Four days in Copenhagen

After four days in Stockholm, we hopped on a quick Norwegian air flight to Copenhagen, and while I liked Sweden, I loved Copenhagen. The city feels more modern and yet more old-world European at the same time—I think the two sides are integrated more harmoniously. Plus the food is amazing, and I felt that the Danes have an overall zest for life, which I appreciated. It probably helped that they were having record-breaking heat while we were there, with (rare for them) temperatures in the 80s. If I had to do this trip over again, I probably would have shaved a day off of Stockholm and added one to Copenhagen, but hey, I guess we'll just have to go back (which I would absolutely do in a heartbeat). Here's what we did in our four days in Copenhagen.

Day one
We arrived around lunchtime and couldn't yet check into our hotel, so we headed to Nyhavn to grab lunch. This is probably one of the most iconic areas of Copenhagen; it used to be where the sailors went to, ahem, let off some steam, but now it's home to a bunch of restaurants and bars. The area caters to tourists but doesn't feel super touristy, however it is a bit expensive—our lunch at Havfruen was delicious, but nearly $90 for a drink and an entree each.

We swung by Amalienbourg Palace, where the Danish royal family lives, on the way back to our hotel; this is where the changing of the guard happens daily, and you can also tour the palace, although we were too late to do so (Danes follow rules to a T, as I learned). Instead, we went to Designmuseum Denmark, which is devoted to modern Danish industrial (and fashion) design and is a must-see for fans of midcentury modern furniture. My favorite part was the chair exhibit, which was basically a study on how difficult it is to design the perfect chair—once you read all of the backstory about weight, packability, comfort, and so on, you realize it's harder than it seems!

For dinner, we hit Almanak and ate outside along the canal, which was lovely, as all the Danes were out enjoying the warm weather and daylight (the sun set around 9:30 but it stayed light until at least 10pm). This was our first taste of modern Danish cuisine—they're very into seasonality and foraging—and not only was the food delicious, the presentation was visually stunning.

Day two
We had finished the previous evening with a nightcap at Apollo Bar and were intrigued by the artwork in the courtyard of Kunsthal Charlottenborg, so we went back to check out the full museum. It's small but with so many video art installations, you could spend hours there. I most enjoyed a film from the '80s featuring an extravagant rube-goldberg machine, but we found the pro-EU exhibition to be the most thought-provoking (and timely). If you are a fan of contemporary and especially installation art, it's worth checking out.

For lunch, we hit Atelier September and had the most delicious avocado toast (it would make a good breakfast spot as well). And then, we shopped. Copenhagen has two big department stores; Magasin du Nord is kind of like a Macy's, and Illum is more like Neiman Marcus, with a gorgeous top-floor food hall and outdoor restaurants and bars. (You can guess which one was my favorite.) The streets surrounding the two department stores are home to much of the good shopping; Christian IX's Gade has a lot of the high-end stuff (including an Isabel Marant) and Stroget has more of the high-street stores. I recommend local Copenhagen brands Wood Wood, Ganni, and Stine Goya.

After all that shopping, we needed a drink (or two), and we wanted to explore another neighborhood, so we headed to Fredricksburg and hit Mikkeller, which is a microbrewer (but they happen to have delicious gin and tonics too). After that, we hit Lidkoeb, which makes delicious cocktails that go down a bit too easily. We finished up with dinner at Pluto, which was kind of a tapas-gastropub hybrid; it was not my favorite meal of the trip, but it was a lively place and seemed more suited to drinking (and grazing).

Day three
I was told that there were crown jewels at Rosenborg Castle, so that was high on my list. Two things to note: one, you are basically not allowed to bring any bags into the castle (but there are tiny lockers), so plan accordingly. Two, the crown jewels are in the very last room of the entire thing, so know that you have to traipse through the entire castle and armory first (although everything was beautiful and historical, so worth it).

Having worked up an appetite looking at priceless things, we rode over to Baest, which was one of my favorite meals of the trip. We did the lunch special, which felt like a very good deal for a lot of delicious food; after this meal, I felt like I was approximately 75% stracciatella, and I was ok with that.

We worked off our lunch with a bike ride through Assistens Cemetary, where Hans Christen Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard are buried. It sounds kind of weird, but it's more like a park and a beautiful one at that—there were people picnicking, sunbathing, etc.—it felt like a celebratory place, and I liked that.

For dinner, we were lucky enough to score a table at 108, which has the same owners as the famed Noma but is much easier to get into. You can do a tasting menu or a la carte; we opted for the latter, since we started on the later side and didn't want to have a four-hour dinner. This was, hands down, one of my favorite meals of the trip—the food was creative and unexpected but delicious and substantial. The service was incredible, too, and I was blown away by the natural wines (which I usually am not a big fan of).

Day four
The number-one thing that Sean wanted to do on the trip was rent a Go Boat, which is a solar-powered boat that you can navigate through Copenhagen's canals. They were in high demand due to the glorious weather, but we managed to snag a reservation for our last morning. We invited two friends who were also in town (not by coincidence—we had planned to meet up) and had a little picnic breakfast. This was one of my favorite things that we did on the trip, and a great way to see parts of the city that we hadn't hit yet.

Before we headed back to Sweden for an Outstanding in the Field dinner (which was the impetus for the entire trip), the four of us hopped in a rental car and drove up to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is about 30 minutes north of Copenhagen but totally worth a visit (you can also take a train). It's a string of buildings housing an impressive collection of Warhols, Giacomettis, and special exhibitions (including, coincidentally, a Piplotti Rist exhibit I'd seen a few years back in NYC), set in a beautiful seaside property. Even if you don't want to spend any time indoors, there's a gorgeous sculpture garden to wander around in, and the gift shop was amazing too.

My #1 tip for Copenhagen 
Ride a bike around town. It was an incredibly fresh and fun way to see the city—plus an efficient way to get around—and because so many Danes bicycle everywhere, it made us feel like we were really experiencing Copenhagen. We rented them from our hotel and I also used Bycyklen, which are motor-assisted public bikes with GPS (kind of like Jump bikes, but fancier).  There are bike lanes everywhere, and cars are used to sharing the roads with bikes, so even though I wasn't even wearing a helmet (sorry Mom!), I always felt safe. It was such an enjoyable experience on all levels, I'd highly recommend it!


Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom said...

Oh, what an absolutely perfect trip! Now you have me adding this place to my travel wish list. The food looks so good, the drinks are even pretty! And I love all of the architecture and lighting. So much to do, too!


eva @StyleMyThrift said...

i have been following you now for several months now! fun adventures and great outfits, thx eva

Manish Ambaliya said...

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.