6 Reasons to Visit the World's Happiest Country


Is that a woman or a 12-year old drinking beer? I don’t know, but they’re happy about it.

Denmark has recently emerged as the world’s happiest country, beating out Bhutan, the long-time favorite of anthropologists everywhere.

The birthplace of LEGO–a contraction of leg godt or “play well”–offers even the first time visitor an incredible sense of hygglige: amiable cosiness.

“I remember you mentioned in your book,” my Danish editor said over lunch in Copenhagen two weeks ago, “that you had a big head.” I do have a huge head. I took a bite of delicious Esrom cheese and nodded for her to continue, keeping one eye on the wienerbrød.

“But you don’t have a huge head. You just have a healthy, normal-sized Danish head.” I smiled–home at last.

Even if you don’t have a Danish bloodline like I do, there are some good reasons to visit Copenhagen, the capital of the world’s happiest country…


The First Published Map of World Happiness: the US ranks 23rd, the UK 41st, and Japan and France at 90th and 62nd respectively.

Here are just 6 of them:

1. More than 80% of the Danes speak English.

English movies are almost never dubbed in Denmark. Combined with excellent free education, this results in a high % of Danes speaking more pleasant English than the average Brit or American.

“OK, I’ll see you for dinner at 6pm then,” I said to one friend named Christopher over the phone. “You shall. Have a nice evening and see you soon,” he responded. Did I just get out-Englished by a non-native speaker? I felt like a TOEFL student.

You’re more likely to have communication problems in the bayou of Louisiana or in a pub in Manchester than you are in Copenhagen.

2. Christiania–the anarchist state of Scandinavia.

In 1971, a 101-acre site formerly used for army barracks was effectively seized and converted by hippies into “The Free State of Christiania.” They hotwired themselves into the power grid, created their own form of goverment, as well as a rich community of shops, schools, recycling programs, and most things you would associate with a normal township–but they claimed sovereignty and paid no taxes. It became a haven for artists, alternatives, and soft drug dealing, among other things, and the Danish government–though allowing Christiania to exist as a proclaimed “social experiment”–has been trying to shut them down for more than 35 years. In 1991, the appointed powers within the anarchist state agreed to pay rent and cover the costs of water and electricity.

I spent a late night wandering through the beautifully painted historical buildings of Christiania, ultimately ending up with two friends at The Woodstock Cafe, where we drank organic beer and met interesting vagabonds from all over the world. Dogs played outside among the metal barrels, which glowed like jack-o-lanterns from the flames inside them, producing surreal shadows on the graffiti all around us. It was incredible.

Most Danes agree that Christiania’s days are numbered. It’s an anachronism that has somehow survived every attempt to demolish it, but it’s nine lives will soon be up. Get there before it’s gone.

3. Danes pair food and wine better than most Italians or French.

That’s a strong statement, but I was amazed at how precisely, and insistently, most decent restaurants paired courses with wine. Restaurant Saa Hvidt, featuring young culinary superstar Frederik Hvidt, offers a prix fixe 5-course meal with five separate wines for each tapas-like dish. Incredible and unlike anything I’ve had in more than 30 other countries. Danish cheese is also the best I’ve ever had.

For a taste of real home-cooked Danish food, eat with a local family for about 400 DKK through the Dine with the Danes program.

5 small courses and 5 delicious wines at Saa Hvidt, with the good people from Borgen.

4. The people are beautiful but seem unaware of the fact.

As Bill Bryson once observed: you could cast a Pepsi commercial here in 15 seconds.

Right up there with Argentina, Denmark has a jaw-dropping number of gorgeous people. The truly beautiful part, and unusual differentiator, is that appear blissfully unaware of the fact. There is little LA-style pretension unless you go to a social climber magnet like Club NASA, which helps to pull the mirror gazers off the streets. Go in the spring or summer and there is no need for catwalks–the sidewalks at Nyhavn are good enough. For those feeling the club or lounge itch, Vega and JazzHouse are hard to beat.

5. Danish design is incredible to experience, even for non-designers.

“It doesn’t cost money to light a room correctly, but it does require culture.” This quote from Poul Henningsen, encapsulates the beauty of Danish design minimalism. Much like in Japanese design, form follows function, and half of the time I found myself in a great mood in Copenhagen, I realized it was due to the planned passage of sunlight in Danish architecture, as well as their understanding of interior lighting intensity and placement.

Bigger is not better, as is so often the case in the US, and the tallest building in Copenhagen is a modest 358 feet.

From the sleek silverware of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the most famous chairs in the design world, the Danes have a functional and pleasant feast for the eyes almost anywhere you go, whether the renowned Louisiana museum or your hotel lobby.

6. Bite-sized goodness: public transportation is as good as Japan, and you can cover the entire city in a weekend.

I looked at where I wanted to go. It was on the other side of the map from my hotel. “How long does it take to get there by taxi? 20 minutes?” The receptionist looked at me and laughed: “10 minutes by bicycle.” Copenhagen is probably the most hassle-free capital I’ve ever visited.

Rent a bike for 100 DKK and you can cover 1/2 of the “Barcelona of the North,” as design god Sir Terence Conran calls it, in an afternoon. 1-3-hour bike tours from Central Station are a perfect first-day orientation. The numerous S-line and Metro stations, in addition to HUR buses, will get you where you want to go if self-propelled locomotion isn’t your gig, but the average Dane bicycles 375 miles per year. Get off your ass and join them for the real Danish experience.


