Last October, a couple of friends and I jumped on a plane to Copenhagen, Denmark. We booked the trip on a bit of a whim (thank you Norwegian Air for your affordable flights) and in all honesty, I didn’t really know what to expect of the city.
I’d been around Norway and to Stockholm but never to Denmark (I’m actually trying to visit all the Nordic countries before I’m 30, so this got me another step closer!). I’d heard great things but aside from their obsession with bicycles, the Little Mermaid and their beautiful Royal Family, I didn’t know much about Copenhagen.
I looked up a few restaurants/general things to do, but didn’t really think about how we would fill our time. I was going with two friends that I was eager to catch up with and very aware that we would probably spend most of our time chatting (I wasn’t wrong there), so drinking/eating was my first priority.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is, I went to Copenhagen with a completely open mind and no real idea of what to expect. I came back absolutely blown away – I always say that for me what makes a great city, is when I feel like I could live there and immediately, walking the streets of Copenhagen felt like home.
I think a big part of it is down to it having a similar vibe to my real home – London. It has this amazing mix of historic buildings: palaces, churches, political buildings and then also, super cool neighbourhoods with amazing breweries and interesting restaurants.
Here were my highlights of the weekend:
THINGS TO DO
I’d heard about Freetown but until you experience it, it’s hard to completely understand. It’s basically a ‘hippy’ area of Copenhagen. There’s lots of colourful buildings, artsy murals and seeing as there’s no cars, a really nice place to walk around. Plus, there are loads of options for food and drink, including of course, a heck of a lot of vegetarian cafes.
I don’t have many photos are you’re not allowed to take photographs within the main part of Christiania, probably because there are people openly selling weed there (even though they’re not actually meant to).
Just outside it though, are the most beautiful houses – we walked around gawping at how incredible they were. A lot of them looked self built but were well maintained and looked very loved by their owners. It’s definitely worth exploring a bit further afield than just the main areas.
Wander the Old Streets Magstræde and Snaregade
Copenhagen is a beautiful city and to be honest, most streets have their charm but these two streets in particular are picture perfect. They’re also quieter than some of the surrounding areas and it’s worth spending some time walking around here, if even just for a bit of peace!
Nyhavn is a beautiful old port, where Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen once lived. The area itself reminded me a lot of Bergen’s ‘Bryggen’ – lined with beautiful coloured houses and enchanting architecture, you can see why so many people want to photograph them both.
It’s a busy area – it’s nice to walk around and take photos here, you can also stop for a beer/some food although as with any area popular with tourists likely to be even more expensive than some other parts of the city.
I won’t lie, even as I was queuing to go into Tivoli I didn’t really have a clue what it was and still even though I’ve now been, I’m still not really sure how to explain it. It’s basically a park/amusement park (the second oldest in the world actually) with rides and a market, that is always beautifully themed and dressed for each time of year.
We were there during Halloween, hence the many pumpkins.
It’s much bigger than I first realised it was and you could easily spend a day here really taking everything in. We went in the evening to really make the most of the ‘spooky’ decorations, so only spent a couple of hours there before it was closing. It is a bit tacky but it’s still fun to walk around – there are lots of different areas to the park, each with their own restaurants/pubs/shops etc, a bit like Thorpe Park/a small Disneyland (Walt Disney is said to have taken inspiration from Tivoli when building Disney World).
Little Mermaid Statue
Inspired by a ballerina and made in 1913, she’s getting on a bit in terms of age and has been vandalised a few times (including having her head sawn off) but as as she’s made of granite and bronze, and the city has carefully looked after her, she doesn’t really look it.
I do think this is a bit contrived but like the ‘manneken pis’ in Brussels, it’s just one of those things that you have to see if you come to Copenhagen. The area she’s in is quite nice, with lots of fountains and parks, so if its nice weather it’s definitely worth spending some time wandering around and not just coming to see her.
It was a slightly rainy day when we visited, so we spent only spent a short amount of time looking at the statue/avoiding the crowds of other people visiting it) but we still made sure to see some of the lovely fountains/statues nearby as well.
I’ve always been a bit obsessed with Scandi style – Hay and Broste are two of my favourite designers, and Skandinavisk make maybe the best candle I’ve ever smelled. I definitely try to incorporate some Scandinavian chic into my own home, so I was very happy when we ended up in the home section of department store ‘Illum’ in the shopping district and saw there was a sale on ‘Ib Laursen’ and ‘Bloomingville’.
I’m due to move into my own flat soon and so have been collecting items for the new place, which I’m so excited about. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know how much I love collecting things from my travels such as prints, vases, antiques etc. It’s nice being able to just look at an item and be reminded of a special memory.
