Copenhagen – Europe’s Second Happiest City (Part 1)

Earlier this year the European Commission released its annual Flash Eurobarometer of quality of life in European cities, a huge survey of how happy people are living in hundreds of cities across Europe. In this survey the second happiest city in Europe was found to be Copenhagen, Denmark with 67% of respondents there very satisfied and 28% satisfied with their life, with a mere 5% saying they’re not happy with the life they lead.
Recently I was lucky enough to enjoy a weekend away in Copenhagen as part of a work trip and got to see first hand what makes this city such a great place to live. The streets were filled with happy, laughing people riding their bicycles, while the sidewalks were full of the bicycles of those who were busy doing something else. It was a real contrast to the streets of Helsinki where everyone seems to keep to themselves and go about their business in the steadfast manner Finns are renowned for. In fact there were so many good looking girls riding their bicycles around the city with their hair flowing out behind them smiling and laughing that it could quite possibly have been a scene from a shampoo commercial…

Rich History

Founded in the 10th century and made capital of Denmark in the 15th century by the 17th century it was a major regional center in Northern Europe so has a rich history.   Much of this history is still evident today along with a plethora of outstanding modern architectural gems by some of the top architects of the 21st century (so far…).

Our day started with a quick stop off at Kastrup Sea Bath, which was near the airport.  This is as the name suggests a bathing area in the sea, a semi-circular wooden structure with changing facilities, places to sit and most of all a protected swimming area within its arms.   Unfortunately being the start of winter it was a bit too cold to enjoy fully.

A self portrait…

Next stop was Louisiana Museum of Modern Art which was a 40 minute drive north of the city but well worth it.   It is a stunning museum in all aspects, beautiful architecture, delightful natural surroundings that are utilised in the museums exhibition spaces and some great exhibitions.   We were lucky enough to catch the last days of an exhibition by acclaimed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama whose style I had seen used as part of a major art project at Angela’s pre-school while in Tokyo, so was keen to check out her work in real life.    There were a dazzling array of mind blowing interactive installations along with her standard artworks which has made me a fan of her work.

A field of phallises…Many a girls dream….

The Buildings of BIG

As architects no trip to a foreign city would be complete without taking in the modern architectural icons of the city and for us it was the works of BIG Architecture, with Copenhagen based Bjarke Ingels being one of the stars of modern architecture, we took the opportunity to check out some of his work.   First there was the “8” House, an apartment complex shaped in a figure 8 then on to “The Mountain” once of my favourites which is an apartment complex with all of the units set back from the one below with gardens on the roofs to create a building that looks like a mountain (well maybe a small hill for us kiwis…).

Internal Courtyard of “8” House
BIG’s “The Mountain”

Another very impressive building was Forfatterhuset Kindergarten by another Danish Architect COBE.  With our experience of owning our own pre-schools I have always been interested in the design of learning environments for kids and this place had a great feel about it.  I managed to snap off a few pictures before being told politely by a young girl of around 4 years old that we weren’t allowed to take photos with any kids in them, so will include a couple here in which the kids aren’t identifiable.

Look out for Part 2 of this post coming soon….

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Tony Fitzpatrick
Architect, Dad, Traveller & Head Rover at Around Rock 3
After a brief flirtation with Japan in the early '90's, and some occasional trips to Australia since, I have had an unrequited love affair with Japan and general desire to explore the world for the next 20 years while reality prevailed and I found myself pretty much stuck in my home country of New Zealand (not that is an entirely bad thing...).After a chance opportunity arose in mid 2012 to relocate our family to Moscow, Russian Federation I finally set off on my OE with my family in tow. It has been an amazing journey that has seen us experience life in Russia, Japan and now Finland, as well as visiting around a dozen countries so far in our adventure to date.While my family situation has changed along the way, I am continuing to explore the world with my tri-lingual son and enjoy sharing the adventures we have had with my followers.


  1. Wow, such amazing info and pictures, I love it! I love your website and content, it’s all very interesting and informative. I am also traveller and love to explore new contries, cities, villages etc. and your web inspired me even more. I didn’t plan to visit Copenhagen, but after your article I am going definitely add it to my Destinations List 🙂 Thank you. Best regards!

    1. Hi Klaudia, thanks for stopping by and for your compliments. Copenhagen is a really beautiful city worth visiting, in fact after visiting I was disappointed that I had discovered Helsinki before Copenhagen…lol. Enjoy your travels.

  2. Copenhagen is definitely a very beautiful place. I am shocked at the percentage of satisfied people. What could it be, the food, the atmosphere, the bicycles? I definitely would love to visit.
    Like your self, I love travelling the world but I haven’t done much travelling recently. Thanks for bringing the world to us in this beautiful site. I will definitely be back to visit.

    1. Thanks for your compliments on my site. I think it must be the bicycles that make them so happy, there really are bicycles everywhere and everyone seems to ride them and chat and laugh along the way as opposed to the cycle warriors I am used to back in New Zealand who are intent on getting from A to B as quick as possible….

  3. Second happiest city? Really? Cool. I’m ashamed to say, after reading your post of so many cool places in the city, that all I’ve seen was the little mermaid when I was there for a work trip. And all I remember eating was the hotdog. I really must re read this before I ever go thee again to do the city justice!

    1. Haha, love it and I didn’t even get to see the little Mermaid, (Copenhagen’s most famous landmark…). Next time do make sure you get a good look around it really is an awesome city.

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