I got back from Copenhagen yesterday and a few minutes after getting off the plane in Newark it hit me: I’m not in Denmark anymore. Usually I have this feeling when I’m entering a new country, not when I’m coming home! In many places outside the US, arriving can be confusing, frustrating and sometimes a little scary. But in Copenhagen, everything is better. The airport is a breeze to navigate, and security only takes a few moments. You can get to the airport from the city center in about 15 minutes via a clean, comfortable train or the metro. Everything looks very sleek and stylish, and there are plenty of stores where you can pick up whatever you might have forgotten at home.
Newark’s airport, on the other hand, is not quite so nice. After arriving in the US, I waited for an hour in customs. Then I waited another hour for an overcrowded, slightly unpleasant New Jersey Transit train to take me to the city. As I arrive back at Penn Station, I’m greeted by a drunk man tripping and falling down on the floor in front of me. Welcome to New York!
Basically Copenhagen is my new favorite city, and here are 5 reasons why I loved it (and one reason why I definitely couldn’t stay forever).
Photo: a “hyggelig” atmosphere at New Door Cafe in Copenhagen.
1. Everything’s “hyggelig.” Danes strive to achieve the feeling of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) in everything they do. There’s no exact translation to English, but basically it means coziness and niceness. They go the extra mile and care about the little things so that life can be more enjoyable. This could be anything from beautiful candles at your dinner table to fresh flowers in the restroom or warm, inviting decor and mood lighting. This emphasis on quality of life is probably the reason why Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world!
Photo: My new sneakers that helped me fit right in with the Scandinavians!
2. Danes are effortlessly stylish, and all about the comfort. I didn’t see one stiletto the entire time I was in Denmark. And especially in Copenhagen, everyone’s got the comfortable-cool look nailed. Practically every person I saw was wearing sneakers, whether they were biking, shopping, out to dinner or at a cocktail bar.
Photo: Joe & the Juice, a juice bar and sandwich shop you’ll find all over Denmark.
3. It’s easy to be healthy in Copenhagen. In New York, we have Starbucks on every corner. In Copenhagen, they have juice bars. Yes, there are also plenty of tempting pastries, but I was impressed with how easy it was to eat healthy in this city. You won’t have any trouble finding delicious food that is gluten free, paleo, vegetarian/vegan, or organic. On top of that, everyone lives an active lifestyle, biking and walking everywhere.
Photo: My delicious coffee from Coffee Collective on Jaegersborggade
4. Coffee. I love coffee, and I always drink multiple cups a day. Coffee in Copenhagen was quite pricey, but it was always perfect. The best coffee was at Coffee Collective, which has a unique concept for brewing top notch stuff. Basically they have taken things a step beyond fair trade with “Direct Trade,” where they lay out distinct criteria for everyone on the coffee creation chain (farmers, roasters and baristas) to achieve the highest quality. They are willing to pay more for the best, and so are their customers. The overall goal is for their coffee farmers in countries like Kenya to obtain the same status and living conditions as a wine grower in France. Pretty awesome!
Photo: Just one of Copenhagen’s colorful streets.
5. Plenty to explore. I could wander the streets of Copenhagen all day (actually, I did). There are so many different neighborhoods to explore, each with their own unique vibe. There’s Christiania, the “free city” within the city where most Danish laws don’t apply: drugs are openly sold on the street and the walls are covered in graffiti. Then there’s Vesterbro, once a gritty neighborhood filled with prostitutes and junkies that’s now a destination for trendy restaurants and upscale hotels. Nørrebro is a diverse, slightly more affordable neighborhood with a large immigrant (and more recently, hipster) population. I’ll be posting my guide to Copenhagen neighborhoods shortly so stay tuned.
But even though I loved Copenhagen, there’s one reason I couldn’t stay forever….. this city is EXPENSIVE! Everything is literally double the price of what it is in New York. Dinner at a restaurant will cost you dearly and the metro is almost $7 per ride. So before you go, save up!
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