Copenhagen is hands down one of the most beautiful and interesting cities I've ever visited, one which i can (and often do) imagine myself living in. Not only does it boast the (best) accolade of being one of the most gender neutral societies in the world but is also home to some of the best food i've ever tasted. From its abundance of fresh nordic fish, to hot dog vendors on almost every street, and most importantly possibly the best invention since sliced bread; the Smorgasbord (an open sandwich), the Danes really have nailed the good life. Needless to say, this post will essentially be an ode to the great eats the Danes have to offer as well as some other bits we had time to see, mid-snack.
Food, Glorious Food
First lets take a moment to discuss the fast food scene in Copenhagen. Categorising it as such doesn't really sit well with me as it automatically lumps it with the Donalds and KFCs of the world and it couldn't be further from that. Don't get me wrong we all love a drunken Big Mac (or two) every now and again but I don't think anyone is under the illusion that it holds any nutritional value what so ever, definitely not one of our 5 a day.
However, in Copenhagen even the fast food is elevated. Take Døp for example; one of many hot dog vendors you'll see scattered around the city, not only tastes insane but is also 100% organic! The sausages are made of organic meat. The bread is whole grain, from slowly raised dough and topped with linseeds. And if you are thirsty, there is also a range of organic soft drinks to choose from. I mean, it's next level IKEA, without that underlying worry that you're probably eating horse meat.
You will find DØP's hot dog stand by The Church of The Holy Ghost on Strøget pedestrian street.
Copenhagen is certainly a food lovers dream and if you really want to get under the skin of Danish food, then a visit to Schønnemann's is a must. It's been serving Smorgasbord since 1877. This Danish open sandwich is a definite contestant for the reason Denmark is such a happy nation. What is an open sandwich i hear you cry? Well, its exactly that, one piece of (incredible) Danish rye bread piled high with the most delicious toppings. This was my favourite; beef tartare, red onion and an a egg yoke delicately placed on top (nom).
However, its definitely a treat as like everything in Copenhagen its not cheap. We knew this would be a splurge and so went all out having three Smorgasbord each. I'm not sure that was entirely necessary considering that's pretty much the equivalent of three sizable sarnies but hey ho you only live once. If you're on a budget I'd still pop by for lunch and have one or two with some of their delicious homemade beer or an Akvavit (Danish Snaps).
A quick note on budgeting for Copes, everyone i'd spoken to before we went liked to remark "oh its very expensive there" and yes they are correct, its not cheap. However, in terms of food I honestly didn't mind that things were more expensive, as you are paying for genuinely good quality ingredients put together with passion.
One thing that was hard to swallow was the price of alcohol (see what i did there?) Every pub/bar/restaurant you're looking at least £7 for a pint of beer. Even during happy hour the cheapest we had was £6, which is anything but happy. However, we found that there were loads of cheaper alternatives to sitting in the pub if you can't stomach the inflated prices. For example, on almost every street corner you'll find a 7/11 where you can pick up a stubby of Carlsberg that you can drink quite openly whilst enjoying a hot dog on the iconic Nyhavn Harbour. Our accommodation, Hotel Astoria, also hosted 'wine hour' between 5-6pm everyday, where we could help ourselves to a glass of wine on the house, needless to say it quickly became our favourite hour of the day!
Hotel Astoria is part of the Brochner Hotels group - they all have wine hour!
Another must-vist is the Tovehallerne market. There are quite a few food markets in Copenhagen but this was the only one we had time to visit and it was definitely worth it. It has everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, organic meats and bakeries to little places you can sit and have a bite to each.
After wandering around for some time taking in all the sights and smells we decided on a delicious selection of fresh fish salads from Hav, a stall specialising in domestic Danish seafood, both fresh and smoked. Hav means 'the sea' in Danish and with the coastline just 7 miles away, what could be better then a little taste of the sea?
You could literally spend all day sampling all the local produce Torvehallerne had to offer but if you are grabbing some food for a picnic like we were, I would definitely check out Hav. I'd also recommend spending some serious time at the bakeries, we picked up some freshly baked rye rolls to go with our fish as well as two sticky cinnamon rolls (Kanelsnegle) for dessert (yummmmy). Lastly, if you're into your caffeinated brews then take a pit-stop at Coffee Collective for a hit of their sustainable produced beverages which are genuinely brewtiful (too far?).
We visited Copenhagen in June and the weather was lush. If you're there in the summer months then the Botanical Gardens are a great place to visit. Even if you aren't an avid gardener or plant lover the gardens themselves are a lovely place to walk around. Open to the public and free to enter they have a large lake in the center full of lilly pads which is the perfect setting for a picnic (and many a photo). A more notable feature of the gardens are the 27 glass houses that reside in there, the most impressive being the Old Palm House that takes center stage in the gardens and homes an abundance of tropical and exotic plants as well as a butterfly house.
Across the road from the Botanisk Have is the Kongens Have (or Kings Gardens) where the majestic Rosenborg Castle is located. The castle, originally built as a summer house, is the former home of Christian IV and boast the unique Danish Renaissance style. Its perfectly preserved and has a fairy-tale vibe to it, its tall towers and reddish masonry against the blue sky are straight out of a Hans Christian Anderson book. We arrived too late for the guided tour but inside are the Crown Jewels dating back to 1746 as well as stunning furnishing and interiors typical of the time.
So the fashion in Copenhagen is like the Danes themselves; cool, clean and unassuming with an androgynous feel which is a nod to their largely gender neutral culture. Their high street shopping is of the same vein with the likes of And Other Stories, Cos, H&M and Weekday as well as the higher end designers like Acne and Malene Birger. There is also an Acne Archive in Nørrebro, we didn't get a chance to go but I read that you can pick up previous season stock, samples and second hand pieces so 100% worth a visit.
If you're into a rummage then check out one of the many flea markets the city has to offer, we visited the Thorvaldsens Plads Antikmarked which is located right in the heart of the old Copenhagen Quarter next to the Thorvaldsens museum and the Café Diamanten. It was full of quirky antique curiosities, vintage fashion and jewellery. I was eyeing up several gold broaches and an array of Royal Copenhagen porcelain plates that my easy jet baggage allowance sadly would not allow for.