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Ever wondered where the happiest place on earth is? We certainly have – and as home swapping makes every member of the Love Home Swap community feel deeply content, then it’s only natural that we’d wonder where the happiest cities in the world are – and whether we can visit them! Well drumroll please folks, because we’re delighted to reveal that the top spot is also located in the happiest country in the world – and we’ve got a number of gorgeous home swap properties in the vicinity. Intrigued? Then read on, because we’ve got lots to tell you.

The 10th happiest city in the world is Brisbane in Australia

With Brisbane residents reporting a 93% quality-of-life rating, it’s no surprise that this glorious city is number 10 in the list – with many arguing that the stunning weather is a big component. Boasting an average of 8 hours of sunshine every day, Brisbane’s subtropical climate makes it the ideal place to visit for an Australian home swap at any time of the year. So what are the best things to see and do in Brisbane? Travel blogger Miss Tourist says chilling on the South Bank should be top of everyone’s list – and with 17 hectares of parkland in which to relax, multiple free swimming pools, cycling and walking routes, it’s hard to argue with her sentiment.  The Collective Markets are a great way to enjoy some street food, while you’re bound to feel happy (and maybe a bit terrified) if you climb the Story Bridge. In need of an instant dose of the feel-goods? Then hand-feed a koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, or admire the CBD from the water with a river cruise.  

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The 9th happiest city in the world is Stockholm in Sweden

Stockholm has been described as the loveliest city in Scandinavia, so it’s no wonder that it’s a hugely popular destination with travellers. First of all, it’s undeniably on the pricey side to stay in Stockholm, so make your pennies go further with a gorgeous home exchange. As soon as you arrive, take a free guided walking tour, then head for Gamla Stan – the old town, and one of the prettiest places imaginable. Pose up a storm by the colourful houses – then share your pics with us via Instagram using the hashtag #welovehomeswap! Next up, swing by Abba The Museum, Fotografiska (photography exhibition), the impressive Vasa Museum or the Modeerna Museet to feast your eyes on works of art by Dali and Picasso. Ready for one final dose of culture? Then hop on the Metro to explore incredible street art in the stations. Hand Luggage Only’s guide to the 8 best metro stations in Stockholm is really useful if you want to find the highlights. After all that sightseeing you’ll be hungry, so browse The Blonde Abroad’s guide to where to eat in Stockholm for loads of tasty inspiration.

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The 8th happiest city in the world is Tel Aviv in Israel

The vibrant city of Tel Aviv simply hums with energy. This is a unique location in which you can hit the beach, explore the old town of Jaffa, indulge in a serious culinary treat at Carmel Market and let loose with a 24-hour dose of nightlife. Amidst all this glorious chaos, make sure you find some time to take a step back, absorb the joys of the city and simply breathe. So where can you find those moments of calm? According to The Culture Trip’s round-up of Tel Aviv’s happiest spots, Park HaYarkon is ‘the Central Park of Tel Aviv’, and is a favourite hangout with the locals. Hire a bike and cycle around the Rock Garden and Tropical Garden, before dropping in at the huge water park. Alternatively, head to the beach and take a dip in the Mediterranean – with over 14km of coastline, the beach lure in this city is undeniable. Bograshov Beach is regularly listed as one of the best beaches in Tel Aviv. For more ideas on the best things to do in Tel Aviv, then travel blogger Pommie Travels has some great suggestions – and don’t forget to arrange a home swap

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The 7th happiest city in the world is Oslo in Norway

Norway consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, so it’s no surprise that two of the country’s cities have made the top 10. Many Norwegians say that their incredible natural surroundings are central to their sense of wellbeing – and with cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing, kayaking and cycling being popular across the country, they’ve got plenty to enjoy. Oslo is central to this, as it’s ideally located to combine the best of urban living with outdoor pursuits (as it’s surrounded by the Oslofjord and dense forests). The Oslo Opera House (pictured above) is a gorgeous location – locals sunbathe here in the summer, and it’s magical in the winter. Take a floating sauna at Kok (followed by an icy dip if you’re brave!), and treat yourself to some amazing local delicacies at one of the places mentioned in Scandinavia Standard’s helpful list of the best places to eat and drink in Oslo. For lots more ideas on how to fill your days, then Hand Luggage Only’s article on the best things to do in Oslo is essential reading.

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The 6th happiest city in the world is Bergen in Norway

If you’ve made it to Norway to check out Oslo (which is the 7th happiest place on earth), then it would be a shame to not visit number 6 on the list – the gorgeous city of Bergen! To get here, you might want to hop on the train which runs on the Bergensbanen (or Bergen Line). Boasting stunning scenery, it’s hardly surprising that Time Out questioned whether it might be Europe’s best train journey. Once you’ve arrived, consider staying somewhere like this stunning home swap on the tiny island of Bjorøy which is just a 20-minute drive to Bergen. Connected to the mainland by a subsea road tunnel – and with a bridge to the equally tiny island of Tyssøy – the home enjoys unforgettable views, with the chance to dip into the sea if you’re feeling brave! Hiking options in this region are also spectacular, though central Bergen is the real lure. Head to Bryggen (which features on UNESCO's World Heritage List), and explore a multitude of hidden passages, boutiques, galleries and artist studios. For incredible views of the city, hop on the Floibanen Funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen, and don’t forget to dine in Bergen’s oldest restaurant where you should try the spectacular fish soup and reindeer with venison sauce.

