The World Happiness Report is a survey on global happiness, measuring social factors alongside economic and health data. Currently Australia ranks in the top 10, however it’s Northern Europe’s winter wonderlands that lead the way, ranking highest in caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.
Incredible fjords, majestic waterfalls and Viking history makes Norway one of the most spectacular destinations in the world. However it’s social support, low crime rates and superior education that contributes to high happiness levels. Here, you can tick off seeing the midnight sun, polar nights and the aurora borealis. You’ll need to be feeling financially fit however, as accommodation and dining can be notoriously pricey.
Denmark offers a world-renowned culture of trust, low corruption, gender equality and ‘Hygge’, which translates as a special togetherness in a relaxed environment. Vibrant Copenhagen is an historic, gastronomic and architectural treat, where pedestrians and cyclists rule the tree-lined streets. Dragør is a chocolate-box pretty fishing village, the Cliffs of Møn drop awe-inspiringly into the Baltic Sea and that’s all without touching on the wealth of castles to visit.
With one of the most enchanting environments in the world, living in Iceland means having an optimistic outlook, an organic produce diet, great health care and next to no pollution. Reykjavik is the perfect base from which to explore the wonders of nature, while enjoying a trendy café, arts and music scene. Don’t miss the geothermal spa, Blue Lagoon, or a trip to the otherworldly Skaftafell Park.
The cows even look like they’re smiling in Switzerland, so it’s little wonder the people are too.
The cows even look like they’re smiling in Switzerland, so it’s little wonder the people are too. Excellent transport systems, the purest of water, rolling landscapes from fairy tales and, of course, cheese, are just a few of the reasons why. Must-see spots include the mighty Matterhorn, Lake Geneva, the Trummelbach Falls and the Jungfraujoch.
Home to Santa, a thriving art scene and locals who love the great outdoors more than anything, Finland is still relatively free of tourists. While the trendy capital, Helsinki, attracts cruise ship passengers most days, it’s the adventurous souls that really make the most of this Nordic playground, whether it’s a magical snow scene or a summer forest feast.
Here, you’ll kayak, hike, cycle and explore endless miles of untouched wilderness. Which, when all’s said and done, seems to be the overriding similarity of the world’s happiest countries.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.