It can be hard to explain the Danish word ‘hygge’ (sounds a bit like ‘hooga’). Roughly it translates to coziness, but that definition doesn’t quite cover it. Hygge is so much more and always involves creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.
The capital Copenhagen is packed with atmospheric restaurants and cafes, beautiful gardens, charming winding waterways, and countless places and ways to experiences Danish hygge. Here are the suggestions for travelers seeking a touch of hygge on their trip to Copenhagen!
Originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century. Primary as a fishing settlement and later a market, the name of the city reflects its origin as a harbour and a place of commerce. Køpmannæhafn, means “merchants’ harbour.” Around the harbour Nyhavn with colourful houses the city has developed. Today, Nyhavn is a popular tourist place with lots of restaurants to eat.
Of course from there, it is possible to take a canal tour and do the hygge, enjoying beautiful skyscape of the city.
Around the harbour the market was soon created out of which the village Kongens Nytorv, nowadays a public square in Copenhagen with imposing neoclassical façade. It is a good place to eat the famous Smørrebrød and onion soup. I had one with herring (local fish) and rye bread. PS haring is a wild sardine and we do not eat it in Croatia, considering it inedible, though it seems to be delights in Denmark. Oh, cultures!
In 17th century Copenhagen consolidated its position as a regional centre of power with its institutions, defences and armed forces. After suffering from the effects of plague and fire in the 18th century, the city underwent a period of redevelopment. Mostly from these times, the fortresses were built. The oldest one is Kastellet initiated by the King Christian IV of Denmark in 17 century. It has a shape of a star and very close to it is a statue of a Little Mermaid – based on the fairy tale of the same name by danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
Once the power was consolidated, Denmark became the oldest monarchy in the world. It was the time of the renaissance of the north. Soon the mentioned king Christian IV started to build more castles. The most famous one is Rosenborg which houses a museum exhibiting the Royal Collections, artifacts spanning a breadth of royal Danish culture, from the late 16th century of the mentioned Christian IV to the 19th century. Some of these articles once belonged to the nobility and the aristocracy.
My special interest was Schatzkammer (dann. treasury chamber) displaying the Crown Jewels and the Danish Crown Regalia located in the castle. A Coronation Carpet is also stored there next to the Throne Chair of Denmark.
Christian IV is the most popular, ambitious, and proactive Danish king, having initiated many reforms and projects. He ruled in 17 century and obtained for his kingdom a level of stability and wealth that was virtually unmatched elsewhere in Europe.
One of the architectural examples of Christian IV is the Round Tower used as the astronomical observatory, university library and today as the view point for tourists.
Amalienborg castle is where the Danish royal family lives. It consists of four identical classical palaces with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard. In the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V. One of the streets leads to the royal cathedral.
Copenhagen is full of stunning churches from various period of architecture. My favourite is the Church of Our Savior. This beautiful baroque church is most famous for its helix spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. From the inner side, I have captured an elephant carrying the organs – a very rare appearance in Christianity.
National History Museum is a must see which will give you the idea of creation of Denmark from the prehistoric times, through Middle Ages and renaissance, wars with Sweden, Germany and Norway… It represents the lifes of Inuits, since the Greenland is part of danish territory too. I would definitely highlight The Sun Chariot – Holy Horse from the Bronze Age and The Rune Stones from the Vikings era.
Danish people are the first to market toys. The popular dollhouse and Lego store are easy to find in the city center Strøget, a walking area made for good shopping. 🙂
Walking down the streets, I noticed this building on which is placed the thermometer. Interestingly, the thermometer doesn’t show more than 20 degrees. 🙂 Btw, the inventor of the thermometer is a danish scholar Niels Bohr.
A part of the Copenhagen is the little free town called Christiania. Personally didn’t like it – maybe because I am a political scientist and I like the theory of the state where the order and laws exist. Unlike Christiania – a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents, which is a source of controversy since its creation. Small drugs are allowed, however violence is not. The entire neighborhood is kinda protest against capitalism. No commercial is to be seen when walking the streets of Christiania filled with houses of weird shape. Anyhow, I did not feel safe and was looking for the escape. When I saw the inscription ”You are now leaving Christiania and entering the EU” – I couldn’t be more happy!
So, I needed a drink!
I went a bit outside of the city to Carlsberg brewery 🙂 to taste the sample of beers and get familiar with the J.C. Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg beer. This visioner named the brewery after his son Carl and the hill (dan. berg) on which the factory was founded. He was a great collector of beer bottles too. His son continued and expanded the brewery to global business. Today the brewery is open for visitors for a ‘exbeerience’ 🙂 Ofcourse, I tried some of the samples you don’t get in store everyday, like 8.5% dark Carlsberg Porter beer.
Good fun in Copenhagen is also guaranteed by the amusement park Tivoli Gardens – the oldest of its kind in Europe. When I visited Copenhagen, the park was decorated seasonly for Halloween. Tivoli’s founder, Georg Carstensen (19 century), obtained a five-year charter to create this amusement park by telling King Christian VIII that “when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics”. 🙂
Such a typical danish hygge.