I have a confession to make. The only two things I knew about Copenhagen was: 1) it’s one of the happiest cities in the world and 2) Noma (the best restaurant in the world) is located there. My friend Martin, who I met in Paris two years ago at Roseval, was born and raised in Copenhagen and was home for a couple of months. I firmly believe that you should always visit your friend’s hometown or a place where your friends are living. In my experience, you get a different perspective on the place than if you were going as a tourist. I found a $500 round trip flight from New York on Norwegian Air and I was on my way!
Martin, who is a sommelier, gave me an extensive list of restaurants I had to try so I basically went to Copenhagen to eat. He also used to work at Noma which I believe put Copenhagen on the map as the world’s leading foodie destinations. Another thing you soon come to realize when you’re in Copenhagen is that everything from the chairs to the plates are impeccably designed. Copenhagen is the birthplace for many famous designers and architects. When I went to the Design Museum, the exhibit with the chairs left a huge impression on me. All the chairs they displayed were designed by a Danish designer and I bet you have at least one of those chairs. This city was the perfect destination for me because I obviously love food and design.
Copenhagen is one of the greenest cities. Everyone bikes and in every weather condition no less. I was such a wimp I didn’t want to bike because it was cold and raining. Every road and street in the city has a bike lane that is full of bikers. Because most of the locals bike more than drive their bikes are a way of life. I saw mothers with fancy bikes that had an extra compartment in the front to carry her 3 kids. Others, would bike with their pets, groceries and packages. They sort of put our Citi bikes to shame.
I would say the one negative thing about the city, if there was just one, would be that Copenhagen is an expensive city. The prices are comparable to New York City so seeing a $20 price tag on a cocktail is not shocking to me but might be to others. That’s why my sister Sarah and I decided to stay at a hostel to offset the cost of all the food tabs. We stayed at the Generator which was one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed at and was in a central location to everything. We were surprised to find that the people who stayed there were 30+ years of age and older couples. Good thing too because the last time I stayed in a hostel was 10 years ago. The hostel had free walking tours around the city everyday and since it was free, Sarah and I went because we wanted to learn more about the history and architecture. I won’t go into every fun fact I learned about Copenhagen but for a free 3 hour tour you learn a lot. I will say that Denmark has the longest living monarchy in Europe which I thought was cool given how modern the city is.
The best part about visiting Copenhagen in December was that it was Christmas time and every square and plaza had a Christmas market. My favorite memories of Christmas in Europe is going to Christmas markets and sipping on glühwein (mulled wine). The best place for a Christmas explosion was Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world and gave Walt Disney the inspiration for Disneyland. I honestly thought it would be super cheesy but walking around, it really put me in the Christmas spirit and it made us feel like little girls again.
The food game in Copenhagen is strong. Everything I ate was more delicious than the last thing. I was pleasantly surprised that the food was all generally healthy. All the vegetables were either pickled or in season. There was no white bread to be found only hearty dark rye bread. My favorite quintessential Danish dish was smørrebrød which is an open faced sandwich. Sarah said it right, why do we need the 2nd piece of bread? They are also into the food hall trend. We went to Copenhagen Street Food which is located in a huge warehouse which sort of reminded me of a Bushwick warehouse rave. The food hall had a variety of cuisines for every palate like Thai, Italian, and Parisian but my sis and I wanted to stick to the local cuisine. You know the saying, when in Rome!
Copenhagen surprised me in so many ways. Before I went, I didn’t know anything about the city, culture, food, and people. Now, I LOVE the food; the city is so clean, green and easy to navigate around; the people are jolly and happy and there’s so much history, culture and art. Copenhagen left me wanting to explore more of Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries, which are highly underrated. You must put Copenhagen on your travel bucket list. Skol!
HOW TO GET THERE
-I found a non-stop flight from Norwegian Air for $500
-The metro from the airport takes 15 minutes to the city center it’s so easy! Read here.
TO EAT & DRINK
-Copenhagen Street Food (food hall)
-Torvehallerne (food hall)
-Amass (tasting menu)
-Atelier September (breakfast)
-Summerbird (organic chocolates)
-Manfreds (wine bar and small plates)
-Hviids Vinstue (oldest pub in Copenhagen)
–Design Museum Danmark (Danish modern design)
–Louisiana Museum of Art (beautiful ocean front views)
-Rosenborg Castle (see the royal jewels)
-Tivoli Gardens (amusement park)
-Nyhavn (quintessential Copehagen postcard)