Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Copenhagen: City Guide

So you have decided that now is the time to visit wonderful Copenhagen!

This city is a sparking gem nestled in the heart of Scandanavia. I had the great pleasure of spending 5 nights there and only feel like I had begun to scratch the surface of the sites and snacks that that lie within this curious, beautifully crafted designers utopia.

Getting there

Copenhagen is easily accessible by budget airline, this will be your best bet to jet over there for a few days. Easyjet and Ryanair offer routes from Edinburgh to Copenhagen at reasonable prices. Depending when you choose to head to the Danish capital, you can often pick up a return flight via Ryanair at a steal of £40 return. If this jives with the dates you have in mind, you are already flying! Keep in mind that Ryanair flight frequency is a lot less regular, so Easyjet may be the better option for the most flexible fit. Tip: Remember to clear your cache when starting a new flight search. Your computer will save your history and this can stop you getting the better deal. So clear its cache to save on yours.

Where to stay

Accommodation option is a personal choice, and this is wholly dependent on how much you want to spend. If you are travelling alone and need to keep the costs down I would heartily recommend signing up to Air BnB. I have used it for local trips to London and more recently Oslo and Berlin so I didn't even think twice before sifting through the options. For those unfamiliar with how it works, it is a secure site for people to lease an entire apartment, studio or a room. In essence, much like booking a normal BnB but with a little twist. You can filter on all of your preferences including budget, facilities, area etc to ensure that you will have everything you need for your stay and hopefully a little spare change in your back pocket.

The site is slick, the payments are safe and Air BnB handles a lot of the details and logistics, leaving you free to plan the fun stuff. Once your booking is made, you should receive full directions/instructions to allow you to prepare for your arrival or key collection. Air BnB will hold the payment and release it to the host when you check in so make sure to read the cancellation policy for each apartment so there aren't any nasty surprises! The service works on a trust/review basis, therefore the more you use it, the more credibility you gain. You leave a short review of your experience of the stay and any suggested improvements. The host will also review you as a guest. Feedback is a priceless research tool and highly valuable to both parties, so use them wisely and be honest.

I chose to spend my birthday in this colourful city last March and I couldn't have wished for a better time. I left brimming with ideas and eager to recommend it to friends as my top new city break of choice.

Disclaimer: this is by no means a definitive guide to everything this incredible city has to offer but with a keen thirst for good design and better coffee, I jotted down a few of my favourite aspects of the trip. Perhaps you have countless notebooks packed with your own ideas, but if you fancy trying a few of mine, READ ON.

1. Coffee Collective, Torvehallerne

I quickly learned that there were a few branches of Coffee Collective in the city and this became my go-to hang out for grabbing java on the move. If you head over to Torvallhelene you will find Coffee Collective there amidst a whole mix of other food and drink vendors which makes it the ideal place for that essential caffeine stop or lunch before a full day of exploring.

2. Sweet Treat, Christianshavn

Hiding in the cosy corners of Christianshavn, is Sweet Treat. I stumbled across it whilst on my walking tour and took a mental note to return when I had a quiet afternoon and preferably a good read. You can grab a coffee, lunch, local pastries or a healthy juice. There is also a small shop area so that you can feel free to pick up a few things now to enjoy later. This is just one of many little independent shops on offer that are charmingly quaint and low key. Feel free to pull up a pew, leaf through the pages of your latest book/magazine and lose yourself amongst the locals.

3. Døp, by The Round Tower, Købmagergade

Who would have thought that when it comes to delicious hot dogs made from quality produce, Denmark hold up a hefty corner of the market. This became clear from a little research, but was certainly refreshing news to my ears. I discovered Døp conveniently perched outside the Rundetaarn within the Latin quarter of the city. These dogs were reasonably priced, incredibly moreish and perfect to fill a hunger hole if you only have a few minutes to spare. They are brimming with organic ingredients and come with a fine choice of flavour options. Grab one and get on your merry way. Trust me on this one...

4. Cafè Norden, Østergade by Strøget

Cafe Norden sits on the ground floor of designers haven, Hay. I was quick to settle into my Air BnB, sling off my luggage and hot foot it down to catch dinner on my first jaunt after arriving in the city. During my stay I had a meal here, slurped coffee under a blanket whilst enjoying the afternoon sun and even made time to sip on a birthday cocktail. The cafe sits at the bottom of Strøget (main shopping strip) so ideal if you need a little fuel for a day of retail therapy.

