The Danish capital city of Copenhagen is quite a popular city break destination in Scandinavia. For me, it’s the pastries and coffee scenes that have drawn me to visit. I spent 3 days in Copenhagen for a short solo trip. Apart from a belly full of pastries and coffees, I’ve also learnt & discovered a number of interesting facts about Copenhagen. Want to learn more? In this article, I’ve put together 11 Copenhagen facts to cover all the cool things you should know about the city!
10 Fun Facts About Copenhagen
- Copenhagen is one of the happiest cities in the world
- It is home to the world’s best restaurant – Noma
- The Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks
- Freetown Christiania is a little self-governing area within the city
- Copenhagen has the longest pedestrian shopping street in the world
- There are more bikes than cars in the city
- The city will be entirely carbon-neutral by 2025
- The Little Mermaid statue is built based on the fairytale and the story doesn’t have a happy ending
- Nyhavn is home to the famous author Hans Christian Andersen
- Denmark is part of the EU but doesn’t use Euros
- It was a man from Copenhagen who invented the first burger
Copenhagen is one of the happiest cities in the world
It is no secret that Denmark has been longstanding one of the happiest nations in the world. And the Danish cities usually take up the top spots for happiest cities in the world, including Copenhagen. This happiness index is measured by various things including GDP per capita, social welfare, healthcare system, mental well-being, lifestyle, etc. During my short visit to Copenhagen, I absolutely admire their high standards of living and the way the city fully embraces a Hygge lifestyle. The word ‘hygge’ is best translated as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people”. It is believed that hygge is the key to the pursuit of everyday happiness for the Danes and contributes to being both the happiest city & country in the world.
It is home to the world’s best restaurant – Noma
Copenhagen is well-known for its innovative gastronomy and there is no shortage of high-end restaurants with creative takes on Nordic cuisines. There are a total of 15 Michelin-starred restaurants in Copenhagen. But there’s one that’s been crowned, not just in the country, but the best restaurant in the world – Noma. Despite a very hefty price tag, the restaurant still attracts many people from all over the world and tables are booked up for many months in advance. I have not had the privilege (nor the money) to experience this one-of-a-kind fine-dining experience. But those who did describe it as a mind-blowing culinary revolution and a state of art.
The Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks
One of Copenhagen’s most famous landmarks is the Tivoli Gardens. The famous gardens & amusement park first opened in 1843, making it the world’s second-oldest amusement park. It is believed that Disneyland is directly inspired by the Tivoli Gardens too. If you’re wondering where’s the oldest one – it’s called Bakken in Kampenborg, which is also in Denmark.
Here’s an additional Copenhagen fact for you. The oldest ride in Tivoli Gardens, the wooden Rollercoaster, dates back to 1914 and is one of the only 7 rollercoasters worldwide that has a brakeman onboard every train! Other than rides, the Tivoli Gardens also regularly hosts concerts, musicals, ballets, etc. and is a very pretty park to visit. Entry to the park before 6 pm is DKK 145 and it gets more expensive after 6 pm. This doesn’t include any rides but you can purchase a ride bundle ticket, starting from DKK 165+.
Freetown Christiania is a little self-governing area within the city
You’d immediately notice a change when you stumble across Christiania, whether it be in a good or bad way. The vibe, atmosphere, and demeanour of Freetown Christiania pose a stark contrast to the rest of Copenhagen. One can call it more hippie and liberal, or one can call it rough depending on how you see it.
Freetown Christiania is a self-governing area that’s completely independent of the Danish government. It is an autonomous anarchist region started by a group of hippies who broke through the fence of an abandoned military area and started squatting there. Since then, they’ve built a whole community for those who rebel against authoritarian bureaucracy and capitalism. They even have their own flag, anthem, and currency!
One of the most famous things about Freetown Christiania is its notoriety for open cannabis trade despite the fact that it is illegal in Denmark. This takes place on the famous Pusher Street, a.k.a the Green Light District, and there are rules to follow if you want to visit. Rule 1 is no photos, and rule 2 is no running as that usually stirs panic for police raids. No hard drugs and gangs are present in the area (not anymore). Today, the area is one of the main tourist attractions in Copenhagen to see & experience something different. As long as you abide by the rules, it’s a cool spot to visit.
