Denmark has recently been in people’s minds when the world discovered the Danish concept of hygge, a cozy and warm calm that can be felt on your own, with company, and usually with a few candles or extra lighting for good measure. While a cynic might consider this to be a cheap way to export a cheesy concept, the Danes are natural masters of hygge, and Copenhagen is a testament to it.
The city of København – meaning the Merchants’ Harbour – is an old world jewel made anew, for while it is still the seat of the Danish realm, its modernity is as clear as day. Copenhagen Airport is connected to the rest of the city by the Metro, and by Öresundståg (the Oresund train) to both Denmark and neighbouring Sweden. If you want to enjoy Copenhagen properly, invest in a Rejsekort (travel card) and take the Metro into the city.
One of the stops on the Metro line from the airport is Kongens Nytorv, or the King’s New Square, a grand open square which can provide a great introduction to Copenhagen city. Enjoy a coffee or beer at the nearby Kaffetårnet (coffee tower), or walk along the colourful Nyhavn, where boats of all sizes have dropped anchor over the centuries. A short walk up northeast along Bredgade will bring you past Amalienborg, the Danish royal residence, before you continue to visit the Little Mermaid herself.
If you’re a cultural enthusiast, another walk or short taxi journey will bring you to the Danish National Museum of Art (Sølvgade 48-50) and National History Museums (Øster Voldgade 5), with the Botanic Gardens nearby if the Nordic weather gods are in a good mood. Afterwards, the Brothers Price restaurant (Rosenborggade 15) is great for a sophisticated rest, while the more casual Grød in the nearby Torvehallerne markets (Linnésgade 17) make for a lively lunchtime.
If you like to travel around a little during your trip, a train journey north to Helsingør will allow you to visit Shakespeare’s inspiration for Hamlet’s castle. Kronborg is a beautiful castle dating from the 1420s, and its connection to the Bard means that there is a regular Shakespearean Festival during the summer, but the winter also sees a magical Christmas market surrounding the medieval fortress. If Hamlet isn’t your thing, take the Öresundståg from Copenhagen’s Central Station (Hovedbanegården) across the Øresund Bridge to Malmö in Sweden; a once-sleepy city which has been completely reawakened since the bridge’s opening in 2000.
Nightlife in Copenhagen is relaxed and social; continental in style but familiar enough to be almost Irish. Café Hvide Lam (Kultorvet 5) is a traditional Danish tavern, serving national dishes like smørrebrød, yet in the evenings you may find a chilled jazz band helping you relax into the night. For something a little more modern Danish, try out Francis Pony, a lively cocktail bar with good music on Klosterstræde.
Provided you don’t party too hard on the night out, enjoy the morning with a walk around the King’s Garden park beside the small but impressive castle, Rosenborg. In the park you’ll find a wonderful restaurant called Orangeriet, which provides a classy brunch and is great for a relaxing start to the day. From there, walk down Han Christian Andersen’s Boulevard to the famous Tivoli amusement park and gardens, and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a fine art museum that is perfect to spend some relaxing downtime. If you still have some free time, finish off your Copenhagen experience in Christiania, a commune-style district of the city inhabited by anarchists, hippies, and other free spirits both young and old. Christiania is a tourist attraction in itself for its unusual nature within a capital city, yet the parkland within it is beautiful, and the craft shops there are also well worth a visit.
Overall, a weekend or short stay in Copenhagen is not likely to be enough to get a real feel for how the Danes enjoy life in their city, but it’s a good place to start your own hygge journey.
Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Norwegian, and SAS fly regularly to Copenhagen from Dublin. For more, visit visitdenmark.com.