Europe boasts a wide range of diverse and popular destinations that attract millions of visitors each year. While some metropolitan destinations like London and Munich offer well-connected city links, some cities such as Stockholm can be the perfect escape away from the hustle and bustle.
When looking for inspiration to travel, many look at primary factors such as weather forecasts, local cuisines, tourist attractions, and holiday budgets. But often, many forget to research how friendly a city is.
If you’re planning to travel in 2023 and visiting a friendly and accepting destination is at the top of your priorities, then keep on reading.
We took the guesswork out of finding a friendly city for your next getaway, by ranking popular cities across Europe on factors such as happiness scores, crime rates, and LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Not only is Europe filled with diverse landscapes and cultures, but it is also one of the best-connected continents in the world, making it no surprise that travelers from far and wide choose Europe as their vacation destination. While some countries are renowned for their local attractions, the following European spots are known for their friendliness.
1. Zurich, Switzerland | Friendliness score: 9.89/10
Zurich ranks in first place and is recognized as being the friendliest destination for a European vacation. The Swiss capital is a popular spot for those seeking an outdoor mountain getaway and families who enjoy exploring historical architecture.
Zurich has the highest happiness index score of all the cities we looked at, 7.54 out of 10. Zurich also beats all other destinations when it comes to pickpocketing fears, with just 13% of visitors worried about falling victim to mugging.
The Swiss city is also home to an inclusive society for LGBTQ+ visitors, with the Zurich Pride Parade expected to attract thousands of visitors this June 17th thanks to its famous street parties and lively atmosphere.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark | Friendliness score: 8.59/10
Copenhagen ranks as Europe’s second-friendliest city. The capital of Denmark is a fantastic city for tourists due to its unique blend of history, culture, and Scandinavian charm. Visitors to Copenhagen can explore museums, browse trendy boutiques, and appreciate the elegant and modern aesthetics found throughout the city. You will have the opportunity to see beautiful architecture and enjoy eating traditional Danish dishes like open sandwiches and Danish hotdogs.
Copenhagen is one of the safest cities on our list, with a crime and safety index of 26 out of 100. The city is also one of the happiest of those we looked at and has an LGBTQ+ accepting society. In fact, one of the most popular events in the city is the Copenhagen Pride Parade, which takes place on August 19th this year at the City Hall Square.
3. Munich, Germany | Friendliness score: 8.26/10
Munich is often called the cultural capital of Germany and is a popular tourist destination for those who love a city escape. The city has a fascinating history that dates back centuries, offering numerous historical landmarks, including the Nymphenburg Palace. And, if history isn’t your thing, Munich is also renowned for its delicious cuisine and traditional beer culture.
Munich is the safest destination on our list, with a crime and safety index of 19 out of 100. The beer capital of Germany is also one of the top cities for LGBTQ+ inclusion, with Munich Gay Pride 2023 taking place from June 10th to 25th. Here travelers can enjoy bustling parades and a street party on the second Saturday of the event.
The safest European city to visit, according to crime rates
Munich, Germany: 19/100 Crime & safety index
Munich ranks as the safest place to visit in Europe, with a crime index of 19 out of 100. The Bavarian city attracts tourists from all corners of the world, famous for its museums and Gothic architecture. Those seeking a getaway to a safe European destination should certainly consider booking a trip to Germany’s beer capital.
The safest European city to visit, according to pickpocket fears
Zurich, Switzerland: 13% of people fear pickpocketing
Zurich comes in first place for the lowest percentage of pickpocketing fears, with just 13% of residents worried about becoming a target of pickpocketing or mugging. The safe destination offers the perfect city escape while boasting mountainous landscapes and the beautiful Lake Zurich - ideal for any traveler.
The most LGBTQ+ friendly European cities to visit
Zurich, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, London, Stockholm: AAA Open For Business score
Zurich, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, London, and Stockholm have the most inclusive societies, ranked with the highest rating (AAA) by Open for Business.
Being LGBTQ+ inclusive means creating an environment, community, or society that is accepting, supportive, and respectful of all identities. It involves acknowledging and affirming the rights and identities of LGBTQ+ individuals and working towards their equality and inclusion in all aspects of life.
The happiest European city to visit
Zurich, Switzerland: 7.5/10 Happiness score
Zurich is the happiest destination in Europe, making it a must-visit city for those planning a vacation to a spot with friendly locals. The World Happiness Report ranks Zurich 7.5 out of 10 for the happiness of residents. You can find entertainment from unrivaled nightlife to world-class museums in Zurich, making it perfect for any type of getaway.
We wanted to reveal the friendliest cities in Europe, looking at the crime and safety index, LGBTQ+ friendliness, happiness, and pickpocketing concerns.
We created a seed list of cities to analyze by looking at the destinations ranked in Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Index 2022, sourced from the Jerusalem Post. We removed all destinations outside of Europe and those with incomplete data across the factors we looked at.
We ranked each city based on the following factors, giving each city a score out of 10 for each factor, with equal weighting being given to each analyzed factor. We then took a normalized score for each city to calculate a ‘Friendliness Score/10’.
We sourced the crime and safety index and percentage of people who fear pickpocketing or mugging from Numbeo on 11/05/2023.
We sourced the LGBTQ+ friendliness of each city from Open for Business 2022 City Ratings, assigning each level of LGBTQ+ friendliness a number up to 13. AAA is the highest possible score awarded to cities for their LGBTQ+ inclusiveness, whilst E is the lowest possible score. For some cities on our list, a rating was unavailable.
We sourced the happiness score out of 10 of each city from the World Happiness Report 2020. Where unavailable for some destinations, we used the happiness score of the country.
Destinations for which complete data was unavailable were removed from our ranking.