Why Denmark is The Happiest Nation in the World

Copenhagen is a stirring mix of old and new, of hip and traditional. Nearly nine centuries of history mix seamlessly with its cutting edge design, fashion and culinary scenes. We’re pretty sure this Nordic gem of a city is a key reason Denmark is known as “The Happiest Nation in the World.”

As soon as we stepped off the plane, we began to understand. The airport alone is a luxurious experience, with fresh seafood and sushi restaurants next to organic juice bars and high-end menswear boutiques. The public transportation is equally impressive, the tram stations were the nicest we’ve experienced in Europe (or anywhere, really). One thing to mention right off the bat is that Copenhagen is not cheap…it’s also the most expensive city we’ve ever visited in Europe. BUT don’t write it off just yet, there are many ways to still see everything the city has to offer without breaking the bank.

We stayed at the wonderful Andersen Boutique Hotel (read more about our stay in our blog post) in the trendy borough of Vesterbro. If you’re on a budget, there are several really cool hostels in town too (read more about them in our CPH city guide). Definitely set aside some time to explore Vesterbro, and grab a meal at one of the unique restaurants in the neighboring Meat Packing District.

We spent our first afternoon at Tivoli. Let us just say that this is a must-see when visiting Copenhagen, ESPECIALLY if you’re a big kid at heart! It’s impossible for your inner-child to not come out when you walk through the candy-colored gates into this theme park (its roughly 15 Euro to enter). Stroll past elaborately constructed vintage rides and games, have a coffee (or a giant cotton candy) at one of the many restaurants or food stands, or hop on a ride! We limited ourselves to just one as they’re pretty pricey (7 – 11 Euros per ride), but its almost more fun to watch from below and snap photos! One thing we found interesting is this seems to be a popular Sunday afternoon spot for local CPH families, so the people watching is great. What’s even better is the dogs! Maybe its a Danish thing, every family had trotting alongside them at least one beautiful show-looking dog…and they were all different! We must have seen over 50 different breeds. If all of this is not enough for you, see the gorgeous Tivoli Gardens, also located within the park. The varying flowers almost rivaled the dog-breed count, and left us bedazzled, charmed and with full memory cards.

Another area that cannot be missed is the busting harbor and entertainment district of Nyhavn. This 17th-century waterfront is where you can find the postcard-worthy views that are most commonly associated with Copenhagen. While the food along this area is expensive (even for Danish standards) and the crowds rarely dwindle, it is wonderful walking past the sherbet colored houses and old wooden boats. Grab some snacks from a nearby 7/11 (side note: they are EVERYWHERE and offer healthy pre-made foods like quinoa/salmon/spinach superfood salads and fresh yogurt parfaits….a far cry from what you’d find at your typical gas station in the States) and sit along the canal, making your own (affordable) meal alternative.

On our third day in CPH, we decided to rent a car and drive from Copenhagen to Møns Klint, or the white cliffs, in the southern part of Denmark. The drive was beautiful and reasonable (a little under 2 hours), we wound through several tiny Danish towns and over bridges to different islands. Apart from a small parking fee, Møns Klint is free to explore. You can also take a combination of trains and busses when traveling from CPH, however the travel time is nearly doubled and you don’t have the flexibility to stop whenever you want. There is a delicious cafe at the cliffs where we had lunch, but you could also stop in one of the small towns before arriving at the cliffs for less expensive meal options. There are several different viewpoints and paths that offer a mix of views from above the cliffs and down on the shore (none of them were too strenuous, but do wear comfortable walking shoes). This is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever visited – the white cliffs, charcoal gray rocks and bright green moss were a dream to shoot!

*** If you scrolled past the long-winded description above just to get to the photos, that’s cool. All you need to know is that you’re majorly missing out if Copenhagen is overlooked when planning your next Euro trip. Now, go enjoy our photos :)