Events fields of tulips in front of a windmill in the netherlands

Published on March 17th, 2018 | by Crissandra Ayroso


Travelling to the Happiest Countries in the World

Where’s your happy place? Celebrate International Day of Happiness with us and get into the travel spirit. Check out our Flighties’ list of happiest countries in the world, and what they thought of their travel experiences.


Our Flighties Travel to the Happiest Countries in the World

Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to the 2018 World Happiness Report. 

In a survey that measures global happiness, the World Happiness Report ranked 156 countries based on 6 key variables – income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom and overall trust in business and government. The top nations with the highest scores ranked highly in all 6 key areas, positioning Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland in the top 5, following Finland. While the proof is in the numbers, it’s hard to ignore the fact that these European nations share common traits like a fair work-life balance, simple living, and a sense of community and social support.

March 20 has been established by the United Nations as the annual International Day of Happiness, as a call for happiness to be given higher priority around the globe. To celebrate this year’s International Day of Happiness, we asked our Flighties to share their happy place to help you find yours. Here are some of the happiest countries in the world and our Flighties’ favourite experiences:


Happiest Countries in the World



Perennial happiness index list-topper, Norway earns 2nd place in the 2018 happiness report down from 1st place in 2017. How does this picturesque, fjord-laden Scandinavian nation maintain its ranking year to year? Norway consistently scores high on all of the main factors that are found to support happiness – income, health, social support, generosity, freedom, and a high level of trust in the absence of corruption in business and government.

houses along the coast in norway

Nature makes us happy. Did you know that in Norway, there’s a public rights law called allemannsrett (Norwegian for “freedom to roam”) that allows everyone to have free access to Norway’s countryside, forests, and mountains? This means you can happily set up camp anywhere in the Norwegian outdoors, as long as you’re more than 150 metres from the nearest inhabited home or cabin and adhere to a few common sense rules, like be respectful and clean up after yourself. In Norway, the right to roam is a traditional right that dates back to ancient times.


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If there are two statements that couldn’t ring truer, it would be that home is where the heart is, and the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Just ask our Flightie Daniel who discovered his happy place in Sunnmøre, Norway: the “birth place of my son and the only place I’ve seen people put corn on hamburgers. This nation is the epitome of happiness.” – Daniel Rodriguez (@45n75w), Flight Centre Hillside (Victoria, BC)




Icelanders have long held a reputation for being some of the happiest people in the world. Although it moved down one spot in 2018 to number four, Iceland steadily remains in the top five year after year. What makes the Land of the Midnight Sun one of the happiest countries in the world? Iceland is culturally geared to be social inclusive. Gender equality, gay rights, women in government – Iceland as a progressive society gives Icelanders the permission to make happy healthy decisions for themselves. It’s no wonder that Iceland ranks high in social support followed by GDP per capita.

man in front of northern lights in iceland

Holographic ribbons of Northern Lights, months of 24-hour sunlight, geothermal lagoons and pool culture. Iceland is an unusual and intriguing nation of fire, ice, and no shortage of whimsical folklore (like the Christmas Yule Lads, 13 Santa Claus-like trolls who fill childrens’ shoes with candy if they’re good – or rotten potatoes, if they’re not).

Our Flightie Rachael found her happy place in Jukulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland. “I love Iceland because I felt like I was on a different planet. The scenery is stunning. Everyone needs to go to Iceland at least once in their life.” – Rachael Shilling (@rachaelmae4), Flight Centre Juliet (Victoria, BC)




Dutch kids consistently rank among the happiest in the world, according to a Unicef report, and it may not all have to do with those delicious hagelslag breakfasts (buttered bread covered in chocolate sprinkles). What does it really mean to go Dutch? Well, if kids are growing up to be some of the happiest in the world, then it only makes sense to take a look at how they’re raised. While the Netherlands have progressive regulations around sex, drugs, and alcohol, the Dutch are a fairly conservative people. The Dutch believe in a work-life balance, simplicity over extravagance, and centering a focus around family. The Netherlands remains in the same spot as last year, in 6th place scoring high on the index in GDP and social support.

fields of tulips in front of a windmill in the netherlands

Find your happy place amid little cities along Holland’s canals, fields of colourful Dutch tulips, on two wheels, or in an Amsterdam cafe. Everyone is outside in the spring and summertime, the perfect time to see the Netherlands in full bloom.