From Illum I bought two candle holders and some candle sticks, then in another small gift store I bought this little tealight house (I got it discounted because it was a bit wonky but personally I love that its imperfect, I think it adds to the charm!) I can’t wait for them all to sit pride of place in my new home.
Warpigs and Mikkeller
Ugh I just. I just love Warpigs so much. It’s a BBQ place that serves INCREDIBLE food (veggie included) and they’ve teamed up with beer company Mikkeller (again INCREDIBLE beer) to make one of my favourite places ever. If it was in London I’m not sure I’d ever feel the need to eat/drink elsewhere ever.
There is a Mikkeller in London and I have noticed a few supermarkets (Marks and Spencers for example) do stock some of their beers, so it’s not like I can’t experience part of it but there’s something about Warpigs that I just really enjoyed; communal tables, loud music, I don’t know – a very East London vibe that I could very much get on board with.
On the complete other side of the spectrum, is the calm and collected Tovehallerne. A food market which just so happened to be very close to our hotel and also, where we had breakfast every day.
What can I say? Once you’ve tried a pastry from Laura’s Bakery, there’s no going back. She makes a variety of cinnamon buns with different flavours and I think we must have made it our aim to try them all because my goodness, did I eat a lot of them.
As well as Laura’s Bakery, there’s a lot of amazing options for other food and drink, including ‘Coffee Collective’ who make the smooth but strong latte of my dreams. Paired with a pastry they’re just *chef’s kiss* (very good). Plus, there’s even a Mikkeller beer shop within this food hall! Honestly, what more could you want.
There’s a few famous pizza joints within Copenhagen – ‘Mother’ is the big one I had heard of but in truth, I couldn’t get a reservation there as it was a weekend and I left it far too late. Thankfully, just around the corner was a branch of ‘Neighbourhood’, which I would recommend again and again.
As with (it seems) every place we ate at, it had a super cool vibe (all of the servers were young, dressed like they’d walked out of Harper’s Bazaar but still very nice) and of course, the food was delicious. Their unique flavours and thin pizza bases make for something really special.
We all had a pizza each and then stayed for a few hours drinking beers, and chilling out. Normally after a pizza I’d almost immediately fall into a food coma and want to go to sleep, but as they were so light, miraculously I had room for a beer (or three) afterwards.
We didn’t do a lot of research on hotels – our choice was based mainly on location and price; it was very central and cost just under £100 each for 2 nights (based on 3 people sharing a triple room). Well that and how Ibsens offers a happy hour every day in the hotel lobby, where you can get one free glass of wine/beer (or a soft drink). And anywhere that offers free alcohol sounds like a great place in my book.
Thankfully, we made a great choice here – the Ibsens was perfect for us. Not only was it in the perfect location but it also had the perfect vibe. Everything about it was fun and well thought out – little things like a stool in the bathroom so you can sit while doing your make up, and this ‘do not disturb’ sign, really brightened our days.
If you’re looking to save money, I would suggest getting an apartment as buying food from the supermarket is much cheaper but if like us, you’re only going for a few days and would rather eat out, then I would 100% recommend this hotel. I would happily stay there again if/when I return to the city.
Travelling around Copenhagen was actually incredibly easy. We got the metro to and from the airport, and also used the train/metro system to travel around.
We used it sparingly as it wasn’t cheap and mostly walked – staying central really helped with this. Often we would get the metro to the furthest point we intended on going that day, then slowly walked our way back. It’s a beautiful city, so it would be a shame to miss out on being able to walk through and see it all!
It also can often get a bit cold in Copenhagen, so sometimes its nice to jump on the Metro just to warm up a bit! It wasn’t freezing when I went in October (nothing is really once you’ve lived through a Canadian winter) but it was a touch windy/did spit with rain from time to time, so it’s definitely worth bringing a warm hooded jacket. (Option to pull over your head at all times is up to you)
Also as I mentioned, Copenhagen isn’t a cheap city – be prepared to spend around £3.50 for a coffee and around £8 for a beer (dependant on where exactly you go of course). Living in London, the prices were definitely a bit more than what I would usually spend but they weren’t too shocking. I’m used to paying around £2.80 for a coffee and £5 for a beer (I’m aware people from outside London might find that ridiculous!)
We didn’t use a lot of cash in Copenhagen – I have a Monzo card (a cash card) which I would really recommend (I have also heard great things about Revolut and Starling Bank). You can use it as your usual current/savings account but I mostly use it for travelling/fun things. There is no charge to use it abroad and when you do spend money, you get a notification through the app which tells you how much money you have spent in your own currency, which makes it incredibly helpful.
Of course, they do still take cash but I personally found card easiest – almost everywhere takes card and I just find it easier to keep track of my money this way.