Denmark. The land of historic Vikings, modern bicycles and beautiful vistas. It’s the closest country in Scandanavia to central Europe, with it’s largest land mass attached to Germany. Copenhagen, it’s capital, is a city on trend and proudly green, with 55% of it’s inhabitants commuting on 2 wheels. When we had the chance to stay in Copenhagen for almost a month we had to say yes! Now at the end of our stay, here’re the 5 quintessential things we learnt through living like a Dane.1. Biking
The bike lanes in Copenhagen are wider than the pedestrian sidewalk, earning it the title of the safest city to cycle in. With over half it’s population cycling in to work and school daily, the city has been transformed over the last 4 decades into a haven for cyclists. One of the best ways to see the city like a local is by bike and they can be rented throughout the city. Also don’t expect the spandex of your usual cyclist commuter, Copenhagen natives dress stylishly whilst biking to work, dressing for their destination rather than their commute. This elegance is best embodied in Mikael Colville-Anderson’s Flickr page.
These Danish open sandwiches are a staple lunch time dish for all Danes. A Danish girl that we met said that until she went to school in Australia, she had no idea that an alternative lunch option existed! The chewy dense rye bread is topped with a variety of meats and toppings (Paleg in Danish). For a sweeter option you can try the pålægschokolade (thin strips of chocolate) on rye bread!
3. Hygge (Hoo-ga)
A state best translated as coziness. Being hyggelig (adj, pronounced hoogalee) is the ultimate goal for most Danes when decorating their houses or hosting a dinner party. A hyggelig evening could be described as a cozy autumn evening by the fire, surrounded by stunning but homely interior decor, eating your favourite food whilst surrounded by your closest friends and family. Like a warm hug. A guest thanking their host by saying that their evening was hyggelig is the highest honour. The pålægschokolade and Earl Grey tea photo in a hyggelig living room above is a good example!
Denmark is famous for it’s design. Arguably it’s most well-known export is Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair, as popular now as in it’s inception in the 1950s (although also expensive at close to US$10,000!). Danish and Scandinavian (New Nordic) design is sweeping the world. Walking (or cycling!) around Copenhagen and it’s surrounding suburbs feels like you’re walking through a living functional modern art museum, with gorgeous buildings around every corner, with locals taking pride in buying these pieces for their homes.
5. Enjoying The Outdoors
With Denmark surrounded by water and Copenhagen situated on an island, camping and relaxing in a park by the sea are ways that city dwellers enjoy their weekends. Also with VAT at 25%, food is particularly expensive in Denmark. Eating out is a luxury for most households, even though the New Nordic food revolution has elevated Copenhagen’s status globally. 15 of the cities restaurants were awarded 18 Michelin stars, including the ‘world’s best restaurant’ Noma. Alternatively most young Copenhageners choose to sit out by canals, fountains and in the park with a relatively inexpensive Danish hotdog (or Smørrebrød!) and a drink. Many people also pick the abundant fruits and vegetables in Denmark, with snap peas(!) one of the most popular snacks at an outdoor music festival that we attended!
Have you been to Denmark? Let us know if you agree with our take in the comments below!