It seems like Europe is fast becoming the new South East Asia when it comes to backpacking on a shoestring (not possible in London, obviously), and over the years I have been fortunate enough to experience most of the countries that I wanted to visit. I have had some bad experiences in the past, such as in France and Russia, but I have also found some really nice people – and made some good friends, too. Here are a handful of the countries in Europe that I personally believe have the friendliest locals.
5. Czech Republic
While it is true that I have visited just Prague, it was very memorable for all the right reasons and I would love to go back to the Czech Republic one day. It has a fascinating history and culture, and I was struck by the friendliness of the locals, especially younger people, in and around town.
I may not have visited the Netherlands since 2012, but one thing I always remember from my Amsterdam adventures is the friendly local people that really help you settle into your new surroundings, and on many occasions even invited me out for a quick pint or a coffee. Dutch people across the country – not just in Amsterdam – are very accommodating to backpackers of all ages.
Although there are some horror stories involving Brits abroad in Italy, on the whole I have found Italians to be very nice people, especially in the north around Venice and Milan (and the Italian Riviera). Italians know their country is very popular with tourists from all over the world, and – unlike the French – they go out of their way to help you settle in. In Venice, in particular, I was overwhelmed with the jovial atmosphere.
Not everybody gets to visit Norway, but I was fortunate enough last year to experience some parts of the country. While in Oslo it is hard to mingle, I found that when travelling north west to the fjords and smaller towns, the people were genuinely amazed to see a solo backpacker enjoy their humble country. There are some great Norwegian cultural traditions that you will be encouraged to join in with!
Admittedly, I have always had a soft spot for Spain, but honestly one of the reasons for this is the attitude of Spanish people. Spaniards know how to have a good time, yet unlike the locals of some other western nations, they are not rude towards outsiders, and actually want you to join in with them as they party! Culturally, Spaniards seem to want you to learn about the history of their country, especially in the southern city of Seville, but actually it was in Barcelona where I found the friendliest people (must be the feel-good vibes from the Mediterranean beaches).
Have you travelled around Europe? Which countries did you find had the friendliest locals? And did you ever have any bad experiences somewhere?!
Further reading: Top 5 friendliest countries in South East Asia