Initial Thoughts on Copenhagen


Happy Wednesday everyone! I thought I would give you a life update. We arrived in Copenhagen on Saturday morning and in short, we love it. For the first few months, we’ve rented a teeny tiny apartment in the city center (known in Danish as Indre By) and I love being so centrally located. In less than ten minutes by foot we can be at the Rosenborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace, Nyhavn harbor, and countless museums and restaurants. Below, I’ve highlighted some of my initial observations about Denmark.

1 // The Danes are very friendly. Prior to our arrival, I’d read a great deal about the Danish people being standoffish or cold to outsiders. We have not found this to be true. Everyone we meet is so kind and helpful. If anything, I have found them to be exceptionally funny and warm. They don’t do things like hold open the door for you, but it’s not meant to be rude. As my new Finnish friend, Aura, explained laughing, “we just figure, you have two hands, open the door yourself!”

2 // Danish is extremely difficult to pronounce. Our taxi driver from the airport had a good laugh trying to teach us how to say our street address. Let’s just say it’s going to take some practice! One funny Dane we stopped to ask directions explained that while English speakers begin at the tip of their tongue, speaking Danish is like “stuffing a large potato in your mouth and then vomiting it out.” His gruesome analogy was actually extremely helpful!

3 // Thankfully, everyone speaks English. It’s incredible! Every salesperson, waiter, and neighbor we’ve encountered speaks excellent English. In addition, many Danes are also fluent in Swedish and German. While I’m eager to learn Danish, being understood while running errands this weekend (“excuse me, do you sell ironing boards and fitted sheets?”) has made the transition to our new country much easier.

4 // Everyone travels by bicycle. I’d read about this, but it’s so fun to see in person! Nearly everyone, young and old, travels by bike. During rush hour you see very few cars, but hundreds of bicycles zooming past. We’ve also noticed that very few people wear helmets (yikes!) and that some people just leave their bikes outside unlocked (unfathomable to a New Yorker or Chicagoan). Many bicycles have cute baskets for children, groceries, or pets.

5 // The Danes are gorgeous. All the stereotypes about beautiful Scandinavian women and their sculpted cheekbones seem to be true. Everywhere I look there are handsome, blonde men and women and they dress so chicly! It’s like my “Personal Style” pinterest board come to life. They mostly wear black, but add personality with their handbags, hats, scarves, and sneakers. I told my husband I’ve never seen so many attractive, stylish people in one place (except possibly in New York’s Soho, but there it’s mostly malnourished models). Scandinavian girls look healthy, like they eat more than kale salads. How refreshing!

6 // Speaking of eating, the pastries are amazing. Clearly, there is a reason why the danish is one of the world’s most famous pastries. On nearly every block in Copenhagen there is a bakery with delicious breads and sugary baked goods. I need to pace myself.

7 // Parents really do leave their sleeping babies outside cafes. There are lots of cafes around our apartment and I’ve seen several strollers outside (in 35 degree weather!) with sleeping babies wrapped up inside. They believe the fresh air is good for the little ones and keep an eye on the stroller from inside the cafe. Talk about a community built on trust!

8 // Copenhagen belongs in a fairy tale. It’s no surprise this city was the home of author Hans Christian Andersen. With its cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and colorfully painted facades, Copenhagen is brimming with historic charm. Every time I turn a corner, I pinch myself!

9 // Everyone gets hygge. This popular word is pronouced “hoo-guh” and roughly translates to “coziness.” By getting hygge, locals embrace the cold Scandinavian winters rather than lament them. Lots of entertaining is done at home with family, friends, and candlelight. Shops even have inviting benches outside with sheepskin throws, glowing lanterns, and potted bulbs. As a bit of a homebody myself, I love everything about this cozy, cup-of-tea-and-a-cashmere-throw concept.

I hope you’ve found this interesting! I’ll continue to write about our experience abroad (and of course, about my travels…) in future posts!

(image via my instagram: the Christianborg Palace)

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15 comments on “Initial Thoughts on Copenhagen

  1. Jamie

    Sounds incredible! Glad you’re enjoying it and I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in Denmark.

  2. Eileen

    Katie, this is such perfect timing–I am taking my first ever trip to Copenhagen this weekend! It was great to see that you’ve had such positive first impressions. I’m actually staying at a hotel in Indre By, so I’m glad to hear it’s a good location for walking and sightseeing! And of course I can’t wait to try all the pastries!

  3. Kayla

    It sounds so lovely! Perhaps Fallon and I shall visit! Glad you and the husband are adjusting well.

  4. Kirstin

    Ok well I guess Copenhagen is going on my list. I really like the sound of hygge…I wish the states adopted that mindset; instead we seem to rely on our endless winter holidays to get through the dreary months. I could use more benches covered with sheepskins and less Black Friday shopping. Glad you are enjoying your new home! Can’t wait to hear more about it all.

  5. Nanna

    Welcome to Copenhagen! It’s always fun to hear a new Copenhageners take on the city, I really hope you’ll keep enjoying your time here.
    Your on point with the some observations on biking, though I wouldn’t recommend leaving your bike unlocked – theft of bikes is, as far as I am aware, the most common crime in Cph. And if you’re a inexperienced bicyclist please be careful during rush hour. Between going to and from work, picking up kids from kindergarten and so on the attitude on the bike paths can be rather relentless on those not knowing the modus operandi ;)

  6. Tina Pearse

    Katie, it’s so wonderfully you’re embracing this wonderful opportunity! Cannot wait to continue to read about your journey abroad. Oh, and loving your Instagram feed – so regal!

  7. Bree

    Oh goodness, Copenhagen sounds lovely! Yet another place to add to the travel wishlist. So glad to hear you are enjoying your new home. Excited to read more updates!

  8. Beverly

    Having lived abroad for six years I am at once jealous of and happy for you. Look forward to more posts from that beautiful city.

  9. Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, Int

    All I can say is…” Enjoy!”
    It is such a beautiful country.
    Indeed, you will continue to
    pinch yourself everyday.


  10. Ida Seehusen

    Welcome to CPH and thank you for your praise of our country – it’s lovely to read an ‘outsiders’ view. But please keep an eye on your unlocked bike – they tend to disappear whenever you turn back to them – believe me, I’ve had several stolen. And do wear a helmet in spite of their ‘uglyness’!

    A tip for dog owners: go for walks without leash in Bernstorffs Parken in Gentofte. (S-train to Gentofte Station) Your pug will love to play free with all the others dogs – and their families.
    From May – November the small cafe Svenske Villa is open for coffee and tea.
    Hope to see you in the Park
    Best wishses Ida

  11. Laura

    Just booked flights to Copenhagen for this summer (I’ll be there in July). Would love to hear more about your life in Copenhagen. Where do you like going for coffee, favorite neighborhoods to stroll, other funny stories about adjusting to life in that part of the world!

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