For a few years there the Danish were considered the happiest people on Earth, I believe now they are displaced by the Swiss.
I cannot really gauge the happiness of the Danes I met during our trip to Denmark. I do think they have a good environment for happiness to grow. Lots of exercise, fit people, a good focus on family, and lots of areas for kids to play.
If this was an ordinary travel guide I would go on singing the praises of Denmark and Copenhagen. It is not.
There are many things we loved about Copenhagen but quite a few we did not.
Of course, you and I are not the same person, so the things I love or hate will not necessarily be the things you do. But I’m taking the first step by being real about our trip so you can see the pros and cons of family travel in Copenhagen and make your decision based an honest travel guide.
I’ve noticed that many travel bloggers seem to love every country they go to. It makes sense because often times posts are written after leaving that country and travel is very romantic in retrospect. But when your puking into a broken sink in Mexico City you really don’t love Mexico very much (Yes that happened to me).
Parents just don’t have the time for these rosy travel guides that don’t really tell us much. Sure every country has is pros and fun things to do. But there are 196 countries in the world. Parents need to know where the best places are to go now!
I mean what’s the point of reading travel blogs then? We could just spin a globe and point.
So a disclaimer to any Danes reading this post, no offense to you or your country. Every country has its strengths and weaknesses and Denmark is a great country overall 🙂
What I loved about Copenhagen
The bicycle way of life
If you think you live in a bike-friendly city in the US, you have no idea what a bike friendly city is until you go to Denmark. Copenhagen makes the US bike friendly streets looks like a highway with no bike lane in comparison.
Bicycling is a way of life in Denmark and it’s fun to watch. More fun to participate. We went full Danish and rented a cargo bike, stuck our kids in and jumped right in. My husband did most of the biking on the cargo bike, it definitely takes more skill than a regular bike.
Bicycling is Copenhagen is one of those unique things in the world that you just have to see for yourself.
Architecture and city layout
Of course, most European cities have impressive architecture, but I like the clean lines of Scandinavia maybe more than I like Gaudi. Copenhagen is such an accessible city, it’s small enough to get around easily. The city is laid out nicely and many apartment buildings have courtyards for kids to play in which is a major plus for families.
The city center is adorable and set with cobblestone streets with interesting shops. Denmark isn’t big on international franchises so you don’t see many McDonalds and Starbucks but more local Danish restaurants and cafes.
Denmark is the land of Lego so it’s not surprising that there are lots of fun things for kids to do. Lego land is just a train ride away, and Tivoli circus is right in Copenhagen.
Rosenborg Castle is great for any kids that love princesses and knights. It’s right in Copenhagen and easy to get to via bike.
We found lots of indoor play areas for the kids since the weather wasn’t the best while we were there in March.
I loved the sense of security that the Danish have when it comes to their kids. This is one to European countries where you see baby strollers lined up by shops in restaurants with sleeping babies in them.
What I hated About Copenhagen
The Danish Weather
Hate is a bit of a strong word, but you get the idea. Danish weather can’t seem to make up its mind. It’s notorious for this. One day it was sunny and warm and then the rest of the days it was cold and very windy.
I’m used to cold weather so I’m usually not bothered by it, but the rain and the wind was out of control. We only got a reprieve when we got back to Seattle to enjoy some sun.
If your weather is worse than Seattle’s, that’s some bad weather.
Related to the weather is the fact that most fun things were closed when we were there. Like Tivoli and Legoland, which are without dispute the most kid friendly places. You wouldn’t think that March would be a bad month to travel to Europe but it is for Denmark. So if you go and want to go to Tivoli and Legoland make sure you go in late Spring or Summer.
The Danish Food
Definitely, don’t go to Denmark for the food. Unless you’re going to Noma which I guess is supposed to be really good. Since we were there with kids we did not go to Noma.
Although side note on Noma, the Noma guy just goes and forages random plants around Copenhagen and puts it your plate. He is supposed to be a genius though…maybe it’s because all the other food is so bad everyone things Noma is so great?
Like many Northern European countries, Danes just don’t have great food. We ate at The Laundromat Cafe which is supposed be good but it was mostly burnt eggs and toast. I don’t think a restaurant like that could even survive in Seattle.
We had sushi which was made with rice so overcooked that it was completely mushy.
The only tasty thing we ate on our trip was when we took the train to Malmo, Sweden and ate at a random food stand called Shwarma King. Shwarma King was amazing, but alas not located in Denmark.
I think the pizza was okay but I’m GF so I didn’t have any.
Luckily the food isn’t “weird” so picky kids won’t be freaked out by it, it’s just not great. On top of this restaurants are expensive. Slightly less so now since the Danish Krone is 25% weaker now against the dollar than when we were there.
Granted when traveling with kids we usually don’t travel to countries just for the food. So if you’re okay not eating the best meals of your life, Denmark is a great country to visit with kids. Just maybe visit when the weather is nice. And skip the Mermaid, the mermaid is tiny. Huge disappointment.
Hope to visit again one day. I think it would be interesting to explore more of the Danish countryside and smaller towns.
Trip Prep for Kids
Here are a few books we got for the kids to introduce them to Danish culture and get the excited for the trip:
Have you been to Denmark? What did you think?
I want more brutally honest travel guides
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