Happiness is difficult to measure, but one initiative at the United Nations has been trying to figure it out. The World Happiness Report formulated on two key ideas – happiness or life evaluation measured through opinion surveys and identifying key elements that determine well-being and life evaluation across countries.
Maybe just daydreaming about visiting these countries will give you a boost of happiness, who knows?
Take a look at Top Ten Happiest countries in the World:
In the matter of happiness for the fifth year in a row, Finland is number one. A popular activity in Finland is Winter swimming, with citizens claiming they get a roaring rush of happiness as soon as they’re back on dry land and their circulation kicks in. It’s an acquired taste, but the surge of serotonin and dopamine might be worth it.
Denmark remained in the number two spot this year. To get a sense of that “at one with nature” mentality, visit Denmark in the summer and stay at a traditional Danish seaside inn. After a few days of cycling along the coast, eating fresh mussels and house-made sourdough, and taking in views of the Baltic Sea from a shaded hammock, you can’t help but feel a little more joyful.
In a small country like Iceland, it’s easy to socialize with your friends and family—a vast contributing factor to overall happiness. By joining an Icelandic family for a homemade meal, experience that close-knit culture, which you can easily do through several tour companies. Creative Iceland offers a deal like this in Reykjavik, while Viator has an option in the fishing town of Hofn.
Eating small amounts of dark chocolate can lead to a significant decrease in depressive symptoms, according to research from University College London —and where better in the world to shop around for chocolate than in Switzerland? Try the 99 percent cocoa bar at the Teuscher HQ in Zurich, or hop on a train to Broc to visit the renowned Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory and shop.
According to the UNICEF report, 85 percent of Dutch children eat breakfast with their parents every morning (a sign of positive wellbeing). While you may be past the age of sitting down for meals before school, you can still enjoy a classic Dutch breakfast during your visit to the Netherlands: typically a slice of bread topped with appelstroop, jam, or hagelslag sprinkles (we’re smiling already).
With a population under 600,000, this small country offers high salaries and a strong social security system to help its citizens after retirement. Can’t decide between nature and culture? Get a dose of both (and a little exercise while you’re at it) by climbing Chemin de la Corniche, a pedestrian promenade that winds along Luxembourg City’s 17th-century stone walls. Dubbed “Europe’s most beautiful balcony” by Luxembourger author Batty Weber, the street affords incredible views of the Alzette River and the city’s historic center.
An emphasis on work-life balance leads to a happier populace. Lagom is a way of life in Sweden, something that’s hard to translate but boils down to balance and moderation. Swedes apply lagom to everything from wardrobe to diet, but the most tourist-friendly way to enjoy this lifestyle is to join in fika—a designated time of day to slow down and be in the present, usually with a hot cup of coffee and baked goods. Just stop by any one of Stockholm’s excellent cafes around 11 a.m. (we’re fans of Café Pascal and Green Rabbit) to easily join the locals in this daily tradition.
It’s scientifically proven that being near water makes people happier, and Noway has a lot of opportunities to enter an aquatic state of mind. The country has some of the deepest and most beautiful lakes in Europe, including Lake Mjøsa about 60 miles north of Oslo. There is a bike path that circles the entire lake, so get in a good ride before cooling off in the water.
Travelers can enjoy that life-extending Mediterranean diet at thousands of restaurants in Tel Aviv, the culinary capital of Israel. Writer Gabrielle Robins suggests seeking out street food like falafel at HaKosem, hummus at Abu Hassan, and kebabs at Zalmaniko.
10. New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world, with as many outdoor activities as there are stunning landscapes. Whether you spend your vacation kayaking in Milford Sound, hiking through Tongariro National Park, or bungy jumping in Queenstown, you’re sure to leave feeling better than when you arrived.