Copenhagen has the longest pedestrian shopping street in the world
When I was in Copenhagen, I completely didn’t realise that the street I was walking up and down many times was the longest pedestrian street in the world. It didn’t feel that long, to be honest! Strøget is the main shopping street in Copenhagen where you can find all sorts of stores ranging from budget & high-street to luxury designer brands, etc. The street is completely car-free and is 1.1km long, stretching from Copenhagen City Hall Square to Kongens Nytorv.
There are more bikes than cars in the city
Scandinavia is the pioneer in sustainable and environmental city living. This includes Copenhagen, i.e. one of the most cyclable cities in the world, and the majority of people own bikes to commute & travel about. As a matter of fact, there are roughly five times more bicycles than cars in the city! All roads and even highways have dedicated cycling lanes and the traffic is impressively well-organised.
The city will be entirely carbon-neutral by 2025
Continuing on the topic of environmental living, Copenhagen has an ambitious goal to become entirely carbon-neutral by 2025. This would make them the first city in the world and set the blueprint for the rest of us. The capital has a clear vision and roadmap of combining growth, development and increased quality of life with the reduction of CO2 emissions.
As mentioned, cycling is the most popular form of transport and there are big pushes to promote the use of public transport (which is super efficient) and walking. Most places around the city are certified as eco-friendly and the majority of food served is organic. They already have amazing infrastructures in place and will no doubt lead the way for the rest of the world.
The Little Mermaid statue is built based on the fairytale and the story doesn’t have a happy ending
The fact the Little Mermaid statue is based on the fairytale story is quite obvious, especially given the fact that Hans Christian Andersen, i.e. the author, is Danish and has lived in Copenhagen. Danish brewer, Carl Jacobsen, fell in love with the character in Little Mermaid after watching a ballet performance, so much so that he ended up commissioning the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to build a statue for the city. The statue’s face is directly inspired by the ballerina who played the character.
We are all familiar with Disney’s version of how the fairytale goes. But if you look closely at the statue, you’d notice that the mermaid has a rather sad expression on her face. This is because Hans Christian Andersen’s original version of the story does not have a happy ending. Other than giving up her voice and mermaid tail to be onshore with her prince charming, the story also says she will turn into foam on the waves and disappear forever should the prince wed another. And that’s exactly how the story ended – the mermaid staring melancholically out the sea reminiscing the happier days before transforming into sea foam.
Nyhavn is home to the famous author Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark but spent the majority of his life in Copenhagen, which inspired a lot of his work. He mostly lived in Nyhavn at house no. 20, and has also lived in no. 67 and no. 18. There are two statues dedicated to him across Copenhagen – one in Kongens Have, the other outside the City Hall. If you have extra time in Copenhagen, you can take a day trip to Odense (a 1-hour train ride away from Copenhagen Central Station) to visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.
Denmark is part of the EU but doesn’t use Euros
Denmark has been part of the EU since 1973 but has negotiated to opt out of using Euros as its currency. The official currency in Denmark is Danish Krone (KRR).
It was a man from Copenhagen who invented the first burger
I bet this little fact comes as a surprise. It certainly did for me! Hamburger is recognised as an American national dish. However, it wasn’t an original American who invented it. Recognised officially by the Library of Congress, it was a man named Louis Lassen, a Dane from Copenhagen, who invented it. Fair enough, the creation happened in the US as Louis had moved to the states at the time. But still, it’s something that the Danes take pride in.
Apparently, one day, a man walked into Louis’ cafe in a hurry and asked for something to eat on the go. Specifically, the man said, “slap a meatpuck between two flanks and step on it”. So Louis obliged and placed a flattened meatball between toasted buns – and that’s how the original burger was born. His grandson then later added cheese to it, and that’s how a cheeseburger was born!