A recent revisit to Copenhagen with friends reaffirmed my love of Denmark’s capital. As the embodiment of Scandinavian lifestyle and culture, it exudes minimalism and beauty, with a sustainable and innovative ethos.
With the establishment of travel corridors and the prospect of travelling abroad becoming more of a possibility, Copenhagen is an ideal, last minute European summer city break. Benefitting from a quick response to COVID-19, lockdown restrictions have been significantly eased in Copenhagen, meaning you can still make the most of your trip.
Coming alive in the summer months, Copenhagen’s charm lies in its brilliant and effortless blend of vibrancy and elegance, quaintness and modern chic and multiplicity of things to do.
As Copenhagen can be an expensive destination, to avoid eating out every day and minimise costs, opt to stay in a self-catering Airbnb apartment. The dynamic Nørrebro area is a good and convenient option for accommodation.
Perhaps the most iconic image of Copenhagen, Nyhavn is a bustling stretch of canal lined with rows of colourful buildings, cafes and restaurants. You can wander down Nyhavn by foot, bike or canal boat, or simply absorb the excellent views whilst sipping an iced coffee or Aperol Spritz in one of the many adjoining atmospheric cafes.
A row of three glistening lakes situated within the city centre, the lakes are a popular hot spot during the summer days and evenings. Surrounded by grassy areas and foot and cycle paths, the lakes combine nature with incredible city views.
There are plenty of impressive parks to choose from in Copenhagen, however one of my favourites is the Renaissance style Kings Garden; Copenhagen’s oldest royal park. There is no entrance fee and, especially in nice weather, the lawns of this scenic park will be scattered with sunbathers, groups of friends and families and, in true Danish style, plenty of bicycles.
A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without dedicating time to appreciating Scandinavian style and design. Get lost down the many side streets leading off from Nørreportstation which boast an impressive shopping scene. In terms of fashion, Copenhagen has an eclectic array of shops from high-street, to vintage, to designer and boutique style, making it easy for you to update your wardrobe to imitate the chic ‘Scandi cool’ aesthetic. Vintage shops such as Carmen Copenhagen, Episode and Wasteland offer a great selection of unique and retro pieces. For interior design and home décor, Stilleben is a must visit. Encompassed in soft pastel colours, it sells distinctive graphic prints, ceramics, textiles, glassware and furniture.
Freetown Christiania is an autonomous and hippie neighbourhood community nestled within the city which offers an alternative experience within Copenhagen. Although having a more controversial side to it due to its open attitude towards cannabis, Christiania has become a popular tourist attraction as a green, colourful and quirky area filled with live music venues, art galleries, organic cafes, restaurants and souvenir stalls.
Hire a bike:
My biggest tip would be to hire a bike and explore the city this way. As Copenhagen is mostly flat, biking is hugely popular with the locals. The widespread system of cycle paths in place means all areas of the city are easily accessible by bike, even if you haven’t ridden a bike in years. Hire one of the upright, taller-framed Danish style bikes for the full Danish experience. It offers a unique way to appreciate what the city has to offer and simply exploring the many hidden, picturesque streets by bike was a favourite activity of mine.
In the summer months this clean and modern stretch of harbourfront, which offers a fantastic view of the city skyline, is a popular local destination. Lined with a vast lawn and pier, Islands Brygge is a great place to sunbathe, swim and hang-out with friends and family. There are also dedicated children’s pools as well as three diving towers. Islands Brygge has a lively and sociable vibe and therefore is a great place to meet people. Definitely make a full day of visiting it as people bring drinks and music to enjoy there right into the evening. Why not try one of the sustainably powered GoBoats which are available to hire. These boats seat eight people around a picnic table and are a great way to add to your experience of Islands Brygge.
More information on GoBoats can be found on their website.
Travelling around Copenhagen
As mentioned, biking is the best way to travel around Copenhagen. Bike rentals are easy to find throughout the city, however more information can be found here.
Alternatively, Copenhagen has an easy and efficient 24/7 Metro service. More information on this can be found here.
Top spots for food and drink
Reffen Street Food Market:
So much more than simply a food market, Reffen is a sociable, waterfront urban area filled with a huge diversity of high-quality food stalls, pop-ups and bars. Reffen also acts as a live concert venue which adds to the atmosphere.
Mad & Kaffe
With a very instagrammable aesthetic, Mad & Kaffe is a delightful and popular brunch spot, however the menu also offers lunch and dinner. As there isn’t an option of booking in advance, it is better to visit Mad & Kaffe on a weekday when it is less busy.
The menu can be found here.
A delicious and gorgeous, boutique style organic and vegan ice cream store.
This dreamy traditional Danish cake, consisting of a sweet vanilla sponge base with a thick caramel and coconut top, can be found in most bakeries and supermarkets around Copenhagen.
There are plenty of varied bars to choose from in Copenhagen, often just walking down the street will give you many options to spontaneously pick from. Start by exploring the popular areas of Nørrebro, Gothersgade and The Meatpacking District, Vesterbro. These areas are particularly lively on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Overall, Copenhagen is more than simply a place, it is its atmosphere and lifestyle that adds to its charisma.
It is important to note that because of the current pandemic visitors are required to book a minimum stay of six nights, however I found that this was the perfect amount of time to fully discover what Copenhagen has to offer.
Words by Laura Laycock
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