Author

madelineraeaway

It’s no secret that I love Copenhagen. It’s truly the definition of a world-class city. And there is a seemingly never-ending list of unique things to do in Copenhagen. Despite having spent so much time in the city, my “things I want to do in Copenhagen” list just keeps on getting longer and longer… and longer. 

I first visited Copenhagen in December 2017, well before I made the cross-globe move to Scandinavia. Within minutes of being there, it was love at first sight and I knew I had found one of my favourite cities.

There’s something extra special about Copenhagen – I come alive every time I visit. I’m not sure if it’s the contagious spirit of the locals. The canals that fill the city. Or the fact that the city is quite literally littered with bike lanes that draws me in.

Maybe it’s the food culture, which is some of the best in the world (more on that here, where I talk about all my favourite Copenhagen restaurants). Or the fact that even in the coldest months, you’ll find locals sitting outside under cosy blankets having drinks with friends – you know, that Danish “hygge” concept that everyone raves about (it’s a real thing, btw).

I guess it’s all of those things. And more. I could visit the city one hundred times – I could even live there – and I am confident that it would never, ever get old, and I would never stop finding things to do.

Having been to this city countless time, I’ve been wanting to write this guide for a while. But, I’ve kept putting it off. There’s so much to say about this city, and I’ve felt like I didn’t even know where to begin.

But here it is – in all it’s very comprehensive glory. The goal of my Copenhagen guide is to stretch far beyond the typical touristy suggestions and dive a bit deeper into some of my favourite local gems (although it will include some of the touristy things too, because they surely can’t be missed).

my favourite unique things to do in copenhagen

(and a few touristy ones, too)

VISIT NYHAVN

Okay, I know I said this was going to be a non-touristy guide, and this is the most touristy suggestion ever – but hear me out. Nyhavn is the most iconic spot in Copenhagen. When tourists and locals alike picture Copenhagen, they picture the colourful buildings lining the canal. And that’s why this spot cannot be missed on any itinerary.

With that being said, yes, Nyhavn is touristy. And expensive. But it’s also super beautiful. I rarely visit Copenhagen without at least stopping by and I am blown away every time. 

Here’s my suggestion for Nyhavn: visit, take a few photos, and leave. I wouldn’t recommend eating or grabbing a drink at the restaurants that line the canals. They are overpriced, and the quality pales in comparison to many of the other culinary gems that scatter the city (more about some of those gems here).

Okay, so now that we’ve gotten that touristy suggestion out of the way, we can move on…

Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Actually, not quite yet because i have one more nyhavn suggestion.

And that is if you only have a short time in Copenhagen, take a boat cruise from the Nyhavn harbour. They will take you all over Copenhagen, and you’ll get to take in the city from a unique perspective: on the water. It’ll also take you by the famed Little Mermaid Statue (which is not worth going out of your way otherwise because it is, quite frankly, overhyped). So… consider it two birds, one stone. 

roam around the best neighbourhoods in copenhagen

Dare to stray far away from the city centre and you’ll find the true, unmistakable charm of Copenhagen. Some of these neighbourhoods may seem “a bit out of the way,” but I promise you can’t miss them. So, put on some comfortable shoes and start exploring (or take local transit – but some of the best hidden gems are bound to be discovered en route). Here’s my favourites:

VESTERBRO

I love this neighbourhood of Copenhagen. Like, seriously, I could live here. Located southwest of the Central Station and Tivoli, it’s home to the most beautiful winding streets, shops, and some of the most fabulous restaurants in Copenhagen. I could wander here for hours. 

The Meatpacking District

Located next to Vesterbro, Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District is a warehouse area has been converted into an industrial foodie’s paradise. It features rows of side-by-side restaurants – some of the best in the city- with patios and live music in the warmer months. It is the perfect spot to grab lunch or a beer in the Danish sun, or just people watch because the area is bound to be bustling.

See Also: My complete foodie’s guide to Copenhagen.

Christianshavn

The beautiful canals of Christianshavn are some of my favourite streets to roam in Copenhagen. Lining the canals there are tons of charming colourful apartment buildings, coffee shops, and stores to pop into and browse. 

Nørrebro

Home to one of the most Instagrammable spots in Copenhagen, Superkilen Park, and easily some of the best restaurants in the city. This is the spot to go for the best vintage shops, trendy international eats, and other scandi-design stores.

See Also: My list of the most Instagrammable places in Copenhagen.

wander out to REFFEN

Easily one of my favourite spots to visit during the warmer months, Reffen is the Nordic’s largest street food market and is home to shops, food trucks, craft beer, and lots of live music.

I wrote more about Reffen here in my post about all the best places to eat and drink in Copenhagen.

unleash your inner child at tivoli gardens

Okay, I know. This is also “touristy.” But you cannot visit Copenhagen and not visit Tivoli – one of the world’s oldest theme parks. Even if rides aren’t your thing, buy a park pass and wander around. I promise it is worth seeing.

Tivoli is beautiful any time of the year, but Christmas at Tivoli is extra special. If your schedule allows it, pay a visit during their Christmas market. Drink some mulled wine, enjoy the epic Christmas decorations, and be transported back in time.

VISIT A HIPPY COMMUNE: FREETOWN CHRISTIANIA

I’ve spoke with many tourists who have said they were afraid to visit Christiania. And I was like whaaaat? Because if you’re letting fear dictate your decision to visit Christiania, you’re seriously missing out.

