Denmark, home to Hans Christian Andersen and all those friendly, tall—and it must be said—great Danes, was recently proclaimed the happiest place on earth. In a number of population studies, pollsters asked residents to rate their level of happiness and other factors, and it seems the Danes have a real twist for felicity.
All this happiness, in spite of high taxes and hefty price tags? After all, according to the Big Mac Index, a Happy Meal must cost at least $5 in Copenhagen! Yet we agree: Denmark is a happy (and happening) place!
Here are five of our favorite and free ways to boost your serotonin in Copenhagen:
1) Get cultured
In 2006, the National Museum and the Statens Museum of Kunst became free to the public. And, every Wednesday, a number of other major museums and galleries open their doors without a charge. We suggest the Tøjhusmuseet, where the relics of the Royal Danish Arsenal are housed, and the Hirschsprungske and Ordrupgaard Collections, two museums with some of the best French and Danish art from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. For more info and to browse current exhibitions, go to the Copenhagen Tourism’s art museum page.
2) Park yourself
Copenhagen has some of the most expansive and pretty parks in Europe. Retreats like Orsteds Park, Frederiksberg Garden or Vondelpark are free to enter and stroll. Both have incredible sculptures and fountains and a host of traveling street performers. We also recommend the Botanical Gardens.
3) Get thee to church
Seriously, not only are Copenhagen’s many religious establishments architectural marvels, but they’re free to visit, and often host free concerts. Some charge a nominal fee for truly spectacular shows, like the Danish boys choir Christmas concert at the Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke), founded in 1209.
4) Grab a bike without paying
Yes, it’s that easy. You see a bike. You need a bike? You take the bike and ride it. A minimal deposit (about $3) gets returned when you bring the bike back to any number of designated spots. The promotion runs annually from May 1st to December 15th. More info can be found here.
5) See the statues
Go for a walk near the Copenhagen harbor, and spend some time gazing at the Little Mermaid. (She can’t charge you a krone to check out her scales.) Near City Hall, visit with Hans Christian Andersen. Later, walk the stone path at the Thorvaldsens museum in Slotsholmen.
Whatever you do, take lots of photos… or take brochures. After all, they’re free!