Looking for other happy travels?

Here are the combined top 10 according to separate studies from the University of Leicester in the UK and Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the latter of which had 953 indicators (!):

* 1 Denmark

* 2 Switzerland

* 3 Austria

* 4 Iceland

* 5 Bahamas

* 6 Finland

* 7 Sweden

* 8 Bhutan

* 9 Brunei

* 10 Canada

6-month old salted cod and four other pairings in Copenhagen. And, yes, there was caviar in the dessert.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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175 Replies to “6 Reasons to Visit the World's Happiest Country”

  1. The grand old sociologist Durkheim looked into the mechanisms of suicide, basically dismissing climate factors and instead pointed to social aspects (surprise, surprise…) like the effect of religion, family status etc:



    I heard a danish professor, who had looked into a number of the studies that have us pegged as “the happy nation”, explain the surprising outcome this way:

    We don´t set our expectation that high – so that when our lifes turn out allright (and the general standards of living are pretty good) our evaluation of life/happiness is that much more positive…

    Ever gone to see a movie everyone thinks is the best ever – ever been disappointed???

    And Tim – your book is so much more than your book, since a book has it´s limits – it´s the mindset and overall approach that makes it a much needed and incredibly powerful paradigmshift…

    Thank you!

    I see it “only” as a pointing finger… but oh what things to discover when looking in the right direction 🙂

    Regards – Thomas

  2. Living in the World’s most happy country is okay I think, even if I am not sure how the list actually was created and how its creators secured objectivity. However, do visit Denmark if you frop by. Even if we may tend to look more happy inside than outside most of us are nice people. We may complain about our tax world record, but still we’re quite happy. Some blame Danes to be happy because we expect so little, that we’re happy with whatever comes around, but that isn’t true to all of us.

    BR Svend

  3. I don’t know what you talking about!

    I have been living in DK for 8 years (and not allowed to leave until 9 years!) and its been my worst years of my life!

    Danish are rated as the happiest JUST because of their low expectation (see the 60 min report). Danish very funny only cause they consider themselves as the best in the world no matter how much miserable they are!! Who doesn’t know that Copenhagen CPH is the 3rd most expensive city in EU, and 8th in the world? Prices of cars are 3 times or 4 times the prices in German and Sweden, why?? I don’t know!

    Why do you need a waiting list of 20 year to get apartment in CPH or live sharing your room like a dog! Why do you have to pay 39% of your money for the TAX and 25% moms for every thing you buy, even the milk and the electricity!!

    Come on, I can go on and on about this… but rating yourself as the happiest, just because you have nothing better to do is just FANTASTIC!

    You are blond and this is probably why you could feel no difference than them… but be a black or brown and you will be f*ed up even before you leave the CPH airport 🙁

    Coming as a tourist is a good idea, but get stuck here (like I am), cause you only will balm yourself, hee hee

  4. Having just spent last summer in Copenhagen, Sweden and Finland I have to agree – all three deserve to be on that list.

    Copenhagen, put simply, is wonderful – it is very easy to fall in love with it within the first few hours. People are just.. enjoying life! The center of the city is surrounded by water, and the restaurants and cafes make for a nice downtown entertainment (albeit a bit pricey).

    This is the exact spot we dined at – notice the color schemes


    Hotel rooms were laughably small for an expensive price – imagine a closet with 2 beds for $170 a night. But who travels across the ocean to sleep anyway? I loved Copenhagen and will definitely visit again.

    Tim – did you enjoy the the main street with all the street vendors.. I forget the name now.

  5. If Nana or anyone else wants to try some great Danish food in a Danish owned restaurant you need only go to the Lighthouse Diner (really a restaurant). Everything is great with many Danish specialties.

  6. If Nana or anyone else wants to try some great Danish food they need only go to the Lighthouse Diner (really a fine restaurant) In San Rafael, California. It is own and operated by a Danish family. Eveything is great and they have many danish specialties.

  7. August is a superb month to visit Denmark: The Danes are most relaxed, the cities full of outdoor life, the sea is warm enough for other than viking swim, many many Danish islands with uniq culture are worth visiting – the warm sea water makes evenings warmer – and Copenhagen is full of satisfied Danes just returned from vacation. See u!

  8. I’m Danish as well as mostly agree with the article. I do have a slight problem with the happiness studies. Dane’s will self report happiness but I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that.

    The high suicide rates are not just because of dark winters. There are different kinds of social strains here than in the US thats for sure but it is not by far the happiest in the world.

    While it is expensive it is definitely worth a visit. If you are visiting Denmark and staying for a week or longer you might like my guide for living cheaply in Denmark.


  9. Hi Tim,

    I saw your interview from when you visited Denmark and it brought up an old struggle of mine that I can’t get my head around.

    I have been wanting to outsource some of my tasks to take advantage of geographical abitrage, but being that must of the tasks I want done must be done in Danish e.g. having someone checking my email. This does provide me with a problem, especially taking into account the prices for outsourcing in Denmark.

    Have any of your other readers encountered this problem?

    I look forward to your answer,




    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for the comment. The answer here is what you might call “socio-arbitrage” — finding someone, whether a college student or well-educated housewife, who will charge 50-75% of your current hourly rate. Given that you can then focus on revenue-generating activities, this would be an excellent investment.

    Best of luck!


