A long weekend in Copenhagen

June 15, 2017 in Denmark,Europe,Places

I’m honestly surprised it took me this long to visit Copenhagen! I worked for a high-end Danish furniture company in Australia, where I learned a ton about the iconic Scandinavian designers and became enamored with the concept of hygge. And then I moved to New York City, and had a succession of three wonderful roommates who all studied abroad in Copenhagen and absolutely loved it.Nyhavn colorful buildings in Copenhagen, Denmark

Even though I didn’t have a ton of time to sneak away for my birthday this year (a few big changes coming up!), I wanted to take advantage of being a not-too-long direct flight away from Europe. So I convinced my friend Renee to pop over from London (to be honest, she didn’t take much convincing) for a travel buddy reunion in Scandinavia. We didn’t have any huge plans, but we managed to pack in a lot of wandering down cobblestone streets, drinking delicious Danish beers in the sunshine, eating open-faced sandwiches and swooning over all of the beautiful home goods. In short: it was the perfect start to 29!

Airbnb in Copenhagen, Denmark

To begin with: we stayed in an absolutely adorable Airbnb. I was dying over how casually perfect the whole thing was! Such a lovely example of laid-back and colorful Scandinavian design. The hosts also gave us so many great local tips when we checked in, which was super helpful. It’s a little bit from the center of town and all of the touristy destinations (about 30 minutes), but we didn’t mind the walk and we loved exploring the Vesterbro neighborhood. So many cute shops and sidewalk cafes! P.s. if you’ve never used Airbnb, you can use this link to get $20 off your first stay! Lunch at Cafe Dyrehaven in Vesterbro, Copenhagen

Based on a recommendation from our Airbnb host, my first meal in Copenhagen was at Dyrehaven–a cafe and bar popular with locals just a short walk from the apartment. It was my first taste of all the Scandinavian things: an open-faced sandwich on rye bread with plenty of dill, mayonnaise-covered potatoes, cucumber and red onions! I really have no idea how you’re supposed to eat these gracefully, but it was darn good. I also accidentally ordered a shot of schnapps because I saw homemade on the menu and thought “snaps” was some sort of homemade soda. Nope! Quite the move after a red-eye and before a solo afternoon of adventuring.

Christine Amorose and Renee Eggers in Copenhagen, Denmark

One thing I’d definitely recommend doing: a canal tour! In general, I always like being able to see a new city from a different perspective–and being on the water in summer is always so pleasant. We opted for one of the local operators (about $6 as opposed to $12 on the Gray Line option with a million different languages offered). Lovely way to spend an hour, and a great way to get a bit oriented to the city!

View from the Round Tower in Copenhagen, DenmarkRound Tower in Copenhagen, Denmark

To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by the view from the top of the Round Tower–Copenhagen doesn’t have a ton of tall or very iconic buildings–but i think most of the appeal is the journey up to the top in the gorgeous circular tower!

Tivoli Park in Copenhagen, DenmarkTivoli Park in Copenhagen, DenmarkTivoli Park in Copenhagen, Denmark Tivoli Park in Copenhagen, Denmark

Without a doubt, the highlight of my birthday (and likely our trip) was our visit to Tivoli Gardens–which was totally unexpected. A few friends recommended visiting this “theme park” and I’m definitely NOT a theme park person (other than Ferris wheels, those I love). I’ll dive more into all of Tivoli on a future post, but for now, let me just say that it was so so so fun: it’s located right in the middle of the city, and it’s SO beautiful. And getting an unlimited ride pass totally made me feel like a kid again: we rode all of the rides (sometimes twice!) and roasted marshmallows over an open flame and just generally had the best time.

Madd & Kaffe brunch in Copenhagen, Denmark Madd & Kaffe brunch in Copenhagen, Denmark

Mad & Kaffe is a super popular brunch spot that wasn’t too far from where we were staying. It’s a fun concept–you choose a bunch of little plates to make up your own brunch. You can choose three, five or seven dishes–we went with three each, which I don’t think was quite enough. BUT that gave us extra room in our stomachs to splurge on a big lunch and an extra cinnamon roll for an afternoon snack!

