“I’ll Take You There” – The Staple Singers
Do you guys remember this old school song by The Staple Singers? I swear – this is the theme song that played on repeat in my mind as we walked through the charming streets of Copenhagen! Before going to Copenhagen, I knew that Denmark had been voted the happiest country in the world, but to actually see and experience a city that embodies the country’s collective joy was extraordinary to say the least.
I know that every country has its own set of problems, but as we explored Copenhagen, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it’s the closest place to utopia that I’ll ever experience. That’s not to say that I turned a blind eye to the graffiti on the walls that we saw on the train into the city from the airport or the one and only homeless person that we saw begging for money during our stay. Oh, and two guys almost got into a brawl on the metro, but fortunately they were separated by the closing doors before anything could really pop off. But apart from those few setbacks, Copenhagen seemed to be a chilly dreamland of milk and honey.
In this post, I’ll vicariously take you to Copenhagen through words, pictures, and observations about this near close to utopian city…
For starters, everyone we met in Copenhagen greeted us so warmly. Whether we were asking random people on the street for directions or whether we were entering restaurants for service, we didn’t encounter a single rude person during our time there. No matter where we went, the locals greeted us with bright smiles and friendly attitudes.
Bright & Colorful
One thing I absolutely love about Copenhagen is all of the bright colors of the buildings. Although the weather was bitingly cold while we were there, all of the homes and businesses painted in yellows, greens, and reds really give the city an inviting and appealing touch.
I can only imagine that the bright colors enliven the locals’ moods – especially in the dead of winter – and enhance the overall “hygge” culture that the Danes are known for. As our guide explained to us, hygge is a feeling of coziness.
“Imagine that it’s a cold day and you’re in the house by the fire with your loved ones really enjoying everyone’s company. That’s hygge,” he explained.
Copenhagen’s vibrant, bright colors definitely give it a cozy feel.
Clean & Orderly
Jave and I were also really impressed by just how clean and orderly Copenhagen is. As I mentioned, we did see graffiti – especially in the city’s outskirts. But by and large, within the city center itself, the streets are relatively trash free, neat, and orderly. That’s saying a lot considering that Copenhagen is the country’s capital and most populous city with an urban population of over 1.2 million. Copenhagen’s layout also makes it very navigable by foot or public transportation.
Bikes, Bikes, & More Bikes
As I’m sure you know, Copenhageners love their bikes, and cold weather doesn’t deter them whatsoever from riding them. With their mobile phone ear pieces in place, they talk and ride with the best of ‘em. Everywhere you go, you’ll see bike paths, people on bikes, and even bike parking lots. And most of the time, you won’t see any locks on parked bikes. Imagine that – not locking your parked bike because you have no reason to fear that someone will steal it. Talk about civility!
*Correction: I’ve been corrected in the comments below about the whole bike locking issue – apparently, most bikes have locks but they’re just hard to see. However, that doesn’t change my opinion about the locals’ civility!
Parks & Green Spaces
There are many parks and green spaces in Copenhagen. From the Botanical Garden to Kongens Have (King’s Garden) where Rosenborg Castle is located, there are so many places around the city to walk, workout, or just chill. Copenhagen is a city where you can really appreciate being outside, even in the cold.
I kid you not when I say that we didn’t hear a single siren during our stay in Copenhagen. Not one. Are Copenhageners not committing crimes?! Are they not being rushed off to the emergency room?! No honking horns (I suppose because most people are on bikes), no one yelling (except for the drunk Americans we encountered walking through the streets in costumes one night – sigh), and not many construction noises. In fact, the only time there was any real noise to break the silence was during the daily noontime changing of the guard ceremony when the royal guards’ marching band invaded the streets of Copenhagen in a procession from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace. And I believe that music is only played when the Queen or other royals are at Amalienborg Palace.
I went to Copenhagen expecting to be let down by the food. I don’t know why. I just wasn’t expecting to be wowed. But we were beyond impressed with the food in Copenhagen. From the beautifully presented and delicious smørreøbrod to the traditional porridge we had for breakfast one morning, all of the food we ate was extremely fresh and of such high quality.
I’ve never seen so many babies in a city in my life! Local moms and dads bundle their little rosy-cheeked babies up in their winter gear, strap them into their strollers or bike carts, and get on with their business. We even saw one guy pushing a basket full of four babies around on the street. It was such a cute sight to see. At first I couldn’t understand why so many parents have the same huge bassinet styled strollers until I realized that they’re able to zip their little ones up inside so it’s as if the baby is being pushed around in a warm, cozy bed on wheels.
Overall, I can’t say enough positive things about Copenhagen. In our opinion, Copenhagen really lives up to the hype, and our brief glimpse into local life there really gave us greater insight into why the Danes are so damn happy!