  10. Guillermo made some very good points on this one – you’ve got your head screwed on man.

    These happiness surveys are more the stuff of tabloid newspapers, than scientific treatises.

    They are based on the idea that there are universal laws of happiness – but in reality, happiness is an individual matter. And changes as people explore the world and open to new places and ideas.

    If your definition of happiness is getting drunk on the weekends, and living an insular and private life during the week, with a reasonably good salary that you can put towards your deferred life plan (of retiring to southern spain when you’re sixty five and living in a camper van), then denmark is ideal.

    Just go to any campsites in southern spain and portugal during the winter, and you’ll find the places chocko-blocko with danish and dutch reg plates.

    The order, comfort and predictability will suit some people at some times. But if you’re a guy like Guillermo who has enjoyed the intoxication of living in surfing paradise, where you can exit your house in January in a t-shirt rather than in 5 layers of clothes, and where life is affordable and accessible to people, you’ll be frustrated and disappointed in Denmark.

    If you’ve known the spontaneous excitement and connection that you have with people in Rio or Bangkok, you’re going to be bored to the point of depression in Denmark – more beer I hear them say – let’s get drunk (and get ripped off getting drunk)! Got bored with that one when I was around 19 though – when I discovered that there’s no Valhalla at the bottom of a pint glass (but you’ll probably find hell at the bottom of 10 of them!)

    I’l take the beaches of Australia, the sunshine of southern california, the hedonism of Phuket any day. And the last time I was in Thailand, seems like a lot of Danish are doing the same – cause, outside of Copenhagen, I’ve never seen so many Danish restaurants or pubs anywhere in my life.

    See you in Baja Guillermo!

  11. I would suggest BUDAPEST and Hungary as well.

    One of the most beautiful capitals in the world, with outstanding sights, and food.. 🙂

    And of course the women there..

    Check http://www.budapest.com 🙂

    Definitely worth to pay a visit 🙂

  12. I spent a few days in Copenhagen a few years ago. I loved it, but I definitely had to develop a taste for herring. First thing in the morning on the first day, stumble out of my hotel room, go down for breakfast, and… herring. Cheese, bread, and… herring.

    Fortunately, I like herring, but you’ve got to be ready for it! 🙂

  13. As a citizen of Copenhagen, my favorite thing about the city is the bicycle culture. You can get anywhere around the city in 15 minutes, door-to-door and get some fresh air and a little excercise on the way. When I have lived in other countries, I really missed that option (I used a bike when living in Leeds, UK, but that was often a bit too suicidal for me).

    Driving a car is (for me) a nuisance – clogged traffic, parking problems (and high fees), gasoline at 2$ pr. liter (prices are like this in most of Europe)… Public transport is fine, but can take forever, compared to a bicycle trip.

    I don’t understand why other countries around the world are not making more efforts to help and promote bicycling (apart from the very hilly or very hot areas).

    Of course it is annoying if it starts raining or the wind is really strong, but that’s about the only downside to it.

  14. Many thanks for the article. And now, finally, I can sleep tonight knowing why it is virtually impossible for me to find hats that fit! It’s my Danish cranium!

    As if I needed yet another reason to visit my Bestefa’s homeland, your article reminded me of the steadfast, good-hearted people of Danmark. My grandmother still speaks of the first time Bestefa came back to visit with his American wife and how she was treated like a celebrity…hugs, kisses and flowers.

    There is also something to be said about a people whose king (Christian X) wore a yellow star of David to show solidarity with his country’s Jews during WWII.

    Now, I can only hope to get a hotel room in Copenhagen after your kind words! Your rock, Tim. Keep up the great work!

  15. Tim,

    Bravo for a life well lived!

    At NGOabroad, we believe service is the ultimate adventure; that the most intimate and often hilarious views of another culture come through service.

    NGOabroad is a unique service that provides customized international volunteer options and helps people enter international humanitarian work.

    “Ann’s Guide helped me land an IT job in Micronesia. …Ann has demonstrated an uncanny ability to get to the (spiritual?) heart of the question: “What is it YOU want to DO?” and then relate the answer to an impressive list of real and practical opportunities. What more does one need?!” Sid Merritt, UK

  16. To Nana who asked for a Danish restaurant in California. Try checking out Solvang – you should be able to find something there.

  17. Now I have the explanation for the happiest country in the world – yesterday it was brought up in the danish news that 400.000 (out of 5 million population) used anti-depressives in 2007………………………………

  18. hi.

    as a dane living in england, i cant wait to move back, its a more relaxed life style in denmark then england. i come from a small town on the west coast (Ringkobing) its nothing like copenhagen its more like the real Denmark. most people i know are happy with life. not worried about money or work. just getting on with life with their family and friends. if anyone is to visit denmark go to jytland or fyn. its where the real danes live. and try the nice local beers there is more just carlsberg and tuborg.

    ps. there is just one rule. dont think you are better then us, we dont think we are better then you.

  19. That food you call typical Danish food, is disgusting and not something I would describe as typical Danish.

    If you want to serve something that is typical Danish, it has to be meatballs with potatoes and brown sauce or fried pork with parsleysauce.

    /Tinna – a dane.

  20. It is just incredible how much talk a survey like this can generate. Remember, there is no accurate science behind the listing but of course it give clues. As I come from Iceland I must say that I am satisfied with the results but I would like to congratulate the Danish people – the rank is probably due to the “ligeglad” element.


