Why Copenhagen Should be at the Top of Your Study Abroad List

If I’m being honest here, Denmark doesn’t usually get a lot of attention. In fact, you may not have even heard of the country until recently when Trump said he wanted to purchase Greenland from Denmark. (Yes, you read that right.) After Denmark’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, said such a thing was an absurd discussion Trump called her “nasty.” So really, we have no choice but to stan Denmark and its Prime Minister’s clapback. 

International relations aside­ – Denmark is an incredible country and its most famous city, Copenhagen, is a hidden treasure. While London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Venice are all popular study abroad cities, Copenhagen is often overlooked when in it has so much to offer in terms of culture, history, activities, and — of course — Scandinavian sweets! Here are six reasons you should make Copenhagen your next international destination.

  1. 1. Nyhavn and Strøget

    Nyhavn, or “new harbor,” is a beautiful canal lined with colorful shops and apartments on the waterfront. You can take boat tours through and around the harbor, grab drinks and ice cream, and sit at the dock to watch the sun set over the Royal Danish Opera House. Nyhavn is a tourist hotspot with good reason — did you really go to Copenhagen if you didn’t post a photo in Nyhavn? During the holidays, this pretty port is turned into a winter wonderland. Hans Christian Andersen, the famous fairytale writer, actually lived in Nyhavn while writing some of his most famous work. Not too far from this picturesque canal is the infamous Little Mermaid Statue inspired by his work of the Danish princess.

    Not too far from Nyhavn, is Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets full of shopping and fun. This long stretch is also known for its street performers and close-by attractions such as the Royal Danish Theatre and Christiansborg Palace.

  2. 2. Black Diamond

    The Black Diamond is one of Copenhagen’s most beautiful pieces of architecture. Functioning as a library, bookshop, lecture hall, and more–this is the perfect study spot. This glorious structure was constructed out of steel, glass, and black African granite giving it its iconic name. Inside the building is divided into two parts with a picturesque escalator for a charming view.

  3. 3. Tivoli Gardens

    Tivoli Gardens, more commonly known as Tivoli, is every Disney-fanatics dream. In fact, it’s rumored that Walt Disney himself got his inspiration for his famous theme parks from Tivoli. Now around for 176 years and one of Europe’s oldest theme parks, Tivoli is better than ever with more rides, longer hours, and tons of thrilling rides, games, and treats. Among this amusement park is a beautiful garden where it is said Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Nightingale after just one trip.

  4. 4. Den Blå Planet

    Den Blå Planet, otherwise known as “The Blue Planet,” is Copenhagen’s outrageous aquarium. As Northern Europe’s largest aquarium it has a lot of unique features. It’s main attraction, the Ocean Tank, is a giant exhibit that extends from the floor to the ceiling filled with aquatic life ranging from sea turtles to bonnet head sharks in four million liters of water. According to Visit Copenhagen, this incredible structure has “double glazing units as well as sea water cooling, which will reduce the energy consumption in the buildings and aquariums.” As if this breathtaking place couldn’t get any better, the Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden is right there. Dinner in Sweden, anyone?

  5. 5. Hygge, the Danish culture of self-care

    Hygge, pronounced hoo-ga, is “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” In the summer of 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to be a mother’s helper in Copenhagen. Throughout that whole experience, hygge slowly began to seep into my lifestyle. When I say slowly, I literally mean everything began to slow down. I began to walk slower, take more time to admire what was around me, and really take the time to be introspective and relax.

    Now, this wasn’t just me but just Danish culture in general. In America, especially growing up so close to NYC, I was so accustomed to a face-paced lifestyle. In Copenhagen, I experienced life at a peaceful rate and had the chance to reflect on myself, my habits, and how to embed Danish culture in my lifestyle and take it back home with me.

  6. 6. Amalienborg, Rosenborg Castle, Kronberg Castle (Helsingør)

    The Amalienborg Palace is the place for any history fanatic. Inside the museum you can learn about Danish royalty dating back 150 years. The palace itself has a gorgeous 360 degree view and is great for any wide Instagram shots. You can even watch the changing of the guards at noon every day.

    The Rosenborg Castle, was one of my favorites to visit. This castle is very central to downtown Copenhagen and has an absolutely breathtaking garden. The lawn is a perfect place to study, picnic, or just take a nap. Inside the castle sits the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia. The interior is exceptionally well-kept and full of historic pieces and portraits.

    The Kronberg Castle, while not technically in Copenhagen, is a little bit outside of the city in Helsingør. This castle may as well be Denmark’s most famous because it is said to be the one that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet. After crossing over the moat and drawbridge, Kronberg comes to life. In every direction are intricate designs and sculptures, an empty space in the center of the courtyard where a gold fountain once stood, and tour guides around to tell you about said fountain and how the Swedish melted it during a war against Denmark. Yes, there are event actors dressed as Hamlet giving monologues and a giftshop full of Hamlet merchandise.

    All three of these sites are must-sees and guaranteed to broaden your knowledge on Danish culture and history.

Copenhagen has become so much more than just a city to me. It’s become a lifestyle that has managed to seep its way into my everyday life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Hopefully this magical place has sparked your wanderlust again and has you booking your next ticket straight to CPH. Whether you plan on going for leisure travel or studying abroad, be sure to keep this hidden European gem on your destination list.