This “Hippy Commune” is home to roughly 1,000 residents and it operates as a freetown (in fact, they have a sign at the exit that says “You Are Now Entering the EU” because they operate independent of the EU). Here, you’ll find stall of locals selling homemade goods, others busking in the streets, and many others selling marijuana along the “main street.” It is such a unique cultural experience that everyone should see when they are visiting Copenhagen. 

Tip: Leave your camera in your bag in the “shopping” area, or else the locals will ask you to put it away and delete the photos.

Christiania, Copenhagen

TAKE IN SOME OF COPENHAGEN’S COOLEST LANDMARKS

There are so many cool spots in Copenhagen to walk past, take some photos of, or just simply admire. Here’s a few of my favourites.

Magaestrade

This winding narrow road is beautiful. The colourful buildings, the way the light shines around the bend of the street. This is my favourite street in Copenhagen, without a doubt. Now, I’m just left trying to figure out how I can purchase an apartment there so I can wake up with this view out my window everyday.

Rosenborgs slott

This castle looks like it is straight out of a fairytale and is surrounded by lavish green gardens. Also nearby is the Botanical Gardens, which is another great spot to check out if you’re in the area.

Superkilen

This super unique urban space and skateboard park is full of street art, and is a really cool spot to roam around and take pictures (it’s so good, I featured it in my most Instagrammable places in Copenhagen guide).

Church of our saviour

This beautiful church with a spiral tower sits atop Christianshavn and is truly a sight that can’t be missed. Admire it from the exterior, or, if your’re feeling brave, head inside and climb to the top of the spiral tower for some of the most beautiful views in Copenhagen-

The Round Tower

If you’re looking for another spot to view Copenhagen from atop, The Round Tower offers the perfect opportunity to see the rooftops of Copenhagen. The walk up to the top of the tower is also very unique, with a steep winding ramp replacing steps.

eat your way through the city

Copenhagen is one of THE BEST food cities in the world. So, if you’re anything like me, your itinerary with include LOTS of great restaurant stops. I wrote all about all my favourite restaurants and bars in Copenhagen here. Check it out if the inner foodie in you needs some inspiration.

take a day trip from copenhagen

One of the best things about Denmark is how small the country is. This means that there are tons of day trip from Copenhagen options. Here’s a few of my favourites.

kronborg castle

Surely you’re familiar with the story of Hamlet. Well, did you know that the real life Elsinore is only an hour away from Copenhagen by train? Kronborg Castle is located in the Danish town of Helsingör (Elsinore in English) and is home to cute cafes, beautiful waterfront views, and this gorgeous castle. It is absolutely worth a visit if you have time to spare in Copenhagen.

Louisiana museum

The world-class Louisiana Museum is located in Humlebaek, Denmark, which is able 35 minutes away from Copenhagen Central. This is one of my favourite museums I have ever been to, because I found the exhibits very unique. If you’re into modern art, you can’t miss this place.

Yayoi Kusama Louisiana Museum
take the train across to Sweden

Malmö, Sweden, where I live, is about 40 minutes by train from Copenhagen Central. There is so much to do in Malmö, you could easily spend 2-3 days there. But, if you’ve only got one day to spare, it is a perfect day trip from Copenhagen. The city centre isn’t very big, so you can see so much of the city in one day (and you can check Sweden off your bucketlist too!).

I’ve wrote a lot about Malmö and southern Sweden on the blog. You can check out everything here to help you plan your day trip.

Where to stay in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is full of amazing hotels. Because I live so close, I have only stayed overnight in the city once. However, I have had visitors who have stayed in the city as well, and here are my top two hotel recommendations. Both hotels are close to the central station, so they are easy to get to with luggage, and are within walking distance from many of the must-sees on my list.

Axel Guldsmeden

We stayed at Axel Guldsmeden during my first visit to Copenhagen and the property was beautiful. The whole hotel is Bali-inspired, and is very eco-conscious (they even gave us our own recycled bamboo toothbrushes!).

Axel Guldsmeden Hotel
Scandic palace hotel

My parents stayed at the Scandic Palace Hotel when they came to visit – and wow. This place was so old and historical, and beautifully maintained with gorgeous crown mouldings and winding staircases. If possible, ask for a room with a balcony facing the square and you will be welcomed with the most incredible views of the city.

I wasn't kidding when i said there was a lot to do in and around copenhagen.

This city is one of my favourite cities in the world for so many reasons. And I know if you visit, it will be one of yours too!

If I missed anything in this guide, add it to the comments below. And if you’re visiting the city, don’t forget to check out all my food and drink recommendations at the best restaurants in Copenhagen.

LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT BELOW.

A Guide to Non-Touristy Copenhagen
A Copenhagen City Guide
Things to Do in Copenhagen
The Best Hotel in Copenhagen
1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinEmail
Copenhagen Food Guide

Copenhagen and food might as well be synonymous. Because, in case you weren’t already aware, Copenhagen is a foodie’s dream city. It would take you weeks – maybe even months – to properly eat your way through the city. And I by no means am claiming to be an expert.

BUT, I have spent a ton of time in Copenhagen. And the foodie in me as been (eagerly) waiting to write this point until I felt that I could aptly do the Copenhagen food scene justice.

Well, I think that time has come. I have had easily some of the best meals of my life in this city, and I can’t wait to share with you all the best restaurants in Copenhagen – including everything from classic nordic tasting menus to international eats. 