  21. Here are another three very good reasons to visit Denmark, the World’s happiest country:

    1/ Carlsberg

    2/ Tuborg

    3/ Faxe

  22. The heavy amount of suicides are due to elderly people living long lives and the lack of social stigma due to Denmark being rather non-religious.

    Most suicide notes found with the elderly are about the end of physical suffering; nothing to do with social relationships or whatnot. I am curious how many are due to euthanasia, as it isn’t illegal in Denmark and many countries with high suicide rates .


  23. Some thoughts and facts from a Dane:

    Said: People in Denmark are the happiest in the world, because they don’t have high expectations. Answer: in that respect I don’t think we are different from everybody else. If we really are the happiest people in the world, I believe that the two main reasons must be that we generally feel safe and that we trust in each other and the system.

    SAFE: we know that we will never have to starve, that we always will have a place to live, that our children can have whatever education they want for free, that we can be treated if we are sick for free, and that we have the freedom of speech. Some of the listed countries don’t have all those wonderful privileges; in worst case none of them.

    TRUST: until recently I didn’t even bother to lock my doors no matter if I was away or at home. That has driven my English boyfriend crazy lots and lots of times, quote: “when we get back, a bunch of xxxxxx will have moved in, and your B&O will be gone, all your furniture and the spoons, knives and forks too!”. Due to gangs of organized thieves travelling to Denmark with no other purpose than stealing, I do lock my doors now. But many, especially in smaller towns, still don’t. We all have our neighbours, and it is very normal to keep an eye on each others houses. Also on the countryside you can find small unmanned stalls along the roads, where you can buy fresh vegetables and fruits, and a box where you pay for what you take. That’s trust.

    Suicide. Last available figures from 2006: 643 persons committed suicide. Up to age 59 there were 281 persons, from age 60 to 74 there were 124 persons, and from age 75+ there were 238. Average for the past 5 years, 642, 8 people have committed suicide. Especially elderly men seems to be vulnerable, if they have been diagnosed with dementia or if they are widowed.

    How to start a conversation: Danes are NOT reserved. If you want to start a conversation, you could ask about the Danish school system, health system, tourist attractions or whatever subject you consider being of general knowledge, but don’t be surprised if you have a bucket of questions in return, as many people will be curious to hear how life is in YOUR home country.

    And yes, we love our beers, and yes, we love to party Fridays and Saturdays. Can’t argue against that, and frankly I don’t feel any need to….

    Denmark is a nice country, but so is numerous and numerous of other countries in this world. Every country has its strong sides and not so strong sides; we are different from each other and that’s a very good reason for travelling!


  24. Well, I’m from Denmark and it’s pretty amusing to read some of these comments. The “happy list” isn’t a contest that really matters. lol So of course it’s not “rigged” in any way. 😉

    I think it’s true. We have lower expectations than Americans for example. We don’t have lower hopes and ambitions though. We aspire to get as good as we can but we just don’t start out with the “I will be number 1!” attitude so we don’t get that disappointed if we don’t make it to number 1.

    You can see the same kind of attitude from a lot of the Europeans posting here. People are happy to be in the top 10 etc. while I suspect a lot of Americans would focus more on the disappointment of NOT being number 1.

    The American dream is a great way of thinking as long as you remember to keep it realistic. Otherwise you’re going to get disappointed. 🙂

    I saw some linking to the Danish “Jantelov” and that’s true. Some people have that mentality but I don’t really see it as a bad thing. All it really says is “You’re no better than anyone else.” and I see that as a healthy mentality. Why should anyone see themselves as superior to others? Some people try to argue that “Janteloven” is all about keeping others down but that’s simply not true because it applies to EVERYONE. Myself included. I’m not better than you and you’re not better than me.

    I think that the Scandinavian countries are ranked high on the list because we don’t have to worry about a lot of things because of our socialist way of running things.

    When you don’t have to worry about saving for college for your 3 kids, don’t have to worry about a corrupt health insurance etc. you get more time to focus on the things that you personally like. And that’s an important part of the Danish happiness, I think. 🙂

    Our taxes are high but I think most Danes see it as a price they’re willing to pay for the security that it provides the population. Of course some of the new-rich people will cry for tax cuts but oddly enough (sarcasm) they didn’t cry about it during their free education. 😉

    Danish people don’t run around being all happy and whatnot in the streets. Hehe And we do tend to complain a lot. Mainly the whining is about our government but it’s actually ridiculously small problems we’re whining about. It’s not that I see us as bigger whiners than others but we just don’t have all the big issues… And people will never stop complaining about something no matter how good their life is. Hehe

    Danes may seem a bit reserved but don’t let that stop you from talking to us. I actually think we have a “I won’t bother others and they won’t bother me..” kinda attitude sometimes but if someone asks us something, the vast majority will answer politely. If you’re in a bar or something, you can probably expect a longer conversation. A lot of people like to bash Bush these days (like everywhere else. lol) so you can always talk about him. 😉

    We’re not anti-American though. Not in general anyway. Of course we have some fools here but who doesn’t?

    Some Americans I’ve talked to online seem to think that Europeans hate Americans because we make fun of Bush but that’s not the case at all. I don’t know anyone who hates USA but I know a lot of people who dislike Bush.

