The Secret To Happiness – AKA Hygge in Copenhagen

Raise your hands. How many have heard of the Danish word Hygge? Oh wonderful! Almost all of you! There certainly has been a lot of press about it in recent years.

Next, how many know how to pronounce it? Ahhh… this is where Americans fall sadly short, I’m afraid. Give us a word with an unusual configuration of letters in a foreign language and I daresay that at least 90% of us are embarrassingly bad.

Well, in our defense, it is not at all intuitive in phonetic English.

The pronunciation is “HUE-gah.” And, with the emphasis strongly on the first syllable, as spoken by our beautiful, charming Danish guide Anya Jensen. Not only is she an expert on all things Danish, she’s an author, blogger, photographer, entrepreneur and mother to two darling “tween” daughters who we got to spend some time with too, while in Copenhagen.

Please check out Anya’s lovely instagram page and follow her and you can check out her website and blog as well, from there.

What is the meaning of hygge?

Well, I’ve seen synonyms as being cosy and happy. Sure. But, I think that the closest English word is “bliss.” But maybe more intimate. Warm. Content. Inspired.

It’s being content with what you have.

I remember sometimes having that feeling when going for a walk in the woods with my boys when they were (relatively) small and my wasband. They would be skipping along, gathering sticks and rocks, the sun would be softly filtered through the trees. And then, either my husband or I would utter these words. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Hygge is also quality-time, or Q-time, as we say. But it can also be quality time with oneself.


I think what it boils down to is that hygge in Copenhagen, in the woods, on a beach, in front of a lovely fire in the fireplace. Or, sipping a cup of tea while reading a great book (or blog) ;] is the very essence of what I believe is at the root of all happiness.



There is no “if only.” There is no worry, regret, envy or wanting for anything more because everything is perfect as is.

And what if everything ISN’T perfect as is? That’s okay, too because the goal is to achieve hygge. Of course, there will be disappointment, heartache, pain, loss and a host of other things we wish we didn’t have to have.

But, how would we ever appreciate the hygge moments in life if we didn’t have the other? Hopefully far more of our lives are filled with hygge moments than the bitter pill to swallow.

In any case, I imagine that the Danish take a lot less pills than we Americans do. Here, we have a pill for everything. Right?


So, tell us about the hygge in Copenhagen, Laurel. What did you do? Where did you go? What did you eat?


Thanks for asking. ;] Today, I’m going to cover the remaining three days in Copenhagen.

Sorry, eight hours later and not wanting to exceed 30 photos, that is not happening. This is only day three. Days four and five I should be able to consolidate. But, this over-all was probably my favorite day of the trip and you’re going to find out why. And it’s not that the others were bad. Far from it!

If you missed or wish to reread the other two posts about the first day and the second day, you can find them on those links.


Day three which was really the official day two of our Copenhagen Design Retreat. (follow #designtrailcph)


The day began with breakfast in the hotel and then we departed by cab to CPH Cooking Class. There, we learned how to make a Danish classic for lunch called Smørrebrød. Translated, that means “open-faced sandwich.”

But, the bread isn’t just any old sandwich bread. It’s a delicious, hearty Danish Rye-bread that you’re going to see in a minute.

We walked into a room that exuded everything I think of when I think of Scandinavian design.


Elegance and simplicity.  I think that’s part of Hygge too. Paring down; not having a lot of as Done and Done says “too much sh*t.”


CPH Cooking Class - Definitely Hygge in CopenhagenOn the opposite end of the room was a Gustavian style cabinet. It is a beautiful blend of old and new which I now see is a constant theme in Copenhagen. But don’t you just love that plant wall? What a great idea for a big blank wall instead of the customary art gallery wall!

CPH Cooking Class - kitchen-Definitely Hygge in Copenhagen

We were offered some coffee and then escorted into the professional kitchen.  Now, that is a cook’s kitchen. AND an unkitchen too!

We had no time to waste and a pretty, young woman, named Viola introduced herself as the head chef. She was our teacher. And yes, her English is as perfect as can be.

