“Hygge Destinations” may not be the top searched topic when it comes to travel planning, but, in my opinion, it should be. Between the benefits of hygge in your everyday life, mixed with the relaxation you need on your vacation, I’m not sure why more people don’t go on hygge holidays.
If you’re lucky enough to have vacation time coming up, and need some help deciding on where to go, look no further than our list. I’ve put together some of the top hygge destinations in the world, with plenty in the U.S. so that you can set up a base camp in the coziest an most hygge place you can.
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What is Hygge?
But first, what is hygge? If you’ve stumbled on this blog post you most likely already know what Hygge is, or at least have heard of it before. But just in case, I’ll remind you. Hygge, pronounced “hoo-gah” or “hue-gah” depending on who you ask, has exploded in popularity around the world. It roughly translates to coziness so I’ll sometimes use the two of them interchangeably. But hygge means so much more than just cozy. Essentially, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.
If Meik Wiking’s book “The Little Book of Hygge” is any indication, the best way to explain hygge is by giving examples. Hygge can be the warm glow of candlelight, enjoying good food, putting on warm, thick sweatpants after spending all day out in the snow or cold, or it can just be cuddling up on the couch with a good book.
As you can see hygge can be many things, and it can vary from person to person. But one thing is certain, hygge can be anything that makes you feel cozy, at ease, and content in the moment.
What Makes a Place Hygge?
I’ve talked about why choosing a hygge destination is a great idea for your vacation. But what makes a place hygge? Of course when I put the list together I looked for typical cozy, romantic, or relaxing places. But because I wanted to quantify, I looked for locations with a reading culture, a fondness for coziness, inviting nature, rich and delicious food, and a warm locals.
Top Hygge Destinations
Boston is endlessly friendly and blessed with an amazing array of places to hide from the cold. Of all the entries on this list, Boston is the most likely place you’ll find and make new friends. Just set up shop in any of the city’s huge number of pubs and bars and you’re sure to soon strike up conversation with the friendly locals. The Boston suburb, Cambridge, has the highest concentration of bookstores per capita in the U.S. Combined with cozy coffee shops, historic buildings, and Boston is a great place for a hygge getaway.
There are so many things to do in Vienna in winter. Drink weihnachtspunsch, a hot wine punch, while shopping the famous Christmas markets. Go ice skating or skiing. Snuggle up with furry friends at a cat cafe. (Yes, Vienna has a cat cafe!) Catch a classical concert or get lost in the charming streets. When it’s time to warm up, head to a pub for a beer or cocktail, or indulge in an apple strudel in a cozy cafe. Hygge heaven.
Enchanting architecture perched protectively over the famed canals, a world-famous café culture and a relaxed atmosphere running throughout; Amsterdam is a joyous place to visit any time of year, but most of all in the autumn. The city certainly knows how to do indulgent treats at this time of year – and none top the combination of hot apple pie and chocomel (chocolate milk), served in the city’s famed cafés.
Check KLOOK for activities in Amsterdam:Klook.com
Denver is the home to over 75 breweries, many with cozy and inviting atmospheres. residents who love to Knit/Needlework. Especially in winter, Denver can be incredibly hygge. With the snowy mountains to the west, and the inviting restaurants with cuisine ranging from chic high-end to classic comfort food, you’ll enjoy wandering around the cold city in your cozy winter coat before popping in for a warm coffee or cold stout.
Also Read: Hygge Travel Essentials
Japan might not be first to come to mind when you think of winter destinations, but Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost island, has winter wonderland written all over it. Known for epic skiing and onsen (natural volcanic hot springs), it’s the perfect place to spend the day outdoors then warm up with hot, steaming bowls of ramen. Don’t miss the Sapporo Snow Festival featuring intricate sculptures made out of, you guessed it, snow. And make sure to stop by the Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan (village) made completely out of ice. To experience local food, check out one of these food tours.
For more ideas of what to do in Japan, see our post of what to do in winter.
Of course I couldn’t leave out the Danish capital of Copenhagen. As the end of year nears and the dark nights draw in, Copenhagen comes alive with locals and visitors, wrapped in oversized scarves taking to the streets to enjoy mulled wine (gløgg) and freshly-baked pastries (we’d recommend the delicious Roman Snail pastry).
Salt Lake City
With residents with a love for board games, card games, cooking, and knitting and needlework, SLC is home to many already living the hygge life. Combined with even more snowy mountains, more breweries, and coffee shops, SLC might just be the next spot for your vacation.