Cinnamon roll in Copenhagen, Denmark

Confirming that cinnamon roll from a random bakery was delicious when we were on the border of hangriness in the afternoon.

Copenhagen Botanical Garden Copenhagen Botanical Garden Copenhagen Botanical Garden

We unexpectedly stumbled upon the University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden, which was such a lovely surprise! I couldn’t believe the spiral staircase in the middle of the greenhouse.

Paludan's Book & Cafe in Copenhagen

One of my friends who studied abroad in Copenhagen (and who knows just what I love) recommended stopping by Paludan. It’s the most adorable bookstore-cafe that provided a nice respite for weary legs.

Torvehallern Food market in Copenhagen, DenmarkTorvehallern Food market in Copenhagen, Denmark Torvehallern Food market in Copenhagen, Denmark

Torvehallerne was a great little food market: we grabbed lunch here one day, and then picked up a few provisions to take with us to the airport on our last day. It’s a nice mix of farmers market produce and flowers and prepared food stalls with everything from traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches to tacos and sushi. Our favorite stop was the Mikkeller & Friends Bottle Shop: everyone who worked there was so knowledgeable and friendly, and the beers were delicious. Since there aren’t any open container laws in Denmark, it was great to pick up a cold can to go with our lunch–and we actually bought a couple to take on the boat tour with us as well!

Christiana in Copenhagen, DenmarkChristiana in Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the most unique places in Copenhagen has to be Freetown Christiana. It’s a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood that started as a hippie enclave in the 1970’s. Normal Danish law doesn’t apply there–namely to marijuana–so there’s an open market for weed in the middle of it. We don’t smoke, but it was still really interesting to take a walk through and see the place–especially with all of the artists who are there too!

Paper Island food market in Copenhagen, DenmarkPaper Island food market in Copenhagen, DenmarkPaper Island food market in Copenhagen, DenmarkPaper Island food market in Copenhagen, Denmark

After Christiana, we walked over to Copenhagen Street Food at Paper Island. It’s a food market on the water–super similar to Smoragasburg in Brooklyn–and it’s packed full of tourists. That said, it had great vibes and so many options for delicious food! The best part is probably the little gin and tonic bar–we opted for gin and tonics infused with rhubarb that tasted just like summer.

Illum Rooftop in Copenhagen, Denmark View from Illum Department Store RooftopIllum department store in Copenhagen, Denmark

Despite the fact that I’m currently packing up and decluttering my life, we spent a good amount of time browsing and shopping. I just loved all of the home goods–so simple but so lovely. And the department stores themselves are all so beautiful! We explored Magasin, Illum and plenty of others. My favorite was the rooftop at Illum: there are a bunch of restaurants and cafes, and gorgeous views of the center of the city.

Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen, Denmark Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the more random things that I like to do in new cities is wander through cemeteries. They’re usually really beautiful and quiet, and sometimes they give interesting insight into a culture. We took a nice walk through Assistens Cemetery, which was full of hedges and tall trees–making it feel more like a garden and less like a cemetery since you couldn’t see all the tombstones stretched out before you. To make it a bit more of a “cultural” visit, we also saw Hans Christen Andersen’s grave.

 

Grod bowls breakfast in Copenhagen, Denmark

Groed is definitely one of those places that I’d go to all the time if I lived in Copenhagen. It had the most delicious oats, chia and acai bowls topped with lots of fresh fruit. YUM. Brodflov pastries in Copenhagen, Denmark

On the other side of the spectrum (and literally across the street from the Fredricksberg Groed location), I’d also go to Brodflov all the time. These pastries were so flaky and full of flavor. We had a traditional cinnamon roll, one with poppy seeds and what seemed like layers of buttery dough, and one filled with rhubarb compote. My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

Parrot playground in Vesterbro, Copenhagen

Ah, I love the playgrounds in Europe! They’re all so creative and innovative and FUN–probably because they’re a little dangerous, ha! (Somewhat related: I loved this piece in the NYTimes on how cool playgrounds are in Berlin.) We walked by this little park on our way back to our Airbnb, and I just loved how fun this parrot slide was. Meatpacking District restaurants in Copenhagen, DenmarkMother pizza in Copenhagen, Denmark

Another really cool spot for a ton of restaurants and bars was the Meatpacking District: there is also a bit of a street food pop-up on the weekends. We had dinner at Mother–while sitting outside in the sunshine at 9pm–and the pizza and the people-watching was fantastic.

