A survey recently released by the European Union revealed that the happiest cities in Europe are not exactly what you'd expect. I know when I think about the happiest places in Europe, I imagine the south of France, Greek Islands, Capri, Barcelona — I think of the places that get too much sun, have warm, turquoise coasts and a serious nap-after-lunch mentality. I imagined that anywhere siestas are welcome, must be the happiest place to be. Isn't everyone just a little bit of a better person after a nap?
But when the residents of various European cities answered survey questions about where they live, the highest satisfaction was not located where you might have imagined. Turns out, the people of northern Europe are the happiest. That's right, the people who have frigid, endless winters, seasons of limited sunlight and rotten fish on their fanciest menus, are the happiest people in Europe! As I look out the window of my Brooklyn apartment, a garbage bag is picked up in the wind and trash is violently whipped around in an urban twister. It's 20 degrees outside and I'm wondering if I'm supposed to be happier than I am, wrapped up in a fleece blanket because two layers is not enough, even inside.
Apparently, I could learn a thing from the people of northern Europe, because they're the ones who answered the survey questions most positively about their cities. In terms of the best job opportunities, safety, health care, cultural institutions, school systems, friendships, communities, and sanitation, the following are the most satisfied with their cities:
The capital city of Norway is incredibly rich in culture and progressive, too. It's as hip, booming, and industry-packed as New York, but it's surrounded by enchanted forests and swimmable waters, so it's better!
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is considered a global center for banking and finance. Einstein went to college at the University of Zurich and later became a teacher there. The city is lined by a gorgeous river which people often flock to for photo ops, because #photooftheday.
Aalborg is a city in Denmark known for its cultural facilities and sports centers. It's filled with theaters and arenas making it an ace entertainment destination. It also doesn't hurt that it's loaded with gorgeous historical landmarks, either. I imagine it's hard to be bored there.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. It's a very hospitable city, which offers bread and salt to visitors as a welcome gift. Because Lithuania is the land of the stork, it's one of the last places on Earth where children are still read the "stork story" and believe that they were brought into their lives by way of a stork. I haven't decided yet if I think that's cute or creepy.
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. It's also where the hit show (now on Netflix) The Fall, staring Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson, is filmed. There are also a lot of other amazing facts about this charming and historically rich city, but I'm really satisfied with the Jamie Dornan fact because, #mrgreywillseeyounow.
Hamburg is a city in northern Germany. The word "Hamburger" is indeed derived from "Hamburg", which is maybe its most special fun fact. It's also home to over 100 music venues and clubs so if you're looking to hit da club, Hamburg's the place to be.
To see the how the rest of Europe fared, check out the survey here.