Copenhagen, probably the best city in the world

For many it conjures up little more than beer and Lego, but Copenhagen has been crowned the best city in the world in a survey of global urban treasures.

The Danish capital was awarded top spot for its quality of life and status as a cutting-edge design centre, said the authors of the report, which looked at factors from the ease of buying a good glass of wine at 1am to the quality of architecture and the number of cinema screens.

Researchers at the London-based lifestyle magazine Monocle praised the city's compact planning, its "frictionless" transport system and infrastructure, as well as its contemporary buildings, top-notch restaurants and renewed focus on environmental issues. The last characteristic was crucial in Copenhagen's promotion from second place in last year's standings to first place in 2008, they said.

"As the planet becomes an increasingly urban place, delivering these life-improving essentials to cities big and small is proving more than a challenge. Radical environmental initiatives that pull cars off streets can do wonders, but can also kill off passing trade," said Tyler Brule, Monocle's editor-in-chief.

"New developments, designed to attract investment, can not only boost local fortunes but also drive out all those people that made the city interesting in the first place."

In a further accolade, Copenhagen was proclaimed the design capital of the world, with researchers hailing the return of a buzzing scene which had not seen such creativity since its heyday in the 1950s and 60s.

Cities usually considered big-hitters were notable in their absence. Neither New York nor London – which was lambasted by philosopher and writer Alain de Botton for its "bland" developments – made it into the 20 featured locations. To be thus neglected by Monocle magazine, which since it was set up 18 months ago by the Wallpaper* founder Mr Brûlé, has established itself as the observer of things cool and contemporary, will come as a shock to both cities.

Other locations that fared better in the survey included Munich and Tokyo, which came second and third respectively.

Paris won the award for best global city, crediting its maverick mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, with having ushered in a new era of free-thinking in the form of innovative initiatives such as the bike-sharing Vélib scheme. President Nicolas Sarkozy was also praised for having revived the city's reputation as an international political centre.

For fledgling entrepreneurs, Madrid was named best business city after shaking off its reputation for bureaucracy. The survey said the Spanish capital was now free from the red tape which once plagued it, and its relaxed working hours make it a fun place to work.

Researchers advised the more artistic traveller, meanwhile, to head to Berlin, which they labelled the world's best for culture.

The German capital's art galleries have made it an "unparalleled" cultural hub, the magazine said, adding that cheap studio space and a 24-hour scene were attracting artists and designers from around the globe.

The winners: Best cities for quality of life
1 Copenhagen
2 Munich
3 Tokyo
4 Zürich
5 Helsinki
6 Vienna
7 Stockholm
8 Vancouver
9 Melbourne
10 Paris
11 Sydney
12 Honolulu
13 Madrid
14 Berlin
15 Barcelona
16 Montreal
17 Fukuoka
18 Amsterdam
19 Minneapolis
20 Kyoto
*Best global city : Paris
*Best business city: Madrid
*Best cultural city: Berlin
*Best design city: Copenhagen
*Best retail city: Fukuoka

'Stroll' through history – without the fumes

By Simon Calder, Senior Travel Editor

Scale: that is the secret of Copenhagen. The Danish capital has sufficient critical mass to power a thriving cultural scene from sculpture to jazz. It is big enough to embrace all the benefits of diversity.

Yet, as the principal city of a scattered archipelago that (often) shivers in the Baltic breeze, Copenhagen maintains a human scale. This becomes most evident as you walk along Stroget, the main civic drag (whose name is agreeably pronounced "stroll"). While the Champs-Elysées, Oxford Street and Fifth Avenue are choked with traffic, Copenhagen's principal artery has been pedestrianised for decades – boasting the longest car-free thoroughfare of any European city.

Liberated from traffic, the pedestrian is free to appreciate the cultural variety of the city through the centuries. The architecture is sometimes shocking in the best sense, but much of the civic history is preserved – such as the 17th-century Round Tower (still a functioning observatory), and a waterfront that has grown from mercantile hub to a locale for civilised indulgence.

The water lends the city a certain serenity, but don't be fooled – it remains at the cutting edge of art, music and design. Copenhagen is also the home of, probably, the most philanthropic lager in the world. The profits from Carlsberg beer are expended on a wide range of good causes, including the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek: a beautiful sculpture gallery that also holds a fine Gauguin collection, and a glass-domed winter garden. Here, you can buy a Carlsberg and toast your good fortune at finding a city so acutely in tune with humanity.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried