the cultural chameleon guide to: copenhagen

Copenhagen– cold air and warm people. The Danish are kind, welcoming, and brew a great cup of coffee.

And when I say kind, I really do mean it. After London Heathrow’s excruciatingly slow (and rude!) security caused missing our flight, it was refreshing to come into the city and finally having a pleasant interaction with the luggage attendant at CPH. Leaving Copenhagen early morning on New Year’s Day made my gushy little heart sad. My boyfriend, Jake and I were clearly traumatized from Heathrow’s security line and the Danish security guard smiled at us, said a happy new year and to “take good care of each other”. 

shop

& Other Stories

$$$- Strøget

This boutique has beautiful collections curated from Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Paris. It has timeless pieces, but you can also see what’s trending in Scandinavian fashion, which is minimal but surprisingly colorful. 

Flying Tiger

$- Strøget

Ah! I wish we had this store in L.A. This place has desk accessories, party supplies, greeting cards, candy, small organizational items, and fun little gifts. I got a laptop bag and had to stop myself from buying a colorful plate set I knew I couldn’t fit in my suitcase. Lucky for you East Coasters, there are a couple Flying Tigers in New York and New Jersey.

magasin du nord
magasin du nord

Episode

$$- Strøget

I found this vintage thrift store chain whilst in Amsterdam and had to check out if they had it in Copenhagen too. This Episode is a short way away from the main Strøget shopping street. If you’re really searching for a cool piece, set aside at least an hour to scavenge here because it’s a dense shop. 

 

Keep in mind that this store will be a bit pricier than your average Salvation Army or Goodwill. An 80s/90s lightweight jacket will cost you about $20 to $30. A pair of jeans will cost you about $30. There are unique scarves, skirts, and sunglasses.

 

Dedicated CPH

$$- Strøget

This Swedish brand boutique in Strøget sells unique T-shirts and jackets; up-and-coming artists have collaborations with the brand, creating a T-shirt you can’t get anywhere else. They are also eco-conscious- with 100% organic cotton t-shirts and jackets, beanies, and swimwear that are made 100% from recycled plastic bottles.

 

Magasin du Nord

$$$$ – Kongens Nytorv metro 

Head to this elegant department store for at least a look around, especially if you visit during the holidays. The luxury store has amazing holiday décor, so it’s worth a look even from the outside!

There’s a little bakery on the women’s department level so you can peek at the tourists down below. They had a big 40% sale after the holidays when we went, as well as a suited-up woman on stilts with a top hat? Perhaps a pilot loss prevention slash entertainment strategy. 

eat

Splurge a little: Marv og Ben

$$$$

This Michelin Guide 2019 restaurant was the perfect Danish dining experience for us. We learned what hygge meant here- the Danes love candlelight, coziness, and intimacy. This restaurant was a 5-star food experience but with the feeling of a night in your pajamas with the fireplace crackling away.

IMG_1719

My friend highly recommended this spot for a special occasion, but it’s reasonably priced. It was our first foray into fine dining, so we decided on the ‘six favorites’- the chef’s selection of the menu, including dessert. While I was impressed by the rich flavors and Danish ingredients, I loved the friendly staff, who made our experience unforgettable. 

Check out their Instagram– it’s happy people who are passionate about making great food. 

 

 

 

Pastries: Lagkagehuset

$$

This bakery is a great place to slow down, get a coffee, and a buttery, crispy croissant. Thankfully, Lagkagehuset is a chain so if you want to try it, it’s easy to find around the city. It is a little pricier than your average neighborhood bakery however; their loaves of bread and pastries are made from high quality, fresh ingredients. 

2019-12-27 10:34:19.548
pastries at lagkagehuset

Meatpacking District (Kødbyen)

$$- København H/ Enghave Plads Metro

Check out the Meatpacking District if you’re undecided on what to eat. They have food stalls and a market every weekend from April to October.

