“Hygge” is a Danish word that is impossible to translate and difficult to define, but loosely speaking it is that very particular concept of conviviality and comfort that lies at the heart of Danish contentment. One may be tempted to think of it as having to do with candles, open fireplaces and warm blankets, but it is also about little pleasures, quality time, visiting charming places and the enjoyment of lovely things, which is why Copenhagen itself can be described as “hygge” for the city is full of this and more. Karin Jans, our Scandinavian Destination Specialist, shares her must-do guide for modern Copenhagen in our blog today.
The Little Mermaid
The must-see attractions include Denmark’s most well know lady, by now 115 years old – the sculpture of the Little Mermaid, inspired by fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen’s story about THE LITTLE MERMAID, read and loved world-wide. She is sitting on a stone by the entrance to what used to be the harbour, today a popular recreational area. Yes, she is little, she is the size mermaids are!
A must for all visitors, young and old, and has become a national treasure and an international attraction. Hans Christian Andersen visited many times (the 175th anniversary is celebrated this year), as well as Walt Disney, who found inspiration for his first Disneyland there. It’s a beautiful area with exotic architecture, historic buildings and lush gardens as well as a broad selection of restaurants. There is also live music in Tivoli every single day. At night thousands of coloured lights create a fairytale atmosphere that is unique.
Nyhavn was in old days a place for sailors coming to Copenhagen. Nowadays Nyhavn – with its picturesque canal lined with old sailing ships and colourful facades of old houses – is as expected a tourist attraction. However, Nyhavn is still popular among locals, who as soon as weather permits either occupy the numerous restaurants or sit by the waterfront and chat over some beers. It’s the perfect place to end a long day. It is also from here the various canal boats start their one-hour tours around the canals and the harbour. It is a wonderful way of seeing Copenhagen. Also, Copenhageners take the tour to get an opportunity to see their capital from a different perspective.
The two Danish specialities everybody should try are “smørrebrød” (open faced sandwiches) and “wienerbrød” (Danish pastries). Traditional smørrebrød are popular again thanks to young Danish chefs, after having been slightly out of fashion for a while. The new trend focuses on traditional dishes. How much food can you heap on top of a slice of rye bread? Try one of the smørrebrød restaurants and find out! They come in hundreds of varieties including veggie options, fish, paté, meat.
The New Nordic Cuisine
Over the last decade, the New Nordic Cuisine has revolutionised Danish Gastronomy and created a new focus on local ingredients. One of the driving forces behind the rising popularity of the Nordic Cuisine is the success of Restaurant NOMA (a contraction of Nordisk Mad (‘mad’ is food in Danish). But there are several other great restaurants, Copenhagen is home to 15 Michelin star studded restaurants (one holding 3 stars, two holding 2 stars, and twelve holding 1 star). Copenhagen has become a Nordic Foodie Paradise.
Swimming in the City Centre
When it comes to going for a top swim in a city, legendary beaches like Copacabana in Rio or Bondi in Sydney might spring to mind. But Copenhagen has been named the best city in the world for swimming, thanks to its urban beaches and waterfront swimming areas in the harbour. The idea of swimming in the harbour would have been out of the question fifteen years ago. Wastewater was fed into the harbour making the water heavily polluted. A complete modernisation of the sewage system improved the water quality so much that the city was able to open the pubic baths, and today the harbour is one of the trendiest spots in Copenhagen. There are currently four harbour baths, the first and best-known of which is located at Islands Brygge, and more are to come.
Copenhagen’s Bike Culture
Life in Copenhagen is lived in a saddle of a bicycle. Everybody bikes whether it’s sun, rain or snow. Copenhageners love their bikes, they bike to work, to school, to shop for groceries and to social gatherings. Cycling is fast, convenient, healthy, climate-friendly – and cheap. Even top politicians ride their bikes every day to the parliament. You can also bring your bike on the local trains and on the Metro (underground). For two years running, Copenhagen has been voted the best cycle city because of its many, broad and widely-used cycle lanes (375 km in all), and bicycles now outnumber cars in the city. Copenhagen City Bikes was the world’s first organized large-scale urban bike-sharing scheme launched in 1995 with 1000 rather basic bicycles. The present city bikes feature GPS navigation and a motor!
Aegean Odyssey will be visiting Denmark for the first time during her maiden Baltic season in June and July 2019. All sailings featuring Copenhagen can be found on our website, but they include ‘Land of the Midnight Sun‘, ‘Baltic Capitals & St Petersburg‘ and ‘The Norwegian Fjords‘. Our Norwegian Fjords sailing also calls to the lesser visited port of Aarhus. Although not many cruise ships visit, this is in fact Denmark’s second-largest city.