Welcome to Copenhagen

Until fairly recently, Copenhagen was not cool. Socially progressive – yes. Design conscious – certainly. But hip? It felt too refined, conformist and, dare we say it, dull, to be fashionable.

In the past decade, however, the city has come out of its shell, like the quiet secretary shaking out her hair (but leaving on her black-rimmed glasses) to become the most desirable woman in the office. And its ‘moment’ shows no signs of abating. Danish food is now in the international spotlight, a reservation at Noma as coveted as an original Arne Jacobsen chair, and Copenhagen’s bourgeois reputation has been seen off by cutting-edge art, fashion and music scenes, seeded in gritty neighbourhoods such as Vesterbro.

For all its innovation, at the heart of Copenhagen’s character lies an innate sense of quality, subtlety and fairness. You can see it in the city’s architecture: a considered, people-friendly blend of historic and contemporary buildings, cobbled streets and waterways. An aesthetic sensibility runs through its veins – the humblest cafe looks fit for an interiors magazine, toddlers are better dressed than you and, at night, residents leave their curtains open so passers-by can admire the ‘hygge’ (or stylishly cosy) scene within.

Nowhere’s perfect, of course. Aside from the multicultural Nørrebro, it’s a pretty white city and there remains a certain level of conformity. The weather can be shocking. It’s expensive, although no worse than London or Paris. Nonetheless, Copenhagen's new-found position as Europe's coolest city looks safe for the forseeable future.

Editor's picks


Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Denmark:
    5.5 million
  • Inhabitants in Copenhagen:
  • Official language
  • Currency
    DKK, Danish Krone
  • Time zone
    Central European Time (UTC+1)
  • Emergency number
  • Constitution
    Constitutional Monarchy
  • Country phone code
  • Country code
    DK, DNK
  • Local transportation
    S-train, bus, Metro (new with limited service), bicycle