Copenhagen is the world's coziest capital
Everyone feels at ease in Denmark's capital
Each week, we spotlight a dream vacation recommended by some of the industry's top travel writers. This week's pick is Copenhagen, Denmark.
Life in Copenhagen "appears to move at the pace of a fine stroll through the park," said Andrew Blechman at The Boston Globe. Perennially ranked among the happiest places on the planet, Denmark's low-key capital is "a city one quickly feels at ease in." It can be easily navigated on foot or bike, almost all residents speak fluent English, and there are no swarms of tourists. But what really makes Copenhagen feel so serene is the beautifully preserved architecture, much of it Belle Époque. No matter the season, as you stroll the city's streets, you can't help but feel as if you're "walking in a snow globe." The Danes have a word for the sensation: hygge (pronounced HOO-guh), which roughly means coziness — "as in sitting by a fire and sharing a plate of pickled herring with a friend."
Although Copenhagen has few must-see attractions, "there's still plenty to do." If you're a fan of Danish design, and who isn't, then head straight to the Design-museum Danmark. All the classics are there: Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair, Poul Henningsen's PH lamps, side tables that will be familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1960s or '70s. Nearby, on Stroget — one of Europe's longest pedestrians-only shopping streets — you'll find more quintessential Scandinavian design, including a Bang & Olufsen store filled with sleek stereos and speakers. Just blocks away stands the Rundetaarn, or Round Tower, a 17th-century observatory where visitors can climb a spiraling interior walkway to get a panoramic view of the city. Hungry from all that climbing? Fifteen Copenhagen restaurants each score one or more Michelin stars.
Nyhavn, with its brightly painted townhouses lining a canal full of yachts, winds up in more photographs than any other part of town, and "it's hard to beat relaxing at an outdoor table with a coffee or beer and taking in the scenery." Fairy-tale author Hans Christian Andersen, who lived on the canal, is the reason tourists flock to see Copenhagen's "lamest" sight: the harbor's bronze Little Mermaid statue. Me, I'd rather amble through Tivoli Gardens — the world's second-oldest amusement park — or sunbathe at one of the summer swim parks on the harbor, resting serenely "as the world seemingly slows down to the speed of hygge."