Colorful houses, cobblestone streets, great food and cocktails, incredible ice cream, wonderful people, and Scandinavian functionalism at every turn. I knew I’d love Copenhagen before I even set foot in Denmark.
It’s a place designed to explore on foot or bike, with every street offering something to smile at. If this sounds too good to be true, I’ll admit- it’s hard to describe the magic of this city.
Hygge is already such a thing in Britain that the Collins Dictionary proclaimed it one of the top 10 words of 2016. Per the New York Times, Hygge is the Danish word for cozy. It is also a national manifesto, nay, an obsession expressed in the constant pursuit of homespun pleasures involving candlelight, fires, fuzzy knitted socks, porridge, coffee, cake and other people.
Really, hygge is about celebrating the small pleasures of life. Is it any wonder such a wonderful concept tops my list of reasons to visit Denmark? Even though I visited Copenhagen during the late-summer, hygge reminders were everywhere from dozens of candles in bars to sheepskin blankets on benches at outdoor eateries. The reminder to get cozy and enjoy the little things was everywhere.
If you want to know more about hygge, I love this cute book, The Little Book of Hygge.
The Food & Cocktails
I knew the food scene in Copenhagen was good, but I didn’t expect it to be so great. I’ve written about my favorite places to grab a drink or bite to eat, and I’m serious when I say Copenhagen is the perfect place to eat your way through the weekend. I mean, you know you’re bound to enjoy yourself when you’re in a city that practically lives for pastry.
The Things to Do
Copenhagen may be compact enough to be easily walkable, but there’s no shortage of awesome things to do.
A few of my favorite experiences-
- Tivoli Gardens: Built right in the middle of the city, you feel like you’re walking into a parallel universe when you enter the world’s oldest amusement park. Said to have influenced Walt Disney World, Tivoli is a fun place to wander or go on rides
- Canal Tour: I know, I know- a typical tourist activity. Except, when the sun is shining and it’s a brilliant blue day, it’s hard to resist a boat tour of Copenhagen. I tend to enjoy tours like these on my first few days in a new place- they help orient me to the city, and usually provide an inside look into a place’s history beyond what I’d discover exploring on my own
- The Round Tower: Built as an observatory for stargazing, what’s unusual about the tower is that you go up a sloping ramp that twists and turns instead of a staircase. This kind of design is called an equestrian staircase, created so horses could ride to the top. A cool design and great view of Copenhagen? Definitely a must-visit
- Louisiana Museum of Art: It rained one of our afternoons in Copenhagen. Braving the rain in favor of wandering didn’t sound like much fun, so we took a short train ride to the Louisiana Museum. Awesome modern art (LOVE anywhere with a permanent Yayoi collection & special Picasso exhibition) in a perfect location. Making it as much fun outside as inside, the museum sits on a bluff filled with sculptures, which overlooks the strait between Denmark and Sweden. Easily one of my favorite museums in the world
- Rosenborg Castle: The oldest castle in Copenhagen, here you’ll find the crown jewels and Throne Chair of Denmark. The gardens are beautifully kept- plan to spend a few minutes admiring them
The Design and Architecture
I’ve loved Scandinavian design for as long as I can remember. So clean, so elegant, so functional, so simple.
Every shop I went into seemed to be perfectly designed. HAY House was one of my favorites, and had me wishing I could pack furniture in my carry-on 😉
Before my trip, I read the Danes have achieved a quality and vibrancy of life that’s often missing in America. During my visit, not a single person asked me what I do, and it’s not because they didn’t care- it’s because we had other things to discuss. No one walks down the street with phones in hand, or checks them while at dinner or drinks. After living in New York for so many years, all of this is jarring. But, it shouldn’t be. And so, I’m grateful for the Danes- for reminding me what matters.
If you’ve ever visited Copenhagen, what were your favorite experiences?