Finding Hygge in Copenhagen



This post was contributed by Nicole Prefontaine.

The Danish term “Hygge” is surely familiar to many, but if you’ve never heard it before, it is used to describe a feeling or a moment that is spent either alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special. Well, at least that’s how Google describes it. But let me tell you this, it’s 100% true. In spite of the Shut Up and Go mentally of packing up your bags and spontaneously going to a new city, my trip to Denmark had been meticulously planned months in advance. Flashback to me in my bedroom attempting to learn Danish on Duo-lingo to only be able to say, “I am reading a newspaper” after weeks of practicing. Which by the way is “jeg læser en avis,” in case you were wondering.


I wasn’t only going to Copenhagen for pure enjoyment, I was heading there because I was invited to the Royal Danish Ballet two week summer intensive. It was a great way to combine two of the things I love doing most – dancing and travelling.

As I soon found out after arriving in the city, Copenhagen is HOT during the summer. There is no relief from the humid air. It’s not like in North America where you can casually walk into a Starbucks for a few minutes and take advantage of the air conditioning before continuing on your way.

No, it’s boiling every second of the day.

Despite that, I was deeply falling in love with my dance classes and things were going well inside the non-air conditioned walls of the historic school.

I had just finished my classes for the day, I was sweaty, tired and hungry. On my walk back home I stumbled upon a few things. One of them being the uneven cobblestones and the other was a tiny pizza place with an inviting smell which I can only assume was coming from the wood-fired oven producing delicious pizzas.

When I went inside I spotted a sign, surprisingly it was in English. It said, “cash only.” This was perfect because I only had cash. I ordered a Margherita pizza which was 52 krone. What a deal! If you’ve ever been to Copenhagen you’d know that everything there is ridiculously expensive. So with my $10 pizza, I happily walked to the canal.

Apparently, I was not the only one who thought that it would be a good idea to eat by the water. My solo dinner turned into a rather large gathering of tourists and locals.

Next to me on the dock, there were a couple of tall, blonde Danish boys. One after another they were jumping into the water. They continued on like that until my last slice of pizza was devoured.


I had a sudden urge to mimic them, they looked like they were having fun. Why not?

I took the risk to bravely leave my bag which had the keys to my Airbnb, my passport and my wallet on the dock hoping it would still be there when I came back (thank goodness it was).

I walked up to the edge and looked down at the water, I held my breath, and with my T-shirt and shorts on, I jumped in. The cold water hit my body as I ascended and it felt so good. It was the freshness I had been craving since I arrived here. Not to mention that it also felt amazing on my sore muscles. I climbed the barnacle-covered ladder back up to the dock and I jumped in again. This time I just stayed there treading water, I felt the warm sun beating down on my exposed skin without a care in the world. I may have cried a little at that moment thinking about just how perfect everything seemed to be.

Or maybe it was just the saltiness of the Nordic sea on my face that I thought were tears? I may never have the answer to that question, but that exact moment was when I experienced the true meaning of Hygge.

Meet Nicole: I’m a 20-year-old Canadian globe trotting ballet dancer. I love travelling to new places to experience the universal language of dance.  Living the most out of on my one wild and precious life by snapping pics of moments I encounter along the way. Follow those moments on my IG.

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