You’ve probably seen the annual reports declaring Denmark the happiest place on earth but can it really be true? Why is that you might ask? Zoe Macfarlane found out in just two days.

What does this tiny Scandinavian nation have that Australia doesn’t?

I figured there’s only one way to find out – a ‘research’ trip to the compact capital, Copenhagen.

Two days later I think I’d worked it out. Here’s what I discovered.


Day One

Denmark - Cinnamon Buns

Breakfast means many things to many people but in Copenhagen, breakfast de rigour must have a pastry in it somewhere!

Just try and resist the cinnamon scrolls, fluffy fruity tarts or delicate chocolate treats at Torvehallen, an upmarket food hall in central Copenhagen that is the perfect start to a Copenhagen trip.

It’s impossible not to feel an injection of glee when taste testing a Danish pastry (or two).

After you’ve carb-loaded for the day, head City Hall to join the free Grand Tour of Copenhagen.

This 3-hour stroll through Copenhagen’s centre affords a brilliant introduction to the city’s culture, sights, and history (spoiler alert: a lot burned down).

If you haven’t been on a free walking tour before, it’s based a tips – if you enjoy the tour, you pay what you think it is worth, affording a high happiness rating.

If walking is not your thing, then take in the sights on a canal boat tour from the picture-perfect port of Nyhavn.

48 Hours in Copenhagen - Nyhavn

With the Danish pastries walked off, the waterside warehouse-space-cum-dining-hub of Copenhagen Street Food is an excellent place to lunch like a local.

Here you’ll find small stalls with global cuisine that is sure to put a smile on your face. Gluten-free is catered for (as everywhere in Copenhagen) and there is plenty of beer to wash your feast down.

Science discovered that shopping releases mood-lifting endorphins and no doubt Copenhagen’s claim to the world’s longest shopping street helps with the city’s morale.

Head to Strøget Street for 1.1km of retail therapy ranging from cute boutiques to retail giants.

En-route, no matter your age or interest, you should visit the Lego Store. Here, Denmark’s most famous product brings your childhood dreams to life with replica tourist attractions, giant structures, and a Lego pick-and-mix.

You’ll leave with a sense of warm and fuzzies, but will that be all you take with you?

Afternoon tea is always a good idea, but especially so when generous slices of delectable gateaux are on offer.

48 Hours in Copenhagen - La Glace

The world-renowned La Glace tearoom often has an extended line of visitors, both locals and visitors alike, with their specialty Sportskage cake the crowd-pleasing favourite.

Work off your sliced yumminess up Rundetaarn, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe and scenic lookout spot, for optimal views of stunning Copenhagen.

It’s a steep climb up a spiral path to the top but the rewards are ten-fold as you gaze atop red-clad roofs across the cityscape. On a clear day, you can see Sweden in the distance. If you dare, stand on the floating glass floor, 25m up.

While you may know Denmark for their Tuborg and Carlsberg brews, there is so much more to the beer scene in Copenhagen.

You owe it to yourself to check out a couple in the Nørrebro district. Brus and Kølsters Tolv Haner are great stops on a pub-crawl and when you’re ready to eat, get happy at Nørrebro Bryghus.


Day two

48 Hours in Copenhagen - City Bike

Rise early to maximise your whirlwind Copenhagen stay and get on yer bike.

It’s estimated that 50% of Copenhagen locals cycle regularly along the ample bike lanes that make navigating the city easy. Rent a bike and you’ll find your rhythm quickly as you explore new ground at a faster pace.

Every child has felt joy from Hans Christian Andersen stories and a quick stop at the Little Mermaid statue is a must.

If you have a liberal approach to life then consider Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district, though do not make a rookie mistake and go here at night where the this-could-be-a-horror-film vibes take the tone from merriment to sinister.

Take a break for lunch at the Danish-drool-fest at Andersen Bakery. Close to Central Station, this traditional Danish bakery is actually the lovechild of a passionate Japanese baker faithful to the Danish art. The fresh bread rolls and custard Danish aid in the quest to understanding why Danes are so joyful.

48 Hours in Copenhagen - Anderson Bakery

You’ve ticked off two of the three main things that Dane’s are famed for so it’s only fitting that you make time for the third with a visit to the Design Museum.

Here you’ll uncover Danish design concepts from the famed Arne Jacobson’s egg chair, through to Haute Couture designs.

There are plenty of interactive pieces scattered throughout which add a little pep in your step as you play. Round off your Copenhagen stay with a culinary feast.

In recent years, Danish chefs took the local cuisine to new heights with their New Nordic trend, combining Scandinavian themes with traditional global gastronomy.

While there is a range of New Nordic restaurants to choose from, Pony is sure to delight with their great culinary adventure and their Pony Kick 4-course menu.

Copenhagen delights across the city centre, demonstrating consistently why they are famed for happiness rating and their commitment to sharing it with their visitors.

While it’s deserving of more time, you can get a slice of (Danish pastry) heaven in just 48 hours. What are you waiting for?


Where to Stay

48 Hours in Copenhagen - Ibsens Hotel

For an affordable boutique hotel in a great location, Ibsens Hotel is a fantastic choice. Located a 10-minute walk from all the action of central Copenhagen, it’s close without the hustle and bustle and the staff provides exemplary jolly Danish hospitality.

The rooms are comfortable and while the New Nordic breakfast spread is small, it’s simply delicious. Make time to enjoy their hygge Cosy Hour between 5-6pm each day.

48 Hours in Copenhagen, Hotel Absalon

If you’re looking for a modern, stylish hotel with excellent finishing touches, then the Absalon Hotel provides just that.

Located close to Copenhagen Central, you’ll also find Tivoli, the Meatpacking district and a wide range of restaurants and bars nearby to enjoy. Connecting rooms are on offer, though sound can travel so request a quiet room if you’re a light sleeper.


Getting Around

Getting from Copenhagen Airport to the city centre is fast, cheap and easy. Friendly volunteers help you navigate the ticket machine and, after a short 15-min ride, you’re in central Copenhagen.

Once in the city, on foot is the best way to see the main city sights, though some time on a bike is a must to experience the real Copenhagen way of life! For longer journeys, the metro is efficient.

Where in the world would you be the happiest and why? Tell us below.