Vesterbro neighborhood in Copenhagen, DenmarkBookstore in Copenhagen, DenmarkVesterbro neighborhood in Copenhagen, DenmarkBike in Copenhagen, Denmark

A lot of the fun in Copenhagen was just wandering around the streets. There were so many adorable flower shops, colorful doors, people enjoying the sunshine–and, of course, all of the bikes. We didn’t rent bikes when we were there, but it’s definitely a super bike-friendly city. Next time!

Christine Amorose and Renee Eggers in Copenhagen, Denmark

Shoutout to this lady for still being one of my favorite travel buddies! We had so much fun catching up on all of the gossip and swooning over all of the things that Scandinavians do so well.

Copenhagen postcards

What would you be most excited to do in Copenhagen? Is there anything that I missed that I have to do on my next trip? 

  • I was in Copenhagen last December and it was … definitely not that. I found the city rather cold, not just literally, but also architecturally and emotionally. I did love Tivoli gardens, that was probably my favorite part. And the food was amazing, rich and diverse – definitely a surprise even though I didnt have any particular expectations about Danish food. But I couldnt get over the expense of things, museums closing at 3pm on a Saturday, and Freetown Christianity is probably the most uncomfortable I have ever felt anywhere in Europe…

  • Brandy

    Great pictures! Those cinnamon rolls look amazing. I need to go back to Copenhagen some day – I was there for two days on my way home from Berlin, but even though it was the end of August, it rained pretty much the entire time I was there, and the temperature dropped down into the 40s. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of weather, and doing things like the boat tour were sort of miserable. I can see it being an amazing city to visit when the weather is good, though. Glad you got to visit before you head to San Diego!

  • Kathi

    I have been to Denmark so many times but only made it to Copenhagen last October. It’s such a lovely city. I was actually trying to come up with a reason why I had to study again just to be able to do it there. Ha. Also loved Tivoli in October – perfect Halloween decorations!
    And, great pictures! 🙂

  • Isabel

    such a great wrap-up! how did you find the cost of food, etc compared to paris or another expensive city in europe?

  • camorose

    I wonder how much the feeling of the city differs in summer versus winter. The costs didn’t feel that different than NYC or any other major European city to me, and I will say that we didn’t venture into many museums. That said, everyone was outside and enjoying the beautiful weather, whether it was at a sidewalk cafe or in a park or on the banks of the water–so the entire city felt very friendly and welcoming to us. The seasons do seem to vary pretty drastically in Scandinavia–would be interesting to see how much that affects the tourist experience.

  • camorose

    Yes! When the sun was shining and the skies were blue, it was incredible. A little chillier at times than I would have liked, but overall, the weather was much better than the weather apps predicted–so we were pleasantly surprised!

  • camorose

    My friend was in Copenhagen last during Christmas, and she said Tivoli was decorated amazingly for that too. I bet they go all out for every holiday–I love it!

  • camorose

    Pretty standard. It’s definitely not cheap but I didn’t find it considerably more than NYC, especially when it came to food and drink. Our Airbnb was pretty reasonable as well. I will say that we opted for a lot of free/cheap activities — browsing in department stores, wandering the streets, street food, etc.

  • You packed in so much for just a weekend!!!! WOW. I want to do it all!! And I can’t believe I haven’t yet. Although to be honest, it’s almost entirely due to cost. Every time I price it out it’s just insane.

  • Natalia Cooke (The Petite Expl

    Such a underrated city. I went in winter and LOVED it. However, despite all the festive cheer, I’d love to visit again during the summer.

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