Darkness quickly takes over if we are not doing anything about it. Once the festivities have passed, grayness lures in. In the cold winter months, we can easily feel alone, sad, bored, or lost.
But sometimes, we forget the easiest solution to make the darkness go away. We just need to turn on the lights. This, however, needs to be done with thought.
Lighting up our home inside with warm – 2700-3000 Kelvin – lights in all shapes and sizes such as fairy lights, window decorations, bedside lamps, and table lamps. On top of all this, also light a couple of candles.
Hygge is a Danish word that expresses coziness, warmth, happiness, comfort. Although there are plenty of opportunities to feel hygge in the summer, winter is the ultimate hygge season in most parts of the world.
You can cozy up inside under warm blankets with friends and family, watch an old film, or play board games. Cut a nice piece of homemade cake while sipping on hot chocolate and relax.
However, Danes have excelled in so much more than just hygge. They are very good at cycling, city planning, architecture, design, and hospitality, and have different trends in childcare. But it is best if you see it for yourself.
A trip to Copenhagen will be an unforgettable experience. Despite the cold weather, the city has a lot to offer and you will see it in its full hygge self. Wander around on cobbled streets, try skiing on a waste-to-energy plant, or munch on a cinnamon bun in your local café.
Spending 3-4 days in Copenhagen is enough to explore the main areas of the city. Although it is not exactly a budget-friendly city, it is worth making your trip longer to explore other parts of the country too.
Walking and Cycling
Today’s Copenhagen was mostly shaped by Jan Gehl’s ideas in the last 40 years. He participated in the strategic planning of the city. He is a great advocate of active travel in cities. Meaning, if we give more space to pedestrians and cyclists – instead of cars – then public spaces will be more bustling.
This is beneficial for both our health and the economy. The constant presence of people on foot and bikes creates safer neighborhoods and prompts a clean cityscape.
Copenhagen is a small city, so you can reach most things on foot. Yet I recommend trying cycling, all you need is a bit of courage.
You can also choose to ride on public transport which is just as efficient. Opt for the Copenhagen Card which includes unlimited public transport in the Copenhagen Region and numerous attraction entrance fees.
Advantages of a Low Cityscape
The golden rule in most Scandinavian cities is that there are no skyscrapers. Tall buildings are prohibited in Copenhagen’s center, the tallest building is 128 meters. The skyline is dominated by church towers and iconic heritage buildings.
The Rundetaarn (Round Tower) is a 17th Century tower and one of the oldest observatories in Europe.
Tycho Brahe was a pioneering astronomer of his time, but with his death, the King wanted to make sure that his discoveries and research will continue to live. Therefore, he commissioned the Rundetaarn.
The spiral walkway leads all the way up onto an outdoor viewing platform to admire the magnificent views of the Old Town.
In the tower, a grand library hall used to house an entire collection of books that belonged to the university. The famous writer Hans Christian Andersen liked to visit this library for inspiration for his stories.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t serve as a library anymore, but as an exhibition space for culture, art, science, and history.
The entrance fee is 40 DKK for adults, but it is free with a Copenhagen Card.
The prettiest view, however, is from the tower of City Hall. It is open to the public if you go on a guided tour. The 105.6 meter-high building has featured in the famous Danish TV series ‘The Killing’ and ‘Borgen’.
Nyhavn is the perfect Instagramable location in the city. Originally it was one of the busiest commercial ports in Copenhagen. After sailors and seamen offloaded the goods, they gathered in the pubs, where you could often find ladies of pleasure too.
Today the colorful old buildings have been renovated and you can stop at one of the busy restaurants for a meal or grab a coffee from one of the cafes.
If you want to enjoy yourself like the locals, just buy a beer or two from a nearby shop and sit on the edge of the port. The lively pavements always offer entertainment.
Hans Christian Andersen used to live in No. 20, this is where he composed ‘The Princess and the Pea’ for example.
Nordhavn is currently the most ambitious and largest urban development in Scandinavia. It used to be an industrial and port area. Later it was abandoned and there was no use of the vacant buildings.
Today, this new neighborhood is full of hope and glimmer. Emphasis is on sustainability here, pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure are in focus.
Redeveloped warehouses and new buildings blend together, crisscrossed by new canals which highlight the area’s special connection to the water. These are the positives of diversity.
As part of the redevelopments, improving water quality is also very important. In Sandkaj Harbor you can take a dip all year round in the designated area, as it is an official bathing zone.
Budget is Real
When you have exhausted your Copenhagen Card or you are after some cheap things to do in the city, there is still plenty to explore.
Firstly, it is mandatory to visit the Little Mermaid. The fun fact of the sculpture is that the sculptor’s model-in-mind declined to have her naked body eternalized. Therefore, the sculptor mirrored his wife’s body to create the Little Mermaid.
For a truly ‘hyggeligt’ experience visit Absalon. This is a community house open for all who are into social dining, games, arts, and culture. The welcoming space is used for community dinners, serving a budget-friendly meal for 180 people.
You can also grab a coffee or hang around at the bar in the evening. This riotously colored, reimagined church building is a get-together place to enjoy bingo, cards, or music events as if you were in your living room.
Know Your ‘Bro offers free self-guided walking tours in the city. Explore the buzzing Norrebro, an off-the-beaten-track area, the unpolished and hip Vesterbro, or choose Amager on the waterfront.
If you are intrigued by the members of the Danish Royal Family, take a turn towards the Amalienborg Palace Square at the heart of Copenhagen. You might get a peek of the Queen or the Prince as they leave the Palace.
While you are there, you will see the famous changing of the royal guards. They march at noon, from their barrack by Rosenborg Castle on the streets all the way to Amalienborg.
Then, hop on your bike and cycle along Copenhagen’s harbor, a 13km long route. It runs along the major sights such as Nyhavn and the quiet backwaters of Christianshavn and Sydhavn.
The Harbour Circle goes through untouched green areas, passes by architectural gems, and historical landmarks, showing you the diversity of Copenhagen.