If $M_1$ and $M_2$ are compact connected manifolds of dimension $n$, and $f$ is a continuous map from $M_1$ to $M_2$, f is homotopic to a smooth map from $M_1$ to $M_2$.
Seems to be fairly basic, but I can't find a proof. It might be necessary to assume that the manifolds are Riemannian.
It should be possible to locally solve the problem in Euclidean space by possibly using polynomial approximations and then patching them up, where compactness would tell us that approximating the function in finitely many open sets is enough. I don't see how to use the compactness of the target space though.