The World’s Happiest Cities

Smile! As the summer comes to a close and the air begins to chill, it doesn’t mean we have to shake our warm and jovial attitudes! Take inspiration from the world’s happiest cities as you stride into autumn, and definitely consider taking the time to explore these ten wholesome destinations.

In these cheerful municipalities, the happiness indices are through the roof from the never ending activities, individual freedoms granted to citizens, strong social support, sense of community and healthy life expectancies… not to mention overall positivity and prosperity!

Helsinki, Finland

Uspenski Cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, was built 1862-1868

Finland is a paradise for nature lovers, with its vast forests, crystal-clear lakes, and a beautiful coastline. It is a country rich with culture where saunas and reindeer are part of everyday life.

According to The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s “World Happiness Report,” Finland was rated the number one happiest nation in 2023.

The best word to describe Helsinki is “Human Centered.” Transportation is easy to navigate, citizens have strong education and social support, and public spaces are designed to be easy to enjoy. Often called “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” Finland’s round-the-clock sunshine during the summer months attributes to the happy demeanors of Finnish natives.

Madrid, Spain  

fountain of Cibeles In Madrid, Spain

Una caña, por favor!

Madrid has it all! From landscaping, architecture, historical buildings, food markets, and a mixture of both contemporary and renaissance art museums, your days will be packed to the brim with activities as you enjoy the city.

Madrid additionally offers bustling nightlife, a modern metropolitan vibe, and of course, that warm, sought after, Mediterranean climate – the traveler or local in Madrid is extremely spoiled.

Fun fact: Madrid has more cloudless days than virtually any other city in Europe! No wonder the city has such a sunkissed glow.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam Netherlands, city skyline Dutch house at canal waterfront with spring tulip flowers.

The winding canals of Amsterdam are characterized by their historic narrow homes and dutch flora.

Amsterdam is frequently home to a variety of tech startups and research laboratories, making the city a scientific hub for education and development. Not only is Amsterdam proficient in tech, making The Netherlands a major competitor in the international sphere, Amsterdam is known for it’s great curations of art pieces, holding best-known pieces by Rembrandt, Mondrian, Van Gogh and more. 

Wherever you turn in Amsterdam, you are bound to see a bicycle. Every street is lined with bike lanes; there are actually more bikes than people – 22.8 million bikes or about 1.33 bikes per person, according to Amsterdam Trips.

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, Canada under the full moon

Is the “Canada nice” stereotype accurate? Well, if you’re in Vancouver, it may just be! Citizens of Vancouver rank highly on the happiness indices, and not just because the Canucks are playing well.

The Canadian metropolis offers easy access to nature, providing not only Pacific beaches, but breathtaking mountains as well. The city itself provides an abundance of diverse culinary options. Vancouver is widely multicultural, the most diverse city in Canada next to Toronto. Vancouver is known for its multiculturalism, with a large Asian population and a vibrant Chinese community. In fact, Vancouver’s Chinatown is the second largest in North America and a major tourist attraction, attested by British Columbia Real Estate.

Wellington, New Zealand

Beautiful landscape view of Wellington NZ

Wellington is the second-most populous city in New Zealand, and a hub for politics and culture as the nation’s capital. The city is popular for its vibrant culture, diverse cuisine, and incredible natural beauty, hosting a picturesque harbor surrounded by scenic mountain landscapes.

The weather is not the only thing warm in Wellington, the atmosphere and demeanor of locals being notably welcoming and friendly as well. Wellington hosts various annual festivals and events to forge a bright community and bring its people together.

Zurich, Switzerland

Mountain laden chapel clock in Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is anything but neutral on the happiness radar! Nestled in the north-central part of the country, Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. The Swiss city offers stunning views, the bright blue waters of Lake Zurich complimenting the panoramic backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps.

Not only is Zurich scenic, but it also cares for its citizens, the city promoting a high-quality life with excellent education and healthcare system as well as a lower carbon footprint than many other cities of its size.

Bergen, Norway

Famous Bryggen street with wooden colored houses in Bergen at Christmas, Norway

Inspiring Disney’s Frozen, Bergen remains delightful no matter the weather. From the cozy shops and pubs, to the unique art pop ups hidden in alleyways, Bergen offers history and heritage paired with atmospheric cliffs that feel frozen in time. Bergen is a technological hub that promotes sustainability and innovation, and provides its citizens with exquisite healthcare and a high standard of living.

Fun fact: Norway has the highest cost of living among the Scandinavian nations, but that provides citizens with higher salaries that make expenses while traveling to other countries extremely affordable! Most organizations additionally encourage their employees to take time off to travel as much as they can!

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu-Dhabi sunshine

Living a life of luxury? Abu Dhabi is one of the most visited cities in the Middle east and is known for its grand shopping malls, boutique restaurants and bars, superb theme parks, sprawling markets, and top rated cuisines.

Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of DCD, stressed that caring for community members and enhancing lifestyle leads to achieving a better quality of life and happiness. He noted that happiness should be considered as one of the main factors for the society’s well-being, in addition to socioeconomic indicators, according to The Khaleej Times.

The UAE maintained its highest ranking among Arab countries for the 7th consecutive year in the World Happiness Report 2021. It’s also continuing global advancement and leading over many advanced countries and economies, according to the annual report that is released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Northern lights over Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is an easy pick for one of the world’s happiest cities. Reykjavik is undoubtedly safe, and contains ample sunlight, hot-springs and geothermal spas, and waterfalls.

Children in Iceland play outside unsupervised from an early age, often only returning when their dinner or curfew starts! According to Iceland Travel Guide, the high safety index may have to do with the fact that Iceland has a very close-knit community or with the high education rate of the country.

To summarize, people are more understanding and accepting in Reykjavik, making it safe and pleasant for all!

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden. Scenic summer sunset view with colorful sky of the Old Town architecture in Sodermalm district

Stockholm is a Swedish city built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges over the two waters Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea. The absence of heavy industry in Stockholm also makes the country one of the world’s cleanest metropolises, and Swedish citizens are known to have the longest lifespans in Europe.

A major feat provided by Stockholm is the incredulous social welfare distributed among citizens; the city putting an emphasis on supporting its people, especially families. The Swedish government provides those in Stockholm with generous parental leave from work for both parents, as well as supplying adequate financial stipends to these homes, citizen prosperity given priority.

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