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Alpine retreats and winding streets: Why you should visit Europe’s most welcoming places in 2024

by Staff

From unique Greek architecture to local town squares bustling with life, travellers gave these destinations outstanding reviews.

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The world’s most welcoming destinations for 2024 have been named and three out of the top five are in Europe.

Booking.com used more than 309 million customer reviews to compile the list. Destinations were ranked on hospitality, service and standards of accommodation, activities and transport companies like car rental firms.

The winning locations have an above-average number of reviews praising their first-class hospitality and service.

The list of the world’s most welcoming cities and regions comes from Booking.com’s Traveller Review Awards. In total 1.48 million awards were handed out to hotels, rental properties and transport companies for 2024.

Many of the countries with the highest number of award recipients were also in Europe. Italy had the most with 181,012, followed by Spain (125,611), France (124,361) Germany (86,910) and the UK (74,754). The top 10 is rounded out by Poland, Brazil, the US, Croatia and Portugal.

Where are Europe’s most welcoming cities in 2024?

The list of the world’s most welcoming cities is dominated by destinations in Europe with four out of 10 located on the continent. Arraial d’Ajuda in Brazil came out on top followed by Ermoupoli in Greece, Viana do Castelo in Portugal, Daylesford in Australia and then Grindelwald in Switzerland to round out the top five.

Here’s where to explore while mingling with the locals.

Explore unique architecture in Ermoupoli, Greece

The capital of Syros, a Greek island in the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea, Ermoupoli was the second most welcoming place in the world. It is unique compared to other Cycladic towns for its neoclassical architecture painted in enchanting pastel hues.

Tiny, winding streets twist between the historic marble Miaouli Square, the town hall with its 15-metre staircase leading to the main entrance and a wealth of bars, restaurants and opportunities to indulge in Greek culture.

The enchanting coastal town of Viano do Castelo, Portugal

Just an hour from Porto Airport, Viano do Castelo comes in as the third most welcoming destination on Earth. Located on the Portuguese Atlantic coast, it has a long maritime history which visitors can check out at the Gil Eannes – a former hospital ship turned into a museum.

The town is filled with a variety of stunning architecture with palaces, churches and monasteries from historical periods spanning the Renaissance to Baroque to Art Deco.

And if you’re looking for something with a bit more adrenaline, Viano do Castelo is renowned for watersports. Off nearby beaches, you can surf, kitesurf and windsurf – Praia do Cabedelo receives watersports lovers from all around the world.

Breathtaking views in alpine Grindelwald, Switzerland

In the heart of the Swiss Alps, around 1,000 metres above sea level is Grindelwald – the fifth most welcoming destination on the list.

It is surrounded by iconic peaks like the Eiger and Jungfrau. A trip on the Junfraujoch cogwheel train takes you to the ‘Top of Europe’ with breathtaking views of the region’s glaciers and mountaintops.

In winter, these mountains are a hub for world-class skiing and snowboarding slopes. In summer they are laced with endless hiking trails through the alpine landscape.

Boutique Hotel Glacier is one of the oldest hotels in the region and has existed since 1864. Inside you’ll find a design that is a tribute to Grindelwald’s ice workers and tourism heritage. Outside you can admire Eiger from one of the spa’s hot tubs.

Picture perfect landscapes in Uzès, France

Coming in seventh place is Uzès, in the Occitanie region of southern France. This medieval destination has cobbled streets and historic charm iconic to the area.

Get lost in its narrow streets and discover cafes, market stalls, artisan shops and galleries. Some of Uzès best known attractions include its biggest cathedral the Duchy Palace and the Place aux Herbes, its vibrant central square.

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If you visit during July, be sure to check out Les Nuits Musicales d’Uzès – a festival with classical and jazz music events at venues across the historic sites of Uzès lit by the early evening light.

It also serves as a gateway to the beautiful landscapes of the Gard region – recognised for its vineyards and olive groves.

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