So, here is (in My opinion) one of my mOST exciting posts ever:

A foodie's guide to the best restaurants in copenhagen

BEST BRUNCH IN COPENHAGEN

MAD & KAFFE

I am obsessed with with spot. Dare I say, it’s one of my favourite brunches ever. As a self-proclaimed brunch connoisseur, this is a HUGE statement… So hear me out.

What’s the biggest dilemma you face when you’re out for breakfast for brunch? Well, if you’re like me, it’s the impossible choice between having something savory OR sweet.

Mad & Kaffe makes this choice easy with BREAKFAST TAPAS.

Yes, you heard that right. It isn’t just that the food here is good (although it is very good). But, I love this concept of choosing three, five or, if you’re feeling reeeeal hungry, seven small plates and getting the best of both worlds.

Price: $$ (mid-range)
Mad & Kaffe Copenhagen

BEST INTERNATIONAL EATS IN COPENHAGEN

SMUSHI

Smushi offers an interesting concept that combines the classic Danish open-faced sandwiches and sushi – it is a delicious, fun experience! 

Please note: I just discovered that this place has closed. However, word on the street is that they will be reopening. Check out this link to their website for up-to-date info.

Price: $$ (mid-range)

La Neta Nørrebro

La Neta Nørrebro serves up classic Mexican cuisine in one of Copenhagen’s trendiest neighbourhoods. The interior is super cute, the margaritas are strong, and their taco game is on point.

If you’re in Vesterbro, you can also check out the location there.

Price: $$ (mid-range)

BEST PIZZA IN COPENHAGEN

NEIGHBOURHOOD

Neighbourhood is a popular pizza spot in Copenhagen, and after visiting (and going back a second time), I can completely understand why it’s so popular. The pizza is creative and delicious. 

There are two locations in Copenhagen: Istegade and Frederiksborggade. I’ve been to both, and have absolutely zero preference of one versus the other. However, the advantage of going to the Frederiksborggade location is that they take reservations, whereas Istegade does not. This spot is popular, so booking ahead is strongly advised, especially on the weekends.

Price: $$ (mid-range)

BEST STREET FOOD IN COPENHAGEN

REFFEN

Reffen, Copenhagen’s top street food spot, is an item that cannot be missed on any Copenhagen itinerary. Do as the locals do, rent a bike, and escape the outskirts of Copenhagen to Reffen (and make some stops along the way, because this area of the city is so cool). 

Here you can sit along the water, indulge in street food eats at some of the best restaurants in Copenhagen (at the biggest street food market in the Nordics with 41 stalls), shop as the stores scattered throughout the market, listen to live music, and take lots of pictures (because it’s very insta-worthy).

Opening Hours: Reffen is outdoors, and therefore only open in the warmer months (from April until October). Check out their website to confirm their opening hours before visiting.

See Also: My complete city guide to Copenhagen where I dish the details on all my favourite off-the-beaten-path Copenhagen spots, including this place.

Price: $ (cheap eats)
Reffen, Copenhagen
Reffen, Copenhagen

BEST "scandi-inspired" food IN COPENHAGEN

H15

If I could refer to H15 in any way, it would be a “scandi trendy cafeteria.” And while I know that isn’t a thing, it should be – because the food here is great. And the atmosphere is too!

Located in one of my favourite Copenhagen neighbourhoods, The Meatpacking District, is this cosy, casual cafeteria-style spot that makes delicious and affordable dishes with Nordic-inspired and seasonable farm-to-table ingredients (think white bean “mac and cheese” topped with pumpkin and roasted kale, or marinated herring with beetroot).

The menu looks a bit weird at first glace, but trust me when I say the food is SO GOOD. And is the perfect spot for lunch (or dinner).

Price: $$ (mid-range)
H15 Copenhagen

BEST nordic food IN COPENHAGEN

108

If you’re after a premium, authentic Nordic tasting menu, look no further than 108 to satisfy your taste buds because this is easily one of the best restaurants in Copenhagen. The head chef, Kristian Baumann, apprenticed under the famous René Redzepi (head chef at Noma, aka “the best restaurant in the world” – which is also in Copenhagen).

While it is surely a bit easier to get a reservation here than Noma, 108 also offers a premium Nordic dining experience, with all ingredients being locally-sourced. We were in the mood to splurge  on the 10-course tasting menu with wine pairing and it was easily the most extraordinary dining experience of my life. However, if you aren’t in the mood to “go all out,” you can opt for the regular dinner menu, and still have the opportunity to experience top-notch Nordic cuisine.

Price: $$$$ (PREMIUM FINE DINING)
108 Copenhagen

Marv & Ben

If 108 is a out of the budget, Marv & Ben is another outstanding option if you’re looking for an exceptional Nordic meal. Similar to 108, all menu items are locally-sourced and the food is also some of the best I’ve ever had.

Price: $$$ (FINE DINING)
Marv & Ben Copenhagen

Vækst

Another great Nordic dinner spot with the most beautifully greenery-accented interior. I was invited by COFOCO to dine at Vækst earlier this year and it was a great evening. You can read more about that here.

Price: $$-$$$ (Mid-RangE/FINE DINING)

BEST COCKTAIL BARS IN COPENHAGEN

Ruby

I love Ruby so much. Not only do they make high quality cocktails, but their space is so chic, with beautifully lit-up wall-to-wall liquor cabinets, velvet and leather seating, and a dim light that makes you feel like you’re in a 1920s bar. Ruby is popular, but good news – they take reservations. Book your reservation here

Ruby Copenhagen

Duck & Cover

Another speakeasy style spot, Duck & Cover is another easy favourite with a cosy hygge atmosphere, great cocktails, and a fabulous staff.