Viola - head chef - CPH cooking class - seeking hygge in CopenhagenHere, Viola is demonstrating a chip that’s actually made from potato flour, she said.

After an efficient but thorough demonstration, we divided up into teams and got to work making three different types of Smørrebrød.

I went with the fish because I’m not big on steak tartare.

mayonnaise duty - Donna - CPH Cooking Class - Definitely Hygge in Copenhagen

Donna and I were on mayonnaise-duty and here you can see Donna going to town and doing a great job while I added small amounts of oil. (and photographed her working hard.) haha She probably would’ve whisked the entire time, but gave me a turn after a while.


Then, after more instruction, we put the sandwiches together.

CPH Cooking Class - Making - Smørrebrød-Definitely Hygge in CopenhagenOurs was a pickled fish Smørrebrød. It begins with buttered Danish rye-bread like you see above. Then the fish, mustard and I forgot what the leaf is. And I forgot what the third Smørrebrød was. But, they were all delicious. I didn’t eat the steak tartare.

CPH Cooking Class - Making - Smørrebrød-lunch-Definitely Hygge in CopenhagenAll finished, the three open-faced sandwiches ready for us to chow down.

I admit, I was feeling a little tired, but after a yummy ginger beer and the Smørrebrød was feeling pretty fabulous.

Manhole covers - seeking hygge in Copenhagen - greek key

I was so happy to see a manhole cover as I saw dozens of these and I wanted to be sure to get a good pic for you.  As y’all know I love a Greek Key design.

And interesting that there’s a star of David. I’m sure that it has some other significance as most of the country is Lutheran, we were told.


After the class, about four or five of us decided to go on a boat cruise around the city. Copenhagen, if you don’t know is on an island; well, at least part of the city is.


And, actually it was probably my favorite part of the trip. The cool, salty-air felt rejuvenating.

I think that might also be hygge in Copenhagen. Well, let’s just say that it is.

Me - locks bridge-Nyhavn - waterfront - colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagen

Before we got on the boat, we all posed for pics in front of the iconic colorful buildings on the waterway surrounding Copenhagen. I guess they call this “lock bridge?” Ugh, why am I standing so that it looks like my head is attached to a long pole? Laurel on a stick? haha

canaltour-kort2017 -hygge in copenhagen

Above is a map of the Canal Tour boat trip.

I definitely recommend doing this while in Copenhagen!

Nyhavn - waterfront - colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagen

This area known as Nyhavn, was originally a port for large ships. But now, it’s a port for the well-heeled and their lovely yachts and sail boats.

Nyhavn - waterfront - iconic colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenh

I get dibs on the white one on the end!

Nyhavn - waterfront - colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagen- no railing - no wall
Notice anything unusual?






Is this also a part of Hygge in Copenhagen?


Come to think of it, I didn’t see many children and I definitely didn’t see any children like my children were. The ones I did see were safely installed inside strollers. My children would’ve definitely fallen in the water. That is unless, I had them on a tight leash. The older one would’ve tried to leap from one side of the canal to the other and probably would’ve made it. haha.

Yes, this one.


We had a lovely young, Danish guide on our boat. She had her spiel down in perfect English and of course, also in Danish.

So, let me take you on the cruise around Copenhagen.

Nyhavn - waterfront - iconic colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenh
Nyhavn - waterfront -yellow house-boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagen

We were really moving along, so the photo taking was extra challenging. But, I love how this image turned out with just a little of the big red boat showing. Remember the post that discusses Monticello Yellow? This house is reminding me of that.

I’m so glad that we had a gray day because the color gray off-sets the colors so beautifully, I think.

Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - those doors-boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagen

Not all houses are super bright. But I love this house (or maybe more than one house) and especially the beautiful turquoise front doors with the transoms.


Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - lucky shot -boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagenThis is my favorite photo of everything I took. It doesn’t look quite real, but yes, it definitely is.

 bridge -seeking hygge in copenhagen
We saw some of the same sights, but now from a different perspective. To the right is Christiansborg Castle that we saw in the last two posts.

Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - low bridge-seeking hygge in copenhagen

And please don’t stand up just now, because we’re about to go under a very low bridge.

