A new study by the U.N. recognized these three neighboring countries as the happiest in the world, so we’ve provided a guide for when you travel there.
Want to be happier? It might mean vacationing in these three countries—all Nordic, blessed with lots of hygge and long days of blissful sunlight come June. According to the World Happiness Report 2018 released this week, and mentioned in this New York Times story, Finland takes the cake for happiest country, followed by Nordic neighbors Norway and Denmark. (For reference, the United States clocks in at 18th place, sliding down four spots from last year’s findings.) Tasked with creating this report each year, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s team of economists examines all the measures of happiness in 156 countries: social support, life expectancy, income, freedom, generosity and trust.
Here’s what to do once you get to these happy utopias. If it’s winter, don’t forget to look up at the sky to view those stunning Northern Lights, visible from all three countries.
Dip into your spiritual side at Helsinki’s Temppeliaukion, a Lutheran church carved out of bedrock. This architectural marvel is below sea level. You don’t have to go to a service—just sit and close your eyes. Trust us, it’s phenomenal—acoustics included. Both creepy and cool, the 500-strong collection of stone sculptures by Veijo Rönkkönen at his namesake garden in Parikkala is worth the three-hour trek from Helsinki, especially if you’re a yogi (the figures are demonstrating asanas). Meet Helsinki’s cultural creatives in the city’s Design District. Design District Helsinki’s map of 170 stops—or the guided walking tour on Fridays at 3 P.M.—makes the browsing of museums, boutiques and galleries easy.
Pull out your phone, because you’re going to want to Instagram the rainbow-hued rooftop installation at ARoS Aarhaus Art Museum in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city. After taking in the 360-degree views, nosh and imbibe at the restaurant, where most of the organic ingredients are culled from the rooftop garden. For a chill stroll—and an outdoor concert, if you’re lucky—visit Tivoli Gardens in the heart of Copenhagen, a landmark since its debut in 1843. Copenhagen’s Nyhavn district features that postcard-perfect view of colorful townhouses along the waterfront.
Residents of last year’s number-one country are still smiling at their luck to be living here, with natural wonders like the world’s highest concentration of fjords and the fact that men get 10 weeks of pappapermisjon (paternity leave). There’s even a wall-less prison on a picaresque island. Fans of art, architecture, and design will want to experience the National Gallery in Oslo, housing Norway’s largest art collection, which includes Edvard Munch’s The Scream. SALT is a multipurpose venue created by architect Sami Rintala marrying art, food and drink, and music—and even sauna—inside wooden pyramid-shaped structures on Oslo’s shoreline.