Warpigs, a Texan BBQ joint and brewery, was recommended to us, but that night they were unfortunately out of brisket. We met up with my friend, Amalie, at Mother, a dimly lit Italian restaurant. You’ll notice that many of these restaurants kept the original tiles from when they were butcher shops. 

Mother has great portions for the price as well. You’ll notice that there aren’t a lot of fast food places in the city, so sit down by the candlelight to enjoy your meal!

Nightlife around Kødbyen-

NOHO: great for cocktails

Jolene Bar: all-night dancing

Mesteren & Lærlingen: cheaper, but cozy atmosphere

 

Grocery Stores: Netto, Aldi 

$

Copenhagen can be an expensive visit. We decided to save some money by grocery shopping at Netto, a Danish grocery store chain, for some chicken, eggs, and noodles to prepare at the apartment. It lasted us two servings each so we had dinner one night and lunch the next. 

If you’re familiar with Aldi, I’d recommend grocery shopping there for food, or even just a pack of granola bars or trail mix for snacking. 

 

 

drink

Holiday drink: Tuborg Julebryg (dark)

$

The Christmas seasonal ale from Danish brewery, Carlsberg, is only available for 10 weeks each year. The dark beer has notes of licorice and a rich, sweet taste. Most restaurants and bars will stock Turborg Julebryg. Highly recommend! 

 

Espresso House

$

Espresso House is what Starbucks set out to be in the U.S. but kind of missed the mark. This Scandinavian coffee chain is a cozy spot to warm up with a hot latte and croissant, maybe a good book, some friends, or just a quiet time to observe the city passerby outside. 

 

Coffee Collective Bernikow

$$- Kongens Nytorv

bernikow
coffee collective bernikow

This sustainable coffee roaster has locations in different neighborhoods:

  • Bernikow (we visited this location!) historic city center
  • Godthåbsvej- in the Frederiksberg neighborhood
  • Jægersborggade- flagship location
  • Torvehallerne- by the Nørreport station

If you wish to buy their beans, their staff are extremely knowledgeable about the specifics of the blends, espressos, and filter coffees. 

explore

My boyfriend and I spent about a week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in København. It was plenty of time to take in the city at our own pace and see it all decked out for the holidays. 

My exchange friend, Mads, and his girlfriend Sara were kind enough to give us a night tour from Christiana to Amalienborg palace, through Churchill Park, then to Nyhavyn. 

 

Christiania

Freetown Christiania is an autonomous city within Copenhagen. As soon as you enter, the familiar waft of weed will instantly take you back to your freshman year college dorm- or Venice beach. Vendors will set up their edibles, joints, and hash at their stands. There’s no pressure to buy here like at a city market though. One vendor told us as we passed, “don’t be shy, get high”. A+ slogan, man. 

However, please do keep in mind that you should not take any pictures when you’re in Christiania. While marijuana is readily available there, it’s still not legalized in Denmark and those in Christiania do not want photos with their faces circulating around social media. 

christiana
christiania

Have a drink at Café Nemoland, a stickered up bar by a big stage. In the summers, this hippie “city” holds music festivals, where many chill out, smoke, and drink with friends. My other friend recommends to check out events on Facebook for Christiana when you visit. 

We tried gløgg for the first time at Nemoland. Gløgg (pronounced like “glurg”) is a mulled wine and sometimes has almonds, nuts, and raisins as well. It’s tasty with some gingerbread cookies!

 

The Little Mermaid statue

Østerport

little mermaid
the little mermaid statue

Tourists flock to the Little Mermaid statue in the Langelinie promenade during the day, but we went to the bronze statue by the water at night. I was happy to see her uncrowded, shining in the water. You can carefully climb onto the rocks and get as close as you want at night. 

This iconic statue is relatively small and surprisingly has been vandalized various times since the 1960s. 