Brønnum

A sister restaurant to Ruby, Brønnum is another one of my go-to cocktail spots in Copenhagen. A little more laid back then Ruby, I love this spot when I am looking to grab a high quality cocktail in the city centre. And they also take reservations!

1656 Cocktail bar

Ok, I know I’ve referred to “speakeasys” already in relation to other bars. But, if you’re looking for the ultimate speakeasy experience, this is your spot. This is simply based on the fact that it is very difficult to find this bar. We walked past the door a dozen times, convinced we had the wrong address, until we located it behind an very inconspicuous graffiti-filled door. But I promise, this spot is WORTH finding because the cocktails are perfection and the ambiance is plain cool. 

BEST spots for beer IN COPENHAGEN

Mikkeller Bar

There are Mikkeller Bar locations scattered all over Copenhagen, as one of Denmark’s most recognizable craft beer franchises. I particularly love this location in Vesterbro. But, if you’re interested in visiting their other spots, you can check out a list of Mikkeller locations here.

Below, you’ll see one of their pop-up locations at one of the Copenhagen Christmas markets.

Halmtovet 9

Halmtorvet 9 is located in the Meatpacking District and offers affordable drinks and a cool, rustic atmosphere. And while 150 DKK (approx. 20 euros) for a pitcher of beer may seem a bit steep for beer in almost any other country, this is cheap in a city as expensive as Copenhagen. Plus, they have an awesome outdoor courtyard space with space heaters in the winter for an added level of Danish cosiness.

BEST WINE BAR IN COPENHAGEN

nebbiolo Winebar

Nebbiolo Winebar is located in the heart of the city  and offers a really cosy hygge-esque atmosphere for enjoying a glass of vino. If you’re in the mood for a tasty snack, I’d also recommend opting for their cheese or charcuterie boards. They are both beautiful to look at, and tasty.

Nebbiolo Winebar

SEASONAL BONUS MATERIAL

EAT YOUR HEART OUT AT COPENHAGEN CHRISTMAS MARKETS

It’s no secret that I love Christmas markets. So much so, that I have planned entire vacations around seeing certain markets across Europe. This year, we’ll be staying closer to home and exploring some of Scandinavia’s best markets, starting with one of my favourites: Copenhagen’s Christmas Markets

Scattered throughout the city, the Christmas markets of Copenhagen are the perfect spot to find some cheap and delicious holiday eats – And drink all the gløgg your heart desires (warm Danish mulled wine).

Side Note: you love European Christmas markets, don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list for more Christmas Market content coming your way over the next few weeks!

READY TO EAT your heart out IN ONE OF THE WORlD'S beST FOODIE CITIES?

Copenhagen has it all when it comes to food, and is truly a foodie’s paradise. I hope you feel equipped to experience everything this amazing city has to offer and visit the best restaurants in Copenhagen. And if I missed anything, feel free to add it in the comments below. I’m always eager to try new spots.

If you liked this guide, don’t forget to check out my complete city guide to Copenhagen by clicking here.

If you’re heading over to Malmö, don’t forget to check out: The Best Spots Eat and Drink in Malmö Sweden and A Complete City Guide to Malmö.

LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT BELOW.

The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Copenhagen
The Best Bars in Copenhagen
The best restaurants in Copenhagen
The Best Brunch in Copenhagen
1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinEmail
Warsaw Old Town

Warsaw was never a city that was on my radar. Despite Warsaw being the capital, whenever someone mentioned Poland, I always imagined visiting Kraków or Gdansk. In my mind, Warsaw a big city. A city that had been rebuilt after WWII. And, therefore, it was a city that lacked character or charm.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After spending one day in Warsaw, I was hooked. And knew I needed to come back because one day was not enough (I am also thankful for the super cheap flights that guided us there, because they are the reason that this city is now my radar). I can’t wait to go back again some day – let me tell you why.

So, you only have one day in Warsaw like I did? Here’s my guide on spending one day in Poland’s Capital.

See Also: A Complete City Guide Detailing Why You Need to Visit Kraków.


GETTING TO WARSAW

Warsaw Chopin Airport: The most convenient location to fly into is Warsaw Chopin Airport, located just 20-30 minutes from Warsaw’s city centre by car. From there, you can easily reach the city centre by shuttle, cab, or Uber.

By Train: Coming from another European city? Warsaw is very centrally located in Eastern Europe and is easily accessible by train from many major European cities. We travelled by high speed train from Kraków to Warsaw in only 2.5 hours.


WHERE TO STAY IN WARSAW

If you’re looking for the best hotel in Warsaw, PURO Hotel Warszawa Centrum is your spot.

I am obsessed with this hotel. It’s centrally located, very trendy, and has spacious rooms. The details were immaculate and I still swear I had one of the best sleeps of my life in this hotel room (shoutout to the super comfy bed and some top-notch blackout blinds!).


THINGS TO DO IN WARSAW

Warsaw Old Town

To be totally honest, I was hesitant to visit the Old Town in Warsaw, because I was it was going to feel artificially pretty and lack character. The original Old Town was bombed during WWII and completely destroyed. After the war, it was completely restored to resemble the town prior to the bombings.

When you visit the Old Town, it is hard to ignore how perfect it is – much more perfect than any other city I’ve visited. However, the newness does not take away how insanely beautiful it is. The way the architects were able to recreate what was completely destroyed in itself is impressive, and you can’t help feel a sense of happiness walking through the town. It is a definitive comeback story.

