Denmark has regularly topped ‘World Happiness’ surveys, and in summer the reasons for this standing overspill in it’s sparkling capital, Copenhagen. Here’s how to discover hygge on a long weekend in Copenhagen.
#1 Michelin-standard dining
New nordic cuisine has been thrust in to the world’s spotlight in the last decade, mainly through poster boy chef Rene Redzepi, who champions inventive cuisine big on foraging and local ingredients. Rene’s multi-award winning Noma recently reopened at a new site (thus no stars) but there are 15 Michelin-starred and numerous ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurant’ mentions in the city worth shelling out for.
3-starred Geranium is a must do, while the team at Kadeau has also recently opened Roxie. The twin brothers at Clou continue to retain their star, while farther afield Sollerod Kro is an experience not to be missed. Denmark’s celebrity chef Bo Bech’s Geist is also a hot table worth a visit.
#2 Casual eatin’
What is real Danish food? Well, the Danes will talk to you about roast pork with red cabbage and parsley sauce, frikedelle meatballs, smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), and of course street hotdogs or pølser.
We loved the decor and traditional Danish feast at Nyboders Kokken, while the seafood frikedelle at Rene Redzepi’s Restaurant Barr were super fresh and moist, almost revelatory. For smorrebrod, we found the ones at the stand in the Torvehallerner food market beautiful both in taste and presentation. Our pølser experience was extra because we shunned the regular streetdog stands for the gourmet John’s Hotdog Deli in the Meat Packing District a.k.a. Kodbyens- where everything is high-quality and home-made, from bun, to dogs and sauces.
Bonus: Hija de Sanchez, a taqueria run by Noma alumni Rosio Sanchez and featured on David Chang’s show Ugly Delicious is but 120m from John’s Hot Dog Deli, so save space for the best tacos of your life.
Did you think we missed out on breakfast? Absolutely not. The cardamom snures at the new and already award-winning Juno The Bakery (run by another ex-Noma chef) kept us queuing up daily. Copenhagen cafe culture is strong and the quality high, so it will be difficult to choose just one place every day. Power through, we say.
#3 The wheel life
If award-winning food is part of the ‘happiest-city formula’, then scenic, safe cycling deserves equal regard. Not only will it help you work off the weight from all that eating, it’s also an excellent way to visit points of interest such as The Little Mermaid and find hidden spots for that perfect Instagram shot. All streets have bicycle lanes, and motorists (and sometimes pedestrians!) stop for cyclists, so as long as you practice the hand signals for stopping and turning, you’re golden. We got our four-day rental from Copenhagen Bicycles and were impressed with the easy online booking and service.
Bonus: the shop is located at the end on Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s historic and iconic port, and the entrance to Christianshavn where the Freetown Christiania is located.
Read also: 8 great cycling adventures for the soul
#4 Swim & sail
With city beaches, harbour swimming pools and boat rides aplenty, the people of Copenhagen celebrate the water. If the sun is out, it’s a guarantee you’ll find people in and on the water, with bikinis on (or off). Visit the Islands Brygge, Svanemølle beach, Amager Strandpark or the beautiful Kastrup Sea Bath for your daily dip in the morning or afternoon.
In the late evening, take a boat ride out of the iconic Nyhavn. Don’t be put off by the tourists thronging the area. In fact, our pro-tip is to take your pictures from across the canal.
Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843 and is beloved by all who have visited (Hans Christian Andersen was also a fan). Besides 28 rides (such as the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster), the amusement park also plays host to events such as music concerts, theatre and ballet. We suggest you go in the late afternoon, enjoy the rides and gardens, break for dinner at one of the numerous restaurants, then catch the lights and evening entertainment, gelato in hand.
Read also: Alternative travel ideas for cool kids
#6 Get green
The abundance of green spaces surely contribute to one’s happiness, and in this city you’ll find a lush park, garden or corner at every turn. Locals wander in, lie on the grass and take off their clothes (not even kidding). Nude sunbathers aside, it is incredibly peaceful to sit in the sun, a glass of chilled rosé in hand, as you watch the families, friends and kids taking a break in nature. The King’s Garden, Ørsteds Park and Østre Anlæg Park are close to the heart of the city and worth a wander.
Is a weekend enough to get a hold on the hygge concept and what it means to be the ‘Happy Capital’ of the world? As far as we can tell, there were special moments all around – and if that’s hygge then we’ll definitely be back for more.
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