This postcard perfect 17th century canal is pretty as can be with rows of colourful townhouses and historical wooden ships lining the waterfront. Literary types will be pleased to know that Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson, was a former resident of Nyhavn. Now it functions as an entertainment precinct with restaurants and bars along the sunny Northern side. It’s a must for those wanting the quintessential tourist photograph.
The Little Mermaid
A bronze statue of the little mermaid inspired by Han Christian Anderson’s fairy tale sits on a rock by the waterside of Langelinie promenade. It’s a main tourist site. If you’re pushed for time you could secretly be a terrible tourist and skip the mermaid as it is quite out of the way.
Fans of Danish drama or ‘Nordic Noir’, this should put this high on your to-do list. Borgen is the nickname for the Danish Parliament, so it may not come as a surprise that much of the series Borgen and The Killing play out in the corridors of Christiansborg Palace. Views from the top of the tower are said to be some of the best in Copenhagen.
The winter home of the Danish royal family is quite impressive with four identical palaces forming an octagonal shaped courtyard. The Royal Life Guards (who are dressed in attire similar to that of the British Guard) can be spotted marching through the courtyard. For a bit of pomp and circumstance, time your visit for the changing of the guard which occurs in front of Amanlienborg everyday at noon. There is also a pretty fountain to wander by and from there you can see pleasant views of the Royal Opera House across the water.
The Round Tour
Built in the 17th Century, the Rundetårn is the oldest functioning astronomical observatory in the world. It’s also an interesting example of Baroque architecture, and after legging it up the unique spiral ramp you’ll discover sweeping views of the city.
The Designmuseum Danmark
In the centre of Copenhagen you’ll discover Denmark’s largest museum for Danish and international design and crafts. Housed in one of the city’s finest Rococo buildings, there is a permanent collection as well as regular exhibitions. In the summer months the museum café Klint has a peaceful garden to enjoy.
The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens is a romantic sanctuary in the heart of the city. There is a handsome collection of over 13,000 species of plants and plenty of winding paths to wander around. There are also numerous historical glasshouses throughout the gardens, most notable is the old 19th century Palm House complete with an intricate spiral staircase.
Rosenborg Castle Gardens
This ornate renaissance castle was once a royal summerhouse but these days the King’s Garden it’s open to the public. Here you’ll find a flower garden, tree-lined promenade and a pond with a swan or two. The serene setting is a welcome retreat for young Danes who come to enjoy a picnic or some drinks well into the afternoon.
Scandinavians love a good picnic in the warmer months. Here is my guide of where to go and what to eat for the perfect picnic in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is one of the world’s best cities for cycling. There are plenty of bike paths and general road traffic is accommodating because most Danes ride. Opting for two-wheels is a cheap and excellent way to explore the city. You can pull over on a whim, park you bike all over Copenhagen and you’ll truly feel like a local. You can usually hire bikes from your hotel or one of the many cycle shops around town.
Despite being touristy, this enchanting 19th century amusement park and idyllic manicured gardens are surprisingly whimsical. Vintage carnival vibes, upmarket fun-fair food and aesthetically pleasing design Tivoli is what you’d expect from a Scandinavian amusement park. There is even an elegant 5-star hotel on the premises that looks like a fairy-tale palace when light up at night. Visit in the evening, its quite magical.
Hang out in Norrebro
This vibrant quarter is where the cool kids are hanging out. Edgy bars, vintage shops and small design stores are dotted all over this up-and-coming neighbourhood. Although gentrified, it still retains its colourful charm. Elmegade or Jægersborggade are streets to venture in order to discover appealing little shops and cafes. Grab brekky at Grod, a decent brew at The Coffee Collective or a cinnamon bun from cult Meyers Bageri. For antiques, check out Ravnsborggade street. Locals hang out in the secluded Assistens Cemetery by day and party at the many Norrebro cocktails bars by night.
