5 Reasons to Visit Copenhagen

Colorful houses, cobblestone streets, great food and cocktails, incredible ice cream, wonderful people, and Scandinavian functionalism at every turn. I knew I’d love Copenhagen before I even set foot in Denmark.

It’s a place designed to explore on foot or bike, with every street offering something to smile at. If this sounds too good to be true, I’ll admit- it’s hard to describe the magic of this city.

The Hygge

Hygge is already such a thing in Britain that the Collins Dictionary proclaimed it one of the top 10 words of 2016. Per the New York Times, Hygge is the Danish word for cozy. It is also a national manifesto, nay, an obsession expressed in the constant pursuit of homespun pleasures involving candlelight, fires, fuzzy knitted socks, porridge, coffee, cake and other people. 

Really, hygge is about celebrating the small pleasures of life. Is it any wonder such a wonderful concept tops my list of reasons to visit Denmark? Even though I visited Copenhagen during the late-summer, hygge reminders were everywhere from dozens of candles in bars to sheepskin blankets on benches at outdoor eateries. The reminder to get cozy and enjoy the little things was everywhere.

If you want to know more about hygge, I love this cute book, The Little Book of Hygge.

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The Food & Cocktails

I knew the food scene in Copenhagen was good, but I didn’t expect it to be so great. I’ve written about my favorite places to grab a drink or bite to eat, and I’m serious when I say Copenhagen is the perfect place to eat your way through the weekend. I mean, you know you’re bound to enjoy yourself when you’re in a city that practically lives for pastry.

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The Things to Do

Copenhagen may be compact enough to be easily walkable, but there’s no shortage of awesome things to do.

A few of my favorite experiences-

  • Tivoli Gardens: Built right in the middle of the city, you feel like you’re walking into a parallel universe when you enter the world’s oldest amusement park. Said to have influenced Walt Disney World, Tivoli is a fun place to wander or go on rides
  • Canal Tour: I know, I know- a typical tourist activity. Except, when the sun is shining and it’s a brilliant blue day, it’s hard to resist a boat tour of Copenhagen. I tend to enjoy tours like these on my first few days in a new place- they help orient me to the city, and usually provide an inside look into a place’s history beyond what I’d discover exploring on my own
  • The Round Tower: Built as an observatory for stargazing, what’s unusual about the tower is that you go up a sloping ramp that twists and turns instead of a staircase. This kind of design is called an equestrian staircase, created so horses could ride to the top. A cool design and great view of Copenhagen? Definitely a must-visit
  • Louisiana Museum of Art: It rained one of our afternoons in Copenhagen. Braving the rain in favor of wandering didn’t sound like much fun, so we took a short train ride to the Louisiana Museum. Awesome modern art (LOVE anywhere with a permanent Yayoi collection & special Picasso exhibition) in a perfect location. Making it as much fun outside as inside, the museum sits on a bluff filled with sculptures, which overlooks the strait between Denmark and Sweden. Easily one of my favorite museums in the world
  • Rosenborg Castle: The oldest castle in Copenhagen, here you’ll find the crown jewels and Throne Chair of Denmark. The gardens are beautifully kept- plan to spend a few minutes admiring them

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The Design and Architecture

I’ve loved Scandinavian design for as long as I can remember. So clean, so elegant, so functional, so simple.

Every shop I went into seemed to be perfectly designed. HAY House was one of my favorites, and had me wishing I could pack furniture in my carry-on 😉

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The People

Before my trip, I read the Danes have achieved a quality and vibrancy of life that’s often missing in America. During my visit, not a single person asked me what I do, and it’s not because they didn’t care- it’s because we had other things to discuss. No one walks down the street with phones in hand, or checks them while at dinner or drinks. After living in New York for so many years, all of this is jarring. But, it shouldn’t be. And so, I’m grateful for the Danes- for reminding me what matters.

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If you’ve ever visited Copenhagen, what were your favorite experiences?

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Where to Eat & Drink in Copenhagen

Heading to Denmark, I knew the food scene in Copenhagen was good, but I didn’t expect it to be so great.

Before my late summer trip to Copenhagen, I read the Danes have achieved a quality and vibrancy of life that’s often missing in America. Colorful houses, cobblestone streets, wonderful people, and Scandinavian functionalism at every turn. If you haven’t been to Copenhagen, please go.

And, while you’re there, these places are my favorites for coffee, eats and drinks.

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WHERE TO GET COFFEE

Strong roasteries and beautiful, Danish interiors set the stage for the perfect cup of coffee.

The Coffee Collective: A must visit, for sure. Wildly delicious coffee
The Living Room: The literal definition of hygge
Democratic Coffee Bar: Order an almond croissant and a flat white, you’ll thank me
Kent Kaffe Laboratorium: They do all the brewing methods here. We popped in for an on-the-go espresso, but this would be a great place to linger for a bit as well
Mirabelle: Cozy bakery with great coffee

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WHERE TO EAT

This was sooo tough to narrow down to just a couple recommendations, so I’m giving a few bonus ones. 🙂

Mother: Awesome sourdough-crust pizzas, and plenty of seating, indoors and outdoors
Baest: Fantastic pizza, the dough is next level. This place also turns out a mean negroni, and I mean, what could be better than excellent pizza and a good drink?
Osterberg: Delicious ice cream. You may be thinking, ‘ice cream in Denmark, really?’, but trust me- this place is not to be missed
Kodbyens Fiskebar: All of the seafood we tried was great, but the Danish oysters are a must order
Host: Affordable fine Nordic food (read: set menu) with a focus on raw materials. Phenom Danish cheeses
Grod: Do the build your own porridge, I don’t know how they make something so simple so good, but it’s excellent. Big fan of the apple + raspberry + dulce de leche combination
Meyers Bageri: Y’all know I love my pastries. Ended up here three times, the kanelsnurrer were that good

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And, two food hall recommendations with something for everyone:

Papiroen: Located on Paper Island, near Nyhavn, this street food market sells everything from Danish hot dogs to Mexican tacos to Belgian frites to cheesecake and mojitos. The best part? You can enjoy meals from around the world while supporting local traders.