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The 5th happiest city in the world is Copenhagen in Denmark

With a harbour that is clean enough for swimming, a passion for cycling as a quick and eco-friendly way to get around the city and a dynamic food scene, it’s no wonder that this family-friendly city is one of the happiest places in the world! Most tourists head straight for Nhyavn to admire the iconic pastel-coloured houses, or Jægersborggade for boutiques and a great coffee scene. If you’re travelling with children (or you’re just a big kid at heart!) then Tivoli Gardens and amusement park is great fun, while the Rosenborg Castle will offer a fantastic dollop of culture. Described by Time Out as ‘Copenhagen’s buzziest neighbourhood’, Refshaleøen should also be top of your to-do list – particularly if you want to explore the Copenhagen Contemporary (an impressive art gallery) – before enjoying street food at Reffen. Finally, book a performance at the Royal Danish Opera House – or see it from the water on a GoBoat – then head home to a lovely home swap.

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The 4th happiest city in the world is Zurich in Switzerland

For many travel-lovers, a city break only begins when you find the old town. Zurich’s beautiful Altstadt, with pretty cobbled streets is no exception. Explore the multiple water fountains, and make sure you walk up to the Lindenhof city park for exceptional views over the city. Got a sweet tooth? Then head to Lindt’s Home of Chocolate factory for a Willy Wonka-esque tour, or head to family-run Café Honold for an indulgent treat, then relax with a spot of sightseeing on Limmat’s river cruise. It should take just under an hour – leaving you with plenty of time to explore the impressive Zurich Zoo. Make sure you visit the underwater viewing area at the elephant park to spot the elephants taking a dip (guaranteed to bring a smile to even the grumpiest face!), then head back to your home swap.

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The 3rd happiest city in the world is Wellington in New Zealand

New Zealanders are quite rightly proud of this glorious city, and with plenty to see and do, there’s something for every taste. Speaking of taste, locals are proud to say that Wellington is the craft beer capital of New Zealand, and the food scene is impressive too – head to the Boulcott Street Bistro for an elegant dining experience. A visit to the city wouldn’t be complete until you’ve visited The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (which is both a museum and an art gallery), and the Wellington Botanic Gardens are lovely. Hop on the cable car for stunning views of the city, and you’ll quickly see why this is one of the happiest places on earth. If you’re feeling energetic, then Culture Trip’s round-up of the best hiking trails in Wellington is jam-packed with routes for every level of ability – then retreat home to a gorgeous home swap! If you’re looking for a really great oversight of the top things to do in Wellington, then check out bloggers Two Wandering Soles. They’ve also got lots of tips on exploring New Zealand on a budget.

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The 2nd happiest city in the world is Aarhus in Denmark

You might not have heard of Aarhus, but it’s one of those cities that you really don’t want other tourists to find! Arguably one of Europe’s best undiscovered gems, this perfect location combines city, beach and forests – making it the ideal spot for a relaxed break. Exchange homes with one of our community (somewhere like this recently renovated property would be ideal), then head into the city to explore its many charms. You’d struggle to not feel happy while walking the glass rainbow viewing deck and walkway that sits on top of the Aarhus Art Museum (which also happens to be the most visited art museum in Scandinavia). Next, take a stroll through the Latin Quarter and explore the boutiques and fantastic café scene, then walk laps of the gorgeous wooden circular Infinite Bridge and get a 360 degree view of Aarhus and the sea (just don’t expect it to be there in the winter when it’s taken down). For loads more ideas, take a look at The Crazy Tourist’s blog on the best things to do in Aarhus.

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The happiest city in the world is Helsinki in Finland

And in our top spot, is Helsinki – which is located in Finland, the happiest country in the world. So first things first, book yourself somewhere stunning to stay – happily our members have loads of great home swaps in Helsinki. Next, draw up an itinerary – if you want a cheat’s guide to the best experiences in Helsinki, then travel blogger Where’s Mollie? has some great ideas. Hop on a canal sightseeing tour, and make time for a sauna at Loyly before taking a dip in the sea or an ice hole (depending on what time of year you’re visiting). Fancy a dose of culture? Then visit Helsinki Cathedral or experience the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress for an unforgettable experience. If you’re short on time but you want to pack in all of the top sights, then the tram is a great way to see the city, or hire a bike and pick one of these great cycling routes. Lastly, enjoy a fantastic eating and drinking experience. From cosy wine bars that the locals love, through to drinks with a view at the Skyroom Helsinki, this is an effortlessly cool city that both travellers and locals adore.

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Let’s not forget that the top 10 list changes all the time – and what you deem to be a happy city is entirely down to taste! Love Home Swap’s head office is in London – and we’d argue that we should definitely be listed as one of the happiest places on earth (though apparently, we only scraped in at 36th place!) And when we first covered this subject back in 2013 (which you can see in the infographic below), the top spot was held by Rio de Janeiro, closely followed by Sydney, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Madrid, San Francisco, Rome, Paris and Buenos Aires. So tell us Love Home Swappers – what’s your personal happiest city? Share your thoughts in our Facebook groups and on our social media channels using #welovehomeswap.  


From then to now, this was the top 10 in 2013:

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