Copenhagen’s famed art and design museums, grand historical sites, lively urban parks, and dynamic restaurant scene makes it an easy city to love. Flat and manageable in size, the city center’s streets are abuzz with walkers and cyclists. Get in on the action by lacing up a pair of walking shoes or better yet, rent a bike; Copenhagen is a bike lover’s city indeed.
Art and Design
From fashion-forward locals and interior design shops galore to art galleries and world renowned museums, Copenhagen is steeped in art and design. Nowhere is this more evident than at the National Design Museum which showcases works from some of Denmark’s most acclaimed designers. Keep an eye out for the colorful fashion and textile displays, and my personal favorite, an exhibit entirely dedicated to chair design. Think everything from slim and minimalist to big and bold—who knew chairs could be so thought-provoking?!? For more Danish art and design, allot a couple of hours for the grand National Art Gallery, Statens Museum for Kunst —the contemporary art exhibits are particularly riveting and best of all, admission is FREE!
If there was an award for prettiest urban castle in Scandinavia, Rosenborg Castle would certainly be in the running. Built in 1605 in the Dutch Renaissance style and located smack-dab in the heart of the city, the Castle is of movie-like perfection with a sandstone façade and tall pointy towers. Inside there’s a museum, but the manicured, colorful King’s Gardens surrounding the castle are the real draw. Beloved by locals, the grounds bustle with picnicking friends and canoodling couples. Pop a squat to get in on the action.
Copenhagen’s restaurants may not be cheap, but they sure are fun. And, delicious! Spanning from fine-dining, Michelin-star restaurants to tiny neighborhood eateries, there’s more than enough scrumptious spots to keep foodies happy.
For a truly special (and, expensive!) dining experience, make a reservation at world-renowned NOMA, where fresh, locally sourced ingredients are prepared in astonishingly innovative ways. Recently, the ever changing menu featured monkfish liver and milk, moss and cep, and Nordic coconut (amongst other tasty delights). Make a reservation early as this is one popular spot.
Alternatively, for something more relaxed and affordable, stop in Café Kreutzberg , a cavernous, tiny eatery located on shop-lined Kompagnistraede Street. The traditional Danish pickled-herring smorresbrod, comparable to an open-faced sandwich, is hard to beat. On sunny days, sit outdoors to people watch the trendy and seemingly always happy locals.
Touristy, but undeniably atmospheric with views of a busy promenade, canal-front Nyhavn neighborhood is a fine place to spend an evening too. Walk along the colorful canal to find a restaurant that suits your cravings and budget. If you have extra time before dinner, consider taking a guided boat tour of the city—joining a group is easy, as scores of boats depart from the canal.
Side Trip to Tallinn, Estonia
Not technically part of Scandinavia but located just a short flight away, Tallinn is a fine addition to a holiday in Copenhagen (or, anywhere in Scandinavia for that matter). The city, as a whole, has many historical and cultural sights and a dynamic restaurant and nightlife scene; though if time is limited, Old Town Tallinn should take priority.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, Old Town Tallinn is one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval cities. The picturesque cobbled streets lined with age-old shops, charming restaurants, and tiny cafes are reason enough to visit, but alas there’s more! From grand plazas and colorful buildings to illustrious medieval style churches and even an ancient fortress, Old Town spurs thoughts of dreams and fairytales. To begin an independent walking tour, grab a tourist map (available practically everywhere), make your way to Raekoja Plats (Raekoja Square), the bustling heart of Old Town, and set off to see the sights.
In the evening, adventurously dine outside the box in one of the neighborhood’s array of Russian eateries.
U Natasi Restaurant is a good place to start serving Russian classics such as herring, salmon roe or my favorite, savory dumplings with broth. Though if Russian food doesn’t sound appealing, fret not. Old Town Tallinn hosts the usual tourist favorites as well: Italian, Greek, French and even American fare—it’s all here.
Written by and photos by Katherine Sazdanoff for EuropeUpClose.com
Katherine Sazdanoff is a freelance travel writer. Recently, she embarked on a solo trip to Scandinavia and though she hates to play favorites, Copenhagen and Tallinn are hard to beat! To chronicle her wanderlust adventures, visit her at Katherine Sazdanoff