24 Hours in Copenhagen, Denmark Capital
Copenhagen is a Scandinavian jewel to discover. The city, embraced by the Baltic Sea and dug by canals, is a popular destination for many artists and for a getaway full of melancholy. Visiting it in 24h is impossible. But I complied with the exercise to deliver my best recommendations to fill a day of discovery in the home of the little mermaid.
Copenhaguen on water
Resist the temptation to get lost immediately in the beautiful Copenhagen harbor, flanked by its pretty colorful houses that stand elbows on the banks. For less than
$20, you can enjoy a boat ride that will drag you to the four corners of the city for the next two hours. You will be able to visit the little mermaid without having to undergo the endless walk (and the disappointment, once arrived, to see it so small) and learn many pearls of culture on the city and its history. For example, until recently, the Danish Navy was entitled to a 5-liter beverage allowance per day in their employment contract.
Through the canals and under each small bridge hides a small architectural treasure to discover. Dress warmly, it’s cold on the water! But these little thrills will be rewarded at the sight of the magnificent Copenhagen Opera House, the sublime creation of the Danish architect Henning Larsen. It is said that its rounded shape was designed to recall the shape of a heart, celebrating the love of art. If time permits during your stay, go for a coffee in the small rest area next door, to fill your lungs with salty and beautiful air.
The boat ride is over, it’s finally time to take some pictures of the Old Port of Copenhagen, Nyhavn. After the little mermaid, this is probably the most famous image of this pretty city. I visited the city in December, at the time of the Christmas markets. The air smelled of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. But no matter what time of year you have the chance to visit Nyhavn, you can be sure that the place will be lively and inviting, and that the opportunities to get a beer to savor during your walk in this’ new port “will be numerous. You can take the opportunity to visit the house of Hans Christian Andersen, who is there. Explore until nightfall and browse the many small shops in the area before dinner time.
Paper Island (PAPIRØEN)
It was more than just the island, this tourist attraction offered a museum of contemporary art that gives a splendid view of the city. Exhibitions are sought after. The Copenhagen Modern hosted an art installation of the renowned Yoko Ono, called the Garden of Wishes. Visitors were invited to write a wish and leave it attached to a tree branch. Very pretty and inspiring!
In the years to come, PAPER ISLAND will take yet another new course, with the development of a new city neighbourhood, including pioneering architecture, a water-culture centre, an international hotel, a food hall, housing and cultural hotspots. A promenade along the waters’ edge will encircle the neighbourhood with a series