Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Not that you’ll ever need reasons to visit Copenhagen and Denmark. But what is the best reasons to visit the happiest nation in the world? I’ve tried making a list:
1. It’s the oldest still-reigning Monarchy in Europe
And actually the second oldest in the world, only trumped by Japan. That’s right, quite an accomplishment. Something most travellers should wanna cross of their bucket list. The current queen Margrethe II is the 7th longest reigning monarch and the 7th oldest monarch in the world. She lives in a beautiful castle in Copenhagen, called Amalienborg, which is obligatory to visit!
Pro tip: Plan your visit to Amalienborg, as the Royal Guards changes the guards at 12:00 every day! (Also see reason number 6)
The Royal Guards in front of Amalienborg
2. The architecture is stunning
The architecture in Copenhagen might not have been influenced by Antoni Gaudi or Frank Lloyd Wright, but it is still absolutely stunning. As mentioned above, the queen’s castle Amalienborg is absolutely beautiful. Besides a crazy amount of castles, the streets of Copenhagen shows off that this is an old city. The mix of the old buildings combined with the new modern, Nordic architecture is what makes it so special.
3. It’s homeland of H.C. Andersen and The Little Mermaid
The famous writer H. C. Andersen was from Denmark. He wrote the famous fairy tales The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid, among many. The Little Mermaid now lives on a stone close to Amalienborg Castle and you can go take pictures with it. It’s also a must when visiting Copenhagen.
The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen
4. The beers are big – and good
There’s basically no “small beer” in Denmark. Well there is, but no one orders it. A normal beer in Denmark is a big one. Not to the Danes, but to the visitors. My friends from other countries often joke about the size of the beers in Denmark, since they think they’re ridiculously big. They’re also quite good, since Denmark really knows how to make beer. Denmark is home to the famous Carlsberg Beer, which is probably the best beer in the world. You can even go visit Carlsberg Breweries! (Bonus info: the pH-scale was invented in the Carlsberg Breweries in 1909!)
The Elephant Gate at Carlsberg Breweries
5. It’s legal to smoke weed
Much similar to Amsterdam, Copenhagen has a big weed culture. In Copenhagen, the Freetown Christiania is located in the centre. It’s illegal to buy weed but completely legal to smoke it in Denmark – you can smoke it in front of the police if you want to (I do not recommend smoking or anything related). But please note that it’s illegal to have any weed on you.
If you’re not exactly interested in the plant medicine of the world – you still have to visit Christiania! It’s one of the biggest “tourist attractions” in Copenhagen, mainly because of its alternative way of life. Plan your visit with one of their many markets or free concerts. During summer, the venue Nemoland hosts concerts every Sunday. It’s often quite famous singers and bands, such as Lukas Graham. Lukas Graham (his real name is Forchhammer) actually grew up in Christiania.
Note: it’s NOT legal to run or take photos in Christiania! Please, for your own sake, don’t do it!
The entrance to Christiania
6. Beautiful parks all over the city
Copenhagen is probably one of the cities in the world with most parks and green spaces. You can find parks all over town. The most famous is the King’s Garden (Kongens Have), which is as it sounds. It’s the King’s garden, where Rosenborg Castle is located and currently where they train the King’s Royal Guard. They will march through town from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Castle Monday to Friday at 11:30 – make sure to experience it!
Now, back to the King’s Garden! If you visit in the summertime, you’ll notice that every park in the city is packed with young Danes having fun. Which means drinking. The young Danes gets absolutely hammered in the King’s Garden. They drink and play a lot of drinking games and it’s really the main thing that they do during summer. It’s a lot of fun and probably one of the things I miss most about Copenhagen!
Young people in Kongens Have
7. Because of “Hygge”
Hygge is a Danish word that is starting to get implemented across the world (finally, thank god!). The Danes are very fond of their hygge and can make everything hyggeligt. It is believed that hygge is the secret behind being the happiest nation in the world for so many years in a row.
Hygge can’t be translated. It’s a feeling, a state of mind or something that you do. Hygge is basically all about having a good time and enjoying yourself. This can be hanging with friends, drinking, watching a movie, drinking tea, whatever – you decide to make it hygge! It usually includes candles, blankets and good friends.
8. The Nordic people are so beautiful
One of the things I’ve noticed after moving abroad – damn, the Danish people are beautiful! We’ve always known that we are looked at as a very beautiful people. But now when I live in Spain and go back to Denmark, it really hits me when I’m walking around Copenhagen! The Danish people are ridiculously pretty! Mostly everyone seems to know about style and cares for themselves. One of my British friends once described it “as walking around a modelling competition”. Couldn’t agree more.
9. Danes care a lot about health
Everyone who’s ever been to Denmark will agree with me on this. The Danish people care a lot about their health. No matter where you go, you’ll be able to find healthy fast food options and see people biking and jogging around. My favorite healthy food place in Copenhagen is 42Raw, which is located right by Strøget. The many parks are always filled with people jogging around and the streets are packed with bikes. In Copenhagen there’s more bikes on the road than people. I’ll advise you to NOT EVER rent a bike in Copenhagen. For your own sake. It will be life threatening. The Danes rides their bikes like they’re all trying to win Tour de France. Everyone in Denmark rides a bike, and the majority rides it to work or school every day, even if they have 20 kilometers. Even the Princess of Denmark, Mary, bikes her kids to school every day.
