Thursday, June 13, 2013

24 Hours in Copenhagen

Sometimes I think the best part of vacationing is telling all your stories when it's all over, with pictures, of course :).  This time around, I thought it would be fun to share the highlights of our trip to Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Reykjavik via 24-hour itineraries -- that way, if any of you are planning a trip, you'll get the benefit of my research (the express version)!  Let the sharing begin :)

Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities in the world.  It's completely walkable (or bike-able!), clean, safe (you've heard about the strollers on the streets right?), and absolutely charming.  The food (especially seafood, and bacon!) is delicious; the people are friendly; and there are no open container laws.  I had been to Copenhagen once before, but as a first-timer, Brian's two main observations on the city were that it was incredibly civilized, and that you really could tell that people there are happy.  All in all, Copenhagen is a delightful place to take a vacation!

Breakfast:  Any good travel day starts with a good cup of coffee.  You can rest assured you won't have any trouble finding one in Copenhagen.  In fact, the Danes consume more coffee per capita than any country in the world (even Italy)!  My go-to in any city is to find a cafe by the local university (all that time I spent in school taught me at least one thing -- where there are students, there is coffee).  We split a delicious breakfast spread at Paludan Cafe, including bacon, eggs, fruit, lemon pancakes, and maybe the best vanilla yogurt I've ever had.  (You will quickly learn that Northern Europe has dairy DOWN.)

Other great options are Cafe Retro (which is also a popular drinking spot), and The Laundromat Cafe (most favorite place ever -- more about that in the Iceland post).

Louisiana Museum:  Next up, modern art.  Scandinavia in general, and Copenhagen in particular, is known for its preeminance in the fields of modern art and design.  For a mid-century mod lover like me, the whole city is basically "my style."

Copenhagen's best modern art museum, the Louisiana Museum, actually lies a bit outside the city, about 30 minutes by train.  The museum is dramatically poised on a cliff overlooking the water, and it's modern architecture is stunning in itself.  They had a really fun pop art exhibition going on when we visited, and the outside sculpture garden is incredible.

{this Miro was my fave}

Snack at Tovehallerne:  Take the train back to Norreport Station, and it'll leave you off right by the city's glassed-in market, Tovehallerne.  One of my favorite things about Europe is how it seems every city has one of these wonderful markets!  Stop in for a coffee or a beer, and of course, a "toast" (a Danish open-faced sandwich).

Stroll:  While you digest, take a stroll through the city toward the Royal Palace.  Walk down Stroget street, where there's lots of shopping, people watching, and cute cafes to stop in along the way.  It's also the longest pedestrian walkway in the world!

As a sidenote, you'll likely pass by some flower shops, and you should be warned that Copenhagen as the cutest flower shops in. the. world.  I had to restrain myself every time I walked past one!  Case in point:

I mean, come on!

Lunch:  You're probably getting hungry again, right?  (I told you there'd be lots of eating!)  Before diving head-first into sight-seeing, stop in at Restaurant M, a market on the bottom and restaurant on top, for some traditional smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches).  Try the smoked herring in curry sauce (seriously, try it).

Walking tour:  Take yourself on a little sight-seeing tour.  Check out the Royal Palace, and then cross the street over to the plaza where there's a view of the gorgeous new opera building.  Then walk over to Nyhavn, and take a million pictures of the charming strip of traditional, colorful townhouses along the canal :)

Canal Tour:  After you've had a beer at one of the Nyhavn cafes (you had one, right?), get in line for a canal tour (go to the tour place on the right side as you face the canal; it's inexplicably half the price of the main tour company located right at the front of the canal).  The tour will last you about an hour, and you'll get to see beautiful views of the city.  And I mean, who doesn't like a little boat cruise?  You'll go past the famous Little Mermaid sculpture (Hans Christian Andersen was a Dane), the amazing new Opera house and library, and (in my opinion, the coolest thing we saw), a former torpedo hanger turned fancy apartment building!

Also, sand sculpture contest made me laugh.

Happy Hour:  I bet you could use a drink.  Head to the canals by Nybrogade, where you can sip on the dock!

Dinner:  Now that you're good and liquored up, you're going to Fiskebaren for dinner.  Trust me.

No, it doesn't have any Michelin stars, but it's where you want to be.  Fiskebaren is young, trendy, and serves up some amazing, fresh, innovative seafood.  And it's in a cool, hipster-y neighborhood that you'll want to hang out in afterward for a drink.  You'll love it.

Drinking:  According to my sources (aka my Danish friend), Norrebro is the area in which to drink.  We ventured out one night, and bar hopped around the area.  Lots of young people; lots of bars in a concentrated area.  It's a fun time!

Late Night Bite:  Hot dog time!  Danish hotdogs come wrapped in bacon, and complete with fried onions, mayo, and relish.  Enjoy!

A Note on Christiania:  Most people who visit Copenhagen will tell you to go check out Christiania, an autonomous hippie commune/neighborhood.  The area was founded in the 1970s and continues in much the same fashion today, with people living in shacks, and selling arts, crafts, and [soft] drugs.  There's been controversy over the area lately because several developers want to buy the large plot of land it sits on, which the residents of Christiania live on rent free.  We chose not to visit the neighborhood because, well, we used to live in Berkeley.  We've been there, done that.  The most interesting part of the whole area to me is the fact that it exists in the quaint city of Copenhagen, where it seems a total outlier!

**Thanks to my Danish friends Tasha and Nico for all their wonderful suggestions!**


Anonymous said...

Well written, Ashley.
As a Dane I enjoyed reading your comments.
One small note: Hans Christian Andersen, not Anderson! He was Danish, not Swedish!


Peter (Tasha's Grandpa).

Ashley said...

Thanks, Peter! Glad you enjoyed the post, and I'll make that correction!!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Fantastic, Ashley. Our capital could not be recommended in a better way. Sorry you did not visit Aalborg this time. Best wishes Jytte