Copenhagen: looking for hygge

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Michele Moricci

COPENHAGEN Equipped with two guides, we decide to spend the last days of October in Denmark. Since it has always been a very expensive destination, we have postponed it until Ryanair offered flights at reasonable prices and convinced us that it was time to visit Copenhagen. While in Italy the summer continued to expand inexplicably, in the Danish capital the autumn had already made its usual entry. We arrive in town early in the morning. Our hotel, Wake-up Copenhagen, is centrally located. The temperatures are rather low but luckily the sun is warming us up.

We have heard so much about this city that curiosity is incontrovertible. So we start our tour and the first step is definitely Nyhavn, a long sequence of colourful houses overlooking the homonymous river. At number 20 there was the home of the famous writer Hans Christian Andersen. Looking around we can see how useful bicycles are here, they go everywhere just like in Amsterdam.

Then we go into the city center to stroll through Strøget‘s shops and land in the elegant Amagertorv Square. The street is crowded with people and street musicians poping pop songs sitting around the Storkespringvandet fountain. Just a short walk from there is the beautiful home-design shop: Illum – the perfect destination for those who love design objects – and the oldest synagogue in Copenhagen, the only one spared by the Nazi advance. Looking at the shops’ windows is inevitable, especially those of the bookstores that display beautiful books editions with delightful minimal-patterned covers.

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The Radhuset, with its gothic style adorned with fantastic marine shapes, stands in the wide square that divides Strøget from Tivoli and the trendiest areas of the city. Decorated in a perfect Halloween style, it’s Jack-o-Lantern to welcome visitors to the city’s playground. Tivoli Gardens were founded in 1843 and with its eastern influences, the moon park and restaurants it inspired Walt Disney.

LOSTiN, the trendy guide,  recommends ØL & BRØD to enjoy the best Smørrebrød in the city. The restaurant located in the Vesterbro district is small and harvested in a retro and chic atmosphere. In addition to the delicious and expensive Smørrebrød you can enjoy the excellent local beer, in short, the perfect match for a real local lunch.

Finished to eat we go into Vesterbro to browse through the many vintage shops and boutiques. To the west of Strøget are located the Latin Quarter and the oldest Danish University – dating back to 1479. The neoclassical style of the building blends perfectly with everything surrounding it and the Nordic atmosphere becomes more and more concrete when, in the early afternoon, the sun starts to go down to make room for the evening. The air becomes cold and the wind is pungent.

The next day, undecided among the nu merous museums and having a few days left, we decide to visit the Statens Museum for Kunst. The beautiful park surrounds a main building and a modern gallery, where works of art dating from the 14th century to the present have been collected. Not far from there is the fortification of Kastellet – a star-shaped park, rich in willow trees, bridges and red buildings. The fortification was built in 1660 and today is home to the Danish Defense Ministry. Inside there is still an old windmill that watches from above the locals doing jogging and strolling with dogs and strollers.

Finally it is time to discover the famous Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Friends have talked to us so badly that maybe  because of the sun and the disillusioned expectations, we really like it. We get in line with other tourists in strategic poses to capture the beautiful and small Mermaid. We continue to walk heading to the royal residences of Amelienborg, the royal palaces and surrounding buildings create a striking visual contrast of styles with minimal and modern aspect of the Opera House – facing the harbour.

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It’s lunch time so we order two vegetarian burgers from Hot Buns. A minimal gastropub with sexy waitresses and great giant sandwiches. After a round of interior-design shops, including HAY and many others, we head to the Kogens Have gardens. Autumn colors explode in the large green spaces bordering Rosenborg Slot and the afternoon atmosphere illuminates the entire park with an algid mild light. Born as the summer residence of Christian IV, the castle seems enchanted with its romantic towers and the bronze lions guarding at its entrance.

We soon realize that we love to lose ourselves in the enchanting streets of the center of Copenhagen to observe the daily lives of locals. In the evening, we visit Kodbyen, the meatpacking district, where restaurants, pubs and discos are trending right now. We eat pizza at Mother. The style is always the same: white tiles on the walls, candle lights and wooden and metal tables. Everything whisper gently “Hygge“. It’s so busy that we have to wait a bit outside at the cold cold night, but when we sit down we find it worth it.

The last day has come and in the morning we get lost in Christiania, Inderhavn and modern areas. I’ve heard Giovanni talking about this fantastic place for a while now, but when we get to this we realize that this is a social outdoors center where the only thing that remains of its freedom is a daytime torpor and a set of crumbling buildings. Certainly it is folk and we appreciate the view on the large pond nearby. The old canals and new buildings facing the river strike us much more. We visit the beautiful church of redeemer Vor Frelsers Kirke, who stands on the whole of Christianshavn and watch the church of Christian Kirke framed among modern homes.

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After lunch at the Royal Smushi Café, an elegant place serving Sushi, Smorrebrod and other delicacies, in the afternoon we head to the Slotholmen island – the original nucleus of the city of Copenhagen. A small village, restored in Neo-Baroque style at the beginning of the 19th century, houses the Danish Parliament, the Jewish Museum, the Palatine Chapel, the Library Gardens and Royal Stables. In the evening we stroll around streets and shops like Episodes, Hay and the boutique of Danish designer Henrik Vibskov.

For dinner we order Ramen at Wagamama and we enjoy the water games and lights at Tivoli Park. The mysterious Halloween atmosphere is unique and the cold is the typical one of a northern city. Once again we walk through the road that divides us from the hotel. We arrange the suitcases and prepare for the alarm and departure of the day after. While leaving the hotel at dawn, there is a bright sun waiting for us to radiate in the cold misty. As usual, we leave a piece of heart behind and return home – yet ready and waiting for the next trip.


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Michele Moricci