A little out of the way on Christian Holm Island (Paper Island) is Papirhallen. It’s an impressive warehouse space with harbour-views, exposed rafters and a cavernous interior. During the warmers months the space is transformed into a street-food market called Papirøen. Papirøen is filled with colourful stalls and beer garden, complete with deckchairs on the wharf with excellent views of Copenhagen at sunset. It’s open until late on weekends and a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.
The Danish Film institute runs this national centre to promote film art, film and cinema culture. The Cinemateket screens Danish and international titles in three cinemas with more than 60 titles played per month. There is a film and book shop on site, as well as an extensive library. It’s a cool place to check out if you’re into cinema.
Eat + Drink
Trendy indoor food market with over 60 stands selling items such as organic produce, freshly baked bread, smoked meats, Scandinavian fish, cheese, chocolate and spices. Some highlights include usual suspects such as The Coffee Collective and Grod. Meanwhile, Hallernes Smorrebrod serves upmarket, traditional open sandwiches.
To dine at the worlds top restaurant you’ll need to book well in advance. Noma is set in a waterfront warehouse space in Christianshavn. Head chef, Rene Redzepi, wows diners with inventive dishes presented in a 20-course meal. Described as ‘new Nordic cuisine’, a style recognised for attention to detail and an innovative approach to food. Dining here is as much about the experience as it is about the food.
Grod translates to porridge, which is a straightforward name for a specialist porridge café. This successful enterprise already has three stores over Copenhagen, but the flagship is along trendy Jægersborggade. You should kick-start your morning with a steaming bowl of artisanal porridge in the lovely hole-in-the-wall café. They offer a variety of grains, milks and toppings so even the fussiest eater will find something. The classic oat-porridge with homemade dulche de leche, fresh apple and roasted almonds was simply the best porridge ever. For something more complex try the earthy spelt porridge with fresh strawberries, roasted hazelnuts and freeze-dried berries.
Using organic ingredients and Nordic produce Meyers Bageri is the place to taste heavenly cinnamon buns. The intricately knotted pastries have a cult following. Pop one in your backpack to snack on during your day’s adventures, that’s if you can resist the enticing scents of cardamom and cinnamon wafting from the freshly baked bun.
The Coffee Collective
Exceptional coffee shop that is driven by an ethos of direct trade with the growers in Kenya. They made a decent brew that is both golden and aromatic. A good coffee is hard to come by in Copenhagen, so rely on The Coffee Collective for your caffeine hit.
The utterly charming Orangeriet is an elegant, vintage conservatory located in Rosenborg Gardens. It is a wonderful atmosphere for a relaxed smorrebrod lunch, either inside the chic restaurant or outside in the garden terrace. If you’re in a more casual mood you can just buy an ice cream from the pretty gelato stand and stroll around the gardens.
Skt Peders Bageri
A graffiti covered bakery located in the Latin Quarter along the gorgeous Sankt Peders Stræde. Skt Peders Bageri is known for their popular sticky cinnamon rolls drizzled in icing that they only sell on Wednesdays. It’s still worth visiting another day of the week for any of their delectable goodies.
A chic coffee shop in the old Latin Quarter whose name means ‘little brother’. It is indeed the smaller sibling of BROR; an innovative restaurant run by former sous chefs at Michelin star foodie-favourite, Noma. This little café provides coffee, freshly baked bread and light meals.
Some of Denmark’s finest (and impeccably dressed) bartenders serve up classic cocktails and high-quality, seasonal concoctions to a hip crowd. It’s a speakeasy style bar with a tricky to find entrance (Hint: look for No. 10), old-fashioned décor and plenty of nooks for an intimate conversation. The only down side is you’ll have emptied your wallet by the end of the night.
A picturesque renovated customs office with an old Copenhagen aesthetic and modern airy interior is the setting for this swanky restaurant. Elegant Scandinavian design, vast windows and bright surroundings make it a most pleasant spot for lunch. Then, there is the serene vantage point over Christianshavns Canal and exquisite Scandi-French food to match. The lunch menu embraces Danish cuisine; favouring traditional ingredients such as herring, hand-peeled shrimps and smoked salmon. In summer there is outdoor seating on the terrace, which is so idyllic it’s hard to believe you’re in the city.