5. Kent Kaffe Laboratorium, Nørre Farimagsgade/near Torvehallerne

I could never tire myself of hipster coffee haunts in this town. Kent is akin to Brew Lab or the coolest hangout where you are. It has a wide choice of equipments/accessories and a strong knowledge of brewing techniques. Calling all coffee geeks who adore attention to detail when it comes to your cuppa- this is your spot!

6. Joe and the Juice, Vesterbrogade 57

If you have taken a sugar hit, Joe and the Juice will be able to blend up something special to set you on the straight and narrow. Fun combinations of juices to keep treat-guzzling guilt at bay or the perfect concoction to cure what ails you. The tunes are blasting and the fresh fruit is flowin'. Plus, they seem to only hire the most attractive guys they can find to serve behind their counters. What is this paradise! Plus they don't skimp on the WIFI either. Bonus.

7. Granola cafè, Værnedamsvej 5, Frederiksberg

Nothing is a sweeter find than the best brunch in town. I had a tip off that Granola in Friederiksburg was the place I needed to go. People were practically queueing around the block at this retro dining spot. They do say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Thankfully I secured a place at their breakfast bar. This is a vintage styled diner which offers a feast of choices depending on how you like to start the day. I opted for the sweet breakfast plate and didn't look back. If you fancy strollin' up to this side of town, Granola is a must. You can always walk it off on the way back, right?

8. Meyers Bageri, Jægersborggade 9

I adore a good bakery and Meyers is no exception. No trip to any part of Scandinavia is complete without a Kanelsnegl (cinnamon roll). These guys probably do the best in town, so steal a few extra for breakfast at your apartment or keep one in your bag for a snack on the run. If you are lucky enough to be passing by at the close of play you never know, you may end up with the sweet end of the deal!

9. Bertels Salon, Kompanistræde 5

Sugar junkies beware. Ok, I'm not going to lie, it can be a little pricey by the slice, but this cheesecake is the stuff of my dreams. If you have stamina to wait in line, prepare to be further exhausted by the selection they have on offer. I probably laboured longer over my pick than some of my major life choices. Bertel's certainly hits the sweet spot. I went with Pistachio, just in case you were wondering...

10. Kompa' 9, Kompagnistræde 9

What an inviting way to dine! Dinner for one in a strange country can be a little bit of an odd affair at times, but all my qualms were instantly settled when I strolled into Kompa' 9. Relaxed lighting that matched the atmosphere, I was free to soak up the ambience, sip on a glass of red, read my book and snack on some of the finest tapas I have ever experienced. Top this off with great quality coffee, friendly staff and a very chilled soundtrack and this makes for the perfect evening.

11. Conditori la Glace, Skoubogade 3-5

This was one of my final stops on the trip. Demand is high for this little old-fashioned tea time-warp. Perfect for that last pot of tea and a couple of macarons to finish everything off. It is most likely the oldest patisserie in the city so it felt sort of fitting that I ended with a classic.

12. Nyhavn, Nyhavn 1-71

The view over Nyhavn waterfront sums up everything I love about Copenhagen in one take. It is literally postcard picture perfect. You'll find your pick of places to have a meal or sit to savour a glass of something cold amidst this quintessentially Danish backdrop as you watch the last of the sunset on the water. This view is somewhat addictive and you might find that your feet carry you here time and again. You can also catch the harbour cruise from this point which covers a few of the local sites in this area including the legendary mermaid statue.

13. Assistens Cemetery, Kapelvej 4, Nørrebro

Taking an afternoon stroll in a graveyard would sound creepy to the most discerning amongst us, but this place is hauntingly special. Strangely the Danes treat this more like a pretty park rather than a ghoulish graveyard, so you can find people enjoying a picnic, kicking back in the sun or a mother catching a breath of fresh air with her baby. This is also the final resting place of Søren Kierkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen, so if you read the map correctly you can take a moment to pay your last respects to two of history's legendary figures. That is if you are not feeling too spooked of course...

14. Lille Mølle, Christianshavns Voldgade 54

If you are lucky you might stumble upon this sweet little windmill as you amble around the city. The beautiful vibrant colour stood out against a pristine, cloudless sky and I made sure to snap a quick pic during my city tour. This 17th Century windmill has been transformed into a National Museum and has been preserved just as the owners left it, frozen in time. If this has captured your intrigue you can take in a guided tour or linger a while at the adjoining cafe.

