You’ll probably notice that there’s a bit of a theme when it comes to my travel guides. Food that looks good on the grid, shops where you’ll want everything and hopefully enough tips to avoid those indecisive where-shall-we-go-for-lunch moments. Copenhagen definitely didn’t disappoint when it comes to the usual Kristabel criteria. It’s one of those places where it’s good to have a rough plan (thanks to random shop opening hours) but to also accept that even though you won’t be able to see everything, there’ll be plenty of random discoveries that will make up for it. I’d bookmarked around a dozen posts, collected various Instagram screenshots and was all set to finally visit Tivoli but in reality I probably only made it to a tenth of the places I wanted to (but stumbled across a random flea market, pink park and the Glastonbury-like Freetown Christiania). Instead of just giving you a list, I thought it’d be more useful to suggest a few starting points and possible routes that will lead you to make your own discoveries. Most people will suggest that you get around on two wheels and I’m sure that’s fine (apparently you can hire bikes with sat nav) but if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to stop every twenty seconds to take a photo. Wear flat shoes and get that step count up!
So let’s start off in Norrebro, one of the areas I actually found the most interesting. It’s a haven for independent shops, cafés and some of the best cinnamon swirls that’ll make it impossible to eat our poor British imitations ever again. We walked up from Norreport station, via the Acne outlet on Elmgade (why oh why wasn’t my perfect leather jacket waiting for me) and a few makeshift flea market stalls along the Guldbergsgade. Zapoteca is well worth a visit if you’re obsessed with Central American textiles and Frida Kahlo memorabilia. The owner has actually formed partnerships with communities in Mexico and Guatemala and is bringing the distinct patterns seen on rugs, cushion covers and dresses to a wider audience. If you stick to the backstreets and meander towards Jægersborggade, you’ll spot the succulent paradise Kaktus, lifestyle store Vanishing Point and the aforementioned cinnamon rolls at Meyers Bageri (they’re warm, doughy and I’m still thinking about them). There are also countless other shops and cafes on this street, as well as Nørrebrogade, home to the build-your-own open sandwich concept at Møller Kaffe og Køkken.
Streets to visit: Jægersborggade, Nørrebrogade (start off near the Jagtvej intersection), Elmgade, Guldbergsgade
Where we went:
Møller – Kaffe og Køkken (brunch goals), Nørrebrogade 160, 2200 København N
Meyers Bageri (cinnamon swirl heaven), Jægersborggade 9, 2200 København N
Kaktus, Jægersborggade 35, 2200 København N
Zapoteca (Mexican textiles), Guldbergsgade 5, 2200 København N
Urban Room (general lifestyle), Guldbergsgade 11, 2200 København N
Vanishing Point (more lifestyle), Jægersborggade, 45, 2200 København
Acne Archive, Elmegade 21, 2200 København N
One thing I love about most European cities, is that even their busiest shopping areas are still pretty chilled. It also helps that things are nice and spread out, plus even the most ordinary shops are fascinating thanks to the simplicity of Scandinavian design. We didn’t have nearly as much time to wander around as we would have liked, but if you’ve only got a few hours to spare, then it’s best to get snap happy at Nyhavn before heading to the shopping street Strøget. HAY is lifestyle goals and Illum has two department stores if you fancy ogling even more homeware that you can’t fit in your suitcase (there’s also a rooftop with even more food options and great views of the city). As expected, I was drawn to the full range of initial branded goods by Design Letters and had to stop myself from buying a plant pot with a ‘K’ on. Simple RAW is good to know about if you’re vegan or just curious about trying plant-based alternatives (I was rather chuffed with the avocado rolls), plus the rice noodle bowls are perfectly photogenic. The Torvenhallerne is also handy for picking up local foodie gifts and snacks.
Streets to visit: Frederiksborggade, Strøget, Købmagergade, Gothersgade, Nyhavn
Where we went:
Simple RAW (colourful vegan food), Gråbrødretorv 9, 1154 København K
Illum (homeware heaven), Østergade 52, 1100 København K
Royal Smushi Cafe (cute interior), Amagertorv 6, 1160 København
HAY (iconic homeware), Østergade 61, 1100 København
Plint (even more homeware, slightly cheaper), Købmagergade 50, 1150 København K
Atelier September (hipster avocado on toast), Gothersgade 30, 1123 København K
Gasoline Grill (for your burger fix), Landgreven 10, 1300 København K
Torvenhallerne (food market), Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K
Although we didn’t get to spend much time in the Meatpacking District, pizza place Mother probably deserves it’s own category anyway. They had me at sourdough really, this is up there with my favourite all time pizzas (Franco Manca obvs), the portions are decent (I couldn’t stop nibbling on Liv’s pasta) and there’s a great buzz around the area. The outside tables are always in demand if the weather’s decent, so arrive early or try your luck a little later on (there was ample space inside for our party of five). Order the burrata as an indulgent addition, you won’t regret it.
Arken Museum Of Modern Art
They know how to do museums here. I managed to visit the epic Louisiana on my last trip, so this time I wanted to head somewhere a little closer but equally as breathtaking for my culture fix. The Gerda Wegener exhibition just happened to be on at Arken and if you’ve seen The Danish Girl but were completely clueless about the artist’s works, then it’ll add a bit more context. It takes you on a journey, from her early illustrated adverts (perfect if you love art deco) to some of the more well known masterpieces depicting Lili Elbe (they also screen the film regularly in a separate room). You could quite easily spend most of the day here, there’s multiple exhibits on at any one time plus a colourful and well-curated shop.
AC Bella Sky
So where did we rest our heads? The AC Bella Sky kindly invited us to try out their new hotel in the South of the city and it was a great way to experience some of that Scandinavian design first hand. It’s a place to stay if you’re a bit of a modern architecture buff, since it’s situated in an area that’s going through a bit of redevelopment (I didn’t even realise there was all of this nearby). The breakfast was top notch, with one of the tastiest quiches known to man (yes I had quiche for breakfast) and a super modern juice dispensing system controlled by iPads. We also had dinner in the Basalt restaurant on our first evening and were introduced to the Danish equivalent of smores, a questionably shaped, yet delicious doughnut-like dessert called Snobrød. It’s definitely one to look out for, you dip it in chocolate and it’s all kinds of amazing.
Although Uber runs here, you have to keep it on the down low, since there’s a bit of friction with the established taxi drivers. Don’t be surprised if your driver asks you to sit in the front and drops you off in a side street near your destination.
All the places we missed
That’s it for Copenhagen! I think I bonded more with the city the second time around and in a similar way to Singapore and Rotterdam, I now have the urge to come back asap. I still haven’t made it to Tivoli and I think it’s about time I tried navigating the city on two wheels…