Solo travel is the most empowering and rewarding gift you can give yourself. But, I acknowledge that getting started on your journey can feel a little overwhelming. Deciding on where you should visit is akin to taking a shot in the dark.
When the world out there can often feel unsettled and unsafe, why not gain your inspiration from the happiest countries in the world? After all, you strive to feel happiness as a solo traveller. Picking a country where the people around you are happy seems as good a place to start your travel planning as any.
The World Happiness Report
United Nations’ latest World Happiness Report was published in March 2017. The report began in 2012 to measure levels of social happiness across the world. For more information on the World Happiness Report you can head to their website where you are able to download the full report for free.
In 2017, Norway emerged as the happiest nation on the planet. David Morgan of CBS News writes:
The Scandinavian nation, which was ranked fourth in last year’s report, jumped to the top this year on the basis of several key calculations for measuring social happiness, among them levels of caring, freedom to make life decisions, generosity, good governance, honesty, health and income.
Other factors by which 155 countries were measured in the annual World Happiness Report are: employment, income inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, public trust (i.e., a lack of corruption in government and business), and social support. Source.
Below is a list of the twenty happiest countries in the world. I would love to know if:
- You agree a particular country is a great place to visit, or
- You feel inspired by one destination in particular!
Let’s get inspired!
The Happiest Countries In The World
Encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fiords, Norway is known for its breath taking landscape, hiking and fishing. A perfect spot to witness the northern lights.
Whether you choose to explore the city of Copenhagen by bicycle or go further afield to take in some of their stunning beaches, Denmark has plenty to offer in the way of history, landscape and cuisine.
Lodged in the Atlantic Ocean with Greenland as its neighbour, Iceland fills every Instagram and Pinterest feed with its jaw-dropping beauty. You may recognise Thingvellir, site of the ancient Viking parliament and the tectonic divide between Europe and America, as it features often in Game Of Thrones. Waterfalls, geothermal pools and a sparse, wintry landscape make this a photographer’s paradise.
Land of the Matterhorn and the high peaks of the Alps, this gorgeous countryside is perfect for hiking and winter sports. Throw in some chocolate and a trip to the beautiful cities of Lucerne and Zurich and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic destination.
From the bustling streets of Helsinki to the remote wilderness in the land of the midnight sun, Finland is a land of trees and water. Explore Lapland and witness the northern lights or explore some of the country’s 130km of coastline for sweeping views over the Baltic.
The Netherlands was inspiration to classical painters such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer. From the gorgeous canal-side mansions of Amsterdam to fields carpeted with brightly coloured tulips, it’s not hard to see what caught the eye of these great artists.
From the Rocky Mountains to Niagara Falls, Canada’s vast land is pocketed with incredible wildlife and views. Hike glaciers or marvel at the colour of its lakes; there is no shortage of outdoor activities to discover.
8. New Zealand
New Zealand takes glaciers, lakes, fiords and mountains to another level. It also tops the list as an adrenaline-seekers paradise with activities such as skydiving, bungy jumping and a hundred other ways to thrill yourself. I spent an amazing two years here working and travelling through both islands.
Take a look at:
Ok, it’s no secret on this blog that I adore Australia. I write far more posts about Australia than any other destination simply because I have spent two years there on a working holiday visa. I have backpacked to the four corners of this mighty country and explored much of what it has to offer. I can concur that Australia is a beautiful and fiercely proud nation of happy people.
Some of my favourite adventures have to be:
- Visiting the spiritual heart of Australia at Uluru
- Walking through ancient gorges in Karijini National Park in Western Australia
- Travelling down the east coast
- A road trip from Darwin to Broome, through The Kimberley.
Other places to check out Down Under have to be lush tropical Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne and the gorgeous Tasmania.
A nation of thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, its capital, Stockholm is built on 14 islands and features 50 bridges.
The rest of the top 20 are:
- Costa Rica
- United States
- United Kingdom
As I’m from England, it makes me happy to see that the UK has clinched a spot in the top 20. From the green hills of Wales to the glens of Scotland, a trip to the UK really has it all as you can experience big city life in places such as London and escape easily to the surrounding countryside.
What do you think of this list. Are there any destinations you would travel to as a solo backpacker?
First Time Solo Travel Destinations
Before you run off and book yourself a plane ticket, let’s have some #realtalk.
What results do we want to see when we search for the best travel destinations for first time solo travellers? Does it matter if a country is in this list or not? After all, the classic first time backpacker meccas such as Thailand, Bali and Vietnam are not represented in this list but top the charts time and time again as the first port of call for many solo travellers.
So what should you base your decision on?
Firstly, do your research into safety, political unrest and other factors that may make a country inadvisable for travel. Then, after all of that practical stuff is considered, my advice is to find a country that you feel a connection with.
- Do you adore food and want to head to France to roll around on a bed of pastries? Go for it.
- Have you always wanted to visit Japan to see the cherry blossoms? Do it!
It’s a good feeling to know that we are visiting a country that tops the happiness chart, but what will make you happiest as a solo traveller is listening to your heart.
Take the time to make connections with local people and you will find love and happiness wherever you roam.
Over to you! Are there any destinations you would like to visit for your first time travelling alone? What are your thoughts on the happiness countries in the world?
Is happiness a factor that you would take into consideration when planning your travels or are other elements – perhaps cost or accessibility – be more important?
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