The most amazing concept I’ve ever been introduced to, I learned whilst in Copenhagen. If you’ve not heard of it before, allow me to introduce you to Hygge.
Hygge – (pronounced Hoo-guh) roughly means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. It’s a way to recognise a special feeling or moment, taking an ordinary day or activity and elevating it. Be it sitting in a cosy chair relaxing by an open fire to a comforting meal out surrounded by loved ones. It most likely explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.
As an active partaker of finding happiness in each moment – I was more than happy to allow Copenhagen to work it’s Hygge magic on me.
Here are my top 5 Hygge inducing moments from our trip…
– Copenhagen free walking tour –
What better way to orientate yourself into the cultural capital that is Copenhagen, then to get the inside scoop with a tour from a local? Magnus our guide was about as Viking as they come. Cheeky, warm, articulate and highly knowledgable, served with a massive side of funny. He made the 3-hour walking tour fly by in an entertaining combination of facts and giggles.
The grand tour covers many major points of interest within central Copenhagen, including Christiansborg Palace, Old City Centre, City Hall and Nyhavn Harbour. We got to explore streets we would have been unlikely to stumble across and more importantly gain information we never would’ve gathered through exploring by ourselves, even with a guidebook in hand.
And it wasn’t just knowledge about the sites themselves. We got to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Danish people. This is where we were introduced to the concept of Hygge! Having this insider knowledge helped to settle us quickly. It gave us a greater understanding of how Copenhagen ticked. Learning to avoid stepping into (what Magnus titled) the ‘biking-Viking kill zone’ or as it’s more universally known – the bike lane – helped tremendously to build good relations with the locals!
Whilst you don’t get in-depth tours or entrance to the places you visit, it’s a great way to discover what you may like to go back to or what you’ve had enough of a taste of. This is particularly fantastic when on a mini-break. I highly recommend the tour as one of the first things to do when arriving in Copenhagen.
Aside from getting to meet new people, having lots of giggles and soaking up a good dose of culture – the tour included a 20 minute break where the husband and I cosied up in a coffee shop (recommended by our guide) enjoying coffee and Danish pastries – very hygge!
Good to know:
- Operating everyday at 10am, 11am and 3pm. Tours start at the City Hall Steps.
- Whilst free, you are politely requested to pay whatever you feel is a reasonable reflection of your experience. The tour guides work for tips alone.
- Wear sensible footwear – this is a walking tour that covers around 3km of ground!
- Booking is advised but not essential unless you are a group of 10 or more.
- You can find out more here.
– Tivoli gardens –
Opened in 1843 the world famous Tivoli is an amusement park and pleasure gardens. It’s the 2nd oldest operating park in the world. However, don’t assume this place is all rickety and past-it. Quite far from it. Whilst the sense of history is evident, the old-world charm of the place couples well with plenty of modern day fun.
Rides, shops, restaurants, gardens and live entertainment, plus an aquarium thrown in for good measure. There is something here to tick a wide-range of boxes for a wide-range of people.
Allow me to go back to the rides for a moment. Here you will find rides suitable for the very young through to complete adrenaline inducing thrill rides. For me though, the most novel ride was a go on the 100-year old wooden rollercoaster known as Rutschebanen. It’s still operated by a driver with a gear stick to control it’s downward speeds.
We visited late afternoon and stayed well into the evening. We ate hotdogs at the American diner, drank Danish beer and browsed the shops (one rollercoaster ride a day is more than enough for me!). When day turned to night, Tivoli was lit up by multi-coloured lights and the energy of the place seemed to lift even further.
Tivoli will offer a different experience depending on who you are and who you’re visiting with. Plan out beforehand what you want to get from your visit, head to what appeals to you and you’ll be sure to leave happy.
A truly atmospheric place which is great to spend time having fun with loved ones. For a good hygge moment, bring in a picnic blanket, grab yourself some beers (other beverages available) sit back with your nearest and dearest, taking in a performance on the open-air stage.
Good to know:
- Easily accessible, Tivoli is located in the centre of Copenhagen (just a few minutes walk from City Hall & close to Central Station).
- There is always something extra going on at Tivoli, check out their events calendar in advance to help you select when to visit
- Tickets for the rides aren’t included with an entrance ticket. You can enter for free with a Copenhagen Card (see below for more detail). However, either way you will then need to purchase tickets for each ride that you wish to go on. This can become quite costly, so work out in advance what you would like to do whilst at Tivoli. If you plan on going on more than a couple of rides, you may benefit from buying an unlimited ride ticket.
- If you plan to eat at one of the 30 eateries within the park, consider advance booking, they can get busy!
- Have your hand stamped if you wish to leave and re-enter throughout the day of your visit.
- The Tivoli app (available on iPhone & Android) is available for free download, so you can access up-to-date events programs, maps etc.
- For ticket prices, opening times and events information click here
– Reffen street food –
Off the beaten track but visible on the water front facing the Little Mermaid statue, is the street food extravaganza – Reffen.
