City Guide to Copenhagen, Denmark

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

girl in front of colourful wall

Copenhagen has been my favourite European city since the first time I ever stepped off of the plane there. Having family who live in the city, I've been lucky enough to have been able to visit quite frequently. Whether I go in summer or winter, rain or sun, Copenhagen has offered me something new with every visit. It's a city full of art and culture, it's green and there are always more bikes on the road than cars. It's friendly and welcoming and a city I have always felt at home in. It's somewhere which feels familiar yet always manages to offer a surprise.

A week ago, I visited Copenhagen again. I've never visited the city in February before and so I was a little shocked at how absolutely, knock you off your feet, freezing cold it was. I was forced to walk around the city for the entire weekend with my scarf wrapped tightly around the lower half of my face and my beanie hat pulled low down to my eyebrows. Quite the Instagram friendly look, I know. The weather didn't stop us from getting out and exploring though. Checking my step counter at the end of the three days revealed that we'd walked 50,000 steps over the course of the weekend. For me, a person whose bum is usually glued to a desk or sofa for the majority of my days back home, this was big. Every time I visit Copenhagen, I discover a new wonder and so I thought I'd put a few of them together in an extensive guide to the city. Enjoy!

The sights

colourful buildings and boat in copenhagen

Nyhavn: Probably the most popular tourist spot in Copenhagen, Nyhavn is home to the rows of coloured buildings gazing down on the river which you'll always see photos of on the front cover of your guide book. Nyhavn is not a part of Copenhagen to be missed. The restaurants and cafes around this area are pricier than most other parts of the centre, but it's an area worth heading to to sit and watch the hustle and bustle of the city, put a love lock on the bridge and watch the musicians who line the canal play. 

Paper Island: A short walk on from Nyhavn and you'll find Papirøen, also known as Paper Island. An island right next to the harbour which is home to a giant labyrinth of street foods from countries around the world and a gallery of ever changing art installations. Paper Island is a fun and cheap place to eat lunch in the centre of the city. Eat asian cuisine by the outdoor fire pits or climb up a hidden staircase to feast on burgers and fries while looking down on the bustle of the market.

The Little Mermaid: The little lady on the rocks is one of my favourite parts of Copenhagen. The Little Mermaid is always quite overcrowded with tourists, so it's worth visiting early in the day to avoid the rush of people climbing down onto the rocks for a photo. While you're in the direction of The Little Mermaid, don't forget to stop off at Amalienborg Palace for the changing of the guard. It's symmetrical courtyard and fading copper architecture are worth the detour.

the little mermaid copenhagen

Tivoli: One of the most beautiful outdoor spots in the city, Tivoli is always full of energy and bright with fairy lights. An amusement park in the centre of a bustling city seems pretty outstanding on it's own, but Tivoli is more than even that. You don't have to go on the rides to enjoy the park. Watch the street performers, wander through the breathtaking gardens and bask in the feeling that you've just stumbled right into a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale.

University of Copenhagen Botanical Gardens: The Botanical Gardens swiftly became one of my favourite spots in Copenhagen after visiting it on my most recent trip. This was partly because it was a welcome break from the freezing temperatures outside and partly because of the gorgeous world which filled its glass walls. The Botanical Gardens are home to hundreds of different types of plants and you're free to walk around them undisturbed. The palm room is definitely the most breathtaking part of the gardens, with a looping staircase which allows you to take a birds eye view of the tropical room.

botanical gardens in copenhagen
ceiling of botanican gardens copenhagen

Rundetaarn: Also known as the Round Tower, this is a good spot for taking in all of the best views of the city from above. The Round Tower isn't your usual tower as it has no narrow winding staircase for you to combat in order to make your way to the top. Instead, the Round Tower offers a leisurely walk up a spiralling slope to the top. Even on cloudy days, the views across Copenhagen from the top viewpoint are pretty spectacular.

The Museums

wishing trees in copenhagen

Copenhagen Contemporary: The picture above shows the simple yet inspiring art installation currently outside Copenhagen Contemporary, housed on Paper Island. The installation is a wish tree garden, created by Yoko Ono, which allows visitors to participate by adding their own wishes to the trees on little bits of paper. I could have stood for ages reading the touching wishes of other people. Inside the museum are many other contemporary, constantly changing art exhibitions which can be visited for a low cost. This is one of Copenhagen's smaller museums, but it's cheaper than most.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: A little bit North of Copenhagen, you'll need to take a train to get to Louisiana, but it's worth the trip when you arrive and entry won't cost you any money. With gorgeous views of the sea on the outside and equally as eye catching artwork inside its walls, this is often regarded as the best museum to visit around Copenhagen. It's interactive exhibits are really worth the visit.

