A study by the United Nations revealed that Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world, and it seems it all has to do with something called hygge, which is a term that doesn't even translate into other languages.
Hygge, pronounced "hoo-gah", is the art of knowing how to enjoy the simple things in life, feeling cosy and peaceful, sharing a meal with loved ones, or staying at home snuggled up on the sofa watching your favourite TV show. In a country where it's cold almost all year round and the days are quite short, a positive way of looking at life has emerged, to help people appreciate the little things in life.
If you want to be imbued with the hygge spirit, you have to visit Denmark:
- Copenhagen, the capital of happiness
The city of Copenhagen is home to brightly-coloured houses, picturesque canals, wide pedestrianised streets, cobblestone alleys and design shops. Plus tourist attractions like the statue of The Little Mermaid, the city's emblem, the hippy commune of Christiania, and Bakken, the world's oldest amusement park.
- A paradise for cyclists
Denmark is the quintessential bike-friendly country with mile after mile of cycle lanes and hardly any steep hills. Hire a bike and let the adventure begin! Explore the city and its surroundings. Not far from the capital you'll find Dragør, an old fishing village where you'll be able to relax and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of the delightful fairytale streets.
- Something sweet, please
Have a sweet tooth? Be sure to try the famous kanelsnegle, typical Danish cinnamon rolls. You'll find them at a variety of food stalls, but if you're prepared to tour the country we recommend you buy them at the world's oldest market in the medieval town of Tønder.
- Fairytale towns
Svaneke was voted the prettiest town in Denmark in 2015. It boasts a charming and lovingly preserved old quarter, windmills, a Romanesque round church, and the famous water tower designed by Jørn Utzon.
Aarhus is Denmark's second-largest city. Young and vibrant, it offers a wide range of restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops. The Latin Quarter, with its narrow streets and fairytale wooden houses, is the oldest and most charming part of the city.
In the south of Jutland, we come across Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark. It has managed to preserve its viking identity over the years, with wooden houses and old, narrow streets. From the Commoners' Tower, in the cathedral, you can enjoy a splendid view of the town and the surrounding area.
Saksun, in the Faroe Islands, is a small village surrounded by green valleys and high mountains. The roofs of the houses have a curious feature – they are covered in grass, which is used as insulation. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Denmark – and in the world!
One last tip: don't get obsessed looking for hygge during your trip, because it will only appear when you're genuinely NOT looking for it. Just focus on enjoying your holiday, and if you manage to do that, when you get back you'll understand why Denmark is synonymous with happiness.