15. Ilums Bolighaus, Amagertorv 10

If you have a rainy day in Denmark on your hands, please stop by this Danish Design hub. Feel free to browse the countless floors of furniture, fixtures and fittings which will cause you to swoon pretty hard, if you are anything like me. This will be ideal to spark your imagination for your return home where you can happily craft the perfect Sandi-inspired nook in your own home. I challenge you not to embrace every inch of their beautiful, simplistic flair. You'll be dotting candles/lanterns around and streamlining your stuff before you can say Smørrebrød.

16. Hay House, Østergade 61

If Ilum's Boligus house is a hub, Hay House must be something of a Mecca in Design circles. For me, no visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a pit-stop at the colourful, creative and truly fabulous Hay House. Bathe in the fabrics, prints and hues and satisfy every stationery craving you have ever known. If you work in the industry, or if the Danish aesthetic makes you all weak at the knees, put Hay on your agenda. This is how I truly imagine my life to look like. It would really be a lot easier if I just move in, right?

17. Rundetaarn/The Round Tower, Købmagergade 52A

This is an observatory and an incredible look out point over the old town. The inside of the tower building has a spiral walkway all the way to the top. So, assuminf you can face the climb it is well worth a visit if you are passing by with camera-in-hand. The walkway will also lead you to the library which once played home to the entire university book collection. It was also an old haunt of Hans Christian Andersen and he is noted to have gained inspiration for his works within its walls. This space now hosts a variety of exhibitions from the worlds of art, culture, history and science.

18. Nørrebro

If the sun is shining I would encourage you to pop on some shades, take a good soundtrack and wander over the bridge. I found the district of Nørrebro to be a multi-cultural melting pot within the city and it seems to have a magnetic effect on young hipster Danes and all other tourists who enjoy cool bars, quirky fashion and independent retailers. If you are someone with a heart for a hot cup of decent joe and small boutiques as far as the eye can see, be sure to swing by Elmegade and Jægersborggade on your travels. Nørrebro has a unqiue edgy flavour without question and I could certainly acquire a taste for it. If you catch me there again I am most likely to be spotted lingering on the bridge to take in the view over the water, sampling treats from a nearby chocolatier or snacking on cinnamon flavoured everything as a perch at Assistens Cemetary.

19. Tivoli Gardens, Vesterbrogade 3

Tivoli is an attraction to suit all ages and stages. The amusement park is a local hot-spot within the very centre of Copenhagen. By day the gardens and architecture attract scores of visitors with their enchanting beauty and by night they are transformed into a twinkly fairytale-the perfect festive scene if you fancy a scamper around the Christmas markets in December. You can take a turn about the gardens, indulge your inner child on a wild roller coaster ride, relax with a spot of dinner or catch tickets to a concert on the open air stage. It seems that Tivoli adapts to every season and is treasured by locals and guests all year round.

20. Walking Tour

Whether you decide to kick off your stay with a tour or find it a fitting close to your Danish adventuring, please do not leave this amazing city without doing at least one of the Copenhagen Free Tours. Rain, Hail or Shine, these tours run in all weathers every day of the year as long as there is minimum interest. The tours are free, in English and conclude with a simple donation.

Being part of this tour is quite frankly a walk in the park. Simply sign up via their website and rendezvous with the tour guide outside the City Hall. You are then ready to enjoy some of the top attractions of the city and ground your inner compass as you get your bearings. I found the tour enjoyable, informative and overall a great experience. I can fully imagine that no two tours are ever the same. For instance, I happened to meet a lovely girl from Stuttgart first time around. So, as a recap, that is a Northern Irish girl visiting from Scotland, chatting in German whilst exploring the streets of Denmark. Pretty cool, right? Personally I found these so worthwhile that I speedily signed up to take another of their tours to tap into the areas of Christianshavn area and the famous Freetown of Christiania.

Firstly, if you have made it this far I applaud your efforts. As the song goes, wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen for me. This was just a little snippet of my first impressions and I can certainly say that it will not be the last time I grace these shores.

Take the family. Buddy up with a friend. Whisk that guy/gal in your life away on a surprise city break. Go it alone. No matter how you enjoy it (or with whom) I am willing to put serious money on the fact that you will. Copenhagen, I adore you...and until we meet again I am pretty sure that I will miss you every day.

I hope this is inspires you to build a list for your own trip or sways you to finally book that flight if you are still sitting on the fence. Do it, and hey, let me know what you added to your list so I can make a new one...



  1. Wow. Can't wait to goooo! Mainly because I'm loving on those colour coordinated coat-hangers...
    But for now it will just have to be a re-post to a friend who's just bought tickets heading that way!

    1. Thanks Lauren. It really is the dream. Definitely feel free to share it around if you found it helpful or a cool read!


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