Nestled north of the Arctic Circle, the small city of Tromsø is said to be one of the best places to see the northern lights. While you may come for a spectacular glimpse of the aurora borealis, you’ll stay for the university town’s culture and pub scene. Once you’ve had enough outdoor adventures, cozy up with a movie at Norway’s oldest cinema, relax in a fishing vessel turned spa, or simply let mother nature mesmerize you while sipping on something warm.
If you fancy something a little stronger to warm your cockles this autumn, there’s nothing better than a nip of single malt scotch. If you don’t fancy heading out to the chilly highlands or wind-ravaged tiny islands renowned for producing the world’s finest whisky – Edinburgh is the place to enjoy the ‘water of life’ in cozy and beautiful surroundings. Head to the Leith area of the city for the thriving bar scene where you’ll be able to pick from endless drinking holes and even more whiskies. Here you can find tour options around Edinburgh. Or search for options on KLOOK:
Read Also: Edinburgh Literary Travel Guide
Portland has a high concentration of wine bars, breweries, and coffee shops. Add to that the cooler weather, hipster nature of the locals with a love for quirky and cozy shops, and a high concentration hygge pastimes like reading and board games, and Portland is a recipe for hygge.
If there’s any destination that fits the picture of a true winter wonderland it has to be Banff in Alberta, Canada. Ski the slopes, explore the resort town and soak in hot springs with mountain views. Or you could just nestle into a nook of your chalet-style lodge with a hot tea and good book. Either way, unplugging, tuning into nature and getting cozy with the Canadian Rockies as your backdrop will surely heat up your hygge situation.
Read Also: Must-Read Cozy Winter Books
The Finnish widely regard autumn as a time to reconnect with nature – hiking paths across beautiful mountains and through forests blessed with crisp red leaves. Retreating into the capital, Helsinki, after a day of exploration provides the perfect chance for a little hygge in the city’s renowned bistros. At the cutting edge of European cuisine, Helsinki’s roster of leading chefs are pioneering new techniques whilst honoring old favorites. If we had to pick one restaurant in Helsinki, it would be Ravintola Nokka – beloved for their use of local produce to create modern flavors.
Read Also: Books to Read Before Visiting Finland
When I think of hygge I often think of Seattle. With its rainy climate that just asks for you to sit inside reading in front of the fire and the extremely high number of coffee shops, Seattle is the perfect storm for hygge. Not to mention the breweries, quality cuisine, and high percentage of homes with a fireplace, the people of Seattle are all too familiar with hygge.
Perhaps the ultimate fairytale city, Tallinn’s charm only heats up when the snow starts to fall. After a day of exploring the picturesque views of the medieval Old Town, stroll the quaint streets until you find the perfect spot to stop for some fresh, hot Estonian black bread and soup. Whether within the old city walls or the hipster Kalamaja neighborhood, you’re sure to find someplace to cozy up with a hot coffee and good friends to watch the snowfall.
Iceland’s charming capital Reykjavik is one of the world’s northernmost cities and amongst the chilliest. This means that the pedestrian streets of the capital are full of delightfully warming cafés, bars and restaurants to hide away from the cold. We’d recommend visiting Svarta Kaffið, a small café beloved for its soups. Open all day, Svarta Kaffið’s offers two types of freshly-prepared soup every day, served in an oversized loaf of bread – perfect alongside a pint of Jóla Gull (the festive variation of the local lager).
Hopefully my explanations of each city has shown you what hygge lovers can find at each destination. Or at least the photos have inspired you to give these cities a try. Let me know if there are any cities that I should have mentioned in this list. I’m always looking for more hygge fun.
Are you ready to Travel?
- Book Your Flights– To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is a must. Some great options are Google Flights for the calendars to find the cheapest options, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner. For more options, see our resources page.
- Find Transportation- If you’re driving, look into Rentalcars.com before arriving to find the best rates. Also check for rail or bus routes as they might be cheaper than renting a car.
- Book Your Accommodation– Look at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia for hotels. You can also look at AirBnB or VRBO if you want a bigger space.
- Book Tours and Experiences- Check Viator or Klook for some of the best tours and attractions for a great price.
- Stay Connected– If your phone’s data plan is going to be expensive, order an eSIM card before you go.
- Buy Travel Insurance- I always recommend World Nomads for insurance. It’s better to protect yourself in case of mishaps. Learn more about World Nomads in this FAQ post.
- Pack Your Bags– Check out my packing lists, or my favorite travel gear to help you remember all of the essentials.
- Learn About Your Destination: Learn about your location with guidebooks like Lonely Planet, or, novels and books about the country, or, shameless plug, search around my site for more info.