Our Flightie found love and his happy place in Amsterdam. “It made me happy to be here because I spent 10 years in this beautiful city and it is where I met my husband.” – Marcus Johnstone-McKinney (@mdfjm)




We’ve known it all along, but we’ve got it pretty good. Canada remains in the top 10 for 2018 in 7th place, holding its same spot from 2017. Canada ranks high in all 6 main factors that support happiness, especially in income, social support, and health, followed by freedom, generosity, and a high level of trust in the absence of corruption in business and government.

red muskoka chairs in front of mountains in canada

Justin Trudeau, social inclusiveness, free healthcare, multicultural diversity, new marijuana laws. These are just a few things that make Canada one of the happiest countries in the world. Year to year, Canada’s ranking doesn’t hyper-fluctuate – we’ve remained a steadily happy nation. Canadians are well-received around the world, often described as friendly and polite. Recently, on International Women’s Day 2018, the Canadian $10 bill got a significant makeover. The Canadian bank note honours Viola Desmond, a black woman and civil rights activist who changed history when she decided to sit in the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia bank theatre. Desmond is the first woman of colour and of non-royal descent in history to be featured on Canadian currency.


✌🏼 #nwtbrewingco

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With a landscape as diverse as its inhabitants, we’re happy to call Canada our home and happy place. Find your happy place in British Columbia. Amidst the soaring mountain peaks and scenic hiking trails, our Flightie Marlee found her happy place atop the glacial summits of the Purcell Mountains in Bugaboo National Park, BC. “Hiking in the backcountry always makes me the happiest.” – Marlee Hawkins (@marlzdog), Flight Centre Mission Park (Kelowna, BC)




There’s no shortage of wineries, surf, incredible scenery, and culture in Australia. One glimpse of the Whitsundays will ensure your life will not be the same again afterward. An introduction to Australia’s wildlife will offer a profound appreciation for the nature that surrounds us. And a road trip down any of the coasts, be it the Great Ocean Road or the route along the southern coast from Adelaide and Perth, Australia is an adventurer’s delight.

stairs heading to a beach in australia

Our Flightie Sophie found her happy place in Sydney. High up on the happiness index is the Land Down Under. In 10th place, Australia displays an equal and healthy balance of GDP per capita and social support.

“The combination of vitamin D, the laid back lifestyle, and friendliness of the locals created such a relaxing combo that I didn’t want to leave…” – Sophie Ward (, Flight Centre Saanich Centre (Victoria, BC)



Costa Rica

When Costa Rica officially banned its military in 1949, the Central American nation re-invested its military spending in education and culture. The national military headquarters is now a national art museum. Most recently, the current president signed an anti-nepotism law. In 2017, the president updated the national health policy with more plans to invest in environmentally sustainable socio-economic developments. Costa Rica is one of the leaders of progressive green culture, creating public policies that put the state of its nation’s well-being first, and cultivates peace through preventative measures as opposed to intimidation. Costa Rica achieves a healthy index of social support and GDP through its initiatives and stands tall in 13th place, down one spot from 2017.

man in front of a waterfall in costa rica

Costa Rica’s pura vida lifestyle is an enviable one. Laid back beach culture, island pace, and relaxing hikes that lead to a forest of clouds and through some of the world’s most ecologically diverse rainforests, is all part of Costa Rica’s adventurous, yet simple life. Our Flightie Clarissa found her happy place in the misty altitudes of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica’s infamous cloud forest reserve.

“The best part of travelling up into the clouds was the diversity of the rainforest, the different animals (sloths, armadillos, toucans, tarantulas, snakes, etc.) mixed with the adventure from zip lining, suspension bridges, horseback riding, hiking to amazing views above the canopies.” – Clarissa Moon Flight Centre Mission (Mission, BC)




The rolling hills of the Emerald Isle, the towering sandstone drops along the Cliffs of Moher, the volcanic basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway. Ireland is a natural wonder. Meet with the locals, some of the warmest people you’ll meet, and it won’t take long to realize that Ireland is truly one of the happiest countries in the world. In the 14th spot in this year’s happiness index, Ireland’s report shows incredible social support.

rows of colourful houses in ireland

When our Flightie Rachael visited Ireland she found her happy place in the Irish countryside.

