The Danish capital is not only effortlessly cultured and cool, it also makes for the perfect cruise destination
For a while you couldn’t move for hygge, the Danish concept of coziness that has inspired countless stocking-filler books and escorted tours to Denmark. The country took the top spot on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report in 2013, 2014 and 2016, coming a respectable third in the 2015 report and second this year, while its capital, Copenhagen, was named by Monocle magazine as the Most Liveable City in the World in 2013 and 2014, and has made the list every year since – so it’s not hard to see why the Scandinavian country has managed to turn a feel-good abstract idea into such a lucrative export.
Even after just few hours in Copenhagen, you can get a sense of why this is such a special, enjoyable city. It’s the sort of place you can immediately picture yourself living. It’s relatively small and – when compared to other major cities – quiet. It’s full of culture, the people are friendly, effortlessly cool and the streets are clean – a great place to wander through.
It’s also a major turnaround cruise port for round-trips to the Norwegian fjords, Scandinavia and Russia, and welcomes cruise lines from Cruise & Maritime Voyages to Norwegian Cruise Line. Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam runs round-trips from the port in summer, including a 24-night Jewels of the Baltic, fjords and Highlands cruise, which calls at Tallinn, Belfast, Dublin and Invergordon (Inverness).
“Copenhagen is an amazingly scenic destination incorporated into the Holland America Line northern European itineraries, and the grand architecture and artistic culture gives it a real fairy-tale charm. Apart from the beautifully cobbled streets and turret-lined skies, the city has a real modern edge, which attracts visitors all over the world who want to experience the highlights of the Nordic countries,” says Lynn Narraway, UK managing director of Holland America.
“The Danish cuisine and design are particular stand out points, and the museums, cafés and galleries are also great for exploring. Copenhagen is a harbour city surrounded by water where the port is truly at the heart
of the region, so it’s the perfect place to arrive by cruise.”
For a capital city, there are relatively few major sites: Nyhavn – the pretty and colourful habour front – is a must, but any visit there is more about enjoying the city, rather than ticking off a list of attractions. The Little Mermaid is perhaps the best-known tourist site, but if we’re honest it’s not worth the time, unless you’re walking past anyway. Tivoli Gardens, which opened in 1843, is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world and, while it’s pricy (much like the rest of the city), it’s definitely well worth a visit.
“Copenhagen is the preferred cruise destination in Northern Europe and offers plenty of things to do and see for cruise guests,” says Hildur Juliusdottir from CruiseCopenhagen. “The relatively small size of the city, coupled with modern and efficient public transportation, means that everything is within easy reach and cruise guests can get much more out of a one-day excursion compared to other popular cruise destinations in the world.”
The food market on the city’s Paper Island (Papirøen) and the numerous bars and restaurants in its trendy Meatpacking District (found in Vesterbro) are great examples of the city’s Scandi cool and excellent food scene. Best known is Noma, a two-Michelin-star restaurant run by chef René Redzepi, which in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 was named the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant magazine. Trying to get a table isn’t exactly easy, nor is affording the pricy but life-affirming reinvention of Nordic cuisine on offer, but Redzepi’s influence on the city’s restaurant scene (and the wider culinary world) is enormous. So large, in fact, there’s even an alumni section on the Noma website: for example, Christian Puglisi, former sous chef at Noma, is now founder and head chef of Restaurant Relae and owner of Manfreds & Vin; while Matt and Julie Orlando, former head chef and waiter at Noma, now run Amass, both in Copenhagen, to name just a few.
For those who like their cities to be sophisticated, cool and cultured – but without the crowds – Copenhagen is the place.