It just happens to be on the coast.

By Kimberly Holland
January 24, 2019
Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty Images

If it’s comfort you’re seeking in the chill of an Arctic blast, pack your bags and head to Seattle.

The Emerald City is the best in the U.S. for “hygge,” the Danish word for comfort, coziness, and contentment, by Sperling’s BestPlaces.

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) supposes that cozy environments generate feelings of well-being and conviviality, despite winter’s blustery weather that could otherwise leave you feeling zapped.

Hygge experts say the strongest sources of the cozy vibe include thick blankets, roaring fireplaces, warm and comforting beverages, and pastimes like curling up with a good book, a night of knitting, or even some classic board games. All of these elements combine to create a room—or a restaurant, bar, or coffee house—that draws you in and makes you feel comforted and satisfied.

As a life philosophy and even decorating mantra, hygge has gained steam in recent years, as trends toward decluttering and simplifying have become more popular. Hygge is so well-liked and widely practiced in fact that BestPlaces decided to find out which American cities have the greatest hygge using what they know best—data.

Related: 10 Best Beach Towns to Visit in Winter

For their rankings, the data-driven site put together a list of the most important attributes for achieving all-enveloping hygge. These include:

Cozy weather

They calculated each city’s average winter snowfall, minimum January temperatures, number of cloudy days, and average precipitation. The more snowy and cold, the more opportunities to practice your best hygge.

Hygge pastimes

When it’s too cold to be outside, hygge hotspots are known for their pass-the-time activities, including reading books, playing card games and board games, knitting, and cooking.

Hygge venues

When you think of comfort, you likely picture yourself at home, cozied up on your couch with a cup of cocoa and a warm blanket, but true hygge cities embrace the idea in venues like bars, bistros, and pubs. BestPlaces ranked cities by how many of their businesses offered authentic hygge experiences and allowed for community and togetherness.

Homes with fireplaces

You can’t get cozy by a fireplace if you don’t have one, so higher hygge marks went to cities that have a higher percentage of fireplaces in the home.

Matteo Colombo
Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Top Hygge Cities in the U.S.

Many of America’s largest cities have strong cozy attributes that had them vying for the top post—#22 Austin ranks first for cooking; #28 Atlanta has the most fireplaces; #11 Providence-Warwick is very into knitting and needlework—but Seattle earned top hygge honors because the city’s residents read more books than anywhere else in the U.S. and they have the most hygge-embracing cafes and coffee houses.

  1. Seattle, WA
  2. Portland, OR
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. Salt Lake City, UT
  5. Denver, CO
  6. Rochester, NY
  7. Hartford, CT
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Cleveland, OH
  10. 1Milwaukee, WI

Sunbelt cities don’t fair too well in the top 50 list (sorry, Tampa) because, quite simply, their winters are too mild and sunny.

“Hygge is closely linked with cold weather and short days, so cities that have warm and sunny winters were considered to have less cozy weather and ranked lower in overall Hygge-factor,” BestPlaces said in their statement.

Though their survey didn’t specifically consider individual city’s ancestral compositions, the data scientists at BestPlaces discovered a possible correlation between people of Scandinavian and Nordic heritages and cities with the highest hygge rankings.

Take Salt Lake City, for example. It ranked fourth on the overall list and was highest for hygge pastimes (board games, card games, cooking, knitting, and needlework). It also happens to have the largest Danish ancestry of the major U.S. metros, with more than 4.2 percent of people tracing their ancestors back to the Scandinavian country. More than 10 percent of people living in Salt Lake City can trace their heritage back to any of the Scandinavian countries.

Other cities with high percentages of Scandinavian or Nordic heritage include Minneapolis (22.8 percent), Seattle (9.7 percent), and Portland (8.2 percent). So whether the hygge is in the blood or in the hot tea, coffee, wine, or brandy, America has this Scandinavian practice down to an art.