“Ireland is one of the most charming countries I have ever visited. The people and their landscape made me so happy to be here. This moment is what made me want to start a career in travel.” – Rachael Shilling (@rachaelmae4), Flight Centre Juliet (Victoria, BC)




German leader Chancellor Angela Merkel has spent over a dozen years in office eliciting a caretaker government which is responsible for a healthy economy, strong growth in GDP, and low unemployment. Merkel also welcomed more than a million asylum seekers in 2015-2016 with open arms which was a move criticized by the far-right but largely supported by the political mainstream. Germany remains in the top 20, in 15th place for 2018, up one spot from 2017. Germany scores high in GDP, social support, and health, in that order.

canals and row houses in germany

From the medieval Neuschwanstein Castle’s spires that pierce the skyline, to the enchanting evergreens that tower in the Black Forest, to the little villages that line the riverways, Germany’s countryside is a picturesque page out of a fairy tale storybook. Cities like Berlin, the capital of Germany, is an arts and cultural centre, while Munich draws in more than 6 million people from around the world to Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival. Our Flightie Ana Santa Maria travelled to Munich during Oktoberfest and found her happy place (as one would amidst the free-flowing liquid gold).

Beer by the liter

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“Munich is my happy place because they have the most amazing people, delicious food and the most amazing beer.”  – Ana Santa Maria (@ana_banana88), Flight Centre North Hill (Calgary, AB)



United Kingdom

Made up of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom is home to centuries-old cities, intriguing sites, and some of the happiest people in the world. Whether you travel for culture, adventure, history, or the beautiful views, find your happy place in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Remaining in the same position as 2017, the UK is in 19th place on the happiness index and reports strong social support and high GDP.

big ben in london united kingdom

Our Flightie Olivia supports her social circle in London, her happy place, where she gets to meet up with her best friend of 21 years (and unofficial private tour guide) who calls London home.

Olivia Kelly (@livjkelly), Flight Centre St Clair and Yonge (Toronto, ON)




Chile is an explorer’s dream. Landscapes transition from dunes to volcanoes to fjords to glaciers – and then what seems like worlds away are traces of an ancient civilization that once inhabited Easter Island.

moai statues in easter island chile

Our Flightie Ola found her happy place in Chile. Landing in the 20th spot of happiest countries in the world, Chile score high with a healthy GDP and strong social support.

“Diverse landscapes from glaciers to rainforests, rich culture, and abundant wildlife (I’m talking penguins, penguins, penguins), Chile is also one of the happiest, safest nations on the planet with a high standard of living.” – Ola Ulewicz (@jetlagmanifesto), Flight Centre Georgian Mall (Barrie, ON)




Where’s your happy place?


Whether they’ve found it or are still searching for it, our Flight Centre Gift Cards will give someone you care about the chance to find it. Let our Flight Centre Expert Travellers help you and your loved ones find your happy place. To celebrate International Day of Happiness, we’ve added a bonus to our gift cards, a little something from us to you to help boost your search. Call us at 1-855-796-8359 to enquire or book, Live Chat with us, or visit your closest Flight Centre store.





About the Author

Crissandra Ayroso

Crissandra Ayroso is a copywriter for Flight Centre. She loves road trips, beach weather, sampling local wine. She, like Helen Hunt in the 1996 disaster-rama (that’s short for drama) Twister, is a tornado chaser, in the travel sense. She chases moments, all revealing. Whether it’s ordering room service and eating in bed, finding the highest rooftop for the best views of the surroundings, feeling like a small dot in the middle of the ocean on a boat, or getting lost and stumbling upon hidden gems, no moment is too big or small to chase. Just like the category F5 that brought Helen Hunt back together with her estranged husband, respected TV weatherman, Bill Paxton.

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