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Copenhagen: My Ultimate Guide
Here are my insider tips for where to eat, sleep, and play
Copenhagen is my second home. I was born in NYC and grew up in America, but my dad is Danish and therefore I am a dual citizen. I moved to Copenhagen when I was 18 to study my bachelors and then my masters. It’s the city where I started my career, first fell deep in love, and got my first apartment(s). It’s a city that has deeply shaped who I am and has me coming back time after time because so many of my favorite people live there.
It’s also an incredible hub for food.
In my 10 some years of living in Copenhagen, I have tirelessly tried everything this little city has to offer. I experienced it as a poor student, as a fine dining nerd, and now as someone working on food system transformation. No matter who you are or what you’re into, it has something delicious to offer you.
I recommend going May - September. The rest of the year is dark and reliably rainy. If that’s what you’re into, it can be fun but from spring to late autumn, Copenhagen and its residents show off their best sides. The weather is also super volatile so always plan to pack layers.
You can check out my other city guides for Colombia, Portugal, Mexico, and NYC here (Note: paid subscribers get full access. Upgrade here). You can read more about how I like to travel here to see if we share the same tastes here.
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BREAD & PASTRIES
Bread & pastries are deeply ingrained in Scandinavian culture. When I visit, my daily bread consumption goes up 250%. It’s normal for someone to bring cake to work nearly every day and you will notice parents primarily giving their kids buns as a snack. So, if you get hungry while walking around I suggest you duck into a bakery for coffee & pastries. Make sure you also try a dish or buy a loaf of rye bread (rugbrød).
Brød: I’m a die hard fan of their olive bread
Il Buco: Best croissants in the city and highly recommend a sourdough bun with cheese and butter (super Danish breakfast). This is right next to the Copenhagen harbor so also good for a walk.
Darcy’s Kaffe: My fav place to cowork for the day over multiple cups of coffee
Seks: The owners of this bakery and eatery have traveled the world and written multiple cookbooks about their adventures. The menu reflects their stories and everything is delicious!
Hart Bakery: Many would argue this is the best bakery in Copenhagen
Juno the Bakery: their cardamom buns are to do die for! Check out this episode with their lead baker Noah Erhun. We discuss the importance of heritage grains.
Prolog: located in the meatpacking district, they take coffee very seriously
Kaffeplantagen: they have a few locations throughout the city and are a reliable place to go. Riccos’s is also a chain that’s pretty good!
Original Coffee at the top of Illum department store: this location will give you a view of the city at no cost!
Rist: this little coffee shop is located on one of the cutest streets of Copenhagen
April Coffee: if you are an absolute coffee nerd, you have to go here. It’s expensive, but their baristas will show you a side of coffee you’ve never seen before.
Pauldan Bog Cafe: I can’t say the food or coffee is good here, but its a bookstore and very charming. It’s also between a lot of attractions and a nice place to rest. I used to study here every week so holds lots of nostalgia. If books are your vibe, you’ll want to take a pause here.
Coffee Collective: It’s mandatory for me to get a cappucino from one of their many locations across the city. Listen to the podcast I did with Founder Klaus Thomsen on sustainability in coffee:
There are a lot of amazing restaurants in Copenhagen including some of the best in the world like Noma, the Alchemist, Kadeau, Alouette, Sankt Hans Kælder, Geranium, the list goes on… I’ll let you you Google what Michelin recommends and keep my list to more casual eats you might not find elsewhere.
One of the unique things I love about dining in Copenhagen is the normalcy of Le Menu. Some places will be a la carte, but most will offer a fixed menu + wine pairing. This is different from dining many other places in the world because it removes all decision making and really lets you relax. I suggest you try a menu at least once while you’re in town!
Hot dogs: there are hot dog stands all over the city. Danes love their hotdogs with “everything on it” (fried onions, pickles, ketchup, mayo, or remoulade) so much so that they even have a hot dog stand at the baggage claim so you can get your fix while you wait for the luggage to come out.
Gro Spiseri: the roof of this parking garage has been converted into an urban garden (pro tip: it’s possible to volunteer some days, which is a nice way to meet some locals). Def look up and make a reservation. This will be an experience.
Bevi Bevi: very romantic. Great for a date for 2.
La La La: great French bistro
Seaside at Toldbolden: this food hall is right on the waterfront. If you’re with a group, it will have something for everyone and is very much a vibe
Vaekst: the whole restaurant is designed after a greenhouse. Good choice for vegetarians.
Mangia: good italian
Iluka: amazing seafood
Cichetti: Italian tapas run by 3 cool women. Also very close is Yellow and the wine bar Pompette.
Tårnet: this restaurant is in the tower of the Parliament and is an experience. It’s part of the Meyer’s family, which has Claus Meyer (Co-Founder of Noma) at the helm.
Brønnum: the space here is stunning and the cocktails are perfect. If you want to feel fancy and fabulous, definitely stop in. Tata is around the corner as is Iluka, which is an amazing seafood restaurant.
Trio: this restaurant + cocktail bar might be the only place that offers 360 views of the city. Stop in for an afternoon coffee or apertif and drink in Copenhagen from new heights. Their food is also good!
