This trip was going to be just a weekend break, spending a few days with friends in this cool Scandi capital. However, I was about to change jobs and had a few weeks off. So, I decided to spend a full week in Copenhagen. That was the best way to see the city. Copenhagen, like all capitals, has a number of noteworthy sights and places to take your picture of so that you can tick them off from your list – ‘been there, done that’. The best part of Copenhagen is something much more intangible. The relaxed feel, the notion that life in this city cannot have many troubles at all, the beauty that you can see in the every day life in the design, in Danish people, in the colourful townhouses of Nyhavn harbor.
This trip was also going to be about trialling out Noma, known as the world’s best restaurant. I should have known, as a Nordic myself, that a month long holiday in July is a privilege, maybe even a right, for the majority of Nordics. This was a case for the owners of Noma and many other good restaurants in Copenhagen. But I did find that good food is everywhere in Copenhagen. In the new trendy restaurants, like Kodbyen Fiskebar, in the bakeries selling oven-warm cinnamon buns, even in museum cafes like in Louisiana.
So this trip was about spending long, sunny days in Copenhagen, without particular aim, without a need to justify what to do next. The city seemed to be, like my mindset at the time, without any worries and hopeful to what the future holds.
Dyrehaven in Vesterbro
Copenhagen’s best sights are its cool bars and trendy people. We decided to experience this at Dryhaven in Vesterbro (Sdr. Boulevard 72) along with a wonderful breakfast of rye bread, eggs benedict and much needed cappuccinos after our early flight.
Lobby in Axel Hotel Guldsmeden
Our hotel, Axel Hotel Guldsmeden (Helgolandsgade 7-11, Vesterbro) was a real gem. Hotel’s unique, Balinese style decorated lobby and rooms made it easy to relax and hotel’s courtyard terrace was a wonderful place to have a chat and a drink after a day of sightseeing. Rooms’ high ceilings ensured cool sleeping even during the hot summer days we spent there.
Hotel Guldsmeden’s Balinese decor
Hotel Guldsmeden was lovely for relaxing. It’s situation in the heart of Vesterbro is also great for young people venturing the trendy nightlife but maybe not as much for families. Careful parents might not want their children to see the colourful street life surrounding Hotel Guldsmeden…
Nyhavn’s picturesque townhouses
A visit to the Nyhavn is a definite part of any Copenhagen itinerary. Although it can be crowded with tourists and the restaurants along the waterfront are not the best in the city, it’s heritage townhouses are not to be missed. Nyhavn is a also the place for taking off to a boat cruise, which is the best way to look around the city.
Baby buggies in Nyhavn
Copenhagen must be one of the most child-friendly capitals in the world – kids and baby buggies were everywhere. It ought to be also the city with the most trusting mothers. Baby buggies were left in front of shops, restaurants, harbours. And not always empty!
Boat trip along Copenhagen’s canals is an ideal opportunity to cover many of the city’s landmarks and shoot some landscape photos.
Copenhagen is wonderful on a bike – little traffic, flat roads, short distances.
Packed terraces in sunshine
It is easy to spend a sunny day in Copenhagen from going from one sunny terrace to another. This was one of the best ones we found, Cafe Oven Vande (Overgaden Ovenvandet 44, Christianhavn)
Rosenborg Castle in the Kings Garden must have been inspiration for Walt Disney when he designed the Sleeping Beauty’s castle. A walk to the castle, between the trees, through the immaculate grass fields and paths, is enough to make you wish you were born as a princess.
Kings Garden – ideal for day dreaming
Marble Church (Marmorkirken)
Even though the Marble Church was under renovation when we were in Copenhagen, the beauty of this church both inside and outside was evident. We wandered in the church after a long day of walking around the city, as the evening had started to begin. Sitting down quietly inside the church, watching the beautiful interiors was a very calming and peaceful experience.
The Opera House
Danish National Theatre
We didn’t have a chance to watch a play in the Danish National Theatre, but the vast decking just be the sea, was already a worthwhile reason to visit it. Crowded with people sitting down, reading, having a picnic, people watching. The theatre also had its own restaurant, Ofelia, which looked like a perfect place was a lunch or dinner with someone very special.
The Old Stock Exchange
Although it takes some time to travel to Louisiana, I thought it was amongst the top things to do during a holiday in Copenhagen. This museum of modern art is also worth the visit for its beautiful garden and panoramic views.
Sir Terence Conran’s Custom House
I know this was a little strange choice for Copenhagen given that I can go to Sir Terence Conran’s restaurants in London, too. After all it was Conran who set up Habitat with furniture well alike to Scandinavian minimalism, wood and practicality, so I had my hopes up. I’m glad I didn’t miss Custom House (Havnegade 44). Amazing plate of grilled lobster in the above sophisticated setting – impeccable decor of dark wood and stunning views.
Kodbyens Fiskebar’s parking lot terrace
We spent a very cool evening at Kodbyens Fiskebar (Flaesketorvet 100, Vesterbro). We started off by enjoying some fine wine on the restaurant’s terrace – surreal experience as the terrace is not much more than an area, surrounded by fires in a large parking lot in Copenhagen’s meatpacking district. Food in the restaurant was Scandinavian cooking at its best – trout with mustard, capers, rye bread and herbs, plaice with carrots and parsnips and finally delicious chocolate truffles with strong coffee. Bliss.
Pate Pate (Slagterboderne 1, Vesterbro)
The Coffee Factory
The best coffee in Copenhagen is from The Coffee Factory (Gothersgade 21). For those who appreciate a really good cuppa early in the morning
It is not a surprise that as one of the design capitals of the world, Copenhagen is full of design shops. However, if you just want to admire the design classics, the Design Museum Danmark (Bredgade 68) offers Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl pieces amongst other famous designers.
Bio Mio (Halmtorvet 19, Copenhagen) stands for all the oh-so trendy themes in the current restaurant scene – organic, healthy, seasonal food topped with inventive names like ‘energy booster’. Bio Mio crystallised these themes to perfection though. I very much enjoyed my healthy salad of chicken and strawberries along with some organic red.
Leaving the city and returning back to London reminded me again how some great aspects of Nordic living are missing from my life. Space, peace, easy going lifestyle. Luckily I had very quickly my new job to preoccupy my life.