In 2014, I was lucky enough to visit my sixtieth country Denmark.
Copenhagen is the 183rd city with a population of over 100,000 I have visited in my 50 years! Flew into Copenhagen with Finnair (see Tuesday’s post), zipped through the very easy arrival procedures as were already in the Schengen zone, found the metro, bought a pass and were heading into the downtown in minutes. Oh, if arrival at so many cities was this easy.
How many cities in the world, have a harbour that is clean enough to swim in? The harbour and equally clean canal system is one of the most beautiful aspects of the city. The people use both to the fullest extent. We saw swimmers, kayakers, and sail boats along with the ducks and swans. Highly recommend the harbour ferry service and the canal boat tours.
The city has some lovely historic architecture and some very interesting new buildings.
Remarkably, the new and the old do not seem to clash. We did a walking tour which helped us appreciate so much of the town.
Monocle have rated Copenhagen as the most liveable city in the world for 2013 and 2014, a fact locals are very proud about. As noted above, Monocle suggests that Copenhagen balances development and history well. This video shows the qualities of Copenhagen and how Monocle rates the cities it chooses as cities with great quality of life.
I judged it to be the seventh most liveable city I have visited! It is a great city to live in and a very easy city to visit but for two reasons!:
- The weather
- The cost of living.
2. Denmark has a 25% Value added Sales tax which pushes prices up considerably. We found restaurants, almost all food, public transport, taxis and personal care items cost much more than in other cities. Milk, yoghurt, cheeses were cheaper than at home as were some berries and apples. A four star hotel room costs between $160 and $280 a night.
We chose to stay at an apartment through airbnb. This allowed us to have breakfast in the apartment, make our own lunches, do laundry and prepare dinner. This helped us to save quite a deal of money. Netto supermarkets are the cheapest but Irma have a better range. We found some all you can eat smorgasbords which helped too! Alcohol costs a fortune!
A key word in Danish culture is hygge (sounds a bit like ‘hoogaly’) which roughly translates to cosy well being, or nice warm atmosphere. Danes are very focussed on enjoying the good things in life with good friends around them. Danes are ranked the happiest people in the world and it felt like that wherever we went!
Copenhagen has one of the oldest amusement parks in the world (The Tivoli) which has been providing shows, restaurant experiences, fireworks and concerts since 1843. Their roller coaster is 100 years old! The gardens do not feel dated or crumbling and one imbibes a festive atmosphere immediately. Walt Disney reputedly hoped Disneyland would emulate this feel. The Gardens are included in the Copenhagen Card which makes is a very cost effective way of accessing them.
The city is chock full of art, theatre, museums, design and galleries. There are lovely parks scattered around. We loved the Royal residences Amaliehaven (Royal Gardens). The Jewish museum was a sombre reminder that Denmark was one of the only European countries that managed to protect their Jewish population from extermination.The National Museum was free and taught us so much about Denmark. I think it could be assisted to be a little more interesting in the way it displays exhibits. Kids will get bored in some sections!
Check out, Torvehallerne, a food market with an amazing array (60 stores) of fresh food and meal choices. We found this to be a cost effective way of eating and its not far from a Metro station.
Copenhagen is one of the safest cities in one of the most peaceful countries on the planet. We felt no fear walking around. We found on the weekends, a lot of very drunk teens but they did not seem to cause too much trouble. (To buy alcohol you need to be 16 or 18 at a club but there is no minimum age to drink alcohol).
We visited Freetown Christiania which operates as a semi autonomous part of the city. They claim to be independent from EU laws. Marijuanah is sold and smoked openly here (we did not partake) but harder drugs are not welcome.
Copenhagen is a city dominated by bicycles! The roads are full of bikes and they are also stacked up in crowded bike parks everywhere! Be careful not to step into a bike path!
The city’s first bicycle path was established in 1892 and today 36% of all citizens in Copenhagen travel work, school or university by bicycle. I think they are going to need to sort out the bike parking situation if they want to ensure that Copenhagen is the “world’s best city to cycle in“. Transport authorities are working to make 50% of all journeys in the city by bike.
There are also an estimated 130 bicycle taxis in the city. Bikes can be rented quite cheaply. The wearing of bike helmets seemed an exception rather than a rule.
Copenhagen was late building a metro but now a two line system operates every few minutes. Many locals were contemptuous of it for not taking them where they wanted to go but we found the system safe, clean and well patronised day and night. As mentioned, we found it the best way to and from the airport. Buses, ferries and regional trains provide links across the city. There are passes which are the most effective ways of travel for the cost of public transport is very high. We did see ticket inspectors on the metro.
Whether is the hygge or the happiness of Danes, we found the city has a great vibe for all ages. Its a city for kids, teens, young adults and us oldies!
Overall I rate Copenhagen at 84%. This puts the city at 24 on my top 183 city list! It would be higher if it was not so expensive to visit! By comparison with other Scandanavian cities, I put Stockholm, Sweden at 7th place with 89% and Reykjavik, Iceland at 16th with 86%. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice about the city. It was very useful. I want to go back which is always a good thing!