So what makes this pretty Danish capital so damn cheery and super cool? Hop on your aesthetically pleasing bike and we’ll show you…
IT LOOKS LIKE A REAL-LIFE FAIRY-TALE
Princesses! Mermaids! Happy endings all around, right? Disney fans, cover your ears and yell ‘lalala’ now; native son Hans Christian Andersen’s tales were more ‘miserable ever after’: emperors with their dangly bits out, body-dysmorphic ducklings and worse. Curiously, he lived in Copenhagen’s cheeriest neighborhood, colorful Nyhavn (in the red house, above) To his credit, he inspired the city’s famous Little Mermaid* statue, by Langelinie promenade.
*No, you don’t want to know how that story really ended.
IT’S-A BIT ARTY
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (7 Dantes Plads, Copenhagen, +45 33 41 81 41), a hop, skip and chin stroke from Tivoli Gardens, has marbles, gilded mummy casings and Danish brushwork, collected by the inventor of Carlsberg (yes, the lager). The gallery’s winged building is also a looker. Arken Museum of Modern Art (100 Skovvej, Ishøj, +45 43 54 02 22) is an angular, mod-Danish shell filled with work by contemporary Nordic artists and international big-hitters such as Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei.
IT HAS SOME OF THE BEST NEW NORDIC RESTAURANTS
Copenhagen’s petite, yet it’s home to 15 Michelin-star-holding eateries. Truly inventive tasting menus have shot Noma (above left; 93 Strandgade, Copenhagen, +45 32 96 32 97) into the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List’s top three since 2009; you may have to broker your firstborn for a reservation, and fast – in 2016 it’s reopening in Freetown Christiania (see below) with an urban farm. Höst is beloved for pared back, natural decor (above right; 41 Nørre Farimagsgade, Copenhagen, +45 89 93 84 09), but its nouveau-rustic fare is equally attractive.
ITS PARKS WILL GET YOUR PULSE RACING
Copenhagen’s home to the world’s two oldest amusement parks. Tivoli Gardens (+45 33 15 10 01) is on Nimb Hotel’s doorstep amid flower-flecked greenery, with an array of sedate-to-thrilling rides: a dragon-boating lake, zippy trains, and loopy rollercoasters. Tivoli’s Christmas market (above) – a cinnamon-scented spread of snow-dusted stalls, lit by more than 16,000 lights – is a magical affair. Want something more historic? 16th-century Bakken (62 Dyrehavevej, Klampenborg, +45 39 63 35 44), is a 20-minute drive from the center.
IT’S BRILLIANTLY BIKE FRIENDLY
The Danes are barmy about bikes. Copenhagen’s elevated roads, flat terrain, and cycle-friendly traffic lights make it safe for two-wheeled trips. The Cycling Embassy of Denmark offers guided bike tours and Bike Copenhagen with Mike‘s whistlestop rides freewheel off well-traveled paths to experience hidden culinary corners and local hotspots. Want to bring a little cycle culture back home? The svelte-framed machines in Sögreni Bikes and Cykelmageren will get you back in the saddle ASAP.
IT’S GOT A BIT OF AN EDGE
Where other hippie havens have gentrified and fossilized, Freetown Christiania (Prinsessegade, Copenhagen, +45 32 95 65 07) has flourished, thanks to the Danes’ famously libertarian style. A five-minute taxi ride from the center, Freetown is an artistic spot, crammed with galleries and cafés. Since it’s self-governing, ‘not quite cigarettes’ are somewhat popular; as such, this utterly unique showcase of an alternative lifestyle doesn’t allow photos.
IT’S-A HYGGE HAVEN
You don’t have to get a Danish family to adopt you to experience the national concept of ‘hygge‘ (a sort of convivial coziness). Hygge is in everything; hygge is life; and unlike happiness, it’s possible to buy hygge. Here’s our essential starter kit:
1 A teapot (we like home-grown brand Bodum‘s high-tech tea-makers),
2 Candles, all of the candles: Broste‘s are birch-bark-wrapped, knobbly and stripy by turns.
3 At least 10 pillows. Hay House has understated versions (above right), and Norman Copenhagen‘s are coolly colorful (above left).
4 A mug. For tea or addictive Danish bedtime drink Cocio (slightly caramelized chocolate milk). Drink Responsibly.
5 Socks. Guys, get a pair of NN07‘s finest; gals hit Democratique Socks for candy-colored foot-gloves.
IT’S HOME TO A DAZZLING LUXURY STAY
Alternatively, get your hygge fix in Nimb Hotel‘s cozily chic rooms. From the outside, this stay is a domed, Moorish palace that’s elaborately illuminated after sundown, but indoors it’s tastefully outfitted in antiques and mod statement pieces, with six eateries, a ballroom-cum-bar, and even a wine cellar. From some rooms, you can watch the concerts on Tivoli’s open stage, and guests get free passes to the amusement park – rollercoasters, a bird’s eye view of stars (formerly Lady Gaga and Elton John) performing: what could be cooler than that?