“WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN, A FRIENDLY OLD GIRL OF A TOWN…”
Well I am not sure about the last bit of the quote but, without doubt, it is a wonderful town which we explored in March.
This being the first visit, like many travellers I gathered my trustworthy sources of information – 48 hours in Copenhagen (THE INDEPENDENT) 36 hours in Copenhagen (NEW YORK TIMES) , plus a very useful piece by René Redzepi (founder of Noma) which appeared in THE GUARDIAN…..not to mention the Wallpaper Guide to the city and set off. I had places to have brunch, café’s for fresh fish open sandwiches and restaurants to experience true Nordic cuisine. On top of which I had countless places to see. But, at the end of the first morning something became clearly apparent – by dashing to tick off my list I was blanking out what was in front of me – and what was in front of me was a walkable, friendly inspiring city that warranted my own personal discovery. So having cast every recommendation aside I set off again!
The prevalence of canals, tall thin town houses and bicycles everywhere gives reminders of Amsterdam but don’t be fooled. Beyond these similarities this is a city with very much its own identify and character. Food dominates (well for me it does!) While NOMA may be credited with putting Danish food on the map there is no doubt there was, unknown to us all, a existing thriving food culture. Independent cafes abound (we only noticed one branded coffee chain Baresso) so you don’t have to walk far before you are seduced into one by the aroma of a cinnamon pastry and outstanding coffee. Lunch is of course a smorgasbord of tastes and flavours served on open rye bread sandwiches washed down with light beer that has a depth of flavour rarely found. The best market we found to savour the finest the city has to offer was TORVEHALLERNE. Small community restaurants dominate evening meal choices with the majority celebrating local produce and slow cooking – two day braised ox cheeks has entered into my top ten of all time favourite dishes!
Between meals it is easy to be contented with simply walking around the various districts – some old some new – each offering their own flavour to the city. The Old town with its narrow lanes and intimate squares and tourists (!), Christianshavn the former docks so home to renovated warehouses and small red bricked sailor’s cottages, Vesterbro – the meat packing district – which is edgy but with the number of new restaurants opening it is clearly up and coming, and vibrant Frederiksberg where the locals live. All of this can easily be walked in a day or two depending on how many coffee breaks you are seduced into having. We didn’t really take in many sites – just wandering around was enough but they do exist – TIVOLI GARDENS a city institution (kitsch but fun), the DESIGN MUSEUM DENMARK and Christiansborg Palace to name but a few. Sadly, we do not make it to the LOUISIANA MUSEUM OF MODERN ART either – an hour out of the city by train and described to me by a friend who knows it well as ‘the best located modern art museum of our time’. Next visit it is definitely on my list as I am reliably informed by reviewers and locals alike that the journey along the cost is sublime in itself!
I visited during March when the winter was only just beginning to loosen its grip – in the Spring and Summer I imagine this city takes on a completely different atmosphere with cafes spilling out onto city squares and restaurants opening their doors to alfresco dining. The only way I will know this for real is if I return…….and this is a city that I most definitely wish to return to.
If you cannot do without a list of top tips:
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