 

 

 

 

 

Amalienborg

amalienborg
amalienborg guards

Amalienborg is the palace grounds- the queen and her family live in the buildings surrounding the plaza with the statue of King Frederik V. There’s also an Amalienborg Museum with exhibitions showing the monarchy’s traditions.

Mads was a royal guard for about 8 months, so we were lucky to have an insider tour of the area. You end up knowing every small detail, he told us and said he’s probably counted every cobblestone. 

Jake and I returned to Amalienborg in the daytime to see the change of den Kongelige Livgarde Mads had mentioned.

 

Nyhavn

Kongens Nytorv metro station, walkable from Amelienborg

nyhavn
nyhavn

Nyhavn, which unfortunately I still cannot correctly pronounce, is the new port of the Danish metropole. Built in 1670, this saturated, colorful waterfront is the iconic image of the Scandinavian port. It’s very touristy, of course, so we didn’t go into any of the port’s restaurants.

If you walk all the way down Nyhavn see a modern bridge, the Inner Harbour Bridge (Inderhavnsbroen), you’ll notice that there’s a random segment in the middle where you can see the water through a diamond-shaped hole. It’s a joke that the construction company that was assigned the project didn’t measure correctly; they started from opposite ends of the waters and had to make the two ends meet!

 

Superkilen Park: Dystopian park 

Nørrebro metro station

Superkilen is a park in the Nørrebro neighborhood. The name Superkilen means “long wedge”. This dystopian-feeling architectural park is situated in a diverse community of many refugees and was designed to promote cross-cultural integration through global designs.  

park
superkilen park

I’d recommend visiting the park during the day, so you can see inspiration from Venice Beach’s Muscle Beach, swings from Iraq, Brazilian benches, and more.

 

Tivoli

København H/ Rådhuspladsen

There’s no denying my love for the adrenaline rush of my heart dropping to my stomach at the twists and turns of a roller coaster- but wearing a thick, bundled up scarf to protect against the icy wind was an experience I’ll never forget. Honestly, anyone who rides a roller coaster in 3 degrees Celsius is hardcore

tivoli
tivoli

If you’ve ever been to Disney, you’ll see some ahem, similarities, between the parks. Walt Disney visited Tivoli many times a couple years before opening Disneyland. Suspicious.

Tivoli is a historical and cultural gem- and it’s cheaper than Disney. 

ride
the roller coaster

The Entrance is 135 DKK ($20 USD) and the unlimited Ride Tickets is 245 DKK ($35), which we opted to buy since we tried to ride all the rides we could. There’s a variety of different rides, but I really recommend:

  • The Roller Coaster
  • Tik Tak
  • The Demon

 

 

 

 

stay

We booked our Airbnb a month in advance in the Vesterbro neighborhood. It’s central to the places we wanted to check out and minutes away from the Central train station and Metro station as well. 

Copenhagen dwellers told us that Vesterbro used to be a bad neighborhood but that it’s on the come up, especially with the meatpacking district along with bars and new restaurants. We both felt safe walking back at night and only had one instance of a stranger trying to sell us drugs at a corner.

 

Steelhouse Hostel 

This is one of the coolest hostels I’ve stayed in, hands down. Everything is super modern! This hostel takes up an entire building by the lake and is just a couple blocks down from Tivoli, the train station, and Strøget. The group rooms have semi-private sleeping pods with USB outlets and lights. 

They do have lockers for rent for luggage in the basement, along with a small pool, fitness room, game room, and bar.

 

Annex Hostel

I would recommend this hostel if you need a one night stay and need to take the train or metro to the airport. It’s a little pricey if you don’t book in advance but well worth it for a short stay. 

 

 

Explore More… Day Trip from Copenhagen

Malmö, Sweden is a 40-minute train ride from Copenhagen. We wanted to stay and discover the city more so we didn’t venture out to Sweden. It’s about a $20 USD round trip to visit, but I’ve heard it’s a quieter city. 

Some things to look at: St. Peter’s church, Castle Kronborg, Turning Torso skyscraper