Happiness: An enduring state of mind consisting of not only feelings of joy, contentment and other positive emotions, but also of a sense that one’s life is meaningful and valued. – Positive Psychology

Most people’s assumptions as to why the Nordic countries—Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland—are once again in Travel + Leisure‘s 2023 Top 10 of the World’s Happiest Countries are because of things such as wealth, the welfare state generosity, government institutions like healthcare and free education at a university level or that they are just biologically predisposed to being ‘happy.’

Of course, these things would certainly impact your emotions, but surely there must be something else? So, what is it that makes them different?

One interesting study shows the dopamine increase from Cold Immersion Therapy could be as high as 250%. Now, I know this refers to ice-water baths, Cryotherapy chambers or taking a run from a 100 degree sauna and into a frozen lake, but then why do 70% of the top 20 happiest countries have a cold climate?

Could living in a cold climate make us happier?

Happy Tenon Tip #1: Experience an authentic Finnish sauna and even add a cold plunge!

I’ve read many research articles and have investigated Nordic culture as a whole. There’s a quote from Finnish Philosopher Frank Martela that really resonated with me:

“Focus more on what makes you happy and less on looking successful. The first step to true happiness is to set your own standards, instead of comparing yourself to others.”

So simple, isn’t it?

Happy Tenon Tip #2: Did you know ‘hygge’ is a Danish term for coziness, happiness and contentment? Discover your own during an unforgettable trip to Denmark.

Another fascinating concept developed by Aksel Sandemoose in his 1933 fictional novel En Flyktning Krysser Sitt Spor, or A Refugee Crosses His Track, which is based in a town called Jante, where one is not to believe they are better or smarter than anyone else.

Although the novel is fictional, the Laws of Jante are based on the unwritten social laws that already existed in the Nordics.

The Law of Jante (Janteloven) consists of Ten Laws (be warned, they seem harsh at first!):
Rule 1: You are not to think you are anything special.
Rule 2: You are not to think you are as good as we are.
Rule 3: You are not to think you are smarter than we are.
Rule 4: You are not to imagine yourself better than we are.
Rule 5: You are not to think you know more than we do.
Rule 6: You are not to think you are more important than we are.
Rule 7: You are not to think you are good at anything.
Rule 8: You are not to laugh at us.
Rule 9: You are not to think anyone cares about you.
Rule 10: You are not to think you can teach us anything.

At first, when reading these laws, I certainly was taken aback! I mean, we all have someone we know who will pick us up and tell us we’re special, smart, talented and the nicest people they know, so why does it sound like these laws are trying to tear us down?

I had to read them over a few times to get it: by living out these laws, you are making life more enjoyable for others around you, and by that, for yourself. You can be smart, you can be kind, you can be special and talented, but it doesn’t make you better than the person sitting next to you.

Again, so simple!

Happy Tenon Tip #3: Simplicity certainly doesn’t mean boring! When you travel to Sweden, there’s a quiet, clear, simple beauty among the vivid forests, the crystal-clear rivers and gorgeous mountains.

Jante Law started out as a semi-fictional code of conduct but is now taught in some form across Nordic schools.

It makes so much sense—it ties together all of what we talked about above, the welfare state generosity, sustainability, government institutions and that they are, quite possibly, becoming biologically predisposed to happiness.

Happy Tenon Tip #4: Norway has mastered eco-friendly living: two-thirds of Oslo consists of wood and water, ferries and cruises are powered by fjords, and many locals travel by train. Can you imagine breathing that fresh, crisp air for the first time?

Just remember, sometimes it’s the smaller picture, not the big one. They are not perfect countries, no country is, but they are happy.

So, what can we take away from the leaders in contentment? They prioritize work-life balance, positive outlooks, eco-friendly values and social connections. There’s no better way to gain a feeling of their way of life than to get up close and personal…lucky for you, there’s no shortage of exhilarating and relaxing Nordic adventures:

  • Dogsled in the laplands
  • Relax in a Finnish sauna
  • Browse charming Christmas Markets in Denmark
  • Tour the mighty fjords in Norway
  • Celebrate Swedish Midsummer (Midsommar)
  • Visit a reindeer farm and make new furry friends
  • Sleep under the stars in an igloo hotel
  • Get up close and personal to giants while whale watching

Ready to explore the happiest countries? View our fully customizable itineraries below—trust us, they’ll put a smile on your face!

How We Travel

Learn More
  • Motorcycle

    Ride your way: custom tours built for adventure, created by motorcyclists.

  • Self Drive tour in Europe
    Self Drive

    Hit the road your way: itinerary, car, accommodations, sights, and tours. But let us do all the heavy lifting.

  • Chauffeur 1

    The freedom of your own private car, the luxury of your own personal guide. And the very best hidden secrets.

  • funny mural of school children in uniforms
    Scheduled Tour

    For travelers who prefer to join a small group tour, we offer scheduled tours.

  • Train going over bridge next to waterfall

    Convenient, comfortable, oozing with charm. With a front-row seat to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

  • Young people overlooking scenic area in Europe
    Private Group

    The trip of a lifetime, personalized just for your group of friends, family, or organization down to every last detail.

  • Honeymoon coupe drinking wine by ocean

    Every tour is different, perfectly matched for every couple. Crafted by a team who is as excited about your honeymoon as you are.


Finding Happiness in Finland

8 Days | 7 Nights
Arts and Culture

The architecture and design of Finland’s capital, Helsinki. The historic villages and endless water and nature activities of the Lakeland district. And Turku, the food capital of Finland. Discover some of the many reasons why this is the happiest country on earth.

Starting From $3,000 per person based on double occupancy

Taste of Wintertime in Svalbard

5 Days | 4 Nights

Svalbard is an archipelago of islands just 800 miles from the North Pole, and 1200 miles from the Norwegian mainland, with a rich history and amazing wildlife including reindeer, walrus, whales, seals, arctic fox, and polar bears. Svalbard is the location for geological and arctic research, and environmental monitoring, with several countries participating. The Polar Nights during the winter allow for the magic of the northern nights. But life doesn’t stop just because it’s dark – there are plenty of outdoor activities such as dog sledding, hunting for the northern lights, snowmobile safari with a quiet, electric snowmobile, an ice cave adventure, or learning about the history with a local guide. 

Starting From $3,011 per person based on double occupancy

Norway's Winter Magic

7 Days | 6 Nights
Arts and Culture

Winter is a special time to visit Norway. Majestic snow-covered mountains, stunning winter landscapes and vibrant cities with an array of museums, sights and excellent restaurants make this destination a particularly magical one during the winter season. There is also the opportunity to experience winter adventures such as skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and more!

Starting From $3,000 per person based on double occupancy

A Very Scandinavian Christmas

17 Days | 16 Nights

Explore the four countries that make up Scandinavia—Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden—from December through January (including Christmas and New Year’s Eve). Spectacular activities and tours have been arranged to make this one of your most magical holidays yet!

Starting From $8,122 per person based on double occupancy
Delightful Denmark, Enchanting Norway

Delightful Denmark, Enchanting Norway

12 Days | 11 Nights
Arts and Culture

From the captivating castles of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, to Norway’s breathtaking fjords (joining a local fisherman for a deep-sea fishing adventure somewhere in between). It’s the best of these worlds on this tour.

Starting From $6,129 per person based on double occupancy

By-Your-Side Service℠

Our personal concierge service and mobile app

Europe Experts

Custom Europe Experts

Experts in planning truly customized trips

Without Compromise

Value without Compromise

High-touch inclusions and customized experiences

Consistency with Individuality

Consistency with Individuality

You’ll always be met with the highest standards

Let's Get Social