    Someone mentioned the beer being expensive and that’s true. Denmark is not a cheap country to live in. Copenhagen is a lot more expensive than the rest of the country though. A small local bar would never charge 50 DKK for a beer for example. I actually live next to a small bar and a beer is like 15 DKK there so that’s quite a big difference. 🙂

    About the good looking thing.. I guess it’s all relative. You have to remember that we’re used to people looking like this so we don’t go “WOW! OMG! WOW!” every time we walk down the street. Haha It’s just how we look here. If Americans like that, that’s great. lol But Danes would probably find some other nationality more attractive just because it’s “new and exciting” to us. 😛

    1. @Garry,

      I’m afraid I don’t speak Danish! It’s easier for them to speak to me in near-flawless English than suffer though my Tarzan attempts at their language. Ah, well.

      Good luck!


  25. @Garry

    If you really want to move to Denmark, I would suggest to just go for it and learn the language once you’re here. 🙂

    Like Tim said, the vast majority of Danes speak English and it shouldn’t be hard getting by in Copenhagen using the English language.

    The advantage of learning the Danish language in Denmark is the ability to practice it on a daily basis and listening to how people pronounce the different words. That’s a lot harder when learning from a book or using some online language website.

    A lot of people claim that Danish is a hard language to learn and I think that’s mainly because of the lack of “rules” to remember. We have some of them but nothing like German etc. where they have easier ways for remembering when to use “Der, Die or Das” for example. Sometimes the Danish “rules” just seem to be “That’s just the way it is!”. 😛

    Another hard part could be that a lot of our words have one than one meaning.. Kinda like how the word for a female dog in English also has another meaning. 😉

    We also has some “silent letters” or whatever they’re called in English. I’m sure that doesn’t help either. Here’s an example:

    A heart = Et hjerte. (We don’t pronounce the H)

    An example of the “That’s just the way it is!” (if it really existed) rule could be:

    A man = En mand. (We don’t pronounce the D)

    Monday = Mandag. (We do pronounce the D)

    Why is it like that? I’ve got no idea.. And I’m Danish. Hehe That’s why I think it’s a lot easier learning the language once you’re in Denmark. You can just ask people if you’re pronouncing the words correctly and listen to them pronouncing the words. 🙂

    Of course some people may find your accent funny but don’t let that bother you. Most people just aren’t used to an American accent in the Danish language.. Just like people from New York or whatever might find the Danish accent funny. 😉

  26. thanks for those tips @gnawer. re: Most people just aren’t used to an American accent in the Danish language. I’m Scottish, so I’m pretty much used to people not understanding what i say 😉

  27. @Garry

    Oh, you’re Scottish. Hehe Well, I that shouldn’t be a problem either. People will probably just ask you, if they don’t understand what you’re saying. No big deal. 😉

    I used to play a game with a Scottish guy living in Aarhus (2nd largest city in Denmark) and he didn’t seem to have any problems even though he didn’t know more than a few Danish words.

    And a lot of Danes actually find the Scottish and Irish accents amazingly cool. lol Myself included. 😛

    Scottish (and Irish) pubs are also popular in Denmark and a lot of them seem to hire English speakers as staff. Hehe “Highlander”, “Tartan Pub” etc. are pretty common names in that business. 😉

    It doesn’t really matter where people are from, I think. My advice would still be to move here and THEN learn the language. Well, having some English skills would probably be required. Or German might do in the southern part of Denmark. 🙂

  28. hahaha that scottish pub next to the square in copenhagen – what a laugh! They have a moose head on the wall. A moose! Last time i saw one of them in scotland was before the last ice age. Thanks for all your nice words of encouragement! Garry

  29. If you’re looking for beauty in Denmark, I would recommend travelling to mid-Jutland (The “nose on Jutland 🙂 It’s called Mols), northern Sjaelland or Lolland.

    And for christs sake, do it in the summer. Our winters can go to hell! :[

  30. I’m writing this message from Malmö, Sweden, after spending the last two days in Copenhagen and Roskilde. Indeed, Copenhagen is a very nice place, especially on a day like today when the temperature was just right and the sky is light for 18 hours. But hardly anyone has talked about the COST of being in Copenhagen or the other Scandinavian countries. At 5.2 DKK to the $US, a Coke Zero cost DKK 20.50 (with deposit) in a grocery store — that’s about $4 for a 0.5 liter bottle, smaller than the 20 oz bottles that cost $1.50 or so in the US. Standard bus fare, without a discounted pass, is the same price. It’s hard to find a men’s shirt for less than DKK 200, and the typical price is closer to DKK 500. I’ve never paid $100 for a shirt in my entire life. So the happy life in Denmark comes at a price. The good news for Danish residents is that their Danish taxes includes outstanding FREE health care that gives them a long life expectancy (the US is 42nd in recent studies of life expectancy). So maybe it’s worth it!

  31. Thank you for promoting my hometown. Well, sort of, because I am a half and half, the other part being Icelandic. I grew up and lived in both places (Reykjavík and København) and while I never became wild about the former, I love the latter.

    I left both countries over 50 years ago and moved to New York, where the jazz is. Haven’t regretted that move, but I do miss my old country (Denmark) and the food, which was very different and not as healthy back then. Ever had Gamle Ole on a rundstykke? Well, you haven’t lived. 🙂

  32. @TonyW

    I don’t know where you buy your Coke Zero but the price is insane even by Danish standards. Haha You paid like twice as much as I pay for a .5 L soda.

    For $4 / 20 (ish) DKK you can have a 1.5 L soda. You must have bought your Coke Zero in some odd place or maybe they just ripped you off. :/

    The price of clothing really depends on your wants and needs. Do you need a nice shirt for visiting restaurants or going clubbing? Or are you looking for a shirt to wear while fishing etc?