Freshly opened and so still a bit of a work in progress, Reffen Copenhagen is home to a banquet of food and beverage stalls selling all manner of street food. Currently an open air gig, a large part of Reffen’s charm is the ability to be by the waterside taking in views of Copenhagen whilst your mouth delights in some delicious world cuisines. This is a trendy place complete with a buzzing atmosphere. We bought ourselves a drink on arrival and casually spent time wandering around the numerous stalls making the near-impossible decision of what to choose. Claim a seat and allow yourself multiple visits to vendors to sample as much as you can manage. As a self-professed foodie, this is a must-visit for any kindred spirits.
Maximum comfort food enjoyment. Pause the diet and indulge whilst you soak up views of the sunsetting over Copenhagen from the waterside.
Good to know:
- As mentioned, this is off the beaten track, so best accessed via water taxi or a hop on/off boat tour. You’ll get the best view of the venue by approaching this way too.
- Avoid arriving really hungry, there can be queues at stalls. Keep in mind you’ll potentially want time to browse all the food stalls before making your decision.
- For opening times and further information click here.
– Church of Our Saviour –
As you stroll along the cobbled streets or cruise leisurely by on a boat; you may notice in the distance an exceptionally tall and pointy steeple. You may also question why there are ants winding their way up it. However, once closer you realise these are not ants, rather some very brave people. The steeple of the Church of Our Saviour is open to the general public to climb. And what a climb it is! The 400 steps (including some that remarkably resemble ladders) lead you reasonably panting to around 90 metres above street level. But if you’re physically capable of making it to the top, be ready for a magnificent view over Copenhagen.
As you make the climb inside, there are lots of old artifacts cast in atmospheric lighting to look at. The building had a massive sense of The Hunchback of Notre Dame about it.
The last 150 steps are outside leaving you fully exposed to all the elements. Only a handrail wrapping its way around the corkscrew spire protects you from a rather long plummet. So, yes this will push your comfort levels and isn’t for the fainthearted. However, if you can steel yourself, then I say go for it! There is something very liberating about standing at the top and taking in the beauty of Copenhagen. Plus, whilst slightly shaky on the way down, we did leave feeling that little bit chuffed with ourselves for having accomplished the climb.
It would be a struggle to assign any cosiness or comfort to this visit, other than the comforting relief you experience as your feet step onto terra firma again. But for me, it came from the sense of accomplishment, a chance to take in unparrelled views, an increased gratitude for being alive and a high appreciation for the stiff drink we indulged ourselves with afterwards.
Good to know
- The Church of Our Saviour attracts 60,000 visitors a year, so be prepared to queue for entrance. We queued for around 30 minutes on a weekend late afternoon.
- Unfortunately not accessible to all. You have to be fit and well to make the 400 step climb (and 400 step descent!)
- Click here for opening times etc
– Copenhagen card –
OK, OK, I hear you! What is so hygge about a tourist card? For me obtaining maximum value is an important key to gaining the warm and fuzzies whilst on your trip. The Copenhagen card is one easy way to benefit!
Providing you with free admission to 86 attractions and travel within the Copenhagen region, purchasing this card is a bit of a no-brainer. The more you see the more you save. That’s before you take advantage of the restaurant discounts available too!
Boat tours, zoo’s, aquariums, palaces – the majority of the top attractions are covered. Use to access free public transport to head to the Carlsburg museum and get a free beer or soft drink thrown in too! Plus you can use it at Tivoli to gain fast track entrance (ride tickets not included).
Available for different time blocks, we purchased a 48 hour card. This covered everything we did from the moment we stepped onto the metro to take us to our hotel, until the moment we wheeled our suitcases back into the airport terminal.
Adult and children’s cards are available. However for every adult card purchased, 2 children under 10 are included for free! That means for a 2 adult family up to 4 children are included absolutely free! How’s that for value?
Check out the Copenhagen card calculator to see what you may stand to save!
Maximum enjoyment for maximum value. Do as much as you want, hop on and off public transport when you want all without having to flash the cash.
Good to know:
- Available for purchase in advance or on arrival in Copenhagen.
- The cards can be sent to your home address or collected from 4 easy to reach redemption centres, such as the airport or train station.
- On collection you will receive a free and very handy Copenhagen guide book.
- Find out more about the Copenhagen card here
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
What makes something Hygge is completely personal to the individual experiencing it. These were my personal top 5 moments, but there are so many other delightful things to experience during a break here. Come for the Danish pastries, the Beer, the cafe’s, the shopping, the culture, you won’t be disappointed. Whether you explore on foot, river boat (highly recommended!) or by getting on a bike, I’m sure you’ll discover plenty of opportunities to experience your own inner-happy in wonderful Copenhagen.
For further information on a break to Copenhagen click here.
Lonely Planet Pocket Guide available from Amazon*
[*This is an affiliate link – to find out more about affiliate links click here]
Fancy something further afield? Read: Living.Pretty.Happy at the Lux* Belle Mare – Mauritius
If you’re on a budget, I can recommend a stay at Wakeup Borgergade Copenhagen. Whilst no thrills, it’s modern, clean, centrally based and only 5 minutes walk from the metro station.
If you have any questions on anything I’ve mentioned here, I’m always happy to help! If you’re travelling to Copenhagen, I wish you a hyggeligt time! If you’ve been I’d love to hear your highlights. Get in touch by dropping a comment in the box below.