A guide to my favourite places in Copenhagen
I’ve decided I’m in love with Copenhagen. The closer 2017 comes (and its promise of warmer climes), the closer the prospect of another Copenhagen trip. As I alluded to in my last colourful Copenhagen post, the Danish city is beautiful both for the way it looks and for the happy atmosphere you’re enveloped by whilst vacay-ing there.
Sadly my trip with my girlfriends was all too short (when you factor in posing and shooting time of course), so I’m raring to get back and see more. Even though I didn’t have time to explore Tivoli, the second oldest functioning theme park in the world, nor wander the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, I managed to see enough to get a taste for the good life. If you’ve even a glimmer of interest in visiting, DO, you’ll love it. Here’s a guide to why:
Lets start with the most obvious attraction. It’s the quintessential Instagram fodder Copenhagen is famous for. Once the main port of the city, Nyhavn has had many a famous resident and has a house that dates back to 1681 with no renovations. A row of colourful houses, restaurants and cafes along a waterfront, Nyhavn has almost always been the destination for friends to head to and chill out in. We spent a precious half hour just sitting with our feet dangling over the edge and people watching (well, bicycle watching) as the Danes eased into their evening. It was bliss.
Not so much of a destination as much of a an activity, Copenhagen’s canals are a joy to amble alongside. When the sun’s out, the boats moored along the side and the streets are calm, there’s nothing nicer than to walk up and down peering into the little homes on the water and spotting cute shops on the other side. After walking here down Overgaden Oven Vandet, we unexpectedly found ourselves in the middle of a path crossing where we were cut off from crossing both bridges in front of us. Before we knew it, two sections of road on the Butterfly 3-way bridge lifted up to near vertical in front of us. Everyone waiting was too chilled to care, which made me wonder how Londoners would cope with such a scenario. (Answer: they would not).
Paper Island Street Food
Paper Island (named so for fact that the area was mainly used as paper storage for the Danish Press back in the day) and its street food was high on the list of foodie destinations for us. We wasted no time and skipped over there on the first night. Situated on a dock overlooking the river on one of Copenhagen’s inner islands, it feels a little like you’re on holiday from the start. Walk into the hangar-like buildings (others of which are now used as design studios) and you’re met with a hotchpotch of food stands and bars all stacked on top of each other.
What’s so great about this indie street food destination is the genius DIY style sets built for each of the stands. A giant cow hanging from the ceiling also adds to the impression that it’s just one giant prop cupboard that happens to be a canteen. Eat-in or out on the benches by the river. There’s something for everyone from vegans to those who don’t eat veg. We were all very satisfied with our fill. NOTE: Whatever you do, don’t miss the doughnuts and ice cream. Hot, crispy and caramelised on the outside and soft within. I’ve never had anything like it.
Torvehallerne super market(s) is split into two indoor parts across a courtyard. It’s basically where you dream of doing your weekly shop. With 60 independent trader stands that resemble a trade show-slash-market with a sprinkling of visual merchandising marvel, it’s a pleasant place to shop or come and grab a snack. We wandered around the two huge greenhouse-esque buildings for far too long, wondering which sort of minimal initial label wine to purchase or which cactus to Instagram. Meanwhile, locals swanned around picking up fresh produce or queuing to grab their morning flat white. Pop in and expect to take something out with you.
This arts & crafts shop situated on Jægersborggade in the North West area of Norrebro has some pretty great friends for company. In fact the whole street is worth whiling away a few hours along as it’s full of foodie spots and gift shops with a little summin’ summin’ extra.
Vanishing Point is stuffed with handmade or lovingly designed pieces from dreamy ombre effect pottery to Nobrow Press goods and geometric woven rugs. Basically, everything you want to buy. Inspired by nature and made to inspire a sustainable lifestyle, you’ll feel fine spending in here. Producing pottery on-site, it’s the place to nab a one-off and support the local community.
Just down from Vanishing Point on Jægersborggade lies Kaktus, aka Instagrammers’ paradise. It’s a tiny little bolt-hole laden with green, prickly goods to fill your beautiful white Danish home with. Sadly, these unpractical pressies may not travel so well so best pop in to just coo, snap an Instagram or two and wander on (you can always pick up one of their cute pots though). If you’re passing through Torvehallerne (above) then you might spot the sister stall selling wares outside with the other flower sellers. Both locations sell plants cultivated in a small Danish nursery where the cacti are cuddled daily, apparently. Ouch. Follow then on Instagram for cacti-goals.
The Donut Shop
Once you’ve covered the whole street, turn back and pick up the most garishly coloured doughnut you can find at the tiny bakery, The Donut Shop. All their doughnuts have been hand made on the premises for the last 2 years by a passionate team who love conjuring up new flavours and intolerance-friendly options.
Urban Room no.11
Kobenhavn Nord has pockets of indie shops and cafes and is lovely to simply wander around. Over on Guldbergsgade lies Urban Room, a concept store selling sustainable underwear, minimally packaged beauty products, prints for your walls and all sorts of homeware you’ll definitely want. The window seats in the gallery space and chilled out atmosphere might have you mooching there all day but that’s totally ok.
Around the corner from Urban Room lies Zapoteka – Transatlantic Exchange of Culture & Art, a very special Mexican and Northern Guatemalan textile shop with a big heart and wonderful stories. It was the big Frida Khalo painting outside that got us first, followed by amazing hand-embroidered cushions. Just as we were about to wander on, Dunya got sucked in and there we stayed, trapped listening to the shop keepers’ incredible stories of the 7 different producers she works with.
