For years, our home has been carefully filled with pieces of Danish teak furniture and Scandinavian homeware, and last year it was featured on American interior design blog Old Brand New. One of my favourite shops in London is interior design store Skandium (and sister shop The Republic of Fritz Hansen) and every year we add a few objects to our collection. So it was only a matter of time before my husband and I would set off for Copenhagen, Denmark. The only reason for the delay was the dread of blowing our entire life savings on highly desirable vintage furniture.
After doing the usual research and restaurant bookings, I typed up my detailed itinerary for the 72 hour trip. Five days before departure, map creator Herb Lester Associates, under the impression that our trip was over two months away, asked if I could research and write their upcoming map guide of Copenhagen. After agreeing to do it because it sounded like an interesting project, I hurriedly rewrote my schedule to fit in twice as many places to visit.
My husband is a survivor of the Copenhagen trip. Scanning through the hundreds of photos that I took, the 72 hours are still a blur of non-stop activity. It was, however, one of the most fun-filled cities we’ve visited in a long time, and we can’t wait to return. The results of that trip are documented here in the Herb Lester map Copenhagen: The Good Life. It was also reviewed by Cool Hunting, who by chance came across the map while visiting Copenhagen.
My 11 favourite Copenhagen things to do:
Grabbing a cup of Coffee Collective coffee and Meyer’s Bageri hindbaersnitter for an impromptu picnic at Assistens Cemetery
The best coffee that we found was from Coffee Collective. After our first cup at gourmet food market Torvehallerne, we discovered a branch in Norrebro where we bought more coffee before crossing the road to Noma co-owner Claus Meyer’s Meyers Bageri. We fell for their delicious hindbærsnitter or raspberry slice and had quite a few of these over the three days (we even took some home with us). Remember to try the other pastries too, including cinnamon rolls, and organic bread which is baked on the premises. There are three branches of Meyers Bageri in Copenhagen, but I prefer the one in Norrebro because you can take your pastries and coffee to nearby Assistens Cemetery for a picnic. Assistens is a beautiful cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen and other notables are buried alongside ordinary Danes. It’s actually more like a peaceful park where people relax and meet friends
Aamanns is a minimalist smørrebrød café & deli serving open sandwiches (they do takeaway too). The ingredients are organic, free range or both. The best examples we had were the rare roast beef topped with shaved horseradish & crispy fried onions, and Danish blue cheese with hazelnut cream & praline. We had another excellent smørrebrød lunch at Orangeriet, an elegant restaurant located in the Rosenborg Palace Gardens orangery (smørrebrød served at lunchtime only, with other dishes available for lunch & dinner). I recommend the fried herring with red onion, dill & capers; smoked salmon with truffled egg & watercress and the steak tartare with raw beetroot & egg yolk, all served on organic rye bread. Unfortunately Schønnemann was closed for the summer, but their smørrebrød is supposed to be the best
Touching every item at tiny vintage shop Retrograd
A dreamy basement shop packed with vintage Danish, Scandinavian and international homeware products. There is so much here that you’ll want to take home with you! I somehow managed to squeeze in an original Krenit bowl into my hand luggage. Remember to take plenty of cash with you as the shop doesn’t take credit cards. Then recover at nearby Foodshop no. 26, a delightful bakery, deli and café. For breakfast, try the morning plates (bread, cheese, sausage, eggs, jam etc). You can also buy organic spelt bread, malt loaf and cupcakes. I had the snegl, a snail-shaped buttery pastry with an icing topped centre and washed it down with a delicious latte
Visiting the Designmuseum Danmark
This museum doesn’t have much of a footfall in comparison with others in the city, which makes it perfect for me as I don’t like crowded places. I particularly enjoyed the collection of 20th century Danish furniture design and was lucky to catch Finn Juhl 100, a centenary exhibition of the designer’s furniture. Afterwards, wander down the road to drool inside tiny vintage interiors shop Danish Classic.dk, where we bought another original Krenit bowl and a pair of teak and melamine salad servers. Further down the road, you’ll find some stunning pieces at Klassik Moderne Møbelkunst, Denmark’s oldest shop specialising in classic vintage furniture. Everything is in excellent condition, but very pricey!
Slurping down oysters at Kødbyens Fiskebar
A fantastic seafood restaurant with a great atmosphere, located in the Meatpacking District. I tried the apple and thyme cocktail, excellent Limfjords oysters, mackerel tartar and roast scallops. The fish and chips made from lightly smoked pollack is supposed to be superb too, and recommended by the couple at the next table
Stocking up on tea at A.C. Perch
Locals have been buying tea from this small family-owned tea shop since 1835. The loose tea is still weighed on brass scales and the assistants are very helpful. Even the Danish royal family have their own special blends from Perch. And if you need a rest from shopping, you can relax over afternoon tea in their peaceful tea room. We bought their oldest blend, Morgenthe or morning tea, and have since ordered many other blends online. Despite living in London, my husband and I prefer the Perch blends and now drink these every day
Finding stomach space for a heavenly DOP organic hotdog
I really recommend eating a delicious gourmet organic hot dog from the food stand next to the Round Tower. The options are grilled pork, pork with herbs or beef sausages in sourdough and linseed buns, topped with crispy fried onions, thinly sliced pickles and remoulade. Even though I had just had a big lunch, I couldn’t resist one of these
Eating two baskets of Bo Bech’s sourdough bread rolls at Geist
It’s lovely and relaxed here, and you can eat as much or as little as you want, with no pressure to over order. Best of all, you can try Bo Bech’s rustic sourdough rolls now that his bakery has closed (we had two baskets of them after discussing at length with our server how Bech makes them). The grilled avocado with green almonds was delicious, and order coffee so that you can look forward to the huge pink candy floss served with it…
Walking around Tivoli Gardens three evenings in a row
Tivoli was so much fun that my husband and I went on all three evenings during our trip (entry is included on the Copenhagen Card, but not the rides). There’s so much to eat, do and see here, and the architecture is stunning. I’d love to go at Christmas time when it’s particularly festive. And if you’re hungry, Grøften is one of Tivoli’s oldest restaurants serving traditional Danish fare, including classic summer fried plaice served with new potatoes. We had a window table where we could people-watch while enjoying our early dinner. At lunch, order from a wide variety of smørrebrød
Taking a boat tour
It may sound touristy but it’s the best way to see the city from a different perspective. On an early sunny morning, it was extremely pleasant and there were very few people on our boat. Look out for the historic Gunboat Sheds too…
Hanging out at Central Hotel & Cafe
Copenhagen’s tiniest coffee shop (seating about six at a squeeze), with one beautifully designed compact double hotel bedroom upstairs. The homemade Danish shortbread biscuits served with the coffee are particularly tasty. The cafe shares the same owner with Granola around the corner, a larger cafe and ice cream parlour popular with locals. Next time I’m definitely staying in the room upstairs!
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy your trip to Copenhagen!
Helen Yuet Ling Pang