In the first of a new series of blog posts, we share our top tips for exploring the Danish capital that has frequently been named as ‘the happy capital’. One of the most environmentally-friendly cities in the world, Copenhagen is famed for its number of bicycle users, abundance of beautiful cafes, and for stunning design. Read on to discover our recommendations for a winter visit.
Copenhagen is a relatively compact city, making it easy to walk or cycle around, rather than using the comprehensive public transport system. It’s easy enough to hop on a bus or the metro, but you’ll see much more of the city if you explore on your own two feet. Just ensure that you wrap up warm to combat the frequently freezing wind. If you’re interested in design (which we’re sure you are!), you will be perfectly content admiring the architecture, snapping photos of the pristine colourful buildings and keeping your eyes peeled for some of the modernist wonders that the city has to offer.
Ensure that you spend time wandering up and down our favourite Copenhagen street, Jaegersborggade, just north of Assistens Kirkegard in Norrebro. Here you will stumble across coffee shops, exquisite bakeries, cacti emporiums and tiny boutiques selling handmade wares. You could spend hours dawdling and browsing here! If you’re craving greenery, head back to the centre via the cemetery, which masquerades as a popular city park.
Another area which is begging to be discovered is around the harbour, where you can begin by visiting the picturesque postcard scene of Nyhavn. Although we don’t recommend dining in this area (the more touristy areas are those that give Copenhagen its expensive reputation), it is a pleasure to stroll around admiring the buildings and watching the boats. Walking further along the water will reveal a selection of the city’s finest architecture, including the Royal Playhouse and the Opera House.
Christiania is a complete contrast to the futuristic new builds located around the harbour, but if you skip the dodgy areas and head straight to the lake, you can catch a glimpse of life in the alternative community. Famed for building their own homes utilising found and foraged materials (one property was recently featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces!), the residents of Christiania have created a wonderland of fascinating self-builds filled with intricate unusual details.
It can be overwhelming seeking the perfect place to eat in a city that boasts the world’s best restaurant (Noma). Copenhagen is famed for its fine dining and plays host to a number of Michelin star establishments and new Nordic menus. We recommend booking a table at Host, to fully appreciate the new Nordic cuisine at an affordable price in beautiful surroundings. The upstairs dining room is reminiscent of a conservatory in a botanical gardens, as you will find yourself surrounded by natural materials and an abundance of plants.
For a quick brunch or lunch date, head to what must surely be the most Instagrammed café in Europe, Atelier September. Housed within an old antiques shop, the small room is filled with interesting details yet maintains that classic Scandinavian minimalism. Their house special, avocado on toasted rye bread with chillies and chives, is worth walking across town to sample.
If you’re around Jaegersborggade, ensure that you visit Grod to try their world-famous porridge. This is no ordinary porridge, instead you will tantalise your taste buds with a variety of sweet and savoury flavours in a menu that caters for every meal of the day. The small cavern-like room is snug and cosy, with rustic wooden tables and striking mirrored lamp shades. Expect it to be crammed full of stylish Danes.
For something a little different, visit one of the cities food halls to experience a variety of cuisines. Torvehallerne is an indoor covered market that offers fresh fish, vegetable and bread stalls alongside ready-to-eat pizzas, cheesecakes and traditional smørrebrød (Danish open sandwiches). Alternatively, if you are seeking a younger crowd, head over to Paper Island to discover the delights of Copenhagen Street Food, a vibrant and affordable collection of street food trucks and stalls selling everything from tacos to meat platters.
The Danish concept of Hygge loosely translates as ‘feeling cosy and comfortable with good people, great food and candlelight’. Especially important during the long, dark and cold winters, Copenhagen’s drinking establishments tend to embrace this notion. Expect small and cosy interiors, candlelight and natural materials. Log Lady is one of our favourite drinking dens for escaping the cold and embracing hygge. Based around a Twin Peaks theme, the red walls, abundance of candles, tree stump stools and pictures on the wall create the impression that you’re sat in a friend’s cosy living room.
Copenhagen is famed for its coffee culture, and no visit is complete without sampling one of the best coffees in the world at Coffee Collective. Roasting their own beans, they pride themselves on exploring the taste potential of their coffee. The popular Jaegersborggade branch manages to achieve a cosy aesthetic whilst remaining stark, minimal and achingly cool.
There’s so much to see in and around Copenhagen that it is impossible to squeeze everything into just one trip. There are a couple of places however, that you should ensure that you place into your itinerary in order to witness the very best that the city has to offer.
Copenhagen is considered a design mecca by many who visit in order to experience the abundance of stylish interior design stores. If you wish to learn more about the history of Danish design, a visit to the Designmuseum Danmark is essential. Here you can witness the design genius of the likes of Charles Eames and Arne Jacobsen first hand, alongside a rotating series of exhibitions. A highlight of the current exhibitions is MINDCRAFT15, showcasing new works from a selection of leading Danish designers, displayed on a mirrored floor.
Another museum not to be missed is a short train ride out of the city (make sure that you ask at the counter for a combined ticket that includes both your train fare and entrance fee), located right on the coast. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is frequently included in lists of the world’s best modern art galleries, and it is easy to see why. Not only does the gallery showcase an impressive permanent collection alongside exciting exhibits such as the current Yayoi Kusama showcase, but the building itself is spectacular. The modernist structure features slate floors, wooden panelling and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer panoramic views of the sculpture garden and the sea. Visit before the end of January to view David Altmejd’s masterpiece, The Flux and the Puddle.
Had enough of culture and fancy something festive? Tivoli Gardens, the ancient amusement park located in the centre of the city, offers one of the best Christmas markets that we’ve ever come across! Until the 3rd of January you can expect plenty of pine trees, dazzling Christmas lights, wooden stalls selling Glögg and waffles, and all the festive cheer you could ever want.
Keep your eyes peeled for future instalments of our Wanderlust blog posts!