The Danish are said to be the happiest people in the world, so we travelled to Copenhagen to find out why.
Once a Viking fishing village, the colourful, eco-friendly city of Copenhagen is only a 2-hour flight away from Manchester. We made the most of our weekend by hopping on EasyJet’s 6 a.m. flight to see as much of this incredible city as possible.
When we walked into our hotel, we were surprised by how elegantly laidback the décor was. Originally a department store, Skt. Petri has recently undergone a major renovation, with warm jewel tones bringing a splash of colour to the otherwise minimalist design. Skt. Petri was the epitome of laidback luxury, and we soon came to realise that this type of understated beauty is distinctive of Copenhagen’s style.
Hidden in the Latin Quarter, is the hotel’s garden courtyard. This little idyll tucked away at the back of the hotel was a great place for us to refuel after the flight. We ate the most delicious pizzas fresh from the hotel’s Italian artisanal ovens and sipped glasses of Pinot Grigio in the sunshine.
We were keen to start exploring the city, so we walked down to Langelinie Pier. There we were welcomed by one of Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attractions – a bronze sculpture of The Little Mermaid. Edvard Eriksen was commissioned to create the artwork inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale in 1913. She has since attracted thousands of tourists every year, but you better visit her soon as there seems to be a Danish grudge against her – not only has one of her arms been severed, but she has also been decapitated, twice!
We bid farewell to the mermaid and wandered down the riverbank. Like so many others enjoying the fresh air, we watched people kayaking and enjoyed the chilled atmosphere of the lazy afternoon.
Our sauntering eventually led us to Copenhagen Harbour, and across the bridge to Paper Island, an urban hub that’s home to everything from art to food stands. We visited Copenhagen Street Food – a huge industrial warehouse filled with 39 food trucks, stalls, and bars boasting tasty food from all over the world. Copenhagen Street Food aspires to be a platform for start-ups so it’s definitely the place to go for lesser-known culinary delights. We walked around the market, enjoying the aromas of dishes from across the continents sizzling away. After making the tough decision of which food to sample, we ate our meals outside whilst enjoying the stunning view of the Royal Danish Playhouse across the water, as music played and the sun shone down.
Paper Island is also home to Yoko Ono’s art installation ‘Wish Tree Garden’. We each wrote down a hope or dream on a ‘wish tag’ and attached it to one of the tree’s branches. As you walk through the trees, the colourful foliage gives the impression of a garden and the wishes flutter in the breeze like little white leaves. All of the wishes are sent to the ‘Imagine Peace Tower’ in Iceland where over a million other wishes from around the world are stored.
After a day of exploring, we were ready for a rest, so went back to the comfort of our hotel room. We relaxed out on the balcony for a few hours before dinner. We recommend booking a room on the sixth or seventh floor if you can, as only these rooms have balconies. Unlike most other cities, the view from a balcony in Skt. Petri is guaranteed to be great because tall buildings are prohibited in the city centre. You’ll get to appreciate the mix of old and new in Copenhagen’s buildings as you see church spires rising high above the rooftops of more modern buildings.
Around 9 p.m., we ventured to our restaurant for the evening, BROR, which means brother in Danish. BROR champions Nordic cuisine and thanks to their relaxed atmosphere and incredible food, they were awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourmand in 2014, 2015, and 2016. We opted for their tasting menu with perfectly paired wines. Be warned, the menu is quirkier than what we’re used to, with the likes of bulls’ testicles in tartare sauce gracing our plates. You’re dining bravery will be rewarded though as BROR’s dishes were delicious.
The following morning, we had breakfast in the hotel. You can choose from two options: ordering from the à la carte menu, or a buffet in the courtyard. As we had such a lovely time out there the day before, we had to go for the buffet. We enjoyed a selection of fresh fruits, eggs, and pastries, and we loved their tech-savvy way of ordering coffee by selecting your desired drink on an iPad because, let’s be honest, as little thinking before coffee as possible is always our preference.
As Copenhagen has a committed culture of cycling, there’s no better way to explore the city than by bike. For around 110 kr (£13), we hired bikes for the day from Skt. Petri. You just might have mistaken us for Danes as we biked along some of Copenhagen’s 250 miles of cycle paths. It was great for a small group of friends like us but would suit couples just as well too.
We cycled for half an hour down Amager Strand beach. The locals were so friendly that we felt safe to leave our belongings and our bikes to stroll about a mile down the beach, sipping beers as the azure sea glistened beside us.
That afternoon we headed to Absalon in Vesterbro, west Copenhagen. This old church has been transformed into a community centre which hosts activities like yoga and ping pong as well as community dinners for up to 180 people. Walls and tables in primary colours made for a bright, inviting atmosphere when we popped in for a coffee. Within only a few minutes, we got chatting to all sorts of people, Danish families, elderly people and even English ex-pats too. The colourful community centre really brings people together, and the friends we’d made that afternoon all encouraged us to stay for dinner. At only 50 kr (around £6), dinner at Absalon is certainly a steal, but we’d already made other plans; however, our visit to this happy little hub made us feel right at home despite being almost a thousand miles away from Manchester.
For our final evening, we went to the best rooftop in Copenhagen above the department store ILLUM. Muscles and champagne made for a luxurious end to our time in Copenhagen, before catching the 10 p.m. flight back to Manchester.
Over the weekend, we saw so much that the city has to offer, and experienced the sense of community that Copenhagen is renowned for, with people of all ages playing games in the street and chatting on Sunday evening. Even after only two days in Copenhagen, we can certainly see why the Danish are the happiest people in the world.
Rooms at Skt. Petri start from £154on sktpetri.com