Copenhagen is, without a doubt, one of my favourite European cities. Its bright colours, laidback attitude, diverse art scene and unbelievably functional cycle paths make it a standout destination for a long weekend away.
Start with the Grand Tour of Copenhagen walking tour. Walking tours are not generally my thing, but this one is superb and donation-based, so the guides really work for their money and you don’t feel like you have to shell out your monthly wages for a distinctly average stroll across town. It takes you to Christianborg Palace (the 17th-century home of the Danish royalty), the Old City Centre, Nyhavn Harbour (complete with the beautiful waterside cafes you’ve probably seen in every Instagram photo taken in Copenhagen), the Copenhagen Opera House and the Royal Palace of Amalienborg. All the big names ticked off, with loads of really fascinating insights from the guide along the way.
Finish up at Paper Island, right by the Opera House. It’s a warehouse on the waterfront, full of pop-up shops of superb street food. Once you’ve stuffed yourself silly with falafel, pizza or sausages, it’s time to head to Christianshavn.
Christianshavn is a district within Copenhagen that runs by its own laws, creating a non-conformist, bohemian society as a result. After the immediate surprise of entering a different world, complete with carts selling all varieties of “illegal” substances, it’s easy to settle in with a beer and visit all the area’s craft shops and have a wander past all the ramshackle cottages. The history of the place is fascinating, and I’d definitely recommend visiting the tiny museum there to learn a little more about it. End your day here with a pint at the dilapidated pub.
It’s definitely worth venturing outside Copenhagen and taking day trips to the incredible galleries beyond the confines of the city. Trains are easy to navigate in Copenhagen, and relatively inexpensive. The ARKEN Museum of Modern Art is a real highlight, despite being located in a fairly bleak landscape that gives the impression of being a museum on the moon. The museum itself is a beautiful piece of contemporary architecture, and within its walls are some of the best pieces modern art I’ve seen in Europe. When we went, there was an extensive collection of works by Damien Hurst, as well as a fascinating exhibition of hyperrealist art focussing on the human body.
A brief walk away is a really lovely little beach, which is definitely worth taking a picnic down to. When we went, it was arctic temperatures, but was still a beautiful spot to sit.
When you head back to Copenhagen, the first thing you’ll be needing is a Mikkeller beer. Mikkeller makes some of the best craft beer in Europe, and it is made here in Copenhagen. As a result, there are Mikkeller beers across the city, and if I’m honest, we frequented each and every one of them during our short weekend city break. Their beers are all unique, created in collaboration with other breweries, and are frankly delicious. Although pricy, they are fantastically strong and flavoursome and only a small glass is needed to feel both satisfied and a little tipsy. From pale ales to stouts and everything in between, there are dozens of beers on tap in each shop and you’ll find yourself missing its brilliance the minute you leave Denmark.
Start your final day off at another gallery out of town. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is made up of four wings and is located within a sculpture park, so there’s lots to see and do. It’s also right by the sea, so if it’s a nice day, it’s a great spot to crack open a sandwich and look across to Sweden (I’m not even being facetious here – you can literally see Sweden across the water). The walk back to the station is an adventure in itself because you get to wander through the loveliest suburbs, taking in the unusual Danish architecture.
Once you’re back in Copenhagen, grab a bike. You can hire them very easily, and Copenhagen really is best seen by bicycle. You’ll never enjoy cycling in London again after you’ve been spoilt by the courteous Danish drivers and pedestrians. Head to Bredgarde, the road where lots of great inner-city galleries are located, including the Design Museum, which is a lot of fun. Focusing on applied arts and industrial design, the museum takes you through the history of Danish design up to the present day. For anyone obsessed with furniture and interior design, it’s a lovely place to spend a couple of hours. The gift shop is something to behold.
There are lots of lovely eateries around Copenhagen – we ended up just stumbling into a local one, so if anyone has any foodie recommendations holla in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We did find a drinking hole well worth a venture out to though. We walked along the main river in Copenhagen to get there, and it was the most delightful walk – like something from a film. Take a beer for the journey and stop off a few times to sit at the benches by the river, and then head for Lidkoeb, a cocktail house in the centre of the bar district. It’s based in a house, so has an innocuous entrance, but once you’re in it’s a really cozy, inviting bar. The service is unreal, and there is fur… everywhere. The cocktail menu is diverse and exciting, and they are prepared with real care and taste delicious. Not cheap, like everything in Copenhagen, but a really fun place to spend an evening.
Stumble home, full of cocktail and feeling culturally, artistically and gastronomically satisfied.