Copenhagen – Europe’s Second Happiest City (Part 2)

Why is Copenhagen so Happy ?

Cykelslagen, a raised cycle way in the city

Copenhagen seems to be a very cosmopolitan city with a real mix of ethnicities who all seem to get along together harmoniously, there is also a real mix of historic buildings alongside cutting edge modern architectural marvels from some of the biggest names in world architecture coupled with a city structure designed to encourage such healthy activities as bicycling and all situated close to the water.   There are a number of swimming areas built into the waterways around the city which would be great places to go and cool off in the summer, although some hardy Scandinavian souls still use them in the winter…

The mix of old and new architecture can be seen at the Royal Danish Library with its 1999 Black Diamond addition juxtaposed against the historic classical style of the original building along the Copenhagen waterfront.

Royal Danish Library
Nyhavn, 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district

The historic streets and waterways of Copenhagen are truly beautiful places to explore, wandering aimlessly just breathing in the atmosphere and seeing what interesting little nooks and crannies you can uncover and of course there are the neat little cafes and bars that you will stumble upon as well.

Freetown Christiania

Christiania entryOne interesting place to visit while in Copenhagen is Freetown Christiania  which is a self proclaimed autonomous district that is essentially outside of the European Union.   Christiania is a comfortable walk from the central city area and is famous for its formalised cannabis trade.   While selling drugs is illegal in Denmark, it is generally overlooked inside Christiania where there is a free market for cannabis, much like a regular flea market just for grass.  It is a sight to behold, officially called “The Green Light District” it consists of a collection of typical market stalls around 2m x 2m, except that the exteriors are covered in camoflague nets with small holes for means of transacting the deal and many of the sellers will be wearing some sort of facial mask, whether a balaclava, ski mask, cowboy style handkerchief and even one stall holder with a “Scream” style mask to help obscure their identities.   Unfortunately photography is prohibited in this area and if you dare try and take an illicit snap you will be yelled at as we witnessed on our way through.   Anyway being the clean cut tourists we are we didn’t sample any of the goods available in Christiania however we did inhale deeply a few times….

Christiania Pre-school

Christiania is also a commune covering some 30 odd heactares and is home to around 900 residents, so we went for a walk around the streets and took in the ecclectic architecture of the area.   This is a true hippy village with all manner of jerry built structures and colourful grafitti on most available surfaces.

So to answer my question, even though it is easy enough to access drugs and get happy artificially, the real reasons the residents of Copenhagen are so happy is that it is such a nice city to live in, where bicycling is popular, the air is fresh and everyone is accepting of the multi cultural melting pot that Denmark has become.

Chips anyone?

Christiania building

Christiania exit
Goodbye Christiania



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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.

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