The Food

pizzas in copenhagen

Neighbourhood: If I have to recommend just one food spot to visit in Copenhagen, it's this one. Neighbourhood are an organic pizza and cocktail spot just a short walk from the centre of the city and their pizzas are to die for. They're thin and crispy and absolutely huge, but don't leave you feeling unbelievably bloated. It was probably the best pizza I've ever eaten in my life (which is really saying something!). As well as their cocktails, be sure to try the Lemony Lemonade. It's divine!

Zalt: A little restaurant which we stumbled across by complete accident, Zalt is quiet and didn't seem to attract too many tourists. The whole place is decked out with low hanging light bulbs which make the restaurant feel very cosy and intimate. If you're after some good, familiar comfort food, Zalt is a great place to head to. Their burgers are particular tasty! Food spots around Copenhagen can be pretty pricey, but Zalt also boasts low prices, so you can save money for desert too.

Cocks & Cows: Copenhagen's answer to Five Guys, Cocks & Cows is exactly what it says on the tin: a burger and cocktail joint with a laid back, hipster feel to it. This is a food spot worth checking out if you're after a quick, tasty burger with all of the toppings. There are two across the city, one right in the centre and another slightly further afield, so there's no excuse not to visit!

Grød: Forget London's cereal cafe, Copenhagen are going one step further with a brunch joint which specialises in porridge. Sounds boring? It's definitely not. Choose from a huge variety of toppings and mix and match to customise your perfect bowl. You can go sweet, savoury, or both if that's your cup of tea. Grød is slightly further outside of the city, but is the perfect alternative to Danish pastries for breakfast!

The Cafes

girl drinking hot chocolate

Joe & the Juice: You may have started to see Joe & the Juice filtering over to the UK. But it's nowhere near as common here as it is in Copenhagen. It lines every street in the city, it's bright pink signs standing out from a mile away. Joe & the Juice is a great place to pop into when you're looking for a healthy drink on the go. Their juices are delicious and they sell coffee and sandwiches too. It's the perfect fail safe lunch spot for when you're walking the city!

Holm's Bager: I love Danish pastries. They're seriously 50% of what I eat whenever I'm in Copenhagen. You can tell that I'm not alone in this from the bustling bakeries which line every street in the city. Come rain or shine, there's always a hoard of people sitting inside and outside of these bakeries, feasting on Danish delicacies. One of my favourites in the city is Holm's Bager, found right in the centre. It's a small, intimate bakery with pastries lining the counter and front window and a few benches in the centre of the room to eat at. Their cinnamon swirls are to die for!

girl looking out of window

Mirabelle: This cafe is slightly outside of the city centre, but is definitely worth the visit. Mirabelle is the cafe to visit if you're looking for an unmistakably Scandi style interior. Not only is this cafe gorgeously photogenic, the food is pretty damn good too. Head there for an early brunch for good coffee, croissants, pastries and the perfect European breakfast.

The Shops

flower shop in cophenhagen

Dora: From pretty badges and pins to gorgeous prints for your wall, Dora has every quirkly little piece of stationary and home decor that you could ever desire. The entire store is like a celebration of Danish style and every piece in there is simplistic and gorgeous. It's a shop worth checking out if only to feast your eyes on The Dane's minimalist way of living and their stunning designs.

Good Life: Slightly crossing over into the cafes section, Good Life is a seriously cool spot to hang out in in Copenhagen. Doubling up as both a coffee shop and a record store, you're free to browse vinyl's while sipping on their delicious brews. Good Life is laid back and attracts a really fun crowd. It's definitely worth checking out, even if you can't fit a record in your hand luggage home!

Mant: A short walk down a narrow staircase in the city centre will lead you to the heart of Mant, a quaint little boutique selling everything from gift cards to toys and alternative souvenirs to remind you of your trip. The most memorable part of Mant, however, are the gorgeous flower pots which line the street and it's walls.

girl standing in front of canal

So, there you have it! An extensive guide to Copenhagen based on my recent trips to the gorgeous city. This guide is by no means extensive. The beautiful thing about Copenhagen is that it's a city completely bursting with colour and life. It's winding streets are home to hundreds of independent restaurants and stores, all unique. The city is ever changing, but it's love of art and beauty stays the same. It's a city like no other!

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