A Weekend in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the epitome of Scandi cool. Danish design, New Nordic tables, cycling commuters and candles spreading the hygge feel. Home to one of the happiest nations on earth, the Danish capital is the perfect choice for a hip, laid-back weekend destination. With bright, bold townhouses lining the canals, whether you’re visiting on two wheels or two feet, it’s hard not to fall in love with this waterfront city.
Where to stay
Manon les Suites is up there as one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever visited. Rooms are laid out around the central pool filled with cascading tropical plants and lounging four-poster beds. There’s a sun-trapped roof terrace while the basement hides a fully-equipped gym including boxing ring, that runs classes throughout the week. The all-suite rooms each have a four-poster bed in equal parts Scandic-Cool and Danish hygge.
Get your bearings by wandering around the historic centre. Start off in Nyhavn, Copehagen’s picture perfect canal harbour, filled with anchored boats and colourful 17th century townhouses. This was once a busy commercial port and three properties were home to H.C. Andersen, but it is now more famous for the cosy restaurants and cafes that line the quayside. Perfect on a summers day or snuggle under a blanket and a heating lamp in the winter, it is always a nice place to enjoy.
Strøget is the heart of Copenhagen and Europe’s longest pedestrian street. It’s lined with luxury designers as well as some more common high-street names and the streets coming off it are all packed with Scandi design shops that are hard to resist.
Visit Amalienborg, the main royal residence with an octagonal central courtyard that is open to the public. Every day at noon the changing of the guards takes place.
Continue walking north along the waterfront and you’ll eventually reach the Little Mermaid. Inspired by H.C. Andersen’s famous fairytale, the Little Mermaid is one of Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attractions. It is one of those tourist sights that is slightly underwhelming, being about a meter high but surrounded at all times by hordes of selfie-stick bearing tourists.
If that isn’t you’re thing, save yourself some time and instead take the boat from Nyhavn over to Refshaleøen, the new home of Copenhagen Street Food since the recent closing of Papirøen. The new space in Refshaleøen is three times as big as Papirøen and has a focus on organic food in a sustainable manner, giving opportunities to food entrepreneurs. You can order from any of the food stalls and eat at the tables in the middle, making it a great place to meet with friends.
Take the boat back to Nyhavn and walk through Kongens Nytorv, dominated by the landmark Hotel d’Angleterre, the grande dame hotel of Copenhagen complete with a ritzy guest list. Balthazar is the first Champagne Bar in Copenhagen and the spot to head to for the afternoon enjoy your first Danish skål in style.
Hidden behind an unmarked door, Ruby is everything you would want from a cocktail bar. Being tucked away, you really feel as though you’re uncovering a secret and with several different cosy rooms and secluded tables, this really feels like something special. The high ceilings have a very Scandi feel while the candles complete the hygge feel. It gets busy later in the evening, so come before dinner when you can engage with the friendly team of bartenders who will perfectly concoct for you whatever your heart desires.
For dinner, Denmark is famous for it’s New Nordic cuisine and is quickly increasing it’s plant based offerings. From fast food to Michelin stars and everything in between. Read more here.
Manon les Suites is perfectly positioned for a morning run around Copenhagen’s Lakes. Centrally located and stretching 6.3km all the way around. The car free Norrebro side is a peaceful place to hang out year round, with cafe terraces facing out to the water. During the summer you can rent rowing boats next to Dronning Louises Bridge.
Hire a bicycle to become a real Copenhagener for the day. Copenhagen was built for bikes, all main streets have a wide, separate cycling lane where Copenhagians of all ages can be seen riding their bikes everywhere. It’s even tourist-friendly!
Cycle over to Copenhagen’s trendy Norrebro district, packed with hygge cafes to that satisfy your brunch needs. Not only does Copenhagen have a reputation for it’s outstanding food, it also serves some of the best coffee in Europe. And with that comes a flourishing coffee culture to get your caffeine fix at. Brunch plates are one of the best things about Copenhagen, serving a plate with a little bit of everything.
Moller Kaffe & Kokken is a bustling cafe that’s always popular with locals. Create your own smorgasbord from the menu of over 20 small dishes with selections to please everyone. If porridge is more your thing, you can’t leave Copenhagen without visiting Grød which serves every combination of porridge you can imagine with every topping there ever was.