Climb to the Top of the Bell Tower at St. Anna’s Church

For the most spectacular views of the Warsaw Old Town, and Warsaw in general, climb up the winding staircase to the top of St Anna’s Church. I mean, just check out these views.

Łazienki Park

Łazienki Park is a huge park located right in the city centre of Warsaw. It is the perfect place to roam, especially in summer months when you can enjoy the patios and greenery.

In the park, you’ll find historical buildings, including my favourite: Palace on the Isle. This gorgeous bath house was built in the 17th century and was fortunate enough to survive the Warsaw bombings during WWII. It is a time capsule of what once was, in a city that was so brutally destroyed.

Stroll Down Nowy Swiat

Also known as “The Royal Route,” walk from the intersection at Aleje Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Avenue) to the Old Town. You’ll pass many monuments and historical buildings along the way, as well as tons of shops and restaurants.

Nowy Swiat
Visit the Praga Neighbourhood

Located across the river from the Old Town, we fell in love with the Praga neighbourhood. Described as an “edgier” neighbourhood in Warsaw, this area used to be mostly off-limits to tourists, some would say even dangerous. But, in recent years, it has cleaned up it’s act and has rose in popularity.

The streets of Praga are lined with graffiti murals. If you love street art, make sure to check out 11 Listopada 22.

After venturing around the neighbourhood, along 11 Listopada, we stumbled upon a “parking lot” filled with tables and chairs, bars, live music, and surrounded by street art. Needless to say, this place was cool. We stop in, and ended up staying there for hours in the sun, drinking beers and listening to music. If you’re looking for this spot, type in one of the restaurants “Chmury” into Google Maps, and it’ll lead you there.


WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN WARSAW

Best Brunch in Warsaw: Aioli

The food here was incredible, and affordable. And they have the most perfect outdoor patio seating, so you can enjoy brunch in the sun during the warmer months.

Aioli Warsaw
Best Pizza in Warsaw: Ave Pizza

If you’re looking for affordable and delicious pizza with all kinds of unique toppings in Warsaw, Ave Pizza has you covered.

Best Pierogi in Warsaw: Zapiecek

Zapiecek is a popular pierogi chain in Warsaw – and let me just say, it is popular for a reason. With options of several fillings, both boiled and fried, this places knows how to make a top-notch pierogi (and this is coming from a girl who has eaten more than her fair share of pierogi in her lifetime).

Zapiecek Warsaw Pierogi
Best Bars in Warsaw: Pawilony Nowy Świat

This is an area filled with over 20 small bars, outdoor seating, and other random vendors. It is a popular spot to grab a cheap drink in central Warsaw and offers a really cool atmosphere.


SO NOW YOU’RE READY TO VISIT WARSAW

You can find all my favourite spots in One Day in Warsaw on the map below.

Simply put: Warsaw should not be dismissed as “just another big city” when planning a trip to Poland. It deserves a lot more love then it gets. And I hope that you can find it in your itinerary to spend more than just one day in Warsaw.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out my Kraków City Guide.


LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT FOR LATER.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinEmail
Simrishamn Beach in October

WOW. Nine months. I’ve officially spent nine months living in Sweden. But seriously… where has the time gone?

Before we dive into this I want to start by saying that I love Canada with all my heart. I am forever grateful for the ultimate lottery of being born in one of the world’s best countries. And for the endless opportunities growing up in Canada, and being a Canadian, has provided me.

But, even though Canada is great (and still #1 in my heart)…

I’m convinced that other countries could learn a thing or two from the Swedes. Life in Sweden is a bit slower, a bit more balanced, a bit more “lagom” (if you’re like whaaaat is that?… I explain it a bit more about it below).

And after living in Sweden, I have some takeaways. Here are the best things about living in Sweden.


1. LAGOM

You probably have heard the Danish concept of “hygge,” which has become synonymous with Danish lifestyle, and is being emulated around the world. Similarly, the Swedish concept of “lagom” is something that has been hyped internationally (I mean, even Vogue was talking about it). However, I had a difficult time actually understanding this concept until I began to immerse myself in Swedish culture.

Lagom |là:gom|: Neither too little, or too much; just right. Doing, being, and having just enough.

This principle is truly indicative of the Swedish lifestyle. Simple, balanced, and, above all else, contentment. It is about living life in moderation, and appreciating what you have in that very moment.

I think the outside world has this view of hygge or lagom as a bunch of Scandinavian’s sitting around cozy fireplaces eating kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) – this isn’t true. It is a principle that is ingrained in the culture of the locals, and not something that, in my opinion, can easily be mimicked.

However, I still think that many other countries can learn a bit from the Swedish lagom principle about being content with what you have, and being a little more selfless. Because, ultimately, the reason Sweden has been coined such a great place to live is because they focus on the common good, where hierarchy and status is not important, and everyone is living their own definition of “lagom.”


2. FIKA

Surely you’ve heard of the Swedish concept of fika. It is easily one of the most famous Swedish concepts. But what does it really mean?

Fika |fi:ka|: a Swedish concept meaning “to have coffee” or “coffee with friends,” is typically coffee accompanied by a sweet treat, and is a moment to slow down, and appreciate the good things in life.

Before I moved here, I was aware of the concept. But I was certain it was just a fun gimmick. Boy, was a wrong.

