• Condé Nast Traveler’s Friendliest Cities for 2015

    by  • August 19, 2015 • Bruges, Budapest, City Breaks, Dublin, Edinburgh, Krakow, Reykjavik

    Dublin, Kraków, Bruges, Edinburgh, Budapest and Reykjavik Voted in the Top 10.

    The luxury American travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, recently published the results of its third annual Reader’s Choice Survey awards, as voted for by tens of thousands of its US readership. One of the polls to catch my eye was its top ten list of friendliest worldwide cities (there is also a list of unfriendliest destinations, but perhaps we’ll bypass that for the time being!), with some to-be-expected names making the list alongside some surprising recipients.

    First and third positions went to the southern hemisphere, with Sydney topping the polls and its New Zealand neighbour, Queenstown, pipped to second place by good old Dublin. Kraków, a Cities Direct favourite, made fourth place, with the multiple charms of Bruges, Edinburgh, Kyoto in Japan, Budapest, Auckland and Reykjavik recognised and completing the top ten.

    Here’s just a selection of the praise heaped upon some of our favourite city break destinations by our American counterparts, as well as some sightseeing tips…

    “The people make the place” here, with “pubs and restaurants filled with locals and tourists alike, coming together to celebrate life.” (“I’ve never been somewhere with friendlier drinkers.”) “The Irish are so much fun,” and “there’s always a smiling face to talk to.” Top tips: “Best hidden gem is Marsh’s Library, smaller than the one at Trinity but more accessible,” and “ditch the crowded tour at Guinness and go directly to the bar at the top.” The city seems to have become “the ‘new’ Barcelona, without the sunstroke.”

    “What a surprise and a treasure Kraków is!” “Still known more to Europeans than Americans, it’s a gem” with some of the “friendliest locals you’ll ever meet.” They certainly have a good sense of humor: A “don’t-miss adventure is to take a light-hearted Communism Tour with Crazy Guides” in a vintage Trabant car through the centrally planned Socialist district of Nowa Huta. Another spirited trip is to “climb the stairs to the top of Wawel Castle’s tower and touch the Sigismund Bell for good luck”—your right hand for love, your left for wealth, but never both!”


    “Being in Bruges is like being in a fairy tale. Literally every time I turned a corner I expected Prince Charming to show up because I felt like Cinderella at the ball.” The city is “quaint, bustling, teeming with people, sights, and sounds”; many noted that it was most “peaceful in the early morning and late evening once tour groups had left”—the perfect time to “take a carriage tour along the canals with a friendly carriage master telling stories of the history and locals.” “Friendly shopkeepers” and no dearth of “cafés serving warm waffles with chocolate sauce” equalled “exactly what we imagined an old European city should be like.”

    Bruges City Break

    “People really went out of their way to help us, direct us, and serve us,” recalled recent visitors. There were “wonderful pubs filled with laughter,” and “local musicians playing and everyone smiling and singing along.” “What a hoot!” “Visiting Edinburgh Castle with a private guide was terrific. We learned all about the salacious side of Scottish history,” plus, “seeing the city lit up by fireworks on New Year’s Eve was an extraordinary treat” surrounded by “cheerful and lovely crowds.” Beware though: The only chill comes from the weather. “Always pack a warm coat, even in August,” said one reader.”

    “Budapest is a “beautiful city with a history that makes you smile and cry,” and “friendly people anxious to show everyone everything” with “a wonderful sense of humor, in spite of their difficult history.” “We loved mixing with the locals in the many hot springs baths,” and more than one reader mentioned “music wherever we went… not just concerts, but in the streets, on the radio, and in cafés.” “Stay on the Pest side, explore the Buda side” and “if you have kids, go to the entertaining Szabó Marzipan Museum.”


    “Like nowhere else in Europe,” this world’s most northerly capital city is “an eye-opening experience as to the Icelanders’ ability to make the most of an inhospitable climate” with their “deep sense of culture, intellect, sophistication, and friendliness.” “The hospitality was amazing, no matter who you met.” Plus: “Reykjavik is hip, and the locals like to party!”

    Dublin, Kraków, Bruges, Edinburgh and Reykjavik copy copyrighted to and adapted from Condé Nast Traveler’s “The 2015 Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the World”.



    With a French grandmother, childhood holidays on the continent and a degree in French and Spanish, a love of languages and travel has always been in my blood. Fresh from university with an unfettered enthusiasm to show off my linguistic ability and first-hand knowledge of the world beyond the UK, I entered the travel industry and, 16 years on, I’m still there! With several years spent in the luxury sector planning escorted holidays across Europe for the American market, followed by an even longer tenure designing short breaks with a difference in the must-see cities of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, Florence, Brussels, Venice, Salzburg, Milan, Krakow and Berlin (to name but a few), it’s fair to say that Europe is my passion! Today my travels have taken me far beyond the boundaries of Europe with so many destinations still to discover, yet the continent abounds in such a wealth of treasures – historical and architectural, cultural and musical, gastronomic, artistic and linguistic – that its appeal, for me, will be eternal.