K-Bar: this is the cocktail bar than pioneered craft cocktails in Copenhagen. The owner Kirsten Holm is a legend and you can still find her behind the bar most days. It’s no longer on the menu, but see if you can sweet talk your way into ordering rødgrød med fløde. The drink is based on the famous Danish dessert that’s also a tongue twister for foreigners. I dare you to try and say it ;)
Bird and The Churchkey: this whole street along the canal is filled with amazing cocktail bars. You can easily make a little crawl out of the night. I love gin and tonics and this is a gin and tonic specialty bar. It’s fab.
Kyros & Co
Empirical Spirits: sign up for their cocktail tasting and tour of the distillery
Lidkoeb and Duck & Cover: these two are both great and right next to each other
I love drinking wine and going out to drink wine. Therefore I have a lot of wine bar recommendations for you:
Ved Stranden 10: this is essential Copenhagen, especially on a sunny day. Don’t miss this beautiful wine bar smack dab in the center of the city.
Nebbiolo: right by Kongens Nytorv. This is a cozy place for a drink and a bite.
Beau Marche: tucked behind a furniture store is this french inspired bistro. I love it for lunch and a glass of white wine!
Falernum: tucked on a popular street, this is one of the best people watching places. Try and snag a seat outside and watch the world go by!
Not Your Usual Wine Bar: I love this wine bar because they carry very unusual wines and have frequent tasting events. It’s unexpected.
Ancestrale: great choice for a small group that loves wine and also wants dinner. They have a good and affordable menu available.
Pio Vin & Bar
Josephine’s: a classic brown bar turned into a natural wine hub. What’s not to like?
Bibendum: cute French inspired spot on a very cute street of Copenhagen
There are also vineyards you can visit 45min from Copenhagen! Check out this episode I did on the rise of Nordic wine
I don’t do beer, but def go here if you do:
Åben: tucked behind the meatpacking district, the craft brewery is called “Open”. The owner taught himself how to brew by asking a lot of questions and apprenticing. They are very supportive of an open source culture.
WHERE TO BEST SIT & ENJOY LIFE
In Denmark, it’s legal and okay to drink on the streets. Some of the best memories are made by picking up some wine, packing a picnic, and finding a charming place to sit and watch the world go by. Here are some of my favorite spots for doing just that:
Sydhavnstippen: I love this secluded corner of Copenhagen. It’s a little further out from the city in a warehouse district like setting, which means you won’t run into a lot of other people. If you go in the fall, this park hosts a stunning variety of wild apple trees. I think there are 300 varieties (to be honest many Danish parks feature wild plants and berry bushes. It’s totally okay to forage if you stumble upon any). My favorite place to sit is through some bushes on the edge of the water. Very cozy & romantic!
The Lakes: This is iconic Copenhagen. Pick up a pizza and a bottle of wine and find yourself a spot to watch the world go by. Around Dronning Louise’s bro tends to be the most popular, especially on a sunny day.
Ørstedsparken: This gorgeous park is in the center of the city and very under rated. I suggest you go to the food hall Torvhallerne, pick up some goodies, and then find yourself a spot by the lake under a big old tree.
Islands Brygge: We swim all year round in Denmark. In winter, they set up saunas at Islands Brygge. In summer, the harbor becomes the city’s playground - a free pool for everyone to use. I also recommend Nordhavn or Teglholmen for public swimming. Check out this episode on how they cleaned up the city’s waterways to make them swimmable and even tried to grow oysters in them at some point:
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Louisiana: A bit outside the city, but very worth the trip! Gorgeous grounds and awesome modern art. Plan to spend a half a day here.
Glypoteket: Right next to the amusement park Tivoli, this museum is kind of like Copenhagen’s answer to the Met. It has a gorgeous atrium and lots of Egyptian art. Come here for a coffee and let yourself get lost in the history
Statens Museum for Kunst
Nude beach at Christania
Hot Yoga Copenhagen: my favorite hot yoga studio! I also recommend Yum yoga. You can take a water taxi that drops you off right in front of the studio. After you’re done with yoga, bring a bathing suit and towel and jump into the harbor. Odds are you won’t be the only one from class doing this.
Gadens Stemmer: this walking tour is led by homeless people who let you in on what life on the streets is like in Denmark and how they got off them. This is a SUPER interesting tour because homelessness is not that normal in Denmark due to the social welfare state. It opened my eyes in many ways. Highly recommend!
HOW TO GET AROUND
Copenhagen is best experienced and accessed by bike. You can rent one from Donkey Republic. Our public transportation is also amazing. Danes use Rejsekort (Travel Card). You can buy passes from the ticketing machine at Nørreport or the Central Station (Høvedbånegarden). Recently, they expanded the metro lines, which has made the city much more accessible by public transport. The bus lines are also impressive. You can literally access any corner of Denmark by bus. I have been shocked by the remote corners I was able to take public transport to.
WHERE TO STAY:
Every neighborhood has something special to offer. I spent most of my time living on Vesterbro (aka Vesterbronx because it used to be the red light district, but now it’s very cool & hipster). Nørrebrø, Østerbrø, or København K are also popular choices.
I prefer Airbnbs over hotels. It will give you more of a local feel. If you prefer hotels, I recommend anything by Guldsmeden (awesome sustainability profile) or Villa Copenhagen (converted post office turned into a hotel).
For the latest in foodie news in Copenhagen, I recommend checking out Anders Husa and Kaitlin Orr’s travel guides. They are the main food bloggers in the Nordics and have great recommendations for other major cities. I also did a podcast episode with them on the business of influencing and how that guides the food system.
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