3 DAYS* in COPENHAGEN
In an unpredictable world, Copenhagen is reassuring, like a frosty pint of Carlsberg. Style, manners, charm, order, a healthy dose of snobbish socialism (hard to pull off, but they do).
Aspects of the city that could become stifling over the long term make it absolutely perfect for a 3 Day* jaunt, so brush up on your cycling hand signals and prepare to embrace the weather – it’s time to get your hygge on.
Day 1* in Copenhagen
First off, a note on where to stay: while there are many devastatingly chic hotels in Copenhagen, I recommend opting for an Airbnb apartment, instead. The reason is simple: Danish apartments belong to Danes and are thereby, almost without exception, also devastatingly chic. Our search results looked art-directed. It was almost comical.
The apartment we chose was elegant, light-filled, minimalist yet comfortable, and a fraction of what we would have spent at a hotel. The teapot, the changing table, the heated bathroom floor – every simple, smart detail seemed to say: “what, you don’t do it this way?” And, a spacious 2-bedroom was infinitely easier for 2 grownups and a baby than a cramped, overpriced hotel (not to mention cleaner).
Vesterbro, in my opinion, is the best neighborhood to anchor yourself. Hipsterish cafes, bars, restaurants and boutique shopping give it just the right amount of local activity without being hectic.
It is literally stuffed with new and expectant mothers (in one surreal Truman Show-esque experience I counted eight pregnant women in one restaurant) so it’s a bit stroller heavy. In a brazen show of Danish chill-ness, it’s not abnormal to see a half dozen deep, weatherized prams lined up outside a café with slumbering babes within.
So, let’s get on with it. Start at Mad + Kaffe in Vesterbro where they serve heaping a la carte breakfast boards (think: ramekins with avocado in chili oil, sausage from superior Danish pigs, delicate scrambled eggs and fluffy pastries). Then, waddle over to Istegade, the main shopping street in Vesterbro.
Do visit: Kyoto and Donn Ya Doll for clothing and accessories, Dansk Made For Rooms for home furnishings and Flux Jewelry Collective for modern, delicate jewelry handmade by local designers. Designer Zoo is also a must – a remarkable store housing a variety of high-end Danish design, crafts, artwork and jewelry under one roof with seven active workshops also onsite.
For dinner, head to Bodil for a taste of new Nordic cuisine. Keeping with the Danish theme, the décor is sparse and stylish… and so is the food… Expect some outrageously creative and delicious bites, gravely presented by earnest young hipsters (think: one piece of ‘hay ash’ sprinkled white asparagus). A fun experience if not a particularly filling one. So channel your inner Top Chef judge and prepare to spend upwards of 2.5 hours eating dinner (normal by European standards).
Day 2* in Copenhagen
The Danish Museum of Art & Design is sort of required in Copenhagen. You can bike there (there are city bike stations virtually everywhere) or take the easy-to-navigate metro. Housed in a grand old stone building from the 1700s, the museum features the most extensive collection of Scandinavian design (mostly Danish) including an exhibition of Danish chairs that will inspire you to upgrade your old IKEA Poang to a Kaare Klint or Arne Jacobsen.
Grab a lip-puckeringly strong espresso and flaky pastry from the airy café before perusing the chic museum shop on your way out (Japanese block print wrapping paper, perhaps?). From there, it’s a short walk to Amalienborg, the Queen’s summer palace which is situated around an expansive octagonal courtyard on the banks of the river across which sits the iconic sphere of the Copenhagen Opera House. Check, check, check.
Onward to Tivoli Gardens the famous amusement park that opened in 1843 in the center of the city. Though it features many contemporary rides and shops, it manages to retain some of the old European charm with fragrant, carefully pruned flowerbeds and popcorn vendors.
Even without kids, a stroll through Tivoli feels like a quintessentially Danish experience. We watched two preening peacocks hurl insults at each other in front of the ‘Taj Mahal’ while munching on gourmet hot dogs from Andersen Bakery. Need I say more?
Now, hop on your bike and head down the meatpacking district. If you’re there on a weekend, hit up the wonderful outdoor food market which hosts 70 food and drink stalls. It’s a perfect place to grab a bite, a beer, and mingle with some friendly locals at one of the communal picnic tables. If you’re not there on a weekend, or are still hungry after the market, snag a table at Mother, a hip and delicious spot serving drool-worthy sourdough pizzas, meats and salads. If you fancy a nightcap, the meatpacking district is also the epicenter of Copenhagen’s nightlife scene. Hilariously named WarPigs is the brewpubian spawn of Denmark’s renowned Mikkeler and American heavyweight, 3 Floyds.
Day 3* in Copenhagen
You will likely wake on day three and realize with a moment of sheer panic that you only have one day left to shop. Keep calm and head directly to Stroget, the main pedestrian shopping area in Copenhagen. Here you’ll find everything, from luxury brands to local designers, large department stores to boutique shops. Danish favorites like Cos and Mads Norgaard should not be missed, as well as Acne for jeans, Hay House for contemporary furniture and Maria Black for jewelry.
Refuel at Paludan Book & Café Shop where you can tuck into a tasty sandwich, soup or brunch spread as you thumb through a paperback. If you can still walk with your haul of loot, stroll down quaint, colorful, blustery Nyhavn, the famous 17th-century canal street. You can stop for a post-shop debrief and glass of crisp Danish wine at one of the waterfront bistros.
For dinner, it’s back to the meatpacking district to Kul (reservations required). Highlights include the moody gray décor, the Norwegian lobster with leeks and ginger, and the juicy, perfectly-cooked brisket. Bring your credit card.
- Wool sweaters (regardless of season)
- Bike-friendly clothing/ shoes