In Denmark they have a unique cultural phenomenon called “Hygge”. Pronounced ‘hooga’, it roughly translates as “cosiness”. Depending on the time of year you visit, hygge can be a few different things. It could be the warmth you experience when meeting with good friends or family on a chilly night, the sparkling fairy-lights of Tivoli Gardens in winter or being wrapped up with a hot drink and a blanket at a harbour-side cafe. In the summer, it’s sun-dappled picnics in the park, outdoor concerts, street festivals and bike rides.
Locals have hygge down to a fine art, but how does a visitor to Copenhagen get to experience this warmest of Danish traditions?
During a recent trip to Copenhagen, I was fortunate to be able to set up home temporarily in a cute Flipkey apartment located just off Stroget, the city’s busiest shopping street. The apartment was owned by a local lecturer who was working abroad. Perched just above a bakery and filled floor to ceiling with academic books and glass cabinets choc-full of curiousities from around the world, the snug city centre flat was the epitomy of hygge.
Every morning, the bells from the church next door provided a wake up call far more effective (and much more pleasant) than any alarm clock. Although there was a fully equipped kitchen, it was nice to head out for breakfast, especially when the most important meal of the day consisted of honey-drizzled pancakes, fluffy scrambled eggs and crisp, salty Danish bacon. The cosy, fairy-lit Cafe Flottenheimer at Skindergade 20 – right on the square behind the apartment became a firm favourite.
The location of the apartment was perfect. Although it was literally 30 seconds from the the city’s busiest shopping district, the street was quiet and safe yet still felt like it was at the centre of everything. The legendary Copenhagen Jazz Club was just opposite (you could see the entrance from the kitchen window) and Nyhavn and Tivoli Gardens were just a 10 minute -walk in either direction.
The welcoming vase of fresh daffodils, handwritten note and small Irish flag were thoughtful, cute gestures from the owners – things you probably wouldn’t find in a hotel where the experience would typically be much more detached and much less ‘hygge’. All major attractions were within walking distance and the apartment’s location just off Stroget made it the perfect choice for a shopping break in the city.
Three Ways to Have a Hygge Time in Copenhagen
- Forget selfies at the overrated Little Mermaid statue. Instead re-read Hans Christian Andersen’s heart warming fairy tales – they remain surprisingly relevant, even today.
- Head to the city’s beautiful Tivoli Gardens – the theme park was opened in 1843 and is genuinely one of the most magical places you’ll ever visit. At Christmas it’s especially charming with its traditional market and twinkling avenues of fairy- lit trees.
- Wrap up warm in true Scandi style – think chunky knits and sturdy boots and a minimalist palette of black, white, grey and beige.