    If you just need a random one color shirt for going to beach, playing sports or whatever, you can easily find 2 or 3 for 100 DKK ($20 ish) but if you need something nice and special it will obviously cost you more than that. Especially if the brand matters to you. 😉

    You’re right about Denmark being expensive though. Just not THAT expensive. 😛

  33. @Gnawer

    I should probably add that the soda prices are for the big brands like Pepsi, Coke etc.

    There are cheap “no name” brands for less than half of those prices. Just thought I’d clear up any confusion in advance.. 🙂

  34. France is the most visited country in the world. It has everything that you could ever want to see on your holidays: a great city like Paris, good beaches, more monuments than any other country, lovely nature, incredible mountain scenery; need I go on? France is also a very pleasant place to stay. It has good food, great wines and people enjoy their lives. And the best thing is, maybe apart from Paris, living in France does not have to be expensive. The North of France consists of the flatlands around the town of Lille and the Channel. The area will remind visitors in many ways of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Grand’ Place in Lille for example is a lot like that of Brussels.Paris, the city of light and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas. Paris is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

    West of France is turned towards the Atlantic Coast. In the north Normandy & Brittany have rolling hills, sandy beaches and quiet little harbour towns. Normandy & Brittany have a more rugged coast and many neolithic sites. It has quite a distinct atmosphere from the rest of the country; you can still sense the Celtic origin of the region and its inhabitants.

    The eastern part of France consists of the Alsace, Lorraine, Franche Comté and Burgundy regions. The landscape has rolling hills and many beautiful cities, such as Metz, Strasbourg, Nancy and Dijon. This region produces many famous wines, including magnificent pinot noirs and chardonnays valued the world over, as well as the famous “Yellow wine” from the Jura mountain vineyard.

    The Center of France is in many ways the most quiet part of France. But the great treasure of this region is the Loire valley , with many great castles and beautiful towns. Chartres with its famous cathedral and Tours rate among the most beautiful French cities.

    The Alps are great for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Albertville, Grenoble and Chamonix have all hosted the Olympic games. But the Alps also have nice towns to visit, such as Chambéry, Annecy or Grenoble .

    The South with its lovely nature, good food, roman ruins and of course the Riviera draws a lot of visitors every year. Towns like Orange, and Arles but also big cities like Marseille and Toulon are must sees. The Provence is dotted with pleasant small villages. In the South west of France the Dordogne is one of the most quintessential French regions. The valley is so pretty, the towns are so cute and the food is so good, that it is hard to believe that the people who live here go somewhere else for their holidays. The Languedoc has its own language and culture. In the south of the Languedoc you find the Pyrenees, a great mountain range separating France from Spain, where you can hike and ski. The towns of Toulouse and Montpellier are nice and the medieval town of Carcassone is a top destination.

  35. Many people said to me that Danemark is also one of the boriest countries in the world but I don’t take care about. I think that, some people can be happy without a lot and others will never be happy even if they will be milionaires and plenty of health. So, what? Danish are happy with one or two sorts of cheese and french and italians are not happy with 100 sorts of cheese:-)

    Danish need 5 sorts of wine for a meal to be happy and others can be happy just with water. This is subjective. About girls and women, I suggest amateurs to make a tour in the east countries like in Russia and Poland. The highest rate of beautiful girls are there. About bycicles, north of Belgium and Holland is certainly better than in any other countries. But is that a sign that people are happy? To have a look in the streets and whatching the faces of the inhabitants it would be a good idea but here too, you can say that someone is laughing for nothing and another one if he has a long face he is happy inside:-) Everything is subjective.

  36. Tim I went to Denmark last year and was completely blown away. Their cities are clean, the people are wonderful (and speak perfect English), the food was good and their public transportation was unlike anything in the United States. I’d move there RIGHT now if someone gave me a work visa.

    Although they need to get off this krone nonsense and onto the Euro. A coke costs 65 kroner and a sandwich costs 167 kroner? Wtf?

  37. @Jonesey

    What are you talking about? Where did you buy that coke and sandwich? :O

    A .5 liter Coke is 10-15 kroner and a sandwich is like 20-30 kroner. Well, that’s in all the “normal” shops. It sounds to me like you found the most expensive place in Denmark if you paid that much.

    I agree about the Euro thing though. It would be a lot easier if we just got the Euro like most of our fellow European countries. 😉

  38. This is so funny! I live in Denmark, and just reading all of your comments is really fun. I don’t get how you can tell which country is the happiest, and I don’t feel happier than everyone else. But I must admit, this made me really happy, and I’m proud to be danish 🙂

    I know we have good health care and free education, which gotta be a part of why we are the happiest country.

