Oh my goodness. Copenhagen was just so dreamy! I had the best two days. I could have stayed for longer as there are quite a few more things I wanted to do but didn’t get to do, but hey – now I have a reason to come back! I will say that it was COLD. Very cold. So if you go around this time of year, don’t be like me – pack your snow boots!!! Lots of warm layers. hats, gloves, scarves, etc. Copenhagen is best seen and explored by foot or bicycle, so you’ll want to keep warm!
I’d really like to go back in the Spring at some point. The city has so many cute little floral stands and outdoor cafes… not to mention things that are best done in warmer weather (Tivoli Gardens, a canal tour from Nyhavn)… and everyone rides bicycles. I loved seeing the city in the cold but in the Spring I think it would just be absolutely magical. Also, this time around I stayed in the heart of the city but next time I go I think I will look at hotels or an Air BnB in Frederiksberg – I had dinner there one evening and thought the neighborhood was really cute and charming… with a lot more to see and explore!
Where we stayed:
Hotels in Copenhagen are weird. There are two or three really nice ones that are also very very expensive, a lot of smaller not-so-nice hotels that are really cheap, and not very many great in between options. I booked a room at the Skt. Petri as I had heard from multiple people that it was a good, reliable hotel in a fun, trendy part of town (the Latin Quarter). Literally everyone I talked to said to stay there. As one friend said, “It won’t knock your socks off,” but it’s still very nice… and central to everything! The property is presently undergoing renovations but we had a great experience (and the price was affordable). I would definitely stay there again.
We ate two absolutely incredible meals while I was in Copenhagen. If you plan a trip I would highly recommend both of these places. But also: Blair said amazing things about amass and I am bummed that we didn’t get to go. It’s on the list for next time!
On the first night, my friend Stanley and I went to Geist. The concierge at our hotel spoke very highly of it and I loved it. Our only complaint (from Stanley, not me) is that the food was not nearly instagrammable enough. We had the most delicious enoki mushrooms with capers and jalapeno as a starter (SO GOOD – get them!) and the scallops with chicken wings in lobster sauce (a weird combination!) were heaven. For dessert we went for the salted wasabi cream toffee which was unlike any dessert I’ve ever had (in a good way). But the most fun surprise of all was that they serve you cotton candy with your coffee as a sweetener. A little gimmicky, but such a fun treat!
On my second night I went to Manfreds. This was recommended to me by a friend (he liked it so much that he went two nights in a row – isn’t that a testament?!) and I am so glad that I went. I was by myself so I just sat at the bar with my book (the staff was so friendly and attentive). So get this: Manfreds is a veggie-centric restaurant that is famous for it’s steak tartare. And whoa – the tartare is amazing. I did the chef’s tasting menu and the sommelier’s choice for wines as I wanted to experience the best they had to offer. Everything was so good. I had the tartare + maybe seven or eight little plates of mostly vegetables. My favorite thing I ate is going to sound really strange but it was so so delicious! It was basically miniature onion leaves that were cooked in strawberry juice and then topped off with shavings of a hard Danish cheese. I don’t even really like onions but this one dish was spectacular.
Coffee / Lunch / Snacks:
Coffee Industry is a great little spot for coffee and snacks. I couldn’t find a website for them so I linked to their Facebook page. I had a delicious Americano and a ham + cheese croissant for breakfast one day. Scrumptious… + they have free wifi!
Paludan Books is so so charming. I walked by it in the evening and could see everyone inside, drinking wine. To me it is your quintessential European cafe. Warm and cozy… every wall is lined in books… ambient lighting. I went for breakfast and had a great omelette + an iced latte. They also have free wifi. I’d love to go back for wine… I could see myself curling up in a corner of the library with a good book!
