What comes next, Copenhagen?


writer icon Signe Hammeleff     ISB   |   City     🕐 11. May. 2018

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark has a rich and lengthy history, and is known internationally for its welfare system and hygge. 

Yet, it is a city in permanent development. It seems like Copenhagen has always moved slowly and steadily forward. So much so, that The Telegraph gave Copenhagen 22nd place out of the 50 greatest cities in the world in 2017. That is impressive for a small country of around 5,5 million people. What is next for Copenhagen, and is it possible for the city to rank higher on the list this year? 

Spirited and relaxed
According to Forbes, the top reasons to visit Copenhagen include gastronomic restaurant Noma, the freedom to bicycle all over the city, and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Noma, in particular, has been praised since its opening in 2008, with its menu described as “A universe in its own” by GQ. These cultural trademarks, combined with the spirited and relaxed attitude Danes are known for, make Copenhagen a magnet to tourists and students alike.

As the world has become more accessible, so has Copenhagen. Attracting tourists and foreign students has become a focal point for many countries, and Denmark is no exception. In many ways, a capital city is never just a capital, but also the face of the country. The reputation of the capital city reflects on the rest of the country as a whole.

International reputation

Forbes ranked Copenhagen as having the second-best reputation in the world in 2017, describing “A direct link between a city’s reputation and people’s willingness to visit, work and live there.” 

Copenhagen has a good reputation, but is it really attractive to visit or live in Copenhagen? According to Christian Hilligsøe Heinig, around 11 000 people are moving to Copenhagen each year. Most of these newcomers are students, or people aged 25-39 years. The numbers also suggest that families with children are more likely to move away from the capital.

This could have something to do with the high prices in the city. The average Danish student receives approximately €800 each month to live on, thanks to the welfare state. In 2016 a two-roomed apartment in Copenhagen cost around €1 450 to rent, according to Finans. That cost is 51% higher than in 2010, where the price was closer to €950. The numbers reflect the popularity and development of Copenhagen the last couple of years. However, in comparison with other capitals, such as London, Paris, and New York, the price for a condominium is low

There are plenty of possibilities to shop cheaply when grocery shopping in Copenhagen. Budget shops and different charity shops are making the material part of Copenhagen affordable. In terms of monetary cost, it is expensive but manageable to live in Copenhagen. 

Copenhagen's inhabitants

What about the people? Danes, and especially local inhabitants of Copenhagen, are known for being free-spirited. This is best demonstrated by Christiania, a “free-town” district in Copenhagen. World famous for its independent society and bohemian lifestyle, it gathers people together and creates an environment for everybody. 

Study in Denmark described the Danish approach, “Danish children are encouraged to express their opinions and are generally informed about adult subjects when they are old enough to ask about them.” This may be one of the reasons why it is very un-Danish to be closed-minded towards others who are not like yourself. There is very little fear of discrimination in Copenhagen.

The national treasure, hygge, is best translated into cosy. It is something that Danes cultivate and care about. If you ask a Dane about hygge you will most likely get a description of the country being a cold, Nordic place that is lit with candles and has a special atmosphere.

Hygge is also connected with a persistent attempt to be “green”. It appears that modern restaurant Noma, with its Nordic concept, has become something of a model for the ecological food trend that has influenced the food of the city for the past couple of years.

Heaven for cyclists

A look through Copenhagen’s official homepage brings up three pages purely on bicycling around in Copenhagen. There are more than 450 km of bicycle lanes in the city. This is growing year by year, as the bicycle becomes the more popular, natural choice for Copenhagen locals. The focus on a green city is a main point of interest when city rankings are made, and locals take pride in Copenhagen being known as a bicycle-city around the world.

Whilst the social aspect of Copenhagen is laid back, hygge and green, the cultural aspect is an old, lengthy story about the democracy which Denmark is famous for. From this history, the welfare state together with the Danish attitude has arisen.

Where Berlin has musicians and avant-garde artists, Paris has beautiful architecture and classic fashion, and London is the home of business, punk and multiculturalism, Copenhagen is more known for innovation, and building something new. Something that will reflect the times we live in, and at the same time preserve the history of the city.

What next for Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is very attractive to young people with no children, who are financially secure. This gives the city a very young vibe, where the interests lie in music, art and good food. Some might argue that this demographic gives an economic boost to Copenhagen. This is because they only have to take care of themselves, leaving more money to invest back into the city. Yet, Copenhagen can end up being everything, because Danes are not bound by tradition or history in the same way as many other cultures and cities can seem to be, despite having a rich tradition and history of their own.

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