Fika is a way of life in Sweden. We have “Fredagskaka” or “Friday cake” at work. We get together with friends and family for afternoon fika on the weekend (or even after work). It is a concept dating back to the 19th century and is an integral part of Swedish culture.

And while I love a good cup of coffee and a sweet treat, fika is so much more than that. It is an opportunity to take a break from the nuances of your day to just be with the people closest with you. To catch up. To bond. To tell stories… and laugh. And I mean, how special is that?

See Also: My favourite spots in Malmö for fika.


3. SOMMARSEMESTER

Or, in English, summer holidays.

Taking time for yourself – and enjoying time with your families – is important. That’s why 5-6 weeks of paid vacation is standard in Sweden.

And to add to that, Swedes believe that vacation should be enjoyed for longer than one or two weeks at a time. In fact, in Sweden it is normal to take up to four or five weeks of vacation straight, especially during the summer.

After working at a global Swedish-owned company, I can confirm that Swedes live by the principle that work is important – but that in order to be the best employee, you need take care of yourself (and your family). And that means taking time off without questions or feelings of judgement, whether it be to take a mental break, spend time with family and friends, or see the world. And this is something that I think that countries around the world could learn from.


4. “DET FINNS INGET DÅLIGT VÄDER, BADA DÅLIGA KLÄDER”

Translation: There is no bad weather, there are only bad clothes.

This is easily one of my favourite Swedish sayings. Despite living in the north, Swede’s love to be outside.

In Sweden, the number of summer days a year is limited. Most days hover around 20 degrees, however it is not unusual for it to be 15 degrees and rainy in July. And let’s not even get started on the cold, dark winters.

What does this mean for the locals? They make the most of every single sunny day – and spend lots of time outside, even if it’s a bit chilly (or rainy… and it can be very rainy in Malmö). During the summer, it is not unusual, or frowned upon to leave the office early just because it is nice outside. The reason why: nice days are limited, and should be enjoyed. Especially when it is light out until 10:30 pm. As far as Swede’s are concerned, they can make up for it at the office during the cold, dark winter.

However, that doesn’t mean Swedes don’t make the most out of every day. It is not unusual to see Swedes bundled up on a sunny day in March, outside on a patio, having fika with friends (likely with a baby bundled up in a stroller next to them – because yes, the stereotypes are reeeeal. And on that note, the stereotype of fathers on a solo stroller walks with their babies are true too).

See Also: A photo diary of autumn in Skåne, Sweden.


5. SWEDE’S ARE MULTI-LINGUAL

Jag talar Svenska (“I speak Swedish”).

Okay, no I don’t. But I swear I’m working on it. However, learning Swedish is proving to be quite the challenge, because in order to live in Sweden, you really don’t have to speak Swedish.

Did you know that Scandinavian countries are home to some of the best English-as-a-second-language speakers in the world? I mean, after years of cheering on the Detroit Red Wings and their Swedish roster with perfect English, I already knew this. But I didn’t realize that there is some crazy statistic like more than 95% of the population is fluent in English.

This makes it very difficult for an expat like me to learn to speak Swedish – because locals love to practice their English with native speakers.

With that being said, many of the Swedes I’ve met speak more than two languages. They are taught English in school and movies and TV shows are not dubbed (which means they are also expert subtitle readers). Because of this, they have this inherent interest in learning new languages.

Needless to say, I’m totally inspired. And am hoping that in due time, I can add “proficient in Swedish” to my CV (but I am not getting to eager yet, because this learning Swedish thing is no joke).


6. YOU DON’T NEED A CAR

Living in Sweden? No car required.

Locals that live in the city almost exclusively travel by bike. In fact, Malmö is littered with bike lanes and is often considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.

Alternatively, you can take public transit. You can get virtually anywhere you need to go by bus and/or train – even rural villages. And the public transit operates at nearly all hours of the day, which means you always have an option to get where you need to be.

After living for most of my life in a city where you need a car, never could I have imagined have a 30 minute walk/bus ride to work everyday. But, truthfully, I love my commute. It is a time to get fresh air and listen to my favourite podcasts – all while helping reduce the carbon footprint. Which brings me to my next point…


7. ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY

Surely, at this point, everyone in the world has heard of Greta Thunberg (but in case you’ve been living under a rock, she’s the Swedish teenage environmental activist who has been actively advocating around the world for climate change).

However, after living in Sweden, it doesn’t surprise me that this young environmental trailblazer is a Swedish native – because Swedes are very conscious of the environment.

As I mentioned before, it is not unusual for locals to rely on bikes and public transportation (especially with the price of gas). Additionally, simple initiatives like recycling and composting are made very easy. And don’t even think about buying a disposable water bottle, or using a plastic bag, because you’ll surely be judged. And besides, Swedish drinking water is some of the cleanest (and tastiest) in the world!


8. HIGH TAXES, HIGH REWARDS

Daycare? Free. University? Free. Cleaning services? Subsidized. Healthcare? Mostly free (you’ll never pay more than 1,000 SEK or roughly 100 EUR per year). I could go on and on about all the fantastic government-incentivized programs.

And let’s not forget the parental leave. 480 work days, which is often shared by both parents (yes, you heard that right, it isn’t weird for new dads to take parental leave; in fact, 90 days are required to be used exclusively by the father). This parental leave can also be used until the child is eight years old, which means it also isn’t uncommon for parents to only work four days a week or take extended summer holidays to spend with their families.