The gardens of Rosenborg castle are the country’s oldest royal gardens, established in the early 1600s. Today it’s a popular meeting place in the centre of Copenhagen, visited by an estimated 2.5 million people each year. The lawns are crowded with sun-worshipers on warm days and during Copenhagen Jazz Festival a small stage brings bands to play here.
Torvehallerne is an essential stop on the Copenhagen foodie trail. A self proclaimed super market consisting of two separate glass buildings next to each other, lined with independent vendors selling everything from fresh fruit & veg to huge plants of fresh herbs, piles of nuts, organic beauty products, fresh pressed juices and cafes with beautiful pastries.
Getting out onto the water will give you a different perspective of the Danish capital. You can be your own captain on board a GoBoat, your own solar-powered picnic boat. Rent your boat from the GoBoat pavilion next to Islands Brygge harbour bath. With a speed of three knots, you don’t require a sailing licence with the small blue boats moving slowly and silently through the canals.
On a sunny day, take some time to soak up the rays at Islands Brygge where locals gather to swim in the water, dive from platforms and laze on the banks of the canal.
If you’re looking for a boat trip where you will learn more about the canals of Copenhagen, you can take the Grand Tour canal cruise departing regularly from Nyhavn where you will be taken to the Copenhagen Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, the Black Diamond Library and of course, the Little Mermaid.
Bagging a seat at the hottest table in town is difficult but not impossible. Chef René Redzepi is known as the creator of New Nordic Cuisine. His 2 star Michelin restaurant and four times World’s Best Restaurant is known to have a waitlist each evening of over 1,000 people but lives every bit up to its hype. They recently moved to a new location at a small urban farm in Refshaleøen where the three seasons, sea, vegetable and game & forest, are as creative as ever, with foraging and fermenting forming essential components in the menu creation.
If you aren’t able to get a reservation at Noma, you’re still in luck with the influence being felt throughout the city. So many of the top chefs that worked with René Redzepi have gone on to open their own restaurants. 108 restaurant was the first Noma spin-off to open with the chef, formerly of Noma, adhering to the foraging-pickling-fermenting culinary philosophy. They have an à la carte menu, prices are more modest and seats are reserved for walk-ins making 108 a more accessible option.
Close to Christiania, Copenhagen’s Freetown area, The Organic Boho serves delicious brunch plates and the most beautiful açai bowls I’ve ever seen. Stop for brunch before taking a walk through the self-governing town of Christiania, a self-proclaimed anarchist district with a mix of hand-built houses, galleries, music venues and cheap eats. Be aware that visitors are advised not to take photos in this area, there are a list of do’s and don’ts at the entrance which it’s best to take good note of.
Tivoli is the world’s second oldest amusement park, built in 1843, and was a source of inspiration for both H.C. Andersen and Walt Disney. As well as it’s twinkly lights, wooden roller coaster and carousel, the manicured gardens and lake are lovely for a stroll. In the summer, live concerts are held by well known artists on Friday evenings, while at Christmas the whole complex gets illuminated in Christmas lights.
Probably the most architecturally stunning brewery in the world, Carlsberg’s first brewery is today a museum that is well worth a visit. Greeting visitors at the gate are four life-size elephants holding the gate, bearing Carl Jacobsen’s motto “Laboremus pro patria”, we work for our country. Here you can discover the history of Carlsberg beer while seeing the world’s largest beer bottle collection, an old brew house, award-winning stables and finish off in the bar with a real beer tasting experience where beers are served that aren’t available outside of the brewery.
There is a lot to pack into a weekend in Copenhagen, but it’s also a city that’s all about experiencing the feeling of being Danish and trying for a few days to join the ranks of the world’s happiest. Wandering it’s colourfully cobbled paths and enjoying the taste of their locally brewed coffees or toasting a skål in the hygge candlelit cafes that are dotted all over the city. It’s a city to get out on two wheels and take life at a slower pace, where people know exactly how to enjoy life. And even if you see nothing but just soak it all up, you’ll come home just that little but happier too.