A Copenhagen travel guide – design, style and Scandinavia’s best spots for soaking up culture
Get your bearings
Copenhagen is made for exploring on foot or two wheels. Bike paths and cobbled, no-vehicle walkways stretch from trendy Vesterbro in the west across a series of canals to the upscale Christianshavn district (and its alternative-lifestyle enclave of Christiania). In between is Strøget, Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping area whose shops and museums form the heart of the City Centre, leading all the way to the inlet of Inderhavnen (Inner Harbour). Up-and-coming Nørrebro, just north of Strøget and along a canal, and the leafy district of Frederiksberg to the west are perfect for an afternoon stroll.
Copenhagen’s chefs are redefining Scandinavian cooking, sourcing exclusively local products, going organic and returning Nordic cooking to its roots by sifting though their grandmothers' cookbooks. Restaurants cluster in the centre off the streets of Frederiksberggade and Købmagergade. Up-and-coming neighborhoods for eating include Kødbyen, the meatpacking district in Vesterbro. Don’t forget to try one of Copenhagen’s 14 Michelin-starred restaurants – the highest number in Scandinavia – including Noma, hailed by Restaurant magazine as the third best restaurant in the world.
The Danes’ reputation for letting down their hair is legendary. The place to start the evening on a Copenhagen city break is Indre By, where you’ll find open-air bars and music clubs. Later on, take to simmering Nørrebro or hip and happening Vesterbro.
For kicking back in the daytime, start in Frederiksberg, whose cobbled, tree-lined streets lead to the sprawling Frederiksberg Garden. From here, it’s a short walk to manicured Assistens Cemetery, final resting place of Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr. Østerbro, just east, is known for the popular green expanses and tree-lined avenues that run through its Fælledparken park, with acres of scented gardens, playgrounds and, at weekends, pick-up football matches. From here, head south to Tivoli amusement park and hippie Christiania, a green enclave known for its liberal attitudes.
Danish designers are among the world’s best, and Copenhagen has been punching above its weight in architecture, interiors and furniture design for years. Start at the Danish Design Centre, with its extensive exhibitions and an excellent shop. Then visit the Danish Museum of Decorative Art and the Danish Architectural Centre, which put on cutting-edge shows on modern design and building trends. Afterwards, hit the boutiques of Strøget or the amble about the specialty shops of Østerbro to pick up creations from Danish designers like Georg Jensen, Bodum, Rosendahl and B&O.
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