– By Mark MacDonald –
The air is crisp and clean, the morning sun reflecting off the square-paned windows of a winsome café in the captivating neighborhood of Nyhavn, with colorful façades stretching along the waterfront in the entertainment district of Copenhagen, capital of Denmark and veritable gem of Scandinavia. Locals bike down cobblestone streets that wind themselves alongside canals amidst the Neo-classical and Medieval architecture of the city, which dates back hundreds of years to the 10th century. The environment is close to utopic as fit, good-looking, happy people go about their day in a city that emanates prosperity and contentment.
With an urban population of over a million, the bustling metropolis offers plenty to see, from Christiansborg Palace and Frederik’s Church to Tivoli Gardens and, for those looking, an edgy, bohemian side of the city—the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Freetown Christiania.
A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Little Mermaid Statue; a bronze sculpture displayed on a rock in the waters near the Langelinie promenade, paying homage to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. The acclaimed 19th century writer resided in Copenhagen for much of his life, and his residence in Nyhavn features a memorial plaque in his honor.
The national parliament of Denmark is seated in Copenhagen—the capital and the nation’s largest city. A parliamentary democracy, Denmark enjoys a high standard of living and ranks high internationally in education, health care, civil liberties, income equality and social mobility. With one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, it’s no wonder Denmark is frequently rated as one of the world’s happiest countries; a fact exemplified by inhabitants who are friendly, polite and courteous. The majority of the city’s inhabitants use a bicycle as a means of transportation or else walk, giving the city a calm, serene feel.
Copenhagen’s pristine streets, captivating architecture and unique Nordic culture make it an appealing European destination. The city offers a “Copenhagen Card” that grants free access to over 70 museums and attractions as well as unlimited transport via bus, train or metro. Cards cost 339 Danish Krone for 24 hours (roughly $50 US), with several longer-lasting options available. They can be purchased at the Copenhagen airport and are offered at a discounted price for children.
Denmark uses the Danish Kroner (DKK) as a currency and not the Euro, though debit and credit cards are widely accepted. The current exchange rate is roughly 6.75 DKK for every US dollar. A variety of accommodations are available, from the sleek, modern Tivoli Hotel to the trendy Square Hotel offering single-occupancy rooms for about $150 to $200 US per night, depending on time of year and availability.
For those on a tighter budget, Wakeup Copenhagen offers a modern take on budget hotels, with 40-60 square-foot rooms that include free Wi-Fi for roughly $100 US per night. There are also plenty of hostels for backpackers on a shoestring budget, such as Urban House, Generator Copenhagen, and Bedwood Hostel, which offer shared dorm rooms for about $30 US per night.
With a vibrant nightlife, world-class shopping, engaging attractions and unique culture, Copenhagen should surely be on your list of travel destinations. After a visit, you may even find yourself looking for job opportunities there.
Mark MacDonald has traveled to dozens of countries spanning five continents, including Scandinavian countries Sweden, Norway and Denmark.