7 reasons to visit Copenhagen

We reveal why you should make Copenhagen your next city break

There’s no denying that Denmark is fiercely fashionable. Regularly ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, it is revered for its relaxed pace of life and liberal social attitudes, as well as its impeccable approach to design.

At the heart of Danish culture is the country's quirky capital, Copenhagen, known as København to locals. Here, Lucy Richards reveals why you should make it your next city break.

Nyhavn's colourful buildings © Dreamstime.com/Scanrail

There's a rich and varied cultural scene

Away from the hordes swarming around the Little Mermaid, Copenhagen has numerous sights for culture vultures, covering art, history, royalty and more.

The Glyptotek gallery houses traditional Danish artworks, while Kunsthal Charlottenborg is the place to see contemporary installations. You’ll find all sorts of Danish treasures at the Nationalmuseet, and you can visit Christiansborg and Amalienborg palaces, both of which are used by parliament and the royal family today.

There’s also the City Hall, in Rådhuspladsen, and Round Tower, which offer brilliant views of the city. Of course, all of this sightseeing will require sustenance …

A bronze sun chariot at the Nationalmuseet © Dorling Kindersley Ltd / Rough Guides/Roger Norum

The city boasts a dynamic culinary landscape

While visiting Copenhagen, you must try the traditional Danish smørrebrød – rye bread piled high with a range of toppings, such as cold cuts of meat, cheese, fish and vegetables. A great place to head for smørrebrød is indoor street-food market WestMarket, a foodie’s paradise in the heart of vibrant Vesterbro. Here, a vast array of stalls offer everything from Vietnamese bao to Jamaican jerk chicken, alongside delicatessens selling fresh produce, and specialist wine and beer shops.

Delicious coffee and Danish pastries (which were technically introduced by the Viennese) are promised at a plethora of cafés – call in at Mirabelle or Coffee Collective for a cappuccino and a sweet treat. The city also produces delectable New Nordic cuisine, influenced by Copenhagen’s iconic Noma restaurant. Radio, Höst, Bror and 108, among other places, all serve exquisitely curated dishes using quality, seasonal ingredients.

Last but by no means least is Danish beer. The famed Carlsberg Brewery aside, Copenhagen has a strong craft beer scene – head to BRUS, Nørrebro Bryghus or Mikkeller & Friends for a taste of local ales and a light bite.

Caramelised milk skin with grilled pork belly at 108 Restaurant © Copenhagen Media Center/Thomas Degner

It’s home to the world’s first theme park

Not many cities can boast a theme park at their centre – least of all the world’s oldest. The original inspiration behind Florida’s Walt Disney World, Tivoli is both nostalgic and charming. Its manicured gardens are punctuated with cafés, bars and restaurants, and there is a medley of rides for all ages.

If rollercoasters aren’t for you, these pleasure gardens have plenty to keep you entertained, from carnival games and musical performances to dancing fountains and firework displays. Be sure to visit at night, when swathes of fairy lights twinkle across the park.

Tivoli Gardens at night © Dreamstime.com/Miluxian

You’ll find beautiful Danish design everywhere

Danish design is at its best in wonderful Copenhagen, everywhere you go. Sleek wooden furniture, pendant lights, exposed brickwork and succulents galore are constants in shops, cafés and restaurants across the city. Your Instagram feed will never have looked so good.

Better still, you can take a piece of Danish design home with you – head to Bolia and Illums Bolighus for stylish furniture, and Flying Tiger and Superlove for home accessories.

Classic Scandinavian design at Illums Bolighus © Alamy Stock Photo/Hemis

It’s the home of hygge

In case you missed it, hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is the Danish concept of cosiness and comfort, providing an overall feeling of contentment – something the Danes particularly appreciate during the long winters.

This cultural phenomenon permeates life in Copenhagen; blankets are folded over the back of pavement café chairs, apartments emit the ambient glow of table lamps and candles are found on every windowsill and restaurant table. Simply put: Copenhagen is cosy and you won’t want to leave.

Table and chairs in a cosy cafe © Alamy Stock Photo/Zoonar GmbH

It’s gloriously green – environmentally and visually

Copenhagen aims to become the world’s first CO2 neutral capital by 2025 and evidence of this is visible at every turn. The city is perhaps most synonymous with cycling – there are more bikes than citizens in Copenhagen, with the infrastructure supporting this green mode of transport.

The battalions of bikes aside, you can’t miss the Middelgrunden wind farm in Copenhagen Harbour on the descent into the city. The Danes are also committed to recycling, and the country's tap water is some of the world’s most environmentally friendly. The list goes on...

You can join the locals jogging as they exercise their dogs and catch up with their friends in the city’s parks, such as Kongens Have (King’s Garden), Botanisk Have (Botanic Garden) and Ørsteds Park in the centre of the city. And when you want to rest up, you’ll find the city’s cafés, restaurants and shops are prettily peppered with ferns, succulents and vases of flowers.

A typical Copenhagen street © Dreamstime.com/Bukki88

You can travel to Sweden in less than 40 minutes

When approaching Copenhagen by air you’ll see the Øresund Bridge stretching across the spectacularly blue Øresund, not far from the Middelgrunden wind farm. Some 16 km (10 miles) in length, the bridge is Europe’s longest combined road and rail bridge, connecting Copenhagen to Malmö in just 35 minutes – an excellent excuse to prolong your Scandinavian tour and head to Sweden after exploring Copenhagen.

Oresundsbron at sunset © Dreamstime.com/ Kim Carlson/Kim Carlson