Three days in Copenhagen is just enough time to really get a taste of that Danish hygge that makes this kingdom one of the happiest countries in the world.
So… what is hygge (pronounced hue-gah)? Well, the closest word in the English language is probably something like cosy and content, but to be honest, it’s a hard one to explain. The best definition I’ve found is on hyggehouse.com and they describe it as “a Danish word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary but is always cosy, charming or special.”
Before travelling to Denmark, I always imagined hygge in winter time – cosy chunky knit blankets, hot cocoa and crackling fires. I’m pleased to say, though, that in my three days in Copenhagen the Danish people showed me how to get my hygge on in the heat of the summer sun and, believe me, it is just as good!
I arrive in Copenhagen fresh off the plane from Stockholm in Sweden. I’m a first-time Scandinavia visitor and coming off the back of an amazing three days in Stockholm, Copenhagen is my last stop in a two and a half week sojourn through Europe that started in Brussels with Thalys. On these three days in Copenhagen, I’m ready to relax, enjoy the last of my European summer and learn all about the art of living a life full of hygge and happiness.
The first thing to do on arrival for my three days in Copenhagen is to head out to hipster Vesterbro to find my AirBnB, which turns out to be the cutest top floor apartment right on the main street, Vesterbrogade. It’s walking distance to so many awesome brunch spots and restaurants, so I’m definitely looking forward to a morning coffee!
The apartment comes complete with a cute little balcony that offers up beautiful rooftop sunset views when the seemingly endless Scandinavian summer days finally come to a close. Three days in Copenhagen. Three amazing sunsets.
Now, if you read my Stockholm post previously, then the advice I’m about to give will sound familiar. To save money and see a whole heap of attractions in your three days in Copenhagen, I recommend getting yourself a Copenhagen Card. Public transport in Copenhagen is included in the price of the card and my 72 hour card managed to save me over 820 Danish Krone (around 173 AUD) instead of paying for individual entry at every attraction.
Plus it’s just easier than having to carry cash around to pay for every attraction – just flash your Copenhagen Card and you’re in. It’s possible to buy the Copenhagen Card online or to go to the tourism office and buy it there.
After flying in from Sweden, I’m in the mood for some relaxation, so after walking from my apartment into the main part of town the first item on the agenda is to take a boat for a canal cruise. It’s a perfect summer day, so I stop at the 7-11 for a couple of beers and use my Copenhagen Card to secure my place on a boat for the next 50 mins.
As I crack a beer open on the boat, we sail past the Opera House, the Amalienborg Palace (where the royals live), the curious commune Christianshavn and even get a little sneak peek at the Little Mermaid statue and the famous Nyhavn harbour. It is a wonderfully relaxing way to get familiar with the layout of the city and the scenery is the epitome of old-world grandeur and picturesque quaintness all at once.
Once I’ve hopped off the boat, I’m off to Nyhavn to have a wander. It’s exceptionally hot and the scores of locals sitting alongside the water’s edge seem to have the right idea – just lying in the sun and reading a book, or listening to music lazing the day away seems to be the way to go.
Walking into Nyhavn (New Harbour) is totally bucket list worthy. Painted buildings line the harbour as boats dot either side of the waterway. Tourists are out in droves enjoying an Aperol Spritz under the shady umbrellas of the various bars and I figure, if you can’t beat them, join them. I pick a spot with great views of the harbour, order my drink and take it all in sip by sip. It is just truly beautiful – there’s no other way to put it.
After what has been a pretty lazy day so far what with sitting on my butt in a boat and then in an outdoor bar having drinks, I decide that I should work out my legs a bit with a walk to the most visited lady in all Copenhagen – the Little Mermaid. Locals laugh about this statue as a lot of them think it is totally overrated, but there is something forlorn and poignant about the statue, just looking wistfully out to sea.
If you can look past the busloads of tourists clambering over the rocks to take a selfie, that is. Still, the little statue has heart, and after reading the original Hans Christian Anderson story The Little Mermaid, I have a new understanding of how tragic and grim the real tale actually is.
The last stop of the day is to get some summer fun in at Tivoli Gardens. It’s a lovely old amusement park with a mix of quirky old rides and some newer ones for thrill seekers and the best part is that in summer, the park has free concerts that run into the night. The night I visit, The Hollywood Vampires are playing and whilst I’m not really a fan of the supergroup made up of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry, watching them play as the Scandinavian sunset sets is great fun.
I wake up in my gorgeous AirBnB ready to start the second of my three days in Copenhagen with one of Vesterbro’s famous brunches. A short walk from me is Mad & Kaffe which is adorable and delicious. To order, I’m presented with a paper menu where I can tick all the items I want in my breakfast and then just hand it back filled out to a waiter.
It’s super efficient and the coffee is absolutely sublime. I’ve been searching for a real latte like back home and so far, Denmark seems like it’s as passionate about coffee as Australians. I spend a bit longer at Mad & Kaffe than I intend to, because it’s so delightful to just sit tight in this cosy little cafe and get some blogging done.
