12 ways you can get happy in Denmark

Photo: Maria Sattrup - Copenhagen Media Center

If you head to one of the world's happiest countries, will some of that happiness rub off on you? You’ll have to come to Denmark to find out! And you can start by testing these 12 semi-scientific ways to get happy in Denmark.

1. Unplug from the busy everyday

Wouldn’t you feel a little bit happier to see happy faces smiling back at you from your hotel room or B&B? Ordinary Danes walk past cheerful electrical sockets every day at home. Maybe the happy wall sockets in Denmark are helping with the general feeling of contentment? Or it might be a result of the fact that the only way to enjoy the smiling sockets is to unplug one's electronic gadgets? Only one way to find out - come see for yourself (but leave your chargers at home)!

2. Meeting and eating with Danes

The fact that Danes regularly top the list of world’s happiest people could have something to do with our outlook and general sense of contentment. So what better way to get some happiness pointers than actually spending time with Danes! There are lots of ways to travel like a Dane in Denmark, and organisations to bring you together with ordinary Danes for home-cooked meals, tours of their local areas or Danish cookery lessons. You can also spend an evening eating with Danes at popular communal eating spots, like Absalons Kirke in hip Vesterbro.

3. Hunt for hygge – it’s a Danish thing

Does hygge hold the key to happiness? Hygge has become a bit of a buzzword recently, as people look for ways to bring more happiness into their own lives. Hygge is the Danish way of enjoying quality time with friends and family. It can be many things (candle-lit dinners, wine, relaxed nights in) and hard to explain, but it’s not hard to sense when you visit restaurants, cafes or even people’s homes in Denmark. Only one thing is certain – trying it out for yourself is the best way to hygge your way to happiness.

4. Danish design – beautiful simplicity

De-cluttering your life can seriously increase your happiness, and so can looking at beautiful things! Famous for its simplicity as well as its beauty, Danish design might well contribute to both hygge and contentment. So taking some Danish design back home with you could be a good way to start a homemade happiness transformation. You could also take a Danish design tour in Denmark and be inspired to simplify your life.

5. Go to Aarhus – Denmark’s happiest city!

Aarhus is reportedly Denmark’s happiest city and you’ll see why on a city break to Aarhus. First of all, it is small, pretty and easy to get around. It’s close to beaches and forests and possibly most importantly, it’s packed full of cultural events and attractions such as the ARoS Art Museum and the cultural center DOKK1.

6. Feel free and fit by cycling in Denmark

Did you know that regular exercise can contribute enormously to your sense of wellbeing and happiness? It’s no coincidence then that many Danes are cyclists, in an everyday sense. Denmark is small, flat and crossed by scenic cycle routes. And our capital, Copenhagen, is easily one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. You too can join the two-wheeled revolution and sight-see by bike in Denmark. Hire a bike here or use one of Copenhagen and Aarhus’ city bikes for your trip.

7. Top up on delight at Tivoli Gardens

We all know laughter is a key to happiness, and there is nothing better than feeling young again on vacation. So jump on a plane and head to Tivoli Gardens, the magical amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen. Whatever your age, you’ll be laughing, or screaming with delight, after a day or night on Tivoli’s rides and attractions. The fairground offers fun events throughout the summer, as well as at Christmas, New Year and Halloween.

8. Experience the Black Sun

It might sound a bit ominous, but The Black Sun is actually one of the most uplifting experiences you can imagine! Bird-watching may not be the sexiest activity in the world, but it’s definitely one of the most calming and a happiness helper. Denmark has one of the most impressive bird-watching opportunities in Europe – the Sort Sol (Black Sun). Each spring and autumn, hundreds of thousands of starlings gather at the Wadden Sea National Park and create incredible patterns, murmurations, in the sky at dusk. Tip: Combine a trip to the Wadden Sea National Park with an oyster safari!

9. Bring some colour into your life at Nyhavn

Multi-coloured Nyhavn harbour in Copenhagen is instantly recognizable and often listed as one of the most colorful tourist destinations in Europe. As well as lifting your spirits with a walk up and down the promenade, once walked by local resident Hans Christian Andersen, you can also sample local delicacies here. Try some smørrebrød, the open-faced Danish sandwich, which is bound to bring a smile to your face! Nyhavn is a lively place to top up on happy energy.

10. Plan a vacation to Denmark – but don’t come!

Research has shown that it’s planning a vacation that boosts your happiness, rather than actually taking one. The happy effects of planning a trip can last for as much as 8 weeks! The research also shows that the happy lift you get from being away does not necessarily last when you get home. So though you don’t have to come to Denmark, you should plan to come, because we just want you to be happy. And maybe coming to one of the world’s happiest countries will increase your chances of taking some happiness home? (Anyway, we really do want you to come!)

11. Do some good while you’re here

Helping others is proven to increase your personal happiness. Vacation is a great time to focus on doing something good, away from the pressures of daily life. Just eating can be a way, thanks to organisations like Too Good to Go, a Danish app that you can download and find restaurants helping to combat food waste. Pick up their surplus food at the end of the day at a lower price and take it to go. It's also relatively easy to travel sustainably in Denmark and help the planet! Bikessolar-powered boats and organic restaurants; every little helps!

12. Explore the legend of the Good Luck Troll

The Good Luck Troll has been a symbol of happiness since it was first created by Dane, Thomas Dam, in the 1930s. Denmark is rich in troll folklore and there are many special places around the country where you can feel the magic of the trolls. There are twisted troll forests you can escape into. You can also visit the original home of the Good Luck Troll; the beautiful natural area of North Jutland. Head outdoors and escape – another important factor in happiness – at Thy National Park or at Skagen, a seaside destination famed for its inspiring light.