Copenhagen. Population: 1.2million. Residents who commute to work by bicycle: 36%.
The Danish capital is a city that is defined by light, space and water.
As a harbour city, encircled by lakes and canals, the combination of ever-present water and a low-rise planning scheme seems to bring the sky closer and make the air fresher. Also, the pace of life in Copenhagen is relaxed and unhurried – and everyone cycles everywhere.
Perhaps it’s this magic combination that leads to Copenhagen being a leader in lifestyle innovations and trends:
- Stylish audio company Bang & Olufsen was founded in Denmark in 1925.
- The small interlocking plastic blocks of iconic toy Lego were first manufactured in Denmark in 1949.
- Pandora (the customisable charm bracelet and jewellery company) opened its first store in Copenhagen in 1982.
- More recently, Joe & The Juice has begun opening stores around the world – it’s the standard juice store concept but done well and with a confident sense of identity that it’s hard not to love.
I was excited to be back in Copenhagen – my house-mate and I had flown from London for the weekend. Not only would we catch up with friends and go to the Lady Gaga concert, but it was also a great chance to reconnect with this city and get a taste for what’s new in Copenhagen cool.
Agnes Cupcakes is a contender for world domination – sure they’re just cupcakes, but these are really good. We tried Lemon Meringue and also a Cinnamon Scroll cupcake – possibly the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. Outlets are popping up everywhere but their flagship store in the centre of Copenhagen is worth a visit.
It’s a big call, but Jægersborggade is possibly the coolest street in Copenhagen. In the heart of fashionable Nørrebro, this is where I’d love to live. Not only are there great shops and restaurants and a very relaxed and easy-going vibe, but there is great coffee in The Coffee Collective. There’s a couple of outlets around Copenhagen but the original on Jægersborggade is a small, unprepossessing cafe which serves up very very good coffee from their own roastery (the beans are sourced directly from farmers around the world). I would be happy to suggest my neighbourhood in London as a contender for The Coffee Collective’s first location outside of Copenhagen.
Also on Jægersborggade is Grød (which translates appropriately as porridge). It’s a simple concept – during the day they serve porridge and then in the evening they serve Risotto. That’s it. We were there during the day and there were three different types of porridge to choose from with a range of flavour combinations. I had a barley base with pear and plum and it was really very good – almost the kind of thing you could imagine on the menu at Noma, but accessible enough that you could it eat it every day. Definitely a concept that would travel well.
I am a big fan of Summerbird Chocolaterie on Kronprinsensgade who have been making top quality chocolate in Denmark for 15 years. They are best known for the butterfly-shaped marzipan covered in dark chocolate – the Danish word for butterfly (sommerfugl) translates to English as ‘summerbird’ – my favourite was the almonds covered in dark bitter chocolate.
We caught the metro out to the modern and efficient airport for our flight home – as we sipped a large Fibre Active from Joe & The Juice it was a chance to reflect on a great weekend and another inspirational visit to Denmark’s capital. While I’m not tall enough or blond enough to live in Copenhagen, it is definitely a city worth keeping an eye on.
Places to stay
- Radisson Blue Royal Hotel – famous for its design by Arne Jacobsen, you can always rely on the Radisson brand;
- Wakeup Copenhagen – inexpensive but with a clever an interesting design, a good location near the central train station;
- CPH Living – a small boutique hotel on a houseboat in the harbour. Something different.
Things to do:
- Torvehallerne food market – a posh food market where you can stop for lunch;
- Assistens Cemetery – a beautiful calm space where you can admire the multitudes of red squirrels and the tomb of children’s author Hans Christian Andersen;
- Shopping – all the big brands are here, but make the effort to visit smaller stores such as Norse Projects in Nørrebro or Nag People on Klareboderne;
- Denmark’s reputation as exponents of great food is well deserved – whether it’s innovative dining at Ralae or Noma or just simple herring served with the local dark solid Rugbrod bread, it’s worth exploring;
- Fancy a bit of culture? Galleri Nicolai Wallner is worth a visit;
- The water in Copenhagen Harbour is clear and fresh – go for a swim at the swimming pontoon at Islands Brygge;
- Head to Christianshavn to climb the tower of Our Saviours Church for spectacular 360 degree views across Copenhagen;
- Explore Christiania – a ‘free zone’ alternative lifestyle commune that has been established in an old military barracks;
- Spend a night in the Meat Packing district – begin with dinner at Kodbyens Fiskebar and then move on to the numerous busy bars in the surrounding buildings.
Bars & Clubs
- Pate Pate – cute bar in the Meat Packing district;
- Karriere – top drawer cocktails;
- Bakken – a great outdoor space rammed with the young and cool of Copenhagen;
- Centralkjornet – a relaxed and friendly gay pub;
- Cosy Bar – a relaxed and friendly bar with a mixed crowd;
- Never Mind – great for late night drinks and dancing.
- Pan Idraet is the gay and lesbian sports association for Denmark offering 17 different sports including swimming, badminton, hockey and handball.