Some countries may turn their nose to tourists, but these friendly destinations will welcome you with open arms.
Traveling abroad can be daunting. With a possible language barrier, foreign currency and unfamiliar customs, receiving a warm welcome from locals can help to make your trip an unforgettable experience.
Forbes identified the Top 3 friendliest nations where it’s easiest to befriend locals, learn the language, integrate into the community and fit into the culture. We found some great reasons to visit each of these countries and added two more popular destinations to the list (Canada and the United States). We’ve outlined some appealing reasons to visit some of the most welcoming places on earth … whether you’re with friends or hope to make some.
One step off the plane and you’ll realize why New Zealand is at the top of the list. Just the scenery alone will make you smile. You can see everything from spectacular glaciers, rugged mountains and miles of sandy beaches all within a day or two’s drive. Unleash even more endorphins by hiking the Milford Track – New Zealand’s most famous walk that leads you past the country’s tallest waterfall, pristine lakes and sky-scraping mountain peaks. The best part: most outdoor attractions can be enjoyed year-round due to mild temperatures.
New Zealanders (informally known as Kiwis) are another reason the country ranks so high on the welcoming scale. Kiwis’ friendly and down-to-earth nature comes from a diverse population made up of European, indigenous Maori and Asian descent. Strike up a conversation along your journey to truly understand what makes New Zealanders so unique.
We can all admit it, Australians have one of the most memorable accents around. While you might run into unfamiliar vocabulary (mozzie means mosquito), the English-speaking country is easy to get around for the most part and welcoming to newcomers. Plus, it’s a great destination for family travel.
Kangaroo Island – Australia’s third largest island -- offers plenty of big-ticket enticements for kids, including premier wildlife viewing (koalas dozing in lofty eucalypts), sandboarding and surfing. Catch a ferry in your car or by foot from Cape Jervis (about a two-hour drive from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula) and enjoy the comfortable, 45-minute ride.
Financial perks were one of the biggest reasons South Africa landed on the list of friendliest countries. In addition to added luxuries, expats reported increased disposable income. With the Big 5 safari, world-class surfing and a vibrant city-life, there are plenty of ways to spend your extra money.
Kruger National Park is one of the world’s greatest national parks and home to all of Africa’s iconic safari species – elephant, lion, leopard, giraffe and more. A four-day adventure will take you to three outstanding safaris in an open-air vehicle for an up-close look. You’ll also sleep in a luxury hotel complete with a pool and private veranda.
Now is the best time to visit our neighbors to the north up in Canada as they celebrate their 150th birthday in a big way! From big cities to beautiful parks, there are great destinations across the country worth visiting. Admission to all National Parks is free for the entire 2017 calendar year as the Canadian National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday (we’re noticing some big birthday trends). With 171 national parks from which to choose, the most popular one to visit is Banff National Park (Canada’s first national park), which has unbelievable views of the Canadian Rockies.
We’re guessing you already live here, so we’ll dive in a bit more and suggest you visit some of the friendliest cities in the U.S., including Asheville, N.C.; Santa Fe, N.M.; or Charleston, S.C. All three have made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of friendliest cities in the world, with Charleston ranking No. 1!
What’s the friendliest destination you’ve visited? Share with us and other Fast Park fans on our Facebook page!