The next stop of the day is to visit one of the MANY castles in and around Copenhagen. Rosenborg Slot is smaller than your average King Christian IV structure as it was intended as a weekend or summer palace, but I’d wager it’s the most beautiful in Copenhagen city.
Located in the hygge-filled Kongens Have (King’s Garden), the castle is easily noticeable. In the summer months against a vibrant blue sky, this has all the earmarks of a fairytale setting. Locals are picnicking in the park on the lush green grass and this absolutely feels like I’ve discovered where to find all those hygge vibes in the Danish summer.
The castle itself is beautiful in it’s opulence. While it is decorative and as extra as you could expect from a castle, there is something dignified in it’s smaller stature and intricate designs that some of the bigger palaces suffer from.
After a walk through of the castle rooms, the real highlight lies underneath where the crown jewels are on display. And the guards are ALL KINDS OF SERIOUS about protecting them. I actually walked the wrong way (behind a guard) and he stood to attention and things got a bit intense with his gun and a woman waving me to walk back around the right way. Note to self for next time.
The jewels themselves are super impressive and it’s actually quite amazing how close I was able to get. It’s no Tower of London experience, whizzing past on a travelator, trying to catch a glimpse. Instead, it’s possible to freely wander, just about pressing my nose up against the glass to see the crowns up close.
After a brief rest in the King’s Garden in the sun, I pop in for a visit to the Design Museum which is my last stop for the day. Scandi design is famous for having quite a specific style and the highlight of this museum is definitely the entire exhibition on the Danish chair. There are some other travelling exhibits, including a whole section on Japanese design, but the chair exhibit is definitely the most engaging.
At the close of my second of three days in Copenhagen, I opt for a quieter night watching the sun set over the cities rooftops from my AirBnB. The sky turns a dusty pink colour and even when the sun finally goes down, the sky still stays oddly light and strangely beautiful.
My three days in Copenhagen are drawing to a close and this morning I’m off to spend some time on a Hygge and Happiness walking tour through the city. First though, it’s another brunch stop, this time at cute café Far’s Dreng and another awesome latte with a bowl of fresh fruit and Skyr – an Icelandic yoghurt, which I’ve become totally hooked on.
The area designated to meet the tour guide surely has to be the best kept secret in Copenhagen. The old Navy houses at Nyboder are these amazing saffron coloured buildings and one street in particular has incredible rose bushes climbing up the walls, making it wonderfully Instagrammable. Mie, my guide, explains that lovely places like this are what hygge is all about – finding beauty in the simplicity.
After wandering down these adorable streets and stopping at a bakery to grab an authentic Danish, we find ourselves back at Kings Garden for another wander through the park to take in the manicured gardens and to see the Hans Christian Anderson statue hidden in amongst the hedges. Hygge, you see, can also be found in the comfort of curling up with a good book.
For even more cosiness, we leave Kings Garden to visit chocolaterie Peter Beier that specialises in serving up tiny bit size morsels of chocolate. Here I sample chocolate infused with beer, white chocolate infused with ginger and even chocolate that is 100% cacao. I never knew Denmark was that big on chocolate, but these treats are exceptionally yummy and beautifully presented.
Our final stop on the tour is a gorgeous little café where again Denmark proves it can definitely make a great latte. After coffee, it’s time to finish up the tour and say goodbye to new friends.
Our tour finishes near Christiansborg Slot – the largest palace in Copenhagen and the site of the Royal Reception Rooms as well as the Danish Parliament. Entry to the Christiansborg Palace, Kitchens and Stables are included in your Copenhagen Card, so that’s just another reason to grab one when you arrive for your three days in Copenhagen.
The palace is as grand as you’d expect, with the chandelier filled reception rooms providing a breathtaking insight into what it means to live life as a Danish Royal. My favourite room, though, has to be the incredible library, which is lined with book-filled shelves to make any bookworm green with envy. I like to try and visit the city library when I travel, and this one definitely ranks highly in the most beautiful I’ve seen.
As my three days in Copenhagen draw to a close, I make my way to one last palace – the actual residences of the Queen and Crown Prince and Princess at Amalienborg Slot. I had spotted this area on my boat ride on day one, and it’s easily recognisable by the intricate dome of Frederik’s Church (or the Marble Church) that sticks out green and gold amongst the fountains and buildings.
The Copenhagen Card does get you access to a walk through of a small part of the Amalienborg Palace, and although it’s not as grand as Rosenborg or Christiansborg its worth a look. The real beauty here, though, is in the outside square where in one direction is the waterfront and fountains and on the other, the beautiful church.
At the end of my three days in Copenhagen, I’m left feeling totally full of hygge and adoration for the Danish capital. Its one of those places where I immediately felt an affinity with the people, the city and the way of life.
So, I guess this really proves once and for all that hygge is not just a Winter concept – it’s all about relaxation, contentment and appreciating the simple things around you. Copenhagen, I’ll be back!
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