SP34 is one of the latest boutique hotels to pop up in Copenhagen. It’s an ideal stay for lovers of Scandinavian design, modern nomads and creative professionals. This 4-star hotel is located in the bohemian Latin Quarter, along the charming Sankt Peders Stræde. Read an extensive review here.
A façade that looks like a Sultan’s palace stands majestically in Tivoli Gardens. Nimb is a hotel that seamlessly merges the beautiful aesthetics of Scandinavian and Moorish design. Tivoli is an unusual place to have a 5-star hotel, but nothing is ‘usual’ about this luxury boutique with a touch of fairy-tale fantasy. There are 17 uniquely decorated suites with views that overlook the Tivoli Gardens and rooms have perks like feature fireplaces, high-tech Bang and Olufsen entertainment system and luxe Aesop toiletries. Several renowned restaurants are located on the premises and an inviting heritage ballroom bar serves luxury brunch, high tea in the afternoons and bespoke cocktails well into the evening.
Hotel D’Angleterre exudes old-world luxury. The neoclassic palace stands out triumphantly in the core of Copenhagen’s main square. It was one of the world’s first deluxe hotels and following extensive restoration it still retains its position as the most stylish address in Copenhagen. Boasting gracious hospitality to discerning guests, an elegant French bar and restaurant, as well as a central location moments away from fashionable Strøget shopping street. Stay here if you’re dreaming of a luxurious experience of Copenhagen.
Illum is conveniently located along the pedestrian shopping street of Strøget and Købmagergade. It’s a premium department store that stocks stylish Scandinavian brands such as Acne, Filippa K, Samsøe & Samsøe and Won Hundred. The cosmetics department has an fantastic selection of international brands. There is also a basement food court and an Original Coffee where you can take a break from your shopping spree.
Underground street style meets urban couture at this Copenhagen flagship. Wood Wood is an ultra-cool brand that started out in Copenhagen in 2002 and now going from strength to strength across Europe. Expect collaborations with international labels such as Comme de Garcons, Nike and Adidas. Although Wood Wood focuses mostly on menswear, some women’s pieces are also available.
Pede + Stoffer
This chic fashion boutique that carries a variety of designer brands is a go-to store for well-dressed locals. The store stocks a range of edgy, high-end designers from Scandinavia and Europe such as Surface to Air, Acne, Isabel Marant, Won Hundred and Helmut Lang. It’s an excellent stop for those wanting to return home wearing the latest trends.
Tivoli Souvenir Shop
The best souvenir shop in the city is surprisingly located inside Tivoli, tucked away amongst the amusement sights, fun rides and copious restaurants. If you need to stock up on Scandi-style momentos or presents for loved-ones back home this is your one-stop-shop. Filled with pieces of Danish from quirky to upmarket, you’ll definitely find something.
Timeless silver pieces designed with a classic Scandinavian aesthetic that emanates form and function. You can visit the store along the fashionable shopping destination, Strøget. George Jensen is a distinguished name for luxury jewellery with a history that dates back over one hundred years. Pick out some stunning silverware or a piece of statement jewellery as an exceptional memorabilia of your trip.
Keramiker Inge Vincents
An adorable little shop along Jægersborggade that sells original pieces made from creamy-white, quality porcelain by ceramic artist, Inge Vincents. The practical home-ware designs are paper-thin yet entirely functional. Each item is hand shaped and there are no two the same. They might seem fragile but Inge Vincents ensures that they are safely wrapped up for your journey home.
Ultra-trendy Danish fashion boutique that creates striking, innovative collections for stores in Copenhagen and New York. Rebellious, colourful and bold graphic prints describe the pieces you might find in the Krystalgade store that have Danish hipsters in a spin. Their boutiques also stock brands such as Opening Ceremony and Surface 2 Air.