Copenhagen was one of these cities that I have always wanted to visit really bad. I remember watching many years ago a news story on TV about the happiest country in the world – Denmark.
I was unable to forget this. The reporter explained the reason for Denmark to be such a happy country, and one of the best places to live – the Danes lived under a very simples rule, called “the eight eights”: eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of leisure.
However, what struck me the most was hearing someone saying they didn’t mind paying such high taxes because they understood it was so they could live well in the community. Doesn’t it feel like a real-world fairytale?
I finally had the chance to visit the capital last bank holiday weekend. Obviously, as all Scandinavian countries, Denmark is a very expensive city, but the flights were cheap and we’d only be there for the weekend really.
I must say I fell completely in love with the city. I so want to go back one day again. And how do I know it was true love? Because on our last day there the weather was truly crap, rained heavily the whole day, and I still enjoyed the city.
Hard for me to choose one reason why I really liked Copenhagen. The city is a true metropole, but a clean, tidy one. The air felt clean from the moment I stepped in there. Cycling is huge in Copenhagen (it has over 390 Km of designated cycling lanes) which makes the air a lot more breathable. Everybody looks healthy, fit and warm. I never detected even a hint of rudeness. And everybody seems to speak perfect English.
The architecture is beautiful, with a range of old medieval inspired buildings, passing through the renaissance and developing into the most elegant modern architecture. There’s plenty to do, from parks and gardens to palaces and museums/galleries. The food is simply amazing. And there’s a sort of a young, almost childish (in a good way) atmosphere.
And of course. This sums up in one simple (and quite lovely) word: hygge.
Hygge is a Danish philosophy based on finding happiness in the small things in life. Things like lighting up some candles in your room, curling yourself inside a big comfy blanket, reading a book while taking small sips in a warm cup of tea.
I started the year thinking of a new lifestyle quite similar to this one. I wasn’t putting it in such a cute way – I had decided to just say “fuck it all” when I started to get stressed out about things that really weren’t important in my life, or for myself. This has been a great way to control my stress levels, to protect myself against depression and anxiety. I wanted to focus on what brings me real happiness. And yes, sometimes it’s moments like being in bed with a cup of tea, reading an amazing book.
But let’s get to the point that really matters in here. What I did in Copenhagen.
– NYHAVN –
A 17th century canal, best known for the colorful buildings decorating the waterfront. The place where you’ll want to take that selfie, one of the most Instagramable places in Copenhagen.
– FOOD –
If you want to experience a cosy, hygge danish environment while savoring a delicious and traditional Danish dish without going bankrupt I highly recommend Madklubben Bistro-De-Luxe. We went there for dinner on our first night in Copenhagen and I was amazed at how people just stayed there for hours, enjoying the food, socializing with friends/family. Definitely a great glimpse of the Danish lifestyle. Nobody was hurrying us to finish quickly so they could give our table to someone else. We ended up staying in there for 2 hours. To be fair, there was a delay with our dessert – and we got free coffee as compensation ; ) In the end, we paid 175 DKK (£21) for a main and a dessert, which is not too bad in this country.
If you’re really looking for the lowest cost for a meal, have a hot dog! Vans selling them are everywhere, and you pay in average 30 DKK (£5) for a meal.
Another great place to go is Hooked – a place dedicated to seafood burgers. I had one of the best burgers of my life – sweet chili salmon with guacamole and paid about 90DKK for the menu (£11).
– TIVOLI GARDENS –
As a huge fan of all things Disney, I couldn’t pass on visiting the place where Walt Disney was inspired to create the happiest places there are on Earth. Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world (the first is also located in Denmark, which shows the inner child in this culture) in operations since 1843. In a nutshell, it’s simply adorable and will make your inner child jump with joy. I was even more joyous when we were told it was a dog day in the park – a proper dog show, and everyone was allowed to bring their dogs for a day in the park! I was so distracted by the beauty of the park plus the most adorable dogs of all races and sizes. I was living the dream (I wrote more about the Tivoli here)
– CHRISTIANIA –
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to explore this neighborhood as much as I wanted. We must have entered in the wrong side, walked through some really hippie and quirky huts, but soon we were back to the city. Christiania though is a must see. Even though it’s located in Copenhagen, once you step on it you feel you’re in a different dimension, where the same rules don’t apply.
– THE LITTLE MERMAID –
I’ve always had a very strong feeling in regards to the little mermaid. She was so lucky. She was beautiful and could live under the sea, swimming alongside her fishy friends. That was the life I’ve always wanted, but of course, as any of us, she wasn’t happy with what she had and, well, asked for legs. And for a guy? Come on girl… It didn’t go well for her, right? Just ask Hans Christian Andersen – the Danish author who came up with this sad, and dark fairytale. The statue is really nothing special, but it has become a huge tourist attraction. Though I imagine in almost everyone’s minds is the Disney version of the story, with a much happier ending (no suicidal princesses).
– KASTELLET –
A star-shaped military fortress still operating today. I’d always visited colorless fortresses, usually turned in museums, but not this one. It was the most colorful military complex I’ve ever seen. There’s plenty of “Wes Anderson” style edifications and don’t miss the iconic windmills.
– THE ROUND TOWER –
For a view from the top, visit the round tower, created as an astronomical observatory spot in the 17th century by King Christian of Denmark.
– ROSENBORG & AMALIENBORG –
Here’s the thing – I love admiring the architecture of a beautiful palace. I also love History and understanding the rulers of a country is the opening to understand its culture. However, if I can choose, visiting the inside of a palace is not my priority when visiting a place. I usually prefer Art Galleries, which closed on Mondays. However, we knew Sunday would be our own sunny day – the forecast wasn’t showing the friendlier picture for Monday and we knew we had to visit the outdoors on Sunday. As Accuweather predicted, Monday was gloom, with rain pouring the entire day. We couldn’t stay outdoors, so our only option to stay dry whilst not wasting our time in Copenhagen was to visit the palaces.
There are a lot more things to explore in this city. As mentioned, good art galleries, including the Design Museum seem to be a must-see for any art lover. We also visited the Botanical Gardens (free entrance) and walked in Strøget, a pedestrian shopping street, with big brands and department stores where my wallet couldn’t even dream to be in.
This is definitely a place where I’d like to go back again one day, doing everything I haven’t done on this short trip.
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