    If you ever visit Copenhagen, then go to Tivoli, it’s wonderful 🙂

  39. Spent 7 years in Scandinavia – 4 in Sweden, 2 in Denmark and 1 in Norway and can honestly say that all countries make a wonderful long weekend or holiday but living there is a completely different ballgame. Not only is the climate awful, there is no value for money in what you pay and what you get, people are arrogant and stuckup (polite to your face but a wall apart) and once you have seen all the main tourist attractions, it’s really damn boring in all countries. Happiest people in the world? Wouldn’t “the most patriotic people in the world” be a better way to describe it? Every single Dane I have ever met anywhere in the world does a major spiel on how wonderful Denmark is …. why don’t most foreigners living there more than 10 years, most of the poor immigrant taxi drivers and most people not lured by “the most beautiful people”(??) agree?? Why does Denmark (and Scandinavia) have one of the highest divorce rates in the world and why do people spend so much money on how they look but then claim they don’t bother about how they look? Who are they trying to fool? I have met some of the world’s most vain people in Scandinavia …the Italians are vain too but at least you can have a laugh with them which is more than I can say for the “humorless” Scandinavians whose personality and character makes other nationalities shine in comparison. It’s a very special part of the world and I think that to love it, you have to have it in your genes! Or just stay for a long weekend!

    And Tivoli, if you have already been there 5 times, doesn’t it get just a bit boring??? We’re not talking Central Park or the Pompidou Center here….

  40. @Anna

    That’s quite funny. I find patriotism here to be almost non-existent to be honest. I don’t know anyone who LOVES our flag, cries when they hear our national anthem or claims that “We’re number one. We’re number one!”

    When the whole Mohammed drawing thing was going on, people from other countries seemed to take the burning of Danish flags much harder than anyone I know. So, they’re burning a piece of cloth.. Whoopeedoo! Big deal. 😉

    You’re right about the costs of living in Scandinavia though. It is expensive. But people can afford it.. If you work here, you’re not getting sweat shop salaries. Hehe Pretty much everyone here is part of a union of some sort so their absolute minimum wage is like 110 kroner per hour if you’re 18+ years old. That’s like $18,25 US.. And that’s the absolute minimum. I don’t actually know anyone with a wage that low. Even people working at bad rep places (in the US) like McDonalds are part of unions and get a wage typically better than those 110 kroner per hour.

    And taxi drivers aren’t poor in Denmark either by the way. lol That must be an assumption based on your own country or something like that. There’s nothing wrong with being a taxi driver in Denmark. I know quite a few people who drive taxis here and they live in middle class houses just like the garbage men, teachers, Mcdonalds employees, bus drivers etc. etc.

    I’m not really trying to defend Denmark as such as I have plenty of complaints about my country as well but it’s not THAT bad, so I just want to clear up a few things that I find misleading.

    I haven’t spent much time in Norway or Sweden, so I won’t comment too much on those parts of your message..

    People in Denmark can seem quite ‘reserved’ or whatever you want to call it. But most Danes really aren’t reserved at all. They simply don’t want to bother other people. If you go ask them for directions, talk to them in a bar or whatever, you have to be pretty damn unlucky if they mind answering your questions or talk to you. Assuming you’re being polite obviously. 😉

    We don’t go around smiling and laughing in the streets for no apparent reason, so if that’s what people are looking for, Denmark is not the place to go to. Rarely do people just start talking to you in the bus or whatever but that’s not arrogance or anything like that. I guess we just sort of assume that strangers want to be left alone.

    So Danish (and Scandiavians in general probably) people are more ‘private’ than people in southern Europe for example. We tend to live our lives in a way that’s based around our homes. So if you make some friends in Denmark, you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re invited to their home for dinner or whatever. We do go out as well obviously but not nearly as much as in other parts of Europe. Southern Europeans almost seem to base their entire social life around certain bars, cafés etc.

    Denmark (Scandinavia) is boring? Well, that depends on your personal taste I guess so I can’t really say “You’re wrong!” or anything like that. 🙂

    Obviously there are fewer things going on in a country with 5.5 million people than in the entire US for example. Sometimes I do find Denmark a bit boring as well to be honest.

    Boring doesn’t always have to be a bad thing though. ‘Good boring’ could be: No crazy earthquakes, no city destroying weather phenomenons, very few murders etc, general safety at all times (I’m not afraid to take a walk through my town at 3am for example), safe public transportation.. Just to name a few things that could be considered boring but actually are pluses in my opinion.

    Denmark wouldn’t make a good setting for a post-apocalyptic action movie but I really don’t want to live in a setting like that. Then I prefer the safety of being bored once in a while. 😛

  41. I like you post, Gnawer. Actually, while patriotism may be less evident in Denmark these days, it was very much there when I was a teenager in postwar Copenhagen. Many of us had a flag pin with CX (Christian den tiende) to show our allegiance. I had spent the war years in Reykjavík and New York, but I came back home in 1945, immediately after the war. Although I have lived in New York for 53 years, 48 of them as a US citizen, Denmark is a country I continue to love. One can be bored in every country, so I can’t take Anna’s contention too seriously. Usually, when people are bored it is their own doing. I had great times in Denmark, and some unusual times, too. Little by little, I am recollecting them on my blog http://stomp-off.blogspot.com


  42. @Christiern Albertson

    Hehe thanks. 😉

    I would imagine Danes being very patriotic after the war.. I mean, who wouldn’t be patriotic after years of German occupation?

    I’m not old enough to have lived through those years though (I’m 30) but it seems obvious to me that a lot of people would be (or at least pretend to be) very patriotic after an experience like that.

