In connection to our wedding, we had visitors from both out of town and from other countries. I wished I could have hosted them better by showing them all my favorite Copenhagen hangouts in person but with busy days leading up to the wedding and flying to the states right after the nuptials, I just didn’t have time.
I therefore promised my aunts and cousin coming from the USA and the Philippines that I would make them a little guide of Copenhagen to compensate for the fact that I couldn’t be their personal guide during their stay. This might sound a bit horrible to some, you know, “personal guide”, but I would have totally enjoyed it because as much as I love traveling to new places, Copenhagen will always have a special place in my heart and I will always be excited about roaming its streets.
Copenhagen is awesome. Plain and simple. It has the most beautiful old buildings, the hipster-iest areas and the best dressed people. Getting the chance to write a little guide about my hometown got me giddy and as I was pondering about which sights to recommend, I thought, why not share it on the blog too? I mean this is a travel blog, after all and it could be helpful as many people do travel to Copenhagen, even though I do forget that sometimes because I live here.
So below is the guide that I shared with my family and I hope it makes you as excited about Copenhagen as I am.
There are all the classics, of course, such as Amalienborg, the Little Mermaid and Nyhavn but our foreign visitors have already been to those during earlier visits so the below are the places I myself would actually want to see and things I would do if I had a day off.
The Botanical Garden Copenhagens boasts of many beautiful green areas, e.g. The King’s Garden, Frederiksberg Have and Ørestedsparken but I feel the Botanical Gardens doesn’t get enough credit, so here I am to give it. The garden is like a little quiet haven smack dab in the middle of a busy city area. I don’t know much about plants but the flowers are very pretty during spring time and they have an awesome gift shop. My favorite features are the cactus house and the cutest little food cart of a cafe.
Design Museum You can’t say Denmark without saying design. I’m not gonna sit here and proclaim that I know anything about design but I do know when something’s worth looking at and the Design Museum is filled with these things. It’s also a place to see history from a different perspective. And yeah, the gift shop is awesome as well (but of course).
Canal Tours Yes. it’s touristy and yes, it’s overpriced but it’s good, clean fun and it lets you see the city from a different point of view, i.e. from the water. All cities with respect for themselves have a canal tour, so just do it, because it’s always good. I do a canal tour at least once a year because it’s a fun thing to do when the weather is good. What makes it even better? Get drunk first. We all know alcohol makes everything better. Oh! Grab Nettobådene – they’re the cheapest and tolerate drunks the best.
Photo by Katrine
Retour Steak I’m a steak girl and I assume all people are steak people. I don’t believe in vegetarians and I have a deep hate for vegans. Okay, now that I’ve insulted so many people (including many friends), I hope you will still believe me when I tell you that this is the best place to have steak in Copenhagen. There are many good steak joints in Copemhagen but Retour always delivers; plus, they have cocktails. I mean, what more could you want?
The steak picture is from another place, though, called Mon Amour, which is another fab place to get food in Copenhagen; both places have wonderful profiteroles, so leave room for dessert!
Berkeley We found this teeny tiny place while walking around aimlessly in Copenhagen on Martin’s birthday. They were closed and would not open until a few hours later but seeing the menu of only two different items (chicken sandwich and a chicken sandwich alternative) we were intrigued and decided to wait for them to open. And boy, were we happy we did! The chicken sandwich there is a revelation. The bun was soft and slightly sweet and it went perfectly with the tangy slaw that enveloped the crispy fried chicken. After that first encounter, we went back twice… within a one week period. Yes, we were those annoying people sitting outside telling people to go in and have a taste; the food is yum, the atmosphere is quirky and the service friendly.
Amass It’s common knowledge that Copenhagen is literally studded with Michelin stars. We’ve visited a few of them but nothing, I mean nothing, comes close to Amass. Every year, it breaks my heart that they are not awarded a star but that’s only an advantage to me because then it is still possible to get a table when you want one.
The food is nothing short of amazing. They use unique, local, in-season ingredients in ways that provoke your idea of food and food pairings. The taste experiences are incomparable to anything else and Martin and I still discuss the crazy, yet incredible dessert we once had there that tasted like paint the instant it touched our tongues (in a good way) and one of their crispy chicken skin dish always gets thrown in when we’re asked about the best meals we’ve had. And the service; don’t get me started. It’s the best and most personal you’ll experience; they will accommodate you even before you arrive and if you have follow-up questions after your visit.
I could keep talking about Amass forever so I’ll stop now and just say if you’re not interested in food as such, then go for the location and decor; it’s the most idiosyncratic and coolest in town by far!
Cafe Rosa This is actually less a cafe and more a food stand in Torvehallerne, which is the Danish equivalent of the Ferry Building Marketplace. The cafe is run by this moody Japanese lady that never really says anything and never looks at you, when you order something. You can tell she means business though; her arms are always covered in burn marks and she’s always busy grunting at something. Her cakes are more rustic-looking but they are always fresh and tasty. I always joke that her cakes are not made with love but with hate; and that just makes them taste even better!
Sometimes, you just want to hang out at an areas that’s not too touristy but still accessible. You want to get the local feel but not too much because suburbia is kind of boring. When I want to just wander the streets but play it safe, I tend to gravitate to either Værnedamsvej or Jægersborggade.
Værnedamsgade have more of a Parisian vibe (so they say) and Jægersborggade is more Scandi-cool; I know that people feel that both streets are kinda hipstery and try-hard but I think they have great stores, cozy cafes and a chill atmosphere. Some weekends, both streets hosts markets where people and shops sell their in-store-made products and vintage
junk stuff and it’s always worth a look.
It’s hard to be objective about being a tourist in Copenhagen because I’ve never been one, but I’m guessing it’s a pretty easy city to be a tourist in; the public transportation is good, almost all people speak English and it’s safe. I can however, as a local, share some pretty helpful tips for tourists.
Bring an umbrella and dress in layers. When the weather is good in Copenhagen, it’s amazing which means when it’s bad, it’s hella shitty. It will be gray and drizzling all day and even if it doesn’t seem like it at the beginning, you will eventually get soaked. It’s a sneaky rain, don’t get fooled.
If you hear a bell ding when you’re walking down the street or just standing there looking touristy, then you’re probably in the way of a bike. Don’t be a douche; be aware of your surroundings and move out of the way.
Check opening hours beforehand. It’s gotten better the past few years, but you’d be surprised of the short and sporadic opening hours of some of the restaurants and attractions here. I know it’s like this most places but you’ll be hard pressed to find places that are open on public holidays, which are different in different countries, and even on random days. Click here for info about public holidays.
I guess that’s what I had for this time. As I mentioned before, I love Copenhagen, so I could easily write much more but these are the things I would share with anyone visiting right now. I am tempted to write a follow-up, just because there’s so much good stuff to do, see and eat; so if my fellow Danes would hit me up with tips, I’d be glad to try them out and include them next time.