The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Copenhagen
Where to eat, shop, and stay when visiting the city.
This week, the fashion industry including buyers, editors, and everyone’s favorite Scandi influencers are heading to Copenhagen for three days of Danish, Nordic, and Swedish runway shows, otherwise known as Copenhagen Fashion Week. While it is sometimes difficult to peel your eyes from the runway, the city has so much to offer beyond some pretty fab fashion to show-goers and tourists alike. Whether you plan to eat, shop, drink or boat-cruise your way through Copenhagen, here is W’s ultimate guide to the city.
Where to Visit
Let’s get the touristy things out of the way. A stroll down Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s most famous and picturesque street, should be your first stop. After that, get your bearings on a tour through the canals via boat, which will introduce you to many of the different Copenhagen districts, all of which have their own look and feel. The history buffs will relish in the palaces that dot the cityscape, most notably Kronborg Castle, a Renaissance gem, Amalienborg Palace, which is the current royal family’s home, and Rosenborg Palace, where the crown jewels and royal artifacts live today. Art aficionados should start with the National Gallery, and then visit Copenhagen Contemporary and the art-meets-design space Etage Projects. For those romantics who just want to wander and get lost, roam hip Nørrebro, Meatpacking, and Vesterbro, gorgeous Frederiksberg and its peaceful green spaces, and the canal-side Christianshavn neighborhood.
Where to Eat
If all you do in Copenhagen is eat, no one would blame you. But for those wishing to experience something a little more casual and easy than the relocated and re-opened famed restaurant Noma, there are plenty of hip places throughout the Danish capital. For a morning coffee (which the Danes take very seriously) pop by Sonny, which opened two years ago and boasts a sunny backyard in the summer, or Democratic Coffee, nestled next to Denmark’s oldest university. Breakfast at Atelier September includes heathful avocado toast, fruits, and porridge. If you fancy a buttery croissant and some spectacular Danish carbs, make Mirabelle your first morning stop instead. As you wander along Nyhavn’s bright building-lined canal, tucked away in the art museum Kunsthal Charlottenborg’s leafy courtyard, you’ll find Apollo Bar. By au courant Copenhagen chef Frederik Bille Brahe (also the man behind Atelier September and just-opened Babylon, husband to model Caroline Brasch Nielson, and brother to jewelry designer Sophie), this is a great light lunch joint focusing on organic produce. Carrots have never tasted so good.
For something a bit more substantial, cruise through the Torvehallerne, an outdoor food market that is cross between Brookyln’s Smorgasburg and Flatiron’s Eataly. Featuring fresh fish, vegetables, sandwiches and snacks, you can sample quite a few Danish delicacies all in one fell swoop. Encounter a hot afternoon? A glass of wine and a dip in the harbor at La Banchina is on the menu. For those who love pizza, skip over to the cool Nørrebro hood for a pie at Bæst, and go for a pint of local craft beer at nearby BRUS after. In addition to operating as a brewery, BRUS has an enormous bar and plenty of outdoor picnic tables for enjoying the summer sunshine.
For a laid-back evening with great seafood, head to Fiskebar in the Meatpacking district, another hip district like nearby Nørrebro. If it is your first time in Denmark and you are after classic Nordic feast, Relæ or Vækst (which looks like an all-glass greenhouse inside fashion favorite boutique hotel SP34) are both great choices.
Where to Shop
Danish design is world-renowned, and good luck to the traveler who thinks he can bring back all his design discoveries in his checked luggage. First stop is Hay House in the heart of the city center. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the stork fountain rises from the center of of Amager Square (it was a wedding gift to Frederik VIII in 1894, and this square is indeed one of the oldest in the city). Climb up the stairs to the shop, and be sure to go through all of Hay’s nooks and crannies (the thoughtful desk organizers, minimal-chic kitchenware, and colorful furniture are not to be missed). Some of the best views of this square are actually from Hay House’s enormous front window, so don’t forget to take in the view as you are browsing for home goods. No trip to Copenhagen is complete without visiting Georg Jensen, where you’ll find a range of gorgeous scuptural pieces in silver, from candlesticks to jewelry. A few doors down on Strøget is another Danish stalwart, Royal Copenhagen, which is on the other end of the design aesthetic spectrum (think blue and white floral china), but it is still an icon. Get off the main drag and head to Stilleben for chic ceramics and of-the-moment (and affordable) prints. For those in the search of gorgeous glassware, visit Louise Roe Gallery. While her handsome marble lamps will catch your eye, you will at the least be able to fit one of her delightful ‘jewel’ glass vases, in colors like rose and smoke, in your suitcase. Further across town is Studio Arhoj, and though technically from Japan, the store offers up some of the most gorgeous ceramics in all of Copenhagen.
For the clotheshorse, a visit to Holly Golightly, which just re-opened in a larger space last year, is a must-do. The colorful space is filled to the brim with the fanciful and feminine clothes from homegrown talent like Stine Goya. Storm Copenhagen has a great selection of designer duds for men and women, from Raf Simons through local labels like Han Kjøbenhavn, as well as a healthy dose of beauty products and hard-to-find magazines. In Østerbro you’ll find I Blame Lulu, a consignment shop stocking only the best designers (the Danes set such a good example of sustainability in action; cycling is the norm here, as are parking spaces for electric cars, and Vestiaire Collective, the designer resale site, is a partner of their fashion week).
Where to Stay
When the fashion flock descends upon Copenhagen for its biannual fashion week, you can often find them holed up at the Skt Petri, a 5 star hotel in Copenhagen’s old Latin Quarter. Conveniently located, and offering bikes and toiletries from Danish label Frama, the hotel is a great starting point for any first timers’ visit. Boutique hotel SP34, landmark Hotel D’Angleterre, and new arrival Nobis Hotel Copenhagen are all favorites.
Where to Escape
Have an extra afternoon? The Louisiana, a modern art museum with a charming sculpture garden is only 22 from the city center and easily accessible by train. Frolick in the grass and gaze at Sweden over the horizon with a chilled glass of wine in hand after you’ve wandered through the latest exhibit and the sweet gift shop.