    But these days I don’t really believe that Danes are all that patriotic. I mean, If an American (Just an example. Could be from any country obviously.) comes to Denmark and go around boasting about his ‘greatest nation in the world!’ or whatever, he/she should expect people to react. That’s not patriotism.. It’s just a reaction to an arrogant and nationalistic behavior. 😛

    I often see the usual ‘The grass is always greener…’ kinda attitude among Danes today.. Especially the younger generations. “Boohoo, Denmark is so boring!”, “The punk scene is so tiny in Denmark *whine*” or stuff like that. They complain a lot. Hehe Danes generally complain a lot to be honest. We’re really good at it.. Especially when it comes to criticizing our own country, politics, government, traditions, other Danes etc. 😉

    1. Hahaaa! That’s so true! Complain, complain, complain, can’t go a day in school without hearing “I’m tired””I wanna go home” “This is so boring!” or somethng like that 20 times xD But then we’re self-ironic and just ironic – that’s a matter of fact – we love our own country but hate it just as much 😉 If a dane says to me “Denmark stinks” I just laugh and agree, when others say it i get a little bit offended.. 😛

  43. hello friends,

    I am from India presently, working in UAE as secondary school science teacher,

    i just got my Danish Green Card planning to visit in the month of Nov 2010.

    i would be glad if someone can throw light about teaching , life, housing,cost, weather in Denmark, i have read Danes are most friendly people, they are ready to help others,

    it would be great to go and work there, plz let me know about it


    1. It’s quite expensive I must confess, Our weather goes from about (I think)

      -7 to like 37, the last three winters have been very long and there were SOOO much snow.. but the winters before wasn’t that bad, right now we constantly hit the records n like “Warmest temperature at this date in 107 years” and “Most snow in 57 years” (random numbers) Most are friendly, but caution with new people, most of the danes loves English – like me :I

  44. And now, Denmark had its third Oscar with Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World”

    Original title in Danish: “Hævnen” in English: “The Revenge”.

    Stick to Denmark, and thanks for a great website promoting Denmark.

  45. All three Scandinavian capitals are wonderful; Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. They are quite different from each other, but equally nice. Copenhagen and Stockholm is bigger and more metropolitan, while is Oslo has closer to nature. All three are a little pricey, but there are also ways top get around that. Avoid taxis and go by public transport or rent a bike. Stay at apartments are prepare the meals yourself instead of expemsive restaurants.

  46. theres a world in difference between mainland & capital.

    -faroes, vejle, århus ect check out some of the castle ruins

    1. Well Danetoo, I deem there are a lot of contenders for those titles in Europe (I am French myself, and would rather have similar “kind words” for my “patrie”), but I have indeed heard such things from foreigners who lived in or visited Denmark… Furthermore, I notice that the “happiest” country in Europe are also amongst the most expensive, except Sweden; elsewhere i am not so sure poor people are so happy, hence perhaps the high suicide rates (combined with depressing cold, dark winters; even Sweden has a high suicide rate, I think).

    2. Complete and utter BS. You’ve had a racist experience and now the entire country is labeled as a racist nation simply because you say so? Sigh..

      I am a left winger, so I have no reason to try to excuse the statements made by the the far right, but your generalization is so far off the mark, that I simply have to speak up.

      Obviously there are racists in Denmark, just like in any other nation on the planet. Calling Denmark “The most racist country..” just shows your own ignorance though. We’re not even close to being able to claim that title. It’s simply based on your own personal opinion/guess.. Nothing else.

      1. I have to confirm that Denmark is a racist country under the appearance of a friendly and jovial place to live. This is not only personal experience, as there are many people who know the truth. Immigrants are discriminated and the Denmark Nation is above all. But yeah, let’s keep the appearance clear and be proud to be “the happiest country in the world”. Give me a break…

  47. Denmark is for sure not a happy country.

    They drink and smoke weed alot and this is maybe why the study revealed them as being happy.

    You can find nice people, but because they lack curiosity, they don’t evolve by sharing knowledge with other cultures.

    I got here for study and I’m dissapointed .

    I believe the government ordered this review as Denmark being a happy country in order to get tourists, but the population was not prepared for foreigners.

    The education is poor, they just advertise that as well only to get long term tourists.

    If we calculate for 10 000 students * a minimum expenses 6 000 dkk / month that gives 8 055 120.12 Euros (10 656 923.71$ US Dollars) per month. And Denmark currently (2012) has aprox. 15 000 foreigner students and aprox. 7000 exchange (1 semester).Also this calculation does not include the university fee and neither the flits home-Dk.

    So they make lots of money and the education is not as good as advertised.

    Plus the population is not aware of the moves of the government and they tend to have the attitude as we would come here to occupy their country.

    They were smart to implement this idea in order to get money from others, but is sad they made us come to study here and live the worst days of our lifes.

    1. Well, thank you for making us all look the same,

      Yes, we drink alot but it’s not NEAR to be many who smoke weed..

      I was amazed by how exited he was for our country, to be honest, I don’t think it’s that good either but I love being here..

      We’ve just got the rights to be who we want. I’ve met so many nice people and there’s not a single one at my high school who’s getting bullied, we help each other in our class eventhough we’ve only been together for 3 months, we respect each other..

      So please don’t talk bad about a country and don’t speak about things you don’t know anything about..

  48. I will be coming to Copenhagen in April on business and I cannot wait! I am really looking forward to visiting the happiest country in the world!

  49. Right now the top 10 happiest countries are;

    – Finland- 7.821.
    – Denmark- 7.636.
    – Iceland- 7.557.
    – Switzerland- 7.512.
    – Netherlands- 7.415.
    – Luxembourg- 7.404.
    – Sweden- 7.384.
    – Norway- 7.365.
    – Israel- 7.364
    – New Zealand- 7.200