to enjoy your time there".
From lively Lisbon, to the Algarve — home to some of the best beaches in Portugal, and some of the finest pousadas — you also can’t get enough of Portugal’s beauty.
It’s official, folks! New Zealand is friendlier than Australia.
While you ranked Australia as the 14th friendliest country in the world, New Zealand stormed ahead in seventh place.
One recurring reason for this was New Zealanders' relaxed vibe, and the fact people there are “very kind, not rushed, and have time for you”.
One respondent went so far as to say they’d “never experienced so many people who are so nice, polite and wanting to help in any way possible, and for no return”. High praise, indeed.
You also loved the trusting welcome offered by New Zealanders: “Super friendly! Compete strangers offered me a place to stay after only chatting to them for half an hour!”
Given that you also voted New Zealand the most beautiful place in the world, and your top bucket list destination for 2023, it's clear this country has a special place in your heart.
The pithy words of one respondent summarised exactly why you voted Japan the sixth friendliest country in the world: “smiles, hospitality, helpfulness”.
Also described as “the kind of place you can pull up a chair in a bar or restaurant and feel welcome”, you particularly loved Japan for the openness and considerate nature of people you met.
“Everyone says hello!” one of you enthused, while another reader was blown away by meeting “helpful people showing consideration and respect” while visiting Kanazawa, AKA Little Kyoto.
Considering you also voted Tokyo one of the friendliest cities in the world, it’s true to say Japan brings Rough Guides’ readers a whole lot of joy.
Coming in as your fifth friendliest country in the world, you applauded Greece for being a place in which “everyone is kind and generous”, with people who are “very laidback” and “always ready with a smile”.
This came to the fore when you shared your experiences of trips to some of the best Greek islands and enjoyed “a wonderful meal, with nine different starters along with local wine".
A number of you also highlighted how Greeks went “the extra mile” to offer advice and help.
For example, one respondent remarked that “everyone we met was very friendly and offered sincere and honest tips to make our trip better”.
This was echoed several times over by those of you who lauded how people were "always ready with local advice and information”.
Lots of you had big praise for the big smiles and chattiness of Italians.
In your words, “Everyone smiles and talks to you, even if they don't speak English”, especially when some of you were getting off the tourist trail in Rome.
And that seems to be your experience throughout Italy, from exploring cities like Florence and Venice, to visiting villages in Tuscany:
“Whether in the big cities or lesser-known towns and villages, people have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome and help out in any situation”.
Italy was also lauded for its child-friendliness. “Travelling with a child, the place we wanted to stay was full, but the landlady said, "Oh! But the bambina needs a place to sleep. I'll call my brother'. She did, and he came and took us around until we had a place to stay”.
Given that you also it one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with an abundance of beautiful places from tip to toe, Italy is a clear favourite with Rough Guides' readers.
While ninth-placed USA only just made it into your top ten, you deemed Canada to be the third friendliest country in the world.
Dozens of you mentioned the fact that Canadians "are so helpful and friendly. They go out of their way to help you", not least while you were taking advantage of the best road-trip routes in Canada.
In addition, we noted a few special shout-outs to Newfoundland for being “very open and friendly”, with “amazing, considerate people”.
Winning out as the second friendliest country in the world, “welcoming” Thailand was commended for that fact that “everybody has a smile on their face and are very friendly”.
In addition, “outstanding service" and smooth travel experiences were recurring themes: "Everything is easy, from booking transportation, to finding good accommodation in many price brackets. I think of Thailand as the ultimate R&R destination”.
While you might be tempted to spend all your time on some of the best beaches in Thailand, bear in mind that you also voted Bangkok the second friendliest city in the world.
Beyond the tourism arena, you also commented on the welcoming nature of folks you met during your travels: “people are eager to help and will invite you to their house to share what they have”.
And the winner is (drum roll, please!) — Ireland.
"Everyone was friendly everywhere we went”.
“People greet you, they offer help, they’re just nice people”.
“The Irish people I met on my many visits were extremely friendly and interested in me and my travels”.
“Once a shopkeeper gave me a pound to go play the Irish Lottery”.
These effusive responses sum up why Ireland came out top of the welcoming tree, with you hailing it the friendliest country in the world.
If that wasn't enough, you also voted Dublin the friendliest city in the world.
For more insights from Rough Guides' readers, read the results of our 2023 travel trends survey.
Not keen on spending hours trip-planning? Check out our tailor-made trips — 100% customisable and curated to your tastes by local experts.
Header image © Shutterstock
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