Copenhagen: A Modern-Day Fairy Tale

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This post is part of the Club Carlson Global Traveler program; a 3-week, 8-country adventure I’m taking through Europe, paid for and compensated by Club CarlsonSM (now Radisson Rewards). During the trip, I’m exploring the world of hotel points and how to take advantage of accommodations and upgrades with various strategies (I’ve got a really good strategy today – read on)!

In all cases, opinions expressed herein are my own; don’t worry – I haven’t sold my soul.

This post was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Copenhagen feels like a fairy tale. From the buildings that pop with colour, to the ornate architecture, the generally friendly people, and the idyllic bits of nature interspersed throughout, it stands to reason that it’s the birthplace and inspiration for Hans Christian Anderson’s many iconic fairy tales.

(Hmm…I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Denmark is also the world’s happiest country…)

Seriously, people. This is a happy place.

Copenhagen waterway with colourful trees and sunshine


It’s Also Safe

Happy people aren’t particularly angry people. So Copenhagen also ranks among the world’s top 10 safest cities.

All this happiness is due – like most of Scandinavia – to the fact that there is a strong social support structure, generally making its residents feel secure and safe in the knowledge that there’s a medical/educational/income/housing safety net in place.

Safety Costs

But – again, like most of Scandinavia – it’s expensive. I suspect there’s a strong correlation; similar to Switzerland, the cost of living is very high but the income is generally commensurate. Once you’re “tied into the system” and earning in local currency you can live securely.

What to See in Copenhagen

Because I only had a day and a half to explore, I didn’t venture much beyond Copenhagen’s central area. It’s an incredibly vibrant and walkable place. Hence, the presence of Stroget, which is the world’s largest pedestrian shopping area in Europe. As with Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, I didn’t venture into any of the stores, but I enjoyed the vibe – especially on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Bicycle parking in Stroget Copenhagen

While wandering aimlessly (I can’t help myself; I love getting lost on city streets), I also saw bicycle lanes everywhere. It’s all very organized and easy to use; which is what coins Copenhagen as the world’s top city for cyclists. There are over 340kms of cycle lanes – and yes, it seems more organized and usable to me than even Amsterdam.

I also did a boat tour; something I love doing (dating back to my cruises on the Seine in Paris a few years ago and New York years before that), and it seems to be prolific in Europe; So far on this trip I’ve done boat tours in Amsterdam and Oslo (and I could have done them in London and Glasgow but ran out of time).

Copenhagen from the water

And although the boat tour guide (rightfully) recommended climbing the 400 steps up the spire of Our Saviour’s Church, the view couldn’t quite compare to the view from my 26th floor room in the Radisson Blu Scandinavia, Copenhagen. It’s Copenhagen’s first skyscraper (built in 1960), and remains the sole high-rise in the city centre.

Copenhagen panorama
The view from my room…..WOW!

If I had more time, I’d have ventured by metro to some of the other areas; I’m told Copenhagen is a collection of neighbourhoods, each contrasting and unique.

A Side Note: Consternation

Consternation – is the only way I could describe the look I got when crossing the street against a light. People just don’t do it. It reminds me of a Swedish friend describing the same thing in his home country: “It could be minus 20 degrees, 2am, snowing, and the streets could be empty both ways. But you’ll still see somebody standing at a light waiting for it to change!”

All these happy law-abiding people, living in the birthplace of fairy tales….there must be something to it.

So I’ve started waiting at the light too.

Kobenhavn boat

1 Minute Copenhagen

Here’s another quirky video featuring some known (and lesser known) things about Copenhagen:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Club Carlson Gold Points® Tip

Some of the larger hotels have multiple restaurants, and not all of them qualify for a discount with the Club Carlson Gold card (because they’re not actually the hotel’s restaurant). But: charge the meal to your room, you’ll still earn Club Carlson Gold Points®.

Moral of the story: charge everything you can to your room. You’ll get that much closer to your next free stay!

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20 thoughts on “Copenhagen: A Modern-Day Fairy Tale”

  1. What a great reminder that Copenhagen is indeed a fantastic destination. I remember loving it there, and being inspired to bike to work with a big scarf and a flower brooch on my lapel. They have such a simple, stylish way to enjoy life and add a little fairytale magic!
    p.s. LOVED the side note about getting looks of consternation. You’re such a rebel 😉

    Reply
    • Hi Leah,
      Indeed! It just seemed like an absolutely lovely place to be, and to live. Although I’m not sure how I’d feel about the winters…. 😉

      Reply
  2. You’ve just been to two of my fave places in the world – Amsterdam and Copenhagen. If you go to Stockholm next, I’ll think you’re stalking my mind. Safe travels!

    Reply
    • Glad you loved the video! I’m so enjoying putting together my 1 Minute interludes for each city I’m visiting on this trip.
      And this is the first time I’ve really seen autumn colours in YEARS….I’m so hell-bent on staying in really warm places, that I usually leave for warmer climes before the autumn chill hits the air! But it has been a real treat, I must admit.

      Reply
  3. I literally just watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where he explored Copenhagen with the owner of Noma, the worlds best restaurant. It seems like Copenhagen is just the central of happiness…and I instantly wanted to visit there after watching that episode.

    Reply
    • I love Anthony Bourdain, so I’m not surprised he made you want to visit Copenhagen.
      I want to go back, myself! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Hey Nora,
    Conrad and I spent six glorious weeks house sitting in Copenhagen. If only the rest of the world could get on board with on-time organized everything like the Danes!
    We got those same looks of consternation the first time we had the gall to ride our bikes on the sidewalk!
    So glad you got to experience that beautiful place.
    Josie

    Reply
    • Hey Josie,
      Lucky lady – to get to house-sit in Copenhagen! Sign me up for that! It does remind me of Switzerland in many ways….another awesomely organized/on-time/happy place.

      Reply
  5. I know this is a while after you posted it but I’m just reading it now. I’m going to the University of Copenhagen for a 5 month academic exchange in January and am so excited, this post is only giving me more to look forward to (even if it includes short days).

    I just generally love your blog, especially the Canuck perspective =D

    Reply
    • Hi “J” – How exciting! I hope the weather isn’t too cold for you. And thanks for the compliments on my site! Glad you enjoy it. 🙂

      Reply
  6. This is great, because Jane and I have Scandanavia in our sights for next Spring. We have three months available in the Schengen zone, and we will be deciding between Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Bergen (Norway), and any other places that people like you who have been there recommend. My next step is to check out all your other articles about these places. Any advice about how to spend these three months is most welcome, keeping in mind that we like to stay a minimum of a month in each place we go.

    Reply
    • Hi Bob,
      Although I’ve not been to Bergen, I found of all the Scandinavian places I visited, I liked Norway the least. If you want a month in each place, then from your list above I’d thoroughly approve of Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. Bigtime!

      Reply

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