Copenhagen is arguably the prettiest, liveliest and also most liberal of the Scandinavian capitals. Rich in culture and history, diverse in weather, the place caters for every kind of visitor any time of the year.
Once you have transported yourself to the fairytale grounds of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous stories, and witness the exceptional genetic beauty of the Danes for yourself, rent a bicycle and get the obligatory sightseeing out of the way. The bicycle is the transport of choice in the happiest country of the world, and there is a lot to see and do.
Not to be missed on your bike tour: The Amalienborg Palace complex which consists of four rococo palaces and is the residence of the Danish Royal family; Christiansborg Palace, the house of Denmark’s three supreme powers: the executive, legislative and judicial power; and the Round Tower where you can see the city from above.
By now you will need a good coffee to continue; in the Vienna-inspired Europa 1989 (Amagertorv 1 1160 København K) you can enjoy an immaculate cup of coffee and it’s perfect for people watching. Danish pastry is in a league of its own and Meyers Bageri (Jaegersborggade 9, Kobenhavn N) is at the top of its game while La Glacé (Skoubogade 3 1158 København K) create unforgettable luxury macaroons too good not to try.
Head to the Design Museum of Denmark and get to grips with the classic Danish designs of, amongst others, Poul Henningsen, Kaare Klint and Arne Jacobsen. Leave your bike and take a tour of the canal: Copenhagen by boat is a must-do. You get to soak up the inner city atmosphere through cosy Nyhavn and on to all the landmarks. This is a great way to gaze at the many fine examples of Danish architecture such as the cultural institution The Black Diamond designed by Jørn Utzon. (If you visit during winter and the water is frozen, do not despair as the canal boats are thoughtfully equipped with frontal icebreakers and blankets are handed out.)
Do the typical Danish style lunch at Ida Davidsen (Store Kongensgade 70 1264 København K) who is the queen of the Danish national dish “Smørrebrød”, traditional open sandwiches with a royal seal of approval. Or opt for street food: the city is dotted with little white wheelie-hut stands (Pølsevogn). Try the Danish-style hotdog (with fried onions, pickled cucumber and remuolade) and make sure to do as the locals and order a cold chocolate drink to accompany. It sounds weird but it’s strangely titillating.
Time for shopping! Apart from the well assorted and classy department store ILLUM, also situated on the main pedestrian street, Strøget, lies Denmark’s acclaimed fashion emporium Birger Christensen. It was established in 1869 and is one of the most exclusive stores in Copenhagen. It’s in the little adjourning side streets, however, that you can indulge in Scandinavian talents like at the Wood Wood store (Groennegade 1 1107 Copenhagen K) and Henrik Vibskov (Krystalgade 6 1172 København K), and discover the best ever second hand womenwear designer pieces in Boutique Chic (Naboløs 4 1206 Copenhagen K).
Find the perfect present at Royal Copenhagen porcelain store (Amagertorv 6 1160 Copenhagen K) or just next-door at Georg Jensen where you will find the most prestigious silverware.
Take all your shopping bags back to the hotel and get ready for the night.
Established in 1755, Hotel d’Angleterre is an icon and a landmark in Copenhagen, celebrated for its elegance, luxury, style and discretion.
The boutique Hotel Nimb has just fourteen rooms and all bar one look onto the Tivoli Gardens. It is luxury design meets comfort with a top-notch restaurant/brasserie to match.
For dinner go to the glorious Café Victor (Ny Østergade 8 1164 København K), which is the absolute hotspot for dining and attracts a distinguished international crowd. It’s French food with a Danish heart in stylish brass surroundings.
René Redzepi spearheaded the new Nordic cuisine. His two star Michelin restaurant, NOMA (Strandgade 93 1401 København) has just been named the world’s best restaurant for the second year running.
If you like something a bit more relaxed then head to the romantic settings of Malbeck Vinbar (Istedgade 61 1650 København v) in the lively neighbourhood of Nørrebro. They specialise in Argentinean wines and also serve a delicious selection of South American food snacks.
To complete a busy day dance yourself away at Simons in Nyhavn, a beautiful and delightful club to dazzle – this place cries “chaaaampaaaagne”.
If you prefer a little bit of adventure, just behind the central station, by Vesterbro’s red light district, lies the meatpacking district. The area has undergone a transformation and is now ripe with exciting bars, clubs and late night eateries for a younger crowd. Bakken and Jolene are the venues of choice by the city’s most forward thinking promoters. In short: cool music, beautiful people, and a letyourhairdown approach to going out. Also during daytime visit the area to check out the new upcoming artists at the numerous galleries around.
If you still have headspace now you can plan what do to the next day:
North of the city, you can appreciate the largest permanent art collection in Scandinavia at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
The cultivated woodland Dyrehaven covers 1000 hectares and is again only a short train ride to North of Copenhagen. Spot a flock of wild deer while breathing in the crisp Scandinavian air.
Another must-do is Tivoli, the oldest amusement park in the world. Steeped in tradition, it offers endless entertainment for the discerning fun lover. Walt Disney was himself a keen visitor to the gardens and loved the “happy and unbuttoned air of relaxed fun”. You can’t leave the city without visiting Christiania: a picturesque autonomous neighborhood in the borough of Christianshavn, known internationally for its tolerated cannabis trade and the colourful treehouses where the 850 residents live.
Take a metro to Ørestad and watch the truly spectacular and visionary buildings, VM Houses and Mountain Dwellings designed in 2007 by world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels, perfectly showcasing the spirit of modern Danish architecture. Or have a stroll around Assistentens Kirkegaard: The huge cemetery where you’ll find the graves of philosopher Søren Kirkegaard, H.C. Andersen and the scientist Tycho Brahe. In the summer the locals from the buzzing borough of Nørrebro use it for picnics and sunbathing.
Finally, do something different! See an ice hockey match (Amar Jets Kastrup), winter bathe and sauna at (Helgoland, Amager Strandpark) or get a classic Danish tattoo at Baby Lou Tattoo (Studiestræde 25A
1455 Copenhagen K).
Text and photos by Sol Marinozzi Bjorck