Soon after arriving in Copenhagen, you will realise why Denmark was voted the world’s happiest country. How could you not be blissfully elated when surrounded by classical old buildings, a focus on green living, an ample supply of bicycles and lots of friendly locals?
In contrast to the rest of my Scandinavian trip, I found food reasonably priced but clothes much more expensive, which at least saved my wardrobe from extra padding. Copenhagen is another one of those cities that is hard to see in its entirety in a day or two. However, I suggest the following as part of any good jam-packed trip around the capital:
- Breakfast at Grød in Norrebro – Grød is an epic porridge bar, and as such is both a tribute to this Danish tradition and an experiment in the colour, texture and flavour of the humble grain. Serving variants of porridge including oats, chia, gluten free grains, congee, barley risotto and granola in both sweet and savoury varieties, Grød proves that the humble oat can be enjoyed at any time of the day! I visited three times in my four days in Copenhagen and can attest that it was hard to choose a favourite between the pea barley risotto, the skyr yogurt with house granola, and the gluten free porridge with every topping they have. I fell so much in love that I even purchased their stunning porridge cookbook for back home.
- Explore Norrebro – a quirky and relatively tourist free district of Copenhagen, Norrebro has only recently transformed into a cosmopolitan suburb thriving with stylish houses, cute boutiques, quirky cafes and vintage thrift stores. The Main Street () is great for some inexpensive vintage and secondhand stores, which is in contrast to Copenhagan’s otherwise expensive clothes shopping (particularly when paying in AUD). Other gems include Istid liquid nitrogen ice cream (with vegan cookie dough on the menu!), Ro Chocolade chocolate store and Brus microbrewery for their bar food (all of which featured on the amazing Foods of Copenhagen Tour!).
- Walk across bridge to Rosenberg castle and gardens – even if you don’t brave the crowds and visit inside the castle, the outside is an impressive site. It was the gardens that got my attention though with its stunning and immaculate display of flowers, perfectly groomed hedges and sculptures (cause for an Instagram field day, no filter needed!). The inside of the castle costs $25AUD but the gardens are free to visit.
- Pass by Torvehalle for lunch – We all know that I absolutely LOVE food halls as they are often cheaper, with wider variety and with a great cross section of cuisine native to the country itself. Torvehalle is another brilliant example of this, with everything from fresh meat and fish to flowers, fresh fruit, wine, cheese, baked goods, luxe chocolate, pantry items and even a mini Grød cafe! Definitely try a fancy smørrebrød while you’re here, and you can’t leave without trying some traditional Danish cheese.
- Walk down to the round tower and climb it – a chance to walk off the cheese from lunch and admire a spectacular view of Copenhagen that extends all the way out to Sweden on a clear day. The tower has no stairs (making it friendly on the knees!) but instead a sloping ramp that twists around the tower 7.5 times. Along the way you’ll find the bell tower room and an unexpectedly magnificent modern art museum. For $5AUD entry, it’s worth it for the view alone.
- Stroll down the osterbro – this is the main shopping street in Copenhagen and more of a tourist destination than anything else. You’ll find your usual culprits like H&M etc here, but there are some great little cafes in the side streets off the main drag.
- Walk down to the visit Christiansborg palace and its kitchen – this palace has been burned down so many times that the ruins have its own exhibition area in the current building. The palace is magnificent and although the visit to the rooms and the kitchen will cost $30AUD, it is well worth it. The reception rooms are stunningly beautiful and straight from the pages of a fairytale (particularly the library which you could swear was from Beauty and the Beast). The copper filled kitchen is also a great exhibition detailing the making of a kings feast (including many of the sights and smells involved!).
- Continue walking down to Nyhavn for some great photos – I was forewarned from a mate that this area is more touristy and totally agree, but it definitely makes for some great photos! Like all good tourist destinations, the area used to be inhabited by sailors and their prostitutes, but now it’s filled with ambient colours and a vibrant atmosphere that only large numbers of people enjoying the hassle and bussle of life can create. Avoid the cafes as they are overpriced, but there’s plenty of icecream stores to keep your appetite at bay until dinner.
- Jump on a boat and do a canal cruise – there are a few companies that operate out of the canal in Nyhavn with most operating for an hour. The cruise guides you through the canals and into the main harbour, and includes sailing under a number of the low set bridges (which in high tide require legitimate ducking!). The tours are given in English, Danish and one other language and are a good way to see The Black Diamond, The Little Mermaid statue etc.
- Finish with dinner at Copenhagen Street Food – walk across the bridge from Nyhavn onto Papion, the paper island, and you’ll find Copenhagan’s answer to the fashionable and delicious multicultural street food movement. Everything from vegan to Italian to pan-Asian to burger porn and cocktails are found here, and it’s a great spot to grab a few different things and sit on a deck chair in the sun over the harbour.