In a yearly study of 156 countries, Denmark is consistently ranked the happiest country in the world.
It’s a place where health care and education are both considered basic human rights, gender equality is prioritized, and there is a high degree of freedom for citizens to make their own choices. According to the World Giving Index, 67% of Danes had helped a stranger in the last month, and 20% regularly give to charities.
Ummmm. So along with being ranked the happiest country in the world, Denmark also makes ME ridiculously happy.
It shouldn’t be surprising that I immediately fell in love with Copenhagen.
We had been there for less than a day. I hadn’t been to Tivoli Gardens, or wandered into a free art museum yet. I hadn’t seen the statue of The Little Mermaid, which is a huge tourist destination (for reasons I still haven’t figured out…)
The only thing we’d done was take the commuter rail from the harbor to our hostel.
(Though they do have a fun pre-recorded rhyme on the metro reminding you to check out of the system if you’re using a “smart card.” Click here to listen!)
Although I couldn’t put my finger on it right away, over the time we spent there, I was presented with more and more compelling evidence. Actual things I could point to and say, “See?! This. This is why I love Copenhagen.”
One of those was obviously the food.
Everything we ate was fresh, healthy, and delicious. Smørrebrød, a broad category of artfully topped rye bread sandwiches, are ordered individually (so you can try a couple of each kind!) I had our server choose 3 of his favorites, and they did not disappoint.
Plus, the pastries and coffee were amazing too.
In fact, a fundamental part of Danish culture is “hygge” a word that puts a positive spin on their long, cold winters. It evokes a feeling of coziness, particularly when relaxing with loved ones and enjoying good food. Foods associated with hygge? Chocolate, coffee, and wine.
Y’ALL. THEY HAVE A WORD FOR THAT.
But it was more than just the food! (I promise.)
There was also cute Danish style and decor. My favorite example is the Flying Tiger Copenhagen store.
Flying Tiger is what would happen if Daiso, Dollar General, and Target had a Danish baby. Everything is adorable, the majority of products cost less than $10, and I want to buy literally everything in the store.
There are Flying Tigers all over Europe, so put this on your to-do list people. (There are also 3 in NYC! New Yorkers, PLEASE GO THERE FOR ME.)
Cute Danish style wasn’t just limited to the shops though. It also extended to their front doors and window boxes.
I took soooo many #doortraits. Why are their homes so cute?! I can only imagine what the inside looks like.
The Nyhavn waterfront was also filled with fun, colorful buildings.
Geez Copenhagen. Could you be more endearing??
And in addition to the more traditional buildings, there were also funky, modern apartments.
I love the blend between old and new.
It seemed that all over the city, Danes had a way of turning boring or mundane things into something fun. (Which I am obviously a HUGE fan of.)
For example, there was a ton of construction downtown. And a big tall fence, with an arrow leading you through a narrow passageway. It looked like it led you directly into the construction site, so I was confused but also curious. (We obviously had to follow it.)
This is what was waiting for us. Along with information about how much the project was going to cost, the different stages of construction, and a timeline for completion.
You guys. Who knew that you could make construction fun?!?!
The Danes, of course.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that they are the inventors of LEGOs. They’ve literally been making construction fun since 1949.
It was all way too good.
And as if delicious food, cute design, and cool architecture weren’t enough…
THEY HAVE TRAMPOLINES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.
There were 5 mini trampolines in this median. Along with benches and squealing children (and adults).
YOU GUYS. STREET TRAMPOLINES.
OF COURSE DENMARK IS THE HAPPIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
I’m sure a high life expectancy, excellent work-life balance, and a cultural appreciation of chocolate and wine are all very nice. But if any country really wants to compete with Denmark, I think they know what to do.
And if I can only give one answer for why I fell in love with Copenhagen, this is totally it.