Deciding on a volunteer destination can be quite a challenge. Some of you will know from the get-go where you want to volunteer and travel. For others, it can take a bit of research. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 volunteer cities around the world.
Volunteers who like lively volunteer destinations and enjoy the hustle and bustle, will find their dream volunteer destination in the list below. We’ve chosen to represent 6 continents and 10 countries.
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Best Volunteer Places in Africa
Cape Town (SOUTH AFRICA)
Capetown will captivate you with its Table Mountain views, pristine beaches, and romantic vineyards. If that’s not the case, the brightly painted facades of Bo Kaap and the Afro-chic decor in restaurants and bars, most definitely will.
Discover a city offering nature, wildlife, culture, and adventure! Besides breathtaking nature, Capetown is also home to a melting pot of cultures and religions: Christians, Muslims, Jewish, Hindu, and traditional African beliefs live together in harmony.
Volunteering in Capetown is an excellent choice. Volunteer projects are abundant and offer something for every type of volunteer. While you can work with children, animals, the elderly or support the local healthcare industry, adrenaline junkies can volunteer for shark conservation. On top of that, surfers can teach the local youth of Capetown the joys of catching a wave.
The capital of Ghana may not blow you away in terms of beauty. But the gritty liveliness of the ‘Gateway to Africa’ may grow on you sooner than expected. Taste the local delicacies of the Ghanaian people at the Makola Market. And learn all about Africa and pay respect to the founding father of Ghana at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum.
Volunteers can teach children in local schools or volunteer for childcare projects. Volunteers who like physical labor can work on a building project. Alternatively, those with a medical background can provide medical aid.
Accra is one of the densest cities for volunteer opportunities. This is why it’s one of the top 10 volunteer cities. Social volunteers with a heart for people will gain a lot of satisfaction from volunteer work in Accra. Also, if this is your first time to Africa, Ghana is an excellent place to start.
Best Volunteer Places in Central America
San Jose (COSTA RICA)
Explore Cosa Rica’s political and cultural capital and you’ll find historical gems in this concrete jungle. Barrio Amon houses colonial mansions turned into Art galleries while Barrio Escalante will tickle your taste buds. Chepe (how locals call it) is also an excellent destination for party animals who want to dance the night away.
San Jose is one of the safest and least violent cities in Latin America. Therefore, it’s one of the top 10 volunteer cities in the world. Surrounded by national parks, San Jose gives you access to some of the lushest rainforests and most exquisite wildlife.
Volunteer opportunities in San Jose are almost as diverse as its wildlife. Admirers of Costa Rican wildlife can join a wildlife rescue program or protect its national parks. If you’re interested in sustainable agriculture, help out on a coffee farm. Social volunteer can help the local community with teaching, childcare, human rights, healthcare, and construction projects.
Best Volunteer Places in South America
Volunteer in Cusco and explore the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Cusco is known for its rich cultural history and its location in the Andes mountains. Above all, it’s the gateway to Machu Picchu. Cusco is an interesting combination of ancient archeological ruins and Spanish colonial architecture. And it never fails to amaze.
Cusco has plenty of volunteer projects. This gem offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities. From nature-oriented programs to social projects. Amazon conservation, animal rescue programs, and jungle preservation projects will excite volunteers seeking nature.
On the other hand, child support, healthcare, teaching, and human rights programs are great for those who want to connect with the local community. Volunteer in Cusco and experience one of the greatest tourist hotspots while doing something meaningful.
Rio de Janeiro (BRAZIL)
Volunteer in Rio de Janeiro and discover the Marvelous City. Explore the infamous Copacabana and Cristo Redentor on Mount Corcovado or participate in the colorful carnival celebrations. This flourishing South American metropolis is a dream destination for adventurous travelers. However, as Brazil’s second-largest city, Rio de Janeiro suffers from crime and poverty in the favelas.
Rio is a city that will benefit from your volunteer work. You can teach at local schools, give kids after-school activities and support community development. How does a construction project or urban gardening sound?
Best Volunteer Places in Asia
Chiang Mai (THAILAND)
Backpackers heaven and home to many digital nomads, Chiang Mai is also a top volunteer city. It’s a bustling city with delicious food, an excellent shopping experience, sightseeing, and a laid-back vibe.
Most importantly, elephant lovers won’t find a better place to volunteer than Chiang Mai. With elephant sanctuaries scattered throughout the rainforest, it’s a matter of finding the right project for you. Help care for rescued elephants from abuse or protect their natural habitat.
Volunteers who want to research elephants will learn everything about these gentle giants. Creative volunteers, on the other hand, can do a photography internship and observe elephants in their natural habitat. Alternatively, volunteers who are born to teach can work with young monks or hill tribe children. Volunteer in Chiang Mai and connect with the local community and learn about northern Thailand’s culture.
Ubud is what dreams are made of. Therefore, it’s no suprise Ubud’s one of the top volunteer cities. Located in Bali amid lush green rice paddies, it never fails to mesmerize. Besides its dreamlike landscapes, Ubud also posseses a spirituality that makes you want to roll out your yoga mat and start a mindfulness practice.
Besides its breathtaking landscapes, Ubud is also a culinary gem. Vegetarians and vegans, get ready for a feast in Ubud. Ubud is known for its hip and healthy plant-based dishes that go hand in hand with the yoga and a sustainable lifestyle.
If this is for you, volunteer in Ubud and help the local community. Teach locals about nutrition and healthcare, or show them how to be more friendly to the environment. Teachers are also always in high demand in Ubud.
Volunteer in Kathmandu and experience its rich cultural heritage which combines Hinduism and Buddhism. Get swept up in the hustle and bustle of Nepal’s capital. And admire the views of the world’s greatest mountain range. This spiritual haven will tickle all your senses but it will not fail to amaze and inspire.
If you’re drawn to this sacred place full of architectural gems and are determined to see Durbar Square, why not volunteer in Kathmandu? Kathmandu offers plenty of teaching opportunities. This is ideal for volunteers who want to connect with the local community.
Teach the youth or monks of Kathmandu, if you’re a teacher or rescue street animals. Volunteers drawn to nature can help out on an organic farm while other volunteers support the local community with childcare, healthcare, and construction programs.
Best Volunteer Places in Europe
Volunteer in Naples, one of the main cities in Italy, and explore its historic culture. Forget your diet and indulge in Naples’ cuisine against the backdrop of Mount Vesuvius backdrop and the Gulf of Naples
Despite its beauty and cultural background, Naples still needs support. Naples is one of the first stops for migrants and refugees. This is why many programs focus on assisting their transiton to the EU.
Help migrant women learn the language while you babysit their children. If you’re good at basketball, coach a migrant basketball team. Teachers, marine life lovers, and archeologists will also find interesting projects in this Italian hotspot by the sea.
Best Volunteer Places in Oceania
Volunteer in Cairns and ease into the laidback lifestyle. If you want to combine the world’s largest coral reef with rainforests and exotic wildlife, you’ve come to the right place. Slow down, and take in your new surroundings by the Coral Sea.
The Great Barrier Reef will enthrall marine lovers as they help protect this natural wonder. If you’re passionate about sea turtles, join one of the projects for sea turtle conservations.
Volunteers who prefer to keep it on land, volunteer for rainforest preservation or wildlife protection. Protect Australian wildlife in their natural habitat, or care for rescued koalas, kangaroos, or even bats. Volunteer for Aussie bush rehabilitation and learn all about this unique landscape if you like working in a remote environment.
Which of these top 10 volunteer cities attracts you? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Be sure to share your volunteer experience on social media and inspire others to start their own volunteer journey!