Torvehallerne: A food hall like Papiroen, but located in the middle of city center. There are two main halls, as well as an outdoor farmer’s market. The tacos at Hija de Sanchez were killer.

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Some may say I should have mentioned Atelier September, but I can’t because I don’t like/eat avocado, and therefore, can’t vouch for how incredible their avo toast is rumored to be. Also, I had the extreme fortune of dining at Noma on my trip, but chose not to include it here because it’s closing at the end of February, and I recognize Noma isn’t a reality for the majority, which makes it more of a once-in-a-lifetime experience than recommendation for somewhere to eat in my book.

WHERE TO HAVE A DRINK

Ruby: Hidden behind an unmaked door, Ruby has everything you want in a cocktail bar. Walking in feels like you’re discovering a secret, and whether you sit in the cozy library, on the bright terrace, or on a window ledge next to a candelabra, you know you’re in a special place. The staff really knows their stuff too- you don’t become known as the best cocktail bar in Copenhagen for nothing

Salon 39: Truly unique cocktails here, I had a martini with eucalyptus vodka- equal parts weird and enjoyable

Mikkeller Bar: Huge craft beer selection. Normally not a “beer drinker”, it was on this trip I learned I actually do like beer, if it’s good beer. The Airbnb I stayed in was right around the corner from this gem, so most nights ended here with a pint or two

Curfew: Seriously good cocktails and lovely bartenders, imagine my delight when I learned this place was also around the corner from my Airbnb. I’ll most definitely come back on a return visit to Copenhagen

Lidkoeb: One of the hottest cocktail bars in the city, the drinks here are expertly mixed. If you’re here on a warm night, enjoy your drink in the outside space

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If you’ve been to Copenhagen, where were your favorite places to eat or enjoy a drink? 

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#Take12Trips: September

September was an exciting, busy month. Labor Day weekend took me to Copenhagen for a quick introduction to Denmark. Two weeks later, I returned to Europe for 13 days traveling throughout Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and Paris.

Last fall, I promised myself I’d attend Oktoberfest this year. Working back from time planned in Munich, I decided to explore another German city, Berlin and return to two cities I’ve visited before and wanted to spend more time in- Amsterdam and Paris.

Both trips were incredible, and I can’t wait to write more about them. But, I’m also looking forward to slowing down for a few weeks and taking time to enjoy my favorite season in one of my favorite cities.

For now though, a few moments from September’s travels-

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WHAT IS #TAKE12TRIPS?

#Take12Trips is the only resolution I made this year- a promise to commit to doing something once a month. Anything counts- it can be dinner at a new place, visiting a new museum or spending the weekend at a cute B&B in the country. It doesn’t need to be an epic trip to a foreign country, just the chance to discover something new.

Where #Take12Trips has taken me thus far this year:

I haven’t fully planned my trips for the rest of the year, but this is the work-in-progress schedule:

  • October: Paris in the beginning of the month & just booked a trip to Utah & Nevada for my birthday at the end of the month! Planning to do a mini-road trip and hike a few parks- Bryce Canyon, Zion, Valley of Fire.
  • November: TBD. Previously, I’d planned to run a race in Big Sur mid-month, but an injury with my left foot has me rethinking those plans
  • December: Pittsburgh for the holidays, and potentially Mexico City between the holidays and NYE

Are you planning any trips you’re excited about?

Photo Diary: Copenhagen

Back in February, I wrote about Copenhagen as one of my 2016 travel crushes. Schedule wise, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to fit in a trip to this slice of Scandinavia, so when I found a flight deal for Labor Day Weekend, I didn’t hesitate to book it.

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself with four days to spend in Copenhagen. While wandering the city throughout the weekend, I kept thinking, “This place is so great.”

Before my trip, I read the Danes have achieved a quality and vibrancy of life that’s often missing in America. During my visit, not a single person asked me what I do, and it’s not because they didn’t care- it’s because we had other things to discuss. No one walks down the street with phones in hand, or checks them while at dinner or drinks. After living in New York for so many years, all of this is jarring. But, it shouldn’t be. And so, I’m grateful for the Danes- for reminding me what matters.

Colorful houses, cobblestone streets, great food and cocktails, incredible ice cream, wonderful people, and Scandinavian functionalism at every turn. If you haven’t been to Copenhagen, please go.

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Travel Crush: Copenhagen

Every time someone I follow shares a photo from Copenhagen, my first thought, inevitably, is swoon.

Colorful houses, cobblestone streets, phenomenal food, some of the best ice cream in Europe, and a lifestyle where bicycles are the preferred method of transportation. What’s not to love?

Also, is it just me or does it seem like every cafe, restaurant, gastropub, shop and bar in Copenhagen is designed with Scandinavian functionalism in mind? Heavenly.

Every photo I’ve seen of Copenhagen further convinces me of the city’s coziness. Although I don’t have a trip to Denmark on the books for 2016 just yet, it’s a destination high on my list of contenders.

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Have you ever been to Copenhagen? What are your must-do’s for a long weekend there?

(Image credits from top: 1 // 2 // 3 )