In the words of my danish spirit animal Hans Christian Anderson:
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
‘Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
OH COPENHAGEN HOW DO I LOVE THEE, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
Copenhagen has taken the crown as one of my favourite European cities, and it’s all down to the design, food, people, atmosphere, canals, colours, coffee… and well everything really.
I headed to this danish delight in March with two of my gal pals (who I should mention at this point had never watched the Hans Christian Anderson film and therefore were completely cold to my excellent renditions of every song!). Here we are hanging out… obvs…
The first thing to note about Copenhagen is that, like so many European cities, it has space; no mega high-rises here. this means that walking around the city you’re able to glance up and see beautiful skylines, buildings and rooftops aplenty. Second to note is that the Danish are design gods. Copenhagen feels like space has been given to test out and celebrate design. They have an amazing array of architecture ranging from the 17th century right through to contemporary and almost futuristic design across the city. We took a boat tour one day (take layers if you do this – even on a sunny day it can get really cold) and it was a fantastic opportunity to take in some of the most striking buildings in Copenhagen including the Black diamond (which glitters in the sun) and their breathtaking opera house.
We spent loads of time just walking through the different neighbourhoods, allowing ourselves to stumble across things to see and do. I love approaching cities this way – having just one or two definite sites to see and then letting everything else work itself out. There were bikes and beards everywhere, and in the classic danish way everyone was insanely stylish. I would really recommend wandering through Christianshavn with it’s beautiful canals and houses, and be sure not to miss one of Copenhagan’s most instagrammed sites – the colourful buildings of Nyhavn.
We also made sure to visit the Design Museum – it’s a fantastic collection of Danish design through the ages and they also run free tours. It was really interesting learning about how Danish designers strived to make excellent design accessible to all, and as the collection is mainly furniture and homeware you’ll also build up a list of danish styles you’re desperate to own. Be warned – there are whole galleries just dedicated to chairs so this might not be for everyone, but we really enjoyed it.
It’s well worth taking an opportunity to get up high and see the panorama of the city – you can pay and head up the very eyecatching boroque Church of our Saviour in Christianhavn, or you can head to the free option of Christiansborg palace which boasts the tallest tower in Copenhagan. Either way the views are breathtaking and another opportunity to capture the historical/modern jigsaw puzzle of buildings across the city.
You may have heard about Christiania – the bohemian free state which exists in the centre of Christianshavn. Sadly I think the area peaked about 20 years ago and we just found it to be oddly touristy, with lots of men in balaclavas and dark shades or hidden behind stalls (it’s legal to sell marijuana and hash in Christiania but not elsewhere so the men were clearly protecting their identities but it came across as pretty intimidating). The area may be transformed in the summer with live music; they have stages and a music venue there, and I’m glad we saw it but really if you skip it you haven’t missed out.
EAT and DRINK
For food I’d head to two areas; paper island which comes off Christianshavn and the Meatpacking district. The first is home to the Copenhagen Street Food market: think large shoreditch style warehouse filled with foodie goodness… although when we were there we mainly drank beer with run shooters and ate Korean chicken… The Meat Packing district is a trendy area full of bars and restaurants. We headed to Mother after numerous recommendations (book in advance or you will be waiting in the cold to get in!). Their organic sour dough pizzas were absolutely delicious and the cosy atmosphere and reasonable prices make this well worth a visit. Just on prices – everyone told us how expensive Copenhagen was before we went but to be honest it’s pretty similar to London prices, there just isn’t much of a budget option.
Now onto drinks – I am not a beer drinker but I was properly initiated into the world of the IPA on this trip (followed by rum chasers… did I mention that?). For drinks we hit up a bar called War Pigs that was sensational – a huge array of beers for the beer lovers plus wines, meaty eats and fun super relaxed decor. We also went dancing at Jolene’s -a tiny bar in the meat packing district that we stumbled into on a whim and then found difficult to leave because of the drinks prices and excellent tunes.
We had plans to buy beers and sit on the sides of the canals as so many locals do. We didn’t on this trip but it’s always an options – particularly if you’re working on a budget or if there’s glorious sunshine.
We stayed in an Airbnb in Vesterbro – an area west from central Copenhagan but within walking distance from most sites and temptingly, beautifully close to the Meatpacking district. The flat was in a block reached through a little shopping centre and was so chic in it’s design …I may have taken about 50 photos just of the furniture but who’s counting! Generally we walked everywhere but we also squeezed in a couple of Ubers – a really useful discovery after our trip to Copenhagen Street food…
This trip has completely inspired me to see more of the Nordic countries, and it’s a perfect destination for a minibreak or long weekend. Thank you Copenhagen!
Have you been? What would be your top recommendations?