Our guide was very careful to remind us because some of the clearances were VERY tight.

Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - low bridge- head down-seeking hygge in copenhagenOh dear. This poor guy forgot to duck. ;] I have no idea what’s on his tongue.

red building-Nyhavn - waterfront - colorful houses - boat tour seeking hygge in copenhagenOh, I just love this coral-red house with creamy white trim! Very hygge, if you ask me!


Normally, I would’ve cropped out most of the grungy wall and the tires.


But, I’ve included it because this must be what parents throw to their kids when they fall into the water? Right? ;]

Even the fence above? Can you imagine that here? No way! Why, you could practically drive a truck through those openings. The lawyers would be parked across the street just waiting for a case.


If any Danish people are reading. I hope that you know that I’m only making a commentary about this one glaring difference in our cultures; at least, as it appears to me.

Quite frankly, I do think that many of our laws are over-the-top. But, on the whole, Americans are a neurotic, frenetic worrisome lot. I think that we can learn a lot from the Danish about gracious, easier living. The hygge life!

Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - Christiansborg Palace tower-seeking hygge in copenhagen

Here’s another view of the Christiansborg Palace tower that we saw on day one.


Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - the old stock exchange - cool tower-seeking hygge in copenhagen
Further down the canal is the most interesting building with the twisted dragons tail tower and wonderful copper roof. It is the old stock exchange. I don’t know what it is now. Maybe condos, or something? That would be cool!

Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - old stock exchange - cool tower-seeking ring- seekinghygge in copenhagen.jpg

And there’s the building with the ring. That means that we are near our hotel, at this point.

Nyhavn - waterfront - boat tour - those doors-boat tour - the little mermaid - photographers-seeking hygge in copenhagen

We also passed the famous Little Mermaid Statue. The boat slowed down here a lot.

I mean, can’t see her from the front, but from our vantage point, I found it far more interesting to photograph the people photographing her! I bet I’m not the only one that thinks that.

After our boat ride, we all decided to head over to Jægersborggade for a total Hygge in Copenhagen experience. Well, it was for me!

I believe that’s pronounced like Yager.

It’s a street in a lovely part of town that has charming boutique shops.

I was surprised at how empty it was. I’m sure on the weekends, it’s a different story.

While the other ladies were more interested in clothing and jewelry. Laurel was far more interested in this lovely little bakery. :]


Meyers Bageri. I guess bageri is the Danish word for bakery?

Well, we all went in and got something. And I’m sorry, this is not my pic and I don’t know whose it is. But it’s an awfully nice one. We sat down at these tables and chairs.

Meyers Bageri - delicious - Danish pastries-Jægersborggade - must visit - seeking hygge in CopenhagenSee that one on the bottom left. It’s a pastry, just like our American “Danish” only better and filled with vanilla custard. That’s the one I got, but forgot to take a photo of it!

But, seriously? It was about the richest most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten and alone, worth the trip to Copenhagen. haha.  I ate half and saved the rest for the next morning. We had an early start, so I ate in my room to save time. Morning is not my best time of day.

Jægersborggade - must visit - Karamelleriet - seeking hygge in CopenhagenThen, as I was walking by another shop, I couldn’t help but notice this man wrangling with what looked like a cross between a seal and a boa constrictor.

Of course, I had to walk in! And I almost lost my girlfriends, mesmerized as I was by the goings on in this charming little candy factory.

This is the lovely Karamelleriet shop and my timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Jægersborggade - must visit - Karamelleriet - caramels - seeking hygge in Copenhagen
Within five minutes, the caramel looked like this. This is obviously chocolate caramel. They have several flavors.

Jægersborggade - must visit - Karamelleriet -wrapped caramels - seeking hygge in CopenhagenThe snake gets fed into this machine that cuts up the candy into bite-sized pieces AND wraps it and spits it out quite rapidly. This is about one minute’s worth.+/- I bought two boxes of caramels to take home and am enjoying them.

Well, I’ve probably made you good and hungry now! Or at least hungry for some hygge, Copenhagen style!

There’s more to come!



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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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