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The Happiest Holiday Destinations

Author: Lauren Curd

There is nothing that makes us folk here at Medway (now trading as Pettitts Travel) happier than holidays, of all shapes and sizes! From a couple of nights away in Paris or a week in the Med to a road trip across the States or an adventure ‘Down Under’, planning and looking forward to our next getaway is always sure put a huge smile on our face! How much of an impact does the destination you visit have on your holiday happiness? We’ve rounded up 10 countries from around the world that frequently top the charts in studies of the globe’s happiest nations.


The Great Barrier Reef; warm weather throughout the year; sitting in the sun with a beer - just a few of the many things that we love about Oz. Add to this the delightful cities of Sydney and Melbourne (named as one of the best cities in the world to live in, according to liveability studies), endless vineyards, rolling surf and the wilderness Outback, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable getaway. For ultimate R&R, head to Queensland to experience the vibe of a seemingly-perpetual holiday.


With its incredible cultural heritage and breathtaking mountain scenery, the ‘Dragon Kingdom’ is a new name in the tourism industry, as it was out of bounds until 1974. Those lucky enough to explore this unique land will discover stunning monasteries clinging to cliff edges and meet super friendly people with beaming smiles. Buddhism is at the core of the nation’s happiness, so much so that the government keeps a close check that the (very slow) modernisation doesn’t disturb spirituality. Bhutan even includes happiness as one of its development indicators, with ‘gross national happiness’ (GNH) indicated by how healthy, educated and contented its people are.


You can be certain of a warm welcome and genuine smile from the locals on arrival here; 82% of Canadians claim they have more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones. It’s not hard to see why either – Canada is blessed with cosmopolitan cities of Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec, wilderness areas with mountain scenery to explore, ski towns to enjoy and adorable wildlife to look out for.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts natural beauty and stunning landscapes to admire around every corner, from long stretches of sandy beaches and sparkling oceans to volcanoes, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and tropical jungles. The local saying is “pura vida” which loosely translated means “life is good”, and we couldn’t agree more! This Central America country is a truly blissful place to take a holiday, thanks to the welcoming nature of the locals, wonderful weather conditions, astounding wildlife and a wealth of activities to try out.


We know it’s not a country but we couldn’t leave out the one place that guarantees to create ear-to-ear grins on all visitors’ faces. We defy you not to feel joyful as you meet your favourite childhood cartoon characters and spend hours spinning in teacups, riding rollercoasters and feasting on ice creams in Mickey’s hometown. In this fairytale land, no one is judged for behaving like a child, regardless of their actual age!


Closer to home, Finland’s fantastic education system and low levels of corruption are acclaimed to be two of the factors contributing to its residents’ high quality of life. We have a sneaky feeling that the breathtaking scenery in the north of the country – including the magnificent Northern Lights that are visible during the winter months – may have a part to play too! For an exceptionally fun holiday in the snow, complete with snowmobiling, dog sledding and reindeer rides, there are few places as fabulous as Finland.

South Africa

Not much can instill happiness when opening your eyes at 5am to start your day, but the thought of heading out into the African bush to see lions hunting for their breakfast might just cut it. Safaris in South Africa offers several unforgettable adventures including elephant back, walking and horse riding safaris, and provides accommodation to suit all traveller types. Add to this long stretches of dramatic coastline, fantastic beaches (including penguin-inhabited Boulders Beach near Cape Town!) plus winelands, vibrant cities and towns, and rich history – what more could you ask for?


Picture snow-quilted glaciers, alpine lakes, quaint mountain villages and vast green stretches of countryside... this is Switzerland, a superb holiday destination at any time of year. The Swiss Alps offer endless walking, mountain biking and paragliding opportunities during the summer months before giving way to skiers and snowboarders from December to April.  Those in search of a more sedate getaway can take a picturesque rail journey on the Glacier Express, delight in exploring picture-perfect towns or admire beautiful shore-side scenery on any one of the country’s 7000 lakes. Don’t forget that Switzerland is famed for its production of mouth-watering chocolate, which everyone knows holds smile-inducing qualities!


In a blog about happy destinations around the world, it’s only right that ‘The Land of Smiles’ gets a mention! Thailand is a warm, welcoming and diverse holiday hotspot, with ancient temples, mystical pagodas and robed monks sitting harmoniously alongside bustling cities, modern luxury resorts and world-renowned beach parties. Affordable cuisine, postcard-perfect beaches, tropical rainforests and electric nightlife promise a rush of endorphins for all who holiday here.


After a turbulent past, Vietnam’s residents now lead a happier life, owing in part to the stunning beaches, lush mountains, striking scenery and incredible food they are surrounded by. The tourism industry is flourishing as more and more holidaymakers fall in love with the exciting cities, UNESCO towns and glorious coastline that Vietnam has to offer. Holiday highlights include admiring the natural beauty of Halong Bay’s 3000 limestone islands during an overnight stay on a traditional junk boat, and taking a cyclo tour through the ancient streets of Hanoi’s exotic Old Quarter.


**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**


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