As she told us more and more about her trips to Mexico and the artisans and cooperatives she works with, the more we bought. We couldn’t stop. I picked up a stunning bright blue and red embroidered table runner, Kristabel picked up a bird cushion cover and Dunya swiped a purse, post cards and goodness knows what else. Visit, ask questions and prepare to be moved.
Now I feel a bit guilty recommending this place when I never actually stopped off here (there’s only so many times a girl can coffee) BUT if I came back, I’d definitely give it a try. Drawn in by the hip, minimalist take on a corner shop, Brus sells my favourite tea brand plus beautifully packaged products from elsewhere around Europe (hello Portuguese sardines). Sit down on a chipboard table for a coffee or outside with friends watching the quiet neighbourhood tick on by. What I didn’t realise was that this was only part of Brus. Behind, within the same building is located a restaurant, bar and brewery. Visit after Zapoteka and Urban Rooms (above), it’s just down on Guldbergsgade in Norrebro.
In the centre of Copenhagen lies a very sweet lunch and coffee spot that may as well be your mates front room. Picked out by Liv, Atelier September is JUST her style, all pinks, white walls and pretty edibles. The Danish like to nibble, with small seasonal plates, reduced menus and little drinks being ‘a thing’ here. We snacked on avo on toast and sampled green tea and home made lemonade whilst people-watching and flower-arrangement-ogling.
The cafe started life down the street as an art boutique selling Gaudi, amongst other big names. It’s since moved down the street and serves as an artists studios with local works hanging on the walls for all to appreciate. Quirky touches include a very open kitchen and a toilet in an outside closet across the street. Oh and the steps out the door? They’re considered another set of seats here.
Arken Modern Art Museum
There was a lot of umming and ahhing in our group as to which modern art museum to visit (it’s a toss up between Louisiana right out of town or Arken, a bit out of town). I’m so glad that we chose the latter as all the exhibitions were beautiful and arresting. Kick-starting your tour is a room of Damien Hursts including those chopped up cows, a mind-blowingly large ‘cake’ made of flies and my favourite, the pill box packaging designs.
Carrie and I accidentally co-ordinated in our matching pink dungarees which went all too well with his works. Another highlight was the Gerda Wegener exhibition which the girls were eager to see. If you’ve seen The Danish Girl film (or in my case have yet to see it), this is an eye-dampening view into the real world of the artists who broke boundaries and used art to disguise and liberate a man who should have been born a woman. Catch it in all its pastel pink and blue glory before it ends in early Jan.
When Carrie first mentioned Gasoline Grill – the burger shop in a petrol station, I can’t say I was blown away. That was until I realised HOW AMAZING the burgers there were. Not one to pass up on the opportunity to sample a local hipster burger joint, I joined Carrie and had no regrets (even if we did have to sit down on a tiny patch of wall next to ramdomers filling their cars with fuel).
Opening at 11am and not closing until they sell out, Gasoline Grill is pretty laid back. Queue, make your order in the tiiiiny booth (there are only really two options to choose from), grab your drink from the fridge and then wait outside until your order pops out of a hole in the wall. The burgers were perfectly soft and juicy with crispy fries that most closely matched Patty & Bun. All in all, delicious and SO worth slobbering over on the side of the road.
I don’t know about you, but I had always associated HAY with those colourful melamine trays that cost a bomb from design stores. I didn’t realise that the Danish company, founded in 2002, started as a furniture store and only started bringing in accessories 3 years later. The flagship store in the shopping area of Østergade 61, shows off beautiful work and living spaces with objects from dog head pots to huge rugs.
Our favourite bit though, was the room with the long shelves of colourful stationery. The simple visual merchandising to so good, you suddenly want everything. With HAYs founding idea being that ‘contemporary design should spring from a good idea, innovative technology and quality materials in combination with joyful, straightforward and uncomplicated aesthetics’, you can see why it’s such a cult brand.
Hotel AC Bella Sky
Our accommodation during our 2-night stay was the epic double-winged, futuristic AC Bella Sky hotel, owned by Marriott. Naturally, we didn’t want to settle on any old hotel in a design capital, so we were delighted when the hotel invited us to stay! With its living walls, spiral staircase, Danish-design rooms, plus the fact that looking up from outside offers a new interesting angle to gawp at every time, the Bella Sky was a great choice for us. Named after Scandinavia’s second largest exhibition centre, the Bella Centre (where Fashion Week is held), the hotel is helping open up the area of Amager Vest where they, and other creative businesses are starting to locate.
It might look far out from the city centre but it’s really not and transport costs are fine (around £2.70 return). We loved our tram ride in and out where the view over the architecturally-exciting developments scattered amongst meadows (especially at sunset) is beautiful. If you’re feeling fancy, pop up to the Sky Bar for an espresso martini, perfected by the head barman (if you ask nicely, he’ll share his secret recipe) or book in at Basalt restaurant for an authentic desert – doughnut on a stick over coals that you dip in chocolate. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you giggle at the shape of it.
The only place we made it to in Copenhagen’s hipster meatpacking district in Kobenhavn Vest was Mother but its simplicity and pure tastiness meant we were satisfied! Dishing out pizzas and pastas alongside italian starters and sides, it was all traditional, authentic goodness. Add in a few cocktails and then we’re talking. Sit in or out, there’s a whole lot of buzz going on around these streets so you could hang out here all evening.
That’s a wrap! This is by no means comprehensive so once I’ve the chance to go back and tick everyone else off the list, I’ll be back for more.
Love the look of Copenhagen? See what I wore on my trip.
Big thanks to the AC Bella Sky Hotel for putting us up for our trip!