Of course, these programs come with the stigma of being costly. And although some of that is true, my income taxes certainly aren’t any higher than they were in Canada (although, sales taxes are a hefty 25%). Despite the stereotype that the Nordic countries are expensive, I don’t feel like my cost of living is higher here than it would be in Canada.

With many basic everyday bills, like cellphones, internet, and education being very affordable, the only thing that is expensive are the “luxuries” like entertainment (going out to eat, or going to the movies), cars, and gas. And really, I’m happy to reallocate that 90% savings on my monthly cellphone bill to a night out with friends, anyways.

See Also: You can read more about my favourite spots for a night out in Malmo here.


9. JANTELAGEN

I know, another word you likely can’t pronounce. This is a Scandinavian principle that guides how Swedes choose to act, particularly in the workplace.

Jantelagen |jantɛˌlɑːɡɛn|: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than anyone else.

Don’t boast. Don’t brag. Stay humble and grounded. Never make anyone else feel inferior to you. No one needs to know about your rank in the hierarchy of your company. Or your new, expensive car.

That, in a nutshell, is Jantelagen.


10. PROXIMITY TO THE REST OF EUROPE

For a travel bug like me, this is easily one of the best things about living in Sweden. I can travel, door-to-door, to Copenhagen Airport in 30 minutes. And Malmö Airport, also nearby, offers budget connections to many European cities for cheap weekend getaways.

Not to mention, there are so many cities accessible by train, including some incredible cities within Sweden (for example, you can get from Malmö to Stockholm in four hours by train, or 50 minutes by flights … which I’ll be doing in a few weeks, so stay tuned for that story!).


And those are, in my opinion at least, the absolute best things about living in Sweden.

Is there anything I missed? If so, add it to the comments below! And if you’re considering moving to Sweden, I’ve wrote all about the Swedish visa process here. You can also read more about expat life in Sweden here.


LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT BELOW.

2 comments
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinEmail
Kronovalls slott in October

Autumn in Skåne is beautiful.

The cool, crisp temperatures. The changing colours. The prettiest little towns that look like they are straight out of an Astrid Lindgren fairytale (in case you’re like WHO? … she’s the famous Swedish author of Pippi Longstocking).

Over the past few weeks, I have spent my weekends exploring the Skåne region, which is the southernmost Swedish county that Malmö resides in. And it’s safe to say I’ve seen some of the prettiest landscapes since I moved to Sweden.


Here are some of my favourite autumn in Skåne photos.


ARILD

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was walking around a movie set in Arild. It is so charming, that Travel & Leisure named this quaint fishing village it one of their “Top 25 Secret European Villages.” And for good reason – just look at how perfect it is.

Can’t Miss: If you’re in Arild, make sure to make a pitstop at Flickorna Lundgren. This spot is located in the countryside outside of Arild and was named Sweden’s best fika by Vogue. Here, you’ll be served their famous sweets and coffee while you sit in the most perfect garden setting. However, keep in mind that this spot typically closes for the season at the end of September, so make sure you check out their opening hours on their website.

After fika, don’t forget to head into the town of Arild to roam around the narrow cobblestone streets and admire the cutest little houses.


MÖLLE

Another picturesque fishing village, Mölle is a popular summer destination for both locals and Europeans, but it quiets down in the autumn months. This makes it the perfect time to visit, when you can enjoy the crisp fall weather without any crowds.


HÖGANÄS

Höganäs is home to Sweden’s famous BBQ spot: Holy Smoke. Situated again in middle-of-nowhere Swedish countryside, this BBQ spot is very popular amongst locals. They serve authentic southern BBQ that will surely make you feel like you’ve been transported to the American south, in the cosiest outdoor setting. At the end of the meal, you can even sit campfire-side and roast marshmallows.

Similar to many other places in this region, Holy Smoke isn’t open all autumn. Take a look at their website for their seasonal hours.

See Also: My guide to where to eat and drink in Malmö.


ÖSTERLEN

Österlen is a region in southwest corner of Skåne, comprised of all kinds of charming country villages. One Saturday during autumn in Skåne, we took a little trip around Österlen. We didn’t really have an itinerary, and we stumbled across some of the coolest sights.

First, was this Österlenchocklad, a little chocolate factory located in the middle of one of Österlen’s small towns. As we were driving by, we noticed the sign and made a split second decision to pull into the parking lot. And let’s just say, I am so happy we did because in this little award-winning chocolate shop, I had the best hot chocolate of my life (and lots of tasty chocolate, too!).

Österlenchocklad: The best chocolate store in Skane

Another stumble-upon location we made a quick decision to pull into was Kronovall Castle. This spot was tucked into the woods, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It featured the most beautiful castle, including acres of grounds with hiking trails and historic buildings, like a blacksmiths shop! And with the leaves being the perfect shade of orange, this place was purely magical.


KIVIK

Kivik, the famous apple region of Skåne, is home to acres and acres of apple orchards. The most famous spple orchard is Kiviksmusteri. Kiviksmusteri produces all kinds of different apple juice and cider, and other apple goods. We loved roaming around the groups, visiting the apple trees, and taking home lots of apple goodies.


SIMRISHAMN

Simrishamn is another community in Österlen. It is located on the water and home to the most beautiful beach (with sand that a really unique shade of orange). The town itself is charming and quaint, with zig-zagging cobblestone alleyways lined with beautiful historical homes.

My only regret is that we didn’t come here in the summer to take a dip at the beautiful beach.


