Copenhagen wasn’t exactly on the radar: I booked this trip on a whim simply because it was £30 round-trip. While I know a bit about Denmark from A Year Of Living Danishly, a witty recounting of a British journalist’s 365 days of living in rural Denmark, I knew virtually nothing about Copenhagen.
Perhaps my curiosity stemmed from the fact that Denmark has consistently been named the happiest country in the world. I sought out to find out why this is the case, and my first impressions of Copenhagen were telling.
Copenhagen has a childlike whimsy air to it. Home of Hans Christian Anderson (The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, etc), and direct source of inspiration for Disneyland, I can’t help but notice that Copenhagen feels like a real-life storybook. From the cobblestone streets, to the colourful traditional houses, to the national appreciation of cinnamon buns, it all feels very quirky, yet innocent.
Pronounced “hoo-gguh,” hygge is the Danish idea of closing out the outside world and enjoying that particular moment with your friends or by yourself and shutting out the outside world. While usually accompanied with a hot drink and a kanelsnegl, this rosy atmosphere can be widely applied. I met a few friends on a walking tour and I feel as we’ve been participating in hygge for the last 24 hours. In a way, I feel this wholesomeness contributes to the cozy atmosphere that blankets the city.
Denmark has consistently been named the happiest country in the world, and Copenhagen is the centre of this honour. On the surface, the Danish people here are insanely friendly and an unexpected warmth to them. When asked what makes them so happy in Denmark, I got a wide variety of answers. Answers included being able to live comfortably from working just 37 hours a week, a trusting and transparent government, incredible parental leave (over 450 combined days for maternal/paternal leave), and of course, the pastries. This happiness oozes out of them, and strangely enough, I feel very happy here. Happier than I’ve been in a while.
This borderline-utopian happiness, hygge, and harmony doesn’t come cheap. While not as expensive as Scandinavian counterparts Norway and Iceland, my wallet is the only thing not feeling this happiness wave. To be fair, the prices are justified in the food as it’s all very high-quality. But £7 for a pint??
Everything here is immaculately designed; from the city infrastructure to accommodate their million bikes, to the aesthetics. Outside the traditional, the Scandinavian aesthetics in particular are just a dream: sleek, nature-inspired, modern, minimalist. This is absolutely my type of city.
Although Copenhagen’s a city that’s quickly explored, I feel different here than a lot of other places. There’s a sense of warmth and home I feel here, and I wish I had the time (and money) to stay for a month over the summer to see if it’s a genuine contender to relocate after university.