Visiting the World's Happiest Countries
Each year, the UN commissions a report on the world’s happiest countries, evaluating things like economic output, life expectancy, and social freedom and support. The countries with the happiest citizens are also often countries with the happiest visitors. Here, the top 10 nations of 2018, and some of the reasons we’d happily take a vacation (or live) there... Especially #7.
We love: The wild sprawl of Lapland, an arctic territory (and Santa Claus home) with 24-hour summer sun and 24-hour winter midnight; the Baltic capital of Helsinki, where art-nouveau curves meet sharply modern lines; a furniture design pedigree that is one of the few that can compete with Denmark.
We love: A local airline that aims to plummet the prices of international flights; the freshest fish plucked from crystal-clear fjords; thriving ports descended from vikings, which constantly bring in new ideas from other cultures.
We love: Restaurants so good, with food so fresh, the wait for a table can stretch for months; a bicycle-based culture that pushes cars (and pollution) to the curb; a clean-lined design heritage that’s always in style.
We love: A destination that feels like it’s on another planet, yet is only a few hours from Canada's east coast; a lunar landscape where thermal hot springs splash up against glaciers and lava fields; northern lights that ignite the night.
We love: Ski slopes that set a global standard; alpine peaks dotted with icy blue waters, storybook timber lodges, and colorful fields of flowers; immaculate lakeside cities as meticulously run as a pricey wristwatch.
We love: Dutch masters who found new ways to capture light on a canvas; the canals, cyclists, and overall coolness of Amsterdam; fields of flowers so beautiful, they triggered a “tulip mania” in the 1600s.
We love: Our home and native land! A gorgeous natural abundance, from the snowy peaks of Banff to the dreamy meadows of Prince Edward Island. From coast to coast, our cities are clean and well-run, and rich with cultural and culinary achievements.
8. New Zealand
We love: A charmed geography where warm beaches encircle a rugged, expansive interior so otherworldly it’s used as Middle Earth for the Lord of the Rings films; vineyards nipping at the heels of more well-known wine regions; Auckland’s waterfront and sophisticated shopping and dining.
We love: A certain furniture company that has filled most of our house; Stockholm’s mix of medieval old town and super-modern design; crisp, clear and pollution-free outside, cozy, warm and welcoming inside.
We love: Cosmopolitan Sydney’s stylish restaurants and shops, and standard-setting culture; laid-back and friendly locals, who need only contend with great weather, great beaches, and great surfing; the untamed Outback, a final frontier for hardcore adventurers.