What to Do, + Shopping:
Nyhavn: This is where all of those pretty colorful buildings I posted to Instagram are located – right along the canal. Grab lunch or a hot cocktail at any one of the cozy little cafes along the water (do a canal tour – if it’s warm enough! It was freezing and snowy when we went so sadly there weren’t even any tours running.) You’ll want to bring your best camera and take alllll of the photos… it’s truly just so beautiful and picturesque! Along the far edge there is a fence with locks (see: top photo from this post), which also makes for a great photo opp. Fun fact: Hans Christen Andersen (the famous Danish fairytale author) used to live at no. 20 on this street.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is an absolute must. It is about an hour outside the city on the ocean but really easy to get to by train (or you can make the mistake we did and spend $100 on a taxi – eek… we took the train home!) The building is (roughly) circular in shape with a courtyard in the middle, meaning you can make your way around, stopping at the cafe (so cozy with a few big fireplaces). While we visited there were a lot of great artists on display but my favorite was Hans-Peter Feldmann. He would buy more traditional works of art and then add his own little irreverent touches to them (think crossed eyes, clown noses, etc). The museum store is also incredible – it’s huge and felt almost like a department store (two floors of gifts, ceramics, clothing, accessories – etc!) PS – in case you were wondering, the museum has absolutely nothing to do with Louisiana – it got it’s name because the original owner of the property (Alexander Brun), married three women – all named Louise! I know it’s a hike to get there but it’s definitely worth spending an afternoon if you love art and design.
I loved the Danish Design Museum, aka Designmuseum Denmark. You can do this one in just an hour or so but they had some great exhibits. While I was there, they had a fashion exhibit, a very comprehensive exhibit dedicated to Japanese art + design, and (my personal fav) an exhibit dedicated entirely to the Danish chair. I’ve always loved the sleek lines of Scandinavian furniture – it was fun getting to learn a bit more about it.
Illums Bolighus is another absolute must. I actually didn’t buy anything but man, I wanted to. I spent a solid hour just wandering, picking up beautiful objects and then putting them back. The store focuses predominantly on home decor (beautiful ceramics, housewares, etc) but they also have a pretty extensive clothing department and they stock a slew of amazing Scandinavian skincare products. I wanted to move in – everything in the store was so chic. For more shopping, check out HAY as well. I didn’t make it there but heard good things!!!
Rosenborg Castle Gardens. This isn’t really something to do but more something to walk through. It’s so pretty – the trees remind me of Narnia. It’s pretty central (I walked through on my way to the Design Museum) and worth taking the scenic route for.
Tortus ranked very high on our to-do list as Stanley followed them on Instagram (they’ve got a massive following with over 655k fans!!) Their ceramics are BEAUTIFUL. Think sleek lines, traditional Danish design, etc. We were sad to see that we could not afford anything made by the owner (Eric Landon) but I ended up purchasing two really beautiful simple tumblers designed by his assistant Tasja. The tumblers were the only thing I bought in Copenhagen and I am looking forward to being back home in New York and drinking my coffee out of them every morning!
Random things to know if you’re planning a trip:
- Uber is in Copenhagen but it’s still pretty new and the drivers can get in trouble (I am honestly not entirely sure about the details here) so they may ask you to sit in the front seat with them. Taxis can be tricky to find and I couldn’t pronounce most of the street names so I was most comfortable either walking or using Uber. I never felt unsafe and it’s totally reliable, just don’t be weirded out if your driver asks you to sit in front with them!
- Rent a bike! This city is VERY bicycle friendly. I did not rent one (the two days I was there it was snowy and icy) but the city is built for bikes – every street has a bike lane, and no one even locks their bicycles up. It’s the perfect way to get around and see more of the city!
- The city is very safe. If you are planning a solo trip, Copenhagen is a great place to go.
- Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t speak the language. I always at least try to, but every single person I encountered spoke perfect English… they usually just laughed at me and
- When heading home, definitely give yourself a solid two hours to get through security, immigration, etc. I don’t usually do this and I’m glad I did. For a smaller city the airport is sprawling, and it takes a little while to get through all the various checkpoints.
photos of me by Stanley Isaacs.