Shock as Switzerland named the least hospitable nation in Europe

Shock as Switzerland named the least hospitable nation in Europe

As a country awash with historical sites, ski resorts and astounding natural beauty, most consider Switzerland to be a top destination for tourists. However, a new study by Holidu has cast a shadow on this assumption, rating the alpine nation as the least hospitable country in Europe. Here’s why:

Most hospitable nations in Europe

To create the report, the expert travel firm analysed 25 of Europe’s most popular tourist countries. However, instead of basing the study solely on what there is to do in each place, the firm analysed how welcoming nations are to tourists. This was done through several factors, namely:

  • Tourist arrivals: The number of tourists visiting the country each year, based on data from the World Tourism Organisation.
  • Knowledge of English: How widespread understanding of English is in each nation, based on the EF English Proficiency Index.
  • Family friendly: How family-friendly each destination is, based on a family-friendly ranking from US News.
  • Willingness to help: Based on a survey of how often locals have offered to help a stranger in the past year.
  • Taxi quality: The quality and friendliness of taxi services, based on a report from Essential Living.
  • Top sights: Based on visitor ratings of each nation’s 50 most popular attractions.
  • Pickpocketing: The likelihood of being pickpocketed in each country, based on national statistics from the police.

A score of between 10 and 100 points was awarded for each category, with a weighted average used to place each nation on the ranking.

Iberian peninsula is the most hospitable in Europe

In the report, Spain took the top spot as the most hospitable nation in Europe. With the country hosting the second highest number of tourists each year (72 million, just behind France with 79 million), offering the “friendliest taxi services” in Europe and earning some of the highest scores for visitor experience, it’s little surprise that the sun-drenched shores and cities of España were rated best.

In fact, it was an Iberian clean sweep at the top of the ranking, with Portugal rated as the second most hospitable country in Europe, mainly due to the high rating of its tourist hot spots. Turkey, Ireland and Croatia rounded out the top five.

Switzerland named the least hospitable in Europe

Time for the elephant in the room: based on the Holidu study, Switzerland is the least hospitable nation in Europe, coming in 25th place. The alpine nation joined Luxembourg, Belgium, Finland and Albania in the bottom five.

So why is Switzerland so poorly rated for hospitality? Holidu noted that this is mainly due to the poor rating of Swiss taxi services and the willingness of the population to help strangers. Swiss taxis were rated the worst for friendliness in Europe, while only 40 percent of respondents from Switzerland said that they helped a stranger in the last year, the second worst score on the list, only 2 percent higher than France.

Hospitality in Switzerland is best for families and children

Switzerland’s poor rating for English-language skills compared to other tourist hotspots in Europe also did not do the country any favours. However, Holidu did concede that the country scored well for low rates of crime and was exceptional in its friendliness towards families and children, performing above average and significantly higher than the rest of the DACH region.

However, while this ranking would suggest that the alpine nation is a no-go for travel, others have contradicted its findings. Most recently, the New York Times rated Geneva as one of the top travel destinations for 2024, while Swiss ski resorts have also been rated as some of the best in the world. Commentators also noted that the report's focus on taxis - a service that is rarely used in Switzerland - and lack of a category for public transport did not serve the country well.

Speaking to 20 Minuten, Switzerland Tourism spokesperson André Aschwanden said that while they couldn’t comment on the ranking specifically, they did bring its findings into question. “According to the largest guest survey in Swiss tourism, the Tourism Monitor Switzerland, in 2017 over 80 percent of those surveyed from all over the world said they were particularly satisfied with the hospitality in this country,” he noted.

10 most hospitable countries in Europe

In all, here are the 10 most hospitable countries in Europe, according to Holidu:

  1. Spain
  2. Portugal
  3. Turkey
  4. Ireland
  5. Croatia
  6. Greece
  7. Poland
  8. Austria
  9. Germany
  10. Italy

For more information about the study, check out the official website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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