My First Impression of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, for some it conjures images of of old world architecture and sleek Nordic design; for others it’s Hans Christian Andersen and a certain ocean-dwelling maiden. Food and the new Nordic cuisine draws others to Danish capital. Cozy and cool, traditional and free-thinking, reserved and welcoming; Copenhagen is a city of contrasts that blend perfectly. After visiting Copenhagen for the first time, here are a few of my first impressions.
Bikes. They’re everywhere.
I knew that Copenhagen is one of the world’s most bike friendly cities but I wasn’t fully prepared for how much bikes are woven into the fabric of daily life. My first expose to Copenhagen’s bike culture was early one moring as I stumbled out of the train station after a red eye flight. I was met by legions of cyclists,mostly clad in black, on their daily commute to work. It was clear that that for them this was no Sunday ride through the park, they meant business.Even as someone who regularly bikes to work in the U.S., I was a bit intimidated.
As my trip lasted into the weekend, the bike traffic, and the city in general, relaxed considerably. One thing that really impressed me was that almost no one locked their bike up. Out of the hundreds of bikes I saw most were left out in the open when not in use- that alone speaks volumes about Danish society.
Now that I know my way around Copenhagen a bit I’ll definitely hop on two wheels the next time I’m there.
Copenhagen is a city tied to the water.
Like most people I’d seen pictures of Nyhaven, Copenhagen’s most famous canal lined with crayon box colored houses and sailboats. What I found was a city laced with canals and lakes and framed by the Oresund, which separates Denmark from neighboring Sweden.Explore Copenhagen’s waterways by harbor bus, canal cruise or kayak to get a different view of the city or head on over to the Christianhaven neighborhood to stroll around this charming neighborhood’s canals.
Move over Chicago, Copenhagen is the real “Windy City”. The thing is, they put it to good use. Flying in to Copenhagen you quickly notice the dozens of wind turbines dotting the water surrounding the city and it’s easy to see that being green is a priority for the city. Currently 20% of Copenhagen’s energy comes from wind power and the city has a goal to become C02 neutral by 2025.
You’ll find Copenhagen at the top of a lot of World’s Best Lists when it comes to quality of life, health and happiness. The Danish people know they have a good thing going but rather than be ostentatious or showy they tend more towards subtlety. The Danish concept of hyyge is described on the Visit Denmark site as” creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people”.This was evident in just about every interaction I had in Copenhagen, from hours spent preparing and eating a meal in someone’s home to asking for directions; everyone was welcoming and truly interested in how I was experiencing their city.
Copenhagen has mastered the art of being casually chic.
I was immediately taken by the fashion in Copenhagen. Jeans and comfortable shoes were the rule rather than the exception, and yet everyone looked smart and well put together. In general Copenhagen had a very relaxed, welcoming vibe which extended throughout the all aspects of the culture. Even at Noma, consistently ranked as one of the world’s best restaurants, service was relaxed and welcoming rather than stiff and formal.
Go for the food.
Exploring the food scene was what initially drew me to Copenhagen.The rise of New Nordic cuisine, helmed by the aforementioned Noma takes a fresh look at traditional Danish ingredients with delicious result. Seafood, along with pork, bread and dairy, feature prominently on Danish menus. Greens, herbs and flowers, often foraged; offer up vegetal and floral notes. Smoke and vinegars, once necessary preservation methods are now common accent flavors. Copenhagen’s cuisine is highly seasonal and is truly reflective of what’s available at the moment. All of this combines to produce food that is surprisingly light and fresh while still being hearty.A great way to learn about Copenhagen’s food culture is with Mia of CPH Good Food, she encourages hands on learning and offers a fantastic introduction to Danish cuisine.
Oh, another thing? There seems to be a national obsession with rhubarb. Featured in juices, sodas, ice cream and a myriad of desserts I quickly discovered this ruby jewel of a veggie’s potential goes far beyond jams and pies.
The Little Mermaid.
Now you’ve seen it. Please go explore the rest of what this wonderful city has to offer.
This was my first visit to the Danish capital but it certainly won’t be my last. Copenhagen’s mix of royal grandeur, modern design, world class food and welcoming nature made it an easy city to love. Have you fallen for Copenhagen’s Nordic charms?