Copenhagen is street upon street of city chic. The place oozes the kind of Scandinavian cool that every hotspot in London tries to recreate.
The city and it’s people have become an authority on fashion, cuisine and lifestyle – just step into any bookstore and the words ‘Hygge’ will jump straight off the shelves and take you down a rabbit hole of Danish happiness. Copenhagen calling, here’s our city guide.
WHERE TO STAY
The Hotel Skt Petri offers undiscriminating yet laidback glam, it’s a place where the vibe is young and the crowds in the bar are cool. It’s Scandinavian without trying too hard (read our full review here). Hotel Sanders is the newest boutique hotel from the former ballet dancer Alexander Kølpin and Hotel D’Angleterre, established in 1755, is perfect for some unabated, all-out luxury.
WHERE TO EAT
Copenhagen Street Food Market on Paper Island has a great diversity of cuisine and will return to the city this summer in May. We had the Danish Hotdogs and Smørrebrød (traditional Danish open sandwiches): the most delicious rye bread topped with smoked salmon, soft cheese with chives and peashoots; and roasted pork with gherkins and pickled beetroot. There’s also a permanent street food market to the north-west of the city centre called Torvehallerne. Our first night we ate at Condesa and the tacos were not messing around so we ordered them twice (cod, marinated cabbage, chipotle mayo and kimchi sesame… drool). On Værnedamsvej in Vesterbro you will find Granola, a local institution for breakfast.
WHERE TO DRINK
One night walking back to our hotel we passed a bar which, from the outside, was absolutely buzzing. We didn’t stop to look at the name, and so the next night went on a bit of a wild hunt for it. After peering into a few bars and describing the place we’d seen, everyone told us we were looking for Ruby’s. We literally stumbled upon it, but it turns out it’s one of the cities favourite bars.
At No.10 Nybrogade, Ruby is literally a hidden gem. The bar is in an old townhouse from 1740, and faces the parliament buildings in the oldest part of town. You’ll walk straight past it, but you’ll double-take when you do. In its current life, Ruby is where you go for cocktails and company, but in past lives it’s been a book press and a private bank – and the thick vault door still remains. On a Friday night it was completely full but the service is still fantastic. The cocktails are edgy and interesting, you’ll be sad if you miss this place.
Other places to quench your thirst are Mikkeller Brewery and Mesteren & Lærlingen, once a slaughterhouse bodega in the heart of the old meatpacking district, which is now one of the city’s most popular watering holes. For a shot of caffeine, head to Cafe Paludan near the old university. Shelves and shelves of books look enticing from the outside, and the really good coffee makes up for the fact that you aren’t allowed to touch or read the majority.
WHAT TO DO
Take a walk through Christiania. It’s a freetown (and a pretty legendary one) that makes space for an alternative way of life. Put your phone away and remember, no photos. On the other side of the coin, make sure you visit Nyhavn, where you’ll find the perfect rows of colourful houses; they’re synonymous with the city and any Instagrammer’s dream. A boat tour is also highly recommended, we went for the 50-minute option that departs from Nyhavn harbour (it costs around £10). From the advantageous standpoint of the Central Canal, you can see a great deal of the renowned architecture of the city; our favourites were The Royal Danish Playhouse and The ‘Black Diamond’ Royal Library.
WHAT TO SEE
The entire character of the city is so well put-together, so designed, and has such a deliberate feel to it. With this in mind, a visit to the Design Museum Denmark is a must. It’s free admission for anyone under 26 years/a student, and only 115DKK (around £12) for those the wrong side of 26. One of the permanent exhibitions, ‘The Danish Chair’ left us with a strong yearning for some Danish home furnishings. Tivoli Gardens is a cliche yet also a must-see, slightly like experiencing a gondola ride in Venice; it’s something you’ll probably do once. It’s a national treasure, and is especially magical around Christmas time. The Central Station is yet another architectural masterpiece and worth a visit, as is the Rådhus (Copenhagen City Hall).
WHERE TO SHOP
For retail therapy, head to Vesterbro, specifically to Continental Værnedamsvej – a road full of streetlife, food and the types of stores you can while away a whole day in. The neighbourhood was once a seedy little place, having been the meatpacking district in a previous life. The area supplies some much-needed relief from the picture-perfect cobbled streets and coloured waterside houses. There are less crowds, but it’s easier to tune into the real Danish way of living, thanks to the student dives, courtyard bars, designer boutiques, tattoo shops and fashionable breakfast spots. On Værnedamsvej you will find Blomsterskuret, a beautiful flower shop; the concept store PlayType, ideal for font-obsessives and fans of something a little different; and Dora, stockists of homewares, trinkets and all things beautiful.