Boarding the plane to Copenhagen I had little more aspirations than to maybe sample a few Danish Pastries and perhaps try the local delicacy of Smorresbord (also known as the open sandwich). But apart from that my expectations were low. I’d already redecorated our hallway after inspiration from scouring Airbnb for an apartment so I was expecting this little weekend break away to be no more than a light immersion in Scandinavian cuisine and culture, and to be fair – I was very content with that prospect, it seemed like a decent way to wile away the weekend. I wasn’t prepared to be blown away, but blown away I was!
Did you know, the Danes are apparently the happiest nation in the world, to the point where they’ve even made up their own word for this heightened state; Hygge. Don’t ask me to pronounce it but it means a quiet, happy, cosy atmosphere of people having a good time, a ‘make the most’ way of life. As soon as you arrive you feel like you’ve been slapped in the face by Hygge; people smiling, welcoming hotel staff – including the cleaners, and before we’d even got to our hotel room some guy had offered to let us borrow his apartment for the weekend! What a lovely bunch.
And when it comes to researching your itinerary pre-trip, you find that visiting Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid sculpture seems to be the extent of all they feel this gorgeous city has to offer, and yet if I was a local I’d feel pretty annoyed about this – we spent 3 days there and still don’t feel like we’ve scratched the surface! We’re already making plans to return to absorb everything we missed.
If you’re into your food like us, you won’t believe the quality and quantity on offer. Copenhagen boasts 20 Michelin stars to its restaurants and locals tell you that every day a cool new place opens up. But it’s not all expensive high class food joints; Street Food is an open food market on ‘Paper Island’ in Christianshalvn – indoors, because the weathers not always great, full of street food and drink stalls from every corner of the earth, surrounding a communal seating area where you can consume your fare and ogle everyone else’s choice too. Plenty of stalls hand out tasters and I had a bit of a moment when I couldn’t quite make my decision. I stuck with my original plan of sampling the salmon and avocado Smorresbord, after all, when in Rome…
I need not have worried about missing out on other temptations though as Rich regularly disappeared only to return with another plateful of something! The great thing about this place too is that most of the stalls offer a smaller portion option as well, so you get to try a selection if you want.
Just down the street from the market is the area known as Christiania, a self-governing commune or ‘free town’, known for its liberal inhabitants and different way of life with their own set of society rules completely independent of the Danish government. I’d read travel blogs beforehand about how it’s cool to just roam the area and take it all in (by ‘it’ I presume they mean the constant aroma of hash!). One sign read ‘We have 3 rules; Have fun, Don’t run & No photo’s’, personally though, it just made me feel like breaking one and legging it!! I hated it. I’m glad I’ve seen it but my inner conservative angel wanted to reach the EU asap and absorb the hygge again – I don’t do well with the seedy side of life.
On the other hand you have to see Nyhavn. What a great spot! And take the boat tour too – it’s only an hour out of your day and costs a mere £4, but it’ll afford you the opportunity to get your bearings, maybe see areas you haven’t got time to explore otherwise and a sneaky peek of the little mermaid herself (from the boat, so no need to elbow-bash fellow tourists)
Indre By Neighbourhood
We stayed in the area called Indre By, which is near the university. I’m not sure it’d be my area of choice next time as I think somewhere around the main station is probably more central to everything, but it did mean we could find some pretty cheap bars and coffee shops – something which you do have to search for in this city. In general food is only slightly more expensive than in Britain, and certainly no more than London or Paris, but having the student haunts on your doorstep comes in handy if you want to save a bit here and there. My favourite spot in this area, definitely worth a mention, was a little establishment called Paludan. Simple fare and great sweet treats served in a makeshift library with comfy chairs and sofa’s, we went back one night for a beer too and the atmosphere was so chilled and relaxed.
Top Tips For Copenhagen…
When we come again we’d definitely want to be a stones-throw to the meat packing area, known as Kødbyen, purely for the amount of on-trend eating and drinking establishments in an evening. After a tip from our concierge about where the locals eat we took the hike, in the rain, and felt every sodden step was worth it. Imagine a load of basic warehouses, all looking identical to the next, but occupied by chefs that started out in Copenhagens many Michelin starred joints. Et voila, you’re left with the best places to eat in town, buzzing with atmosphere at prices everyone can afford. We stumbled across a Texan BBQ joint cum brew-pub called WarPigs, ran by a guy who’s cheffed for the likes of Slipknot and Van Halen. We enjoyed our pulled pork, brisket and mac’n’cheese sat amongst the huge beer vats that were quietly nursing the contents of 22 different brews. The decor might be reminiscent of the slaughter house it used to be, and the hundreds of mini cacti do nothing to soften it’s face but all of that just adds to the cool of it.
We didn’t only eat our way around this beautiful town – we took a trip to the Carlsberg museum (which probably isn’t the best museum in the world, but the two free beers helped), the National Museum (which possibly did have the best World War II exhibition I’ve ever seen), we wandered the pretty neighbourhood of Vesterbro and I dragged Richard into Illums Bolighus – oh boy, that shop is sooo beautiful, this flagship store of Danish design even left my husband rubbing his knees!
What a wonderful place, and a great introduction to Scandinavia. No doubt we’ll be back soon!
Have you been? Or do you have another Scandinavian city to recommend? Drop me a line below, I’ve love to know your thoughts…
We returned in the Summer with the family because we couldn’t wait to show them around too – read more about our 2nd trip to the city and the best things to do with kids, here
For the best hotel deals in Copenhagen, click here
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