Why Did Copenhagen Win Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey?

Photo of Copenhagen from above

A regular fixture at the top of liveable city indexes, Copenhagen once again flexed its muscles in this area by topping the 2021 Monocle Quality of Life Survey. 

The Danish capital is a source of inspiration for many cities around the world. And it’s not hard to see why because it does so many things right – urban development, innovation, and inclusion, to name three. 

If you’ve found yourself asking: “Why is Copenhagen so liveable?”, you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, let’s take a look at contributors to Copenhagen scoring high in yet another quality of life index. 

Which Cities Topped Monocle’s Survey?

After table-topping Copenhagen, the top five in Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey consisted of the following: 

  • Zürich, Switzerland;
  • Helsinki, Finland;
  • Stockholm, Sweden;
  • Tokyo, Japan. 

The 2021 Monocle Quality of Life Survey was the first in two years, with last year’s edition cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now you know which cities joined Copenhagen near the top of the list, let’s dive into what makes Denmark’s largest urban area stand out.

A City Built for People

When you visit Copenhagen, you’ll discover almost instantly that this is a city that prioritises people. 

Apart from perhaps Amsterdam, you won’t find a more bicycle-friendly capital in Europe. Yes, you can own a car – but beyond the fact that doing so is expensive, driving is a needless hassle. 

Read More: Things You Must Not Do When Cycling in Copenhagen

Within Copenhagen, you’ll also find an abundance of green spaces. As for the water, it’s so clean in the harbour that you can go swimming without any worries. 

The Danish capital’s inclusivity isn’t limited to its infrastructure, either. Like other cities in Scandinavia, Copenhagen is well-known for being one of the most LGBT-friendly places on the planet. 

Copenhagen also scores very high for racial tolerance on Nomadlist.


Every time I look back on my first-ever trip here, I can’t help but laugh at how eager I was to get home before it got dark. Copenhagen is one of the safest capital cities in the world. 

Obviously, crime happens here – just like it does everywhere. But for the most part, both men and women can walk around without feeling threatened – both during the day and at night. 

Crime levels aside, Copenhagen is also at low risk from natural disasters and does well when it comes to traffic and bicycle safety. 


Copenhagen has huge ambitions when it comes to looking after the planet. By 2025, the city aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital

The city’s water taxis run on electricity rather than fossil fuels, and buses in Copenhagen are moving in the same direction. 

When it comes to urban regeneration, you don’t need to look far for sustainable examples. CopenHill, a ski slope built on top of a waste-to-energy plant, is probably the best in this respect.

The new neighbourhood Nordhavn is another, as are Sydhavnen and Sluseholmen in the southwest of the city. 

An Emphasis on the Collective 

Denmark is a country where cooperation is more important than competition, and its capital city is no different. Copenhagen does a pretty good job at mixing people of varying income levels when it comes to neighbourhoods, and the locals spend a lot of time with friends and family.

For me, I found London far too big to live in. Even though I had an okay social network, I also felt atomised – and like everyone else was my competition. Copenhagen, on the other hand, feels like a genuine community. People here look out for each other, and you are never more important than your neighbour.

Cultural Experiences 

Besides everything listed above, the simple matter is that Copenhagen has an extraordinary number of cultural experiences for a city of its size. You’ll find plenty of fascinating museums and galleries and enough restaurants and bars to keep you satisfied for years. 

The Danish capital is an excellent place to visit for these reasons and more, and having so much fun on your doorstep undoubtedly adds to overall life satisfaction. And when I say on your doorstep, I mean within a 20-minute bike ride and not half an hour or more on slow, overpriced public transport.

Copenhagen: Liveable and Loveable

Seeing Copenhagen top the Monocle Quality of Life Survey for the fourth time isn’t surprising whatsoever. This is a city that makes you think: “Rest of the world, take note”. 

I’m proud to call Denmark’s largest city my home, and many other people who live here reciprocate that feeling. Copenhagen makes you feel a sense of belonging, whether you’re moving here permanently or just stopping by for a weekend trip. 

Yes, the cost of living is high. And yes, the winters are long, cold, and dark. But when you live somewhere that you’re prioritised as a human being and a place where city planners actively look to improve your quality of life, who cares? 

Published by Danny Maiorca

Danny is a freelance writer living in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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