MALMÖ

If you haven’t caught on yet, I love living in Malmö. And Malmö during the autumn season is no exception. As the colours of the seasons continue to change, I find myself non-stop snapping pictures. And can you blame me?

See Also: My full guide to Malmö Sweden.


I told you that autumn in Skåne is beautiful. I’m feeling pretty darn thankful to be living in this picturesque county, where these quaint towns and incredible views are only a short drive away.

Travelling the world is wonderful. But with all these special spots in my very own backyard, I’m feeling really content with staying home for a while. And with so much more to discover, stay tuned for more Swedish road trips coming at ya soon!


LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT BELOW.

And if you’re living in, or visiting, Skåne, make sure you check out my Malmö Sweden City Guide.

2 comments
1 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinEmail
How to spend 24 hours in Ghent

It’s no secret I love Belgium. After spending three days in Bruges and Brussels in 2015, there was no doubt in my mind I’d be back. I’d heard a lot about Ghent. Specifically, that Ghent is really cool. That it’s filled old historic buildings, beautiful canals, tons of cutesy shops, and a fantastic culinary scene (including the most unreal “loaded” fries – but more on that later). After spending 24 hours in Ghent, I can honestly say that I love this city and am convinced that it is one of Europe’s most underrated hidden gems (and Antwerp too – more on that here).

So why haven’t you heard of this charming little city? Often overshadowed by Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp, Ghent should not be missed on your Belgian itinerary.

In this 24 hours in Ghent guide, I’m going to tell you exactly why I love this city. And why I would EVEN urge you to consider it as an alternative to the popular (and very touristy) fairytale town of Bruges (otherwise affectionally known as Europe’s “northern Venice.”). Although, if you have time for both, you should absolutely still visit Bruges.

See Also: Falling for fall in Amsterdam; An off-the-beaten path guide to one of my favourite European cities.

Graslei Ghent

HERE’S HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR 24 HOURS IN GHENT


VISIT GRAVENSTEEN

Also known as Castle of the Counts, Gravensteen is an iconic castle located in the centre of Ghent’s old town. You can visit this castle to learn about it’s very interesting past, or simply admire the structure from outside. No matter which you choose, this spot is a must-see in Bruges.

TAKE A STROLL DOWN WERREGARENSTRAAT (THE GRAFFITI STREET)

Ghent is a city bursting at the seams with creativity, and is filled with all kinds of incredible street art. The most famous is Werregarenstraat, a narrow alleyway that has been covered head-to-toe in graffiti.

INDULGE IN ALLLL THE BELGIAN FOOD

Beer, fries, chocolate and waffles – Belgium is the land of tasty treats. So, when visiting Ghent, forget the calories and indulge. It’s not everyday that you’re in Belgium, after all (and think goodness I’m not, or else I would surely weigh about 50 pounds more than I do).

Don’t forget to add Cuberdon to your list of foods to try. This is a cone shaped jelly candy that is native to Belgium. You’ll see street vendors selling them all over Ghent.

Cuberdon in Ghent

WALK ACROSS ST. MICHAEL’S BRIDGE (ST. MICHIELSHELLING)

St Michael’s Bridge connects both sides of the canal in central Ghent and is the perfect place to take in in the views and admire Ghent’s stunning old town charm.

Views from St. Michael's Bridge in Ghent

ADMIRE GRASLEI & KORENLEI

For the most recognizable views of Ghent, walk along the water and admire the facades of the Graslei and Korenlei.

GO SHOPPING IN PADERSHOL

This quaint neighbourhood is home to tons of cafes and shops, set in the most charming little buildings. I particularly loved how many shops sold goods made by local artists, fully embracing Ghent’s booming creative scene.


WHERE TO EAT IN GHENT


THE BEST MARKET IN GHENT

Holy Food Market is the coolest spot to grab lunch in Ghent. Operating inside an old converted church, Holy Food Market offers a huge selection of food and a really cool atmosphere.

Holy Food Market in Ghent

THE BEST FRENCH FRIES IN GHENT

If you’re looking for the best fries in Ghent, you must visit Frites Atelier. This popular spot serves french fries with all kinds of toppings. If you’re feeling daring, trying the Indo Peanut fries (that come topped with peanut sauce). I promise, it is SO MUCH better than it sounds.

Fries at Frites Atelier Ghent

THE BEST CHOCOLATE IN GHENT

If you’re looking to bring home a chocolate souvenir, you can find Leonidas chocolate shops all over Ghent (and Belgium in general). They have a variety of flavours to choose from, and offer their chocolates are a much more affordable price than many of the other chocolatiers.

THE BEST COCKTAIL BAR IN GHENT

Despite the name, which makes me feel mildly uncomfortable when I say it out loud, I loved Jigger’s cocktail bar. I know Belgium is the land of beer, but I promise this cocktail bar is worth checking out while you’re in town.


WHERE TO STAY IN GHENT: THE HOUSE OF EDWARD


The House of Edward is an easy choice if you’re looking for a place to rest your head in Ghent. We stayed in the Deluxe Queen room which was spacious, clean, and so incredibly cute. Located inside a renovated 18th century building, the rooms are an incredible value for your money, especially considering it is located right in the heart of Ghent.


OKAY, NOW YOU’RE READY TO SPEND 24 HOURS IN GHENT

Or more if you can swing it, because I really have just scratched the surface of everything there is to do. And while you’re adventuring through Belgium, don’t forget to check out Antwerp (you can find my 24 Hours in Antwerp guide here).


LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT BELOW.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinEmail

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More