Bicyclists in inner Copenhagen
10. You’ll think your own country is cheap
Now.. This might sound worse than it is. Maybe. But Denmark is quite expensive. Actually it’s one of the most expensive countries in the world. So visiting Copenhagen will give you a whole new appreciation of your own country and you’ll suddenly think that your own country is really cheap! After living abroad for almost a year I’m still amazed by the cheap prices that exists outside of the North. I mean 1 beer for 1€? That’s amazing! In Denmark 1 beer can easily cost more than 10€. But don’t be scared, it’s really not as bad as it sounds.
11. Buuuut it’s still kinda cheap to go out
Speaking of expensive. One thing that is not is going out and going clubbing. A number of nightclubs in Denmark offers free bar – you heard right. For around 13€ you’ll get in and have free bar for the rest of the night! It’s a pretty good deal. Some nightclubs that offers this is Penthouse, and I actually have to confess that I haven’t been out clubbing in Copenhagen for a long time. And the clubs I used to come to with Free Bar has now closed. But some discount bars and club are Billy Booze, Tyrolia and LA Tequila Bar. Be aware that none of these are high class venues, just cheap.
12. The Lakes of Copenhagen
The Danish capital is surrounded by ocean and lakes. The Lakes of Copenhagen are very popular and no one can visit the city without hopping on a boat. Try the “water busses”, where the normal street busses has been turned into busses on water, for easier transportation through the city. Some call Copenhagen “the Venice of the North”.
Map of inner Copenhagen. Notice the many lakes and canals throughout the city
13. Danish cake
Denmark is world known for their cake! Especially the pastries. I often say that we practically invented it. And every Dane living abroad will agree with me, when I say it’s what we all crave the most. Go to any bakery and try a “kanelsnegl”, which is close to a cinnamon pastry roll. I promise you that you’ve never tasted any cake better than the Danish cakes.
Typical Danish pastry – Kanelsnegle (cinnamon rolls)
14. Street Food
Papirøen is the old Reffen – now they moved just further down the dock and changed their name.
15. Denmark has beaches everywhere
Denmark is made of more than 1400 islands, which results in beaches everywhere. The Danes are proud of their many beaches, and it’s said that a Danish person can’t live too far from the water. And just when you thought they couldn’t have more beaches, the Danes went and build one more themselves! Amager Beach is located between the airport and Copenhagen centre, and is a manmade white sand beach. It looks like it should be in Caribbeans instead of Denmark. It just needs some palm trees and warmer weather. From the beach you can see Sweden, the Øresund Bridge and all flight landing and taking off from Copenhagen Airport.
Amager Beach is the Caribbean of the North
16. Distortion Street Party
The highlight of the year! Every Dane talks about and looks forward to Distortion for the whole year! It’s a giant street party festival that takes place in Copenhagen for 4 days in the beginning of June every year. It closes of the centre of Copenhagen and everyone parties in the streets for 4 days! There’s concerts, street food and just good vibes. It’s really the essence of Danish Hygge. Just writing this gives me a lump in my throat, since I can’t attend this year and it breaks my heart (which is why I’ve included 3 pictures – I couldn’t choose just one). It’s an epic experience!
Distortion Street Party closes of the streets of inner Copenhagen
The whole city parties and people jump in the canals
Distortion Street Party in Copenhagen
17. Drinking beers in Nyhavn
It doesn’t get more Danish than this. And expensive. Nyhavn is probably one of the most photographed places in Copenhagen – and we all understand why! It’s the older fisher part of the city but is today one of the most trendy places. Small and colorful houses takes up the harbour, and now hosts a number of restaurants and bars. When visiting Copenhagen it’s kind of essential to stop here and drink a beer. It’ll be one of the most expensive beers you’ll have, but it’ll be worth it!
The colourful houses and cafes in Nyhavn
18. The longest shopping street in the world
With a length of a bit more than 1 km, Strøget in Copenhagen is the longest pedestrian shopping street in the world. It has everything you can possibly need, from H&M, Zara and TopShop, to the more high-end brands as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermés. Strøget starts by Copenhagen City Hall and ends in the city’s biggest roundabout, called Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square).
The world’s longest shopping street – Strøget, Copenhagen
19. The many brunch places
In Copenhagen they know brunch. It beats the hell out of brunch in other countries. The best part is that you get to “build” it yourself! You simply cross off on a list what you want and you’ll get it! And it’s mindblowingly delicious. My favourite is called Mad&Kaffe (Food&Coffee), which is one of the most popular in Copenhagen – it’s well deserved. Their avocado with roasted chilli and almonds are to die for!
Self “build” brunch at Mad&Kaffe – does it look delicious or what?
That was all. At least of what I could think of this time – there’s so much more. I grew up in Copenhagen and it’ll always be one of the best cities in the world for me. Let me know if you’re visiting Copenhagen one day!
Pro tip: When visiting Denmark, always bring and umbrella. It rains almost every day 😉
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the photos in this blog post. All credit goes to the respective photographers.