Photo: Kim Wyon/visitdenmark
Photo: Kim Wyon/visitdenmark


The SAS purser who’ll be your guide to Copenhagen

Tanja Smed is a purser and her job at SAS has taken her all over the world for almost 19 years now. When she’s not flying, she moonlights as a tour guide in her hometown of Copenhagen.

Tanja Smed 

Age:  48
Lives: Islands Brygge, Copenhagen
Family: partner, two children
SAS career: started out as a flight attendant in 1998 – became a purser in 2014

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During her first 12 years working for SAS, Tanja Smed flew on international flights to Chicago, Seattle, Washington and New York or eastward to Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing or Bangkok.

“There was a time when I flew to Seattle and back seven times in the space of two months,” Smed says with a smile. “With a nine-hour time difference, that’s pretty tough in terms of jet lag. Although I didn’t actually notice that until afterward. Flying is a way of life and I never feel that I’m going out to work. I’m just going off to fly.”

Flying is a way of life and I never feel that I’m going out to work. I’m just going off to fly.”

Today she flies full time in Scandinavia and Europe and has also become a tour guide at Copenhagen this Way, which she founded in March 2016 with colleagues Mette Thornval and Sara Sejergaard.

“We met at tourist-guide training at Roskilde University and found we shared a passion for detail and communicating in an accessible way,” Smed says. “Being a guide was also highly compatible with things I had previously done in terms of service-mindedness, having contact with lots of different people and using different languages.”

Copenhagen this Way provides guided tours to the development of the city and society in Danish, English and Swedish. They have historical tours about kings, cathedrals and Vikings, the history of science and colonial Copenhagen, as well as tours that focus on the latest urban trends, food, design, architecture and green living. 

Seaside. Photo: Kim Wyon

“We each have our specialties and interests and we place equal emphasis on the traditional and on cool Copenhagen,” Smed says. “What we all have in common is that we love to delve into the material and seek out the anecdotes and the rich details, so that our tours have substance and also allow everyone to be involved.” 

She herself loves to guide people around the new districts, such as Nordhavn, Sluseholmen and Ørestad, and she’s excited about how the harbor development has brought the city together and created new urban spaces.

“I’m very interested in what sustainability and green solutions have meant for the ‘livability’ that Copenhagen has become known for,” Smed says. 

Photo: Kim Wyon

Smed is also fond of traditional Copenhagen and Copenhagen this Way’s big hit, Take a Quiz, which focuses on the city center and the Latin Quarter, Slotsholmen and Holmen.

“When we do a quiz, we engage the audience on another level,” Smed says. “We always get a really great response and people feel they are seeing the city in a completely different light.” 


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