Denmark: The Happiest People In The World?

As we stepped off the train in Copenhagen, the station was packed with young 20-something people in muddy gumboots lying on the ground, passed out or still drunk hammering away on guitar strings – it was the day after the Roskilde festival – known as one of the biggest festivals in Europe.

But “the party isn’t over until the fat lady sings”, and there were many people still singing while playing their guitars at the station, and although Roskilde festival was over, another huge world famous festival had just begun in Copenhagen – the Jazz festival.

During the summer Copenhagen really feels like a melting pot of activity – there is always something happening, always something to do, and it has the same atmosphere as in Amsterdam – chilled & unpretentious.

For some reason it seems as though Jazz just brings out the best in people – what other music is enjoyed by so many people from such a wide age-group as jazz?

In Scandinavia it’s not very common that people mix over the age groups. 75 year olds don’t usually go to the same places as 20 year olds, but the Jazz festival really brought people in all ages together, all sitting down on the cobble stoned ground or stone stairs, tapping their feet and swinging from side to side with the rhythm.

We felt like people in general were quite upbeat and relaxed, which is funny because Denmark has been voted over and over again for having the “happiest people” in the world.

They smoke more than any other Scandinavians, they exercise less and they don’t eat very healthy – yet they’re still happiest of us all, and during our stay there it actually seemed that way.

Was that really true?  Were we just “lucky” because of the festival vibe, or are the people there actually happier?

We decided to simply ask the Danes themselves, and the answer was quite interesting.

One guy made an interesting point: “I think a better word would be ‘content’. We accept our situation and our outlook on things is often ‘it’s not as bad as it could be’. We’re not happier, we just don’t have very high expectations”.

But there is something different about Copenhagen, it reminds me a little of Amsterdam.

In Copenhagen they have an area called Christiania, a place with their own rules, own laws and own flag, also it’s a place where they smoke and sell weed in public, and where we weren’t allowed to bring our cameras…

It’s a bit wacky and crazy in some places, and just absolutely stunning in others.

Nyhavn is the most beautiful harbor I have ever seen – with its colorful 18th century houses, and the nostalgic smell of waffles the whole way along Ströget is just irresistable.

Copenhagen has many sides, and just like in Amsterdam it’s up to you how you choose to enjoy your time there.

26 Responses to Denmark: The Happiest People In The World?

  1. Emily Sims November 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    I’m so glad you’re traveling in Denmark! It’s on my list of places to go, but I don’t often see a lot of travel blogs about it :)

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Denmark is a beautiful country, especially in summer time. My favorite places aside from Copenhagen are Moen and Skagen, definitely worth checking out.

      People tend to miss out on the Scandinavian countries when traveling Europe because they’re a bit out of the way, which might be why you don’t hear much about them..

  2. Turtle November 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    You’ve captured the mood perfectly! I was in Copenhagen for Roskilde a few years ago and there was a great vibe in the while city, not just at the festival!

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

      Great to hear, I would love to go Roskilde festival some time – it seems awesome!

  3. Debbie Beardsley November 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    It has been way too long since I was in Denmark.  I’ve heard they are the happiest people in the world.  Having low expectations would do it.  I just don’t know if thats good or not! 

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

      Haha yeah, maybe not the best way to go, but it felt like they had a pretty relaxed attitude to things, which I really liked.

  4. Taylor November 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    “They smoke more..exercise less…and don’t eat healthy.” Sounds like they are enjoying themselves.  I must go.

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

      Oh yes they are, and they tend to drink a lot too, the legal drinking age is 16..!

  5. Victoria November 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I was recently in Copenhagen staying with friends, and I have to say, everyone seemed really happy. It happened to be great weather and everyone was out on their bicycles and drinking coffee in the sunshine. I could definitely imagine living there! 

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      That sounds wonderful. You know a place is good when you can return there again and again.

  6. Anthony November 15, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    “chilled & unpretentious” – never a bad thing :)

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

      I agree. Hey how is it going in KL, enjoying yourself?

  7. Anonymous November 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    It looks truly glorious. Can’t wait to visit.

    • Sofia - As We Travel November 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

      Nyhavn is my favorite harbor in the world, it’s so picturesque!

  8. Weekend Breaks November 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    I found that quite sad, the part about ‘not having high expectations’. I hope that only applies to that man. Not that you need them to be happy of course! It does look a beautiful place to visit

  9. Indian Tourism November 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    DENMARK IS REALLY A GOOD COUNTRY.

  10. Igor November 17, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    yes, i also love danemark

  11. hawaii travel November 18, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Denmark is my next destination on my list. A very good country for tourists.

  12. Valery November 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Denmark is definitely a very nice country.

  13. Activities Mauritius November 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    I’m adding Denmark to my list too..

  14. Adam Dudley November 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    “We’re not happier, we just don’t have very high expectations.”
    It is possible to be content AND have high expectations, as long as you’re not attached to your expectations always being met. That’s where I think much of the discontentment comes from in other cultures.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  15. SacVoyage November 27, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Denmark seems to be very interesting place, it defiantly is worth to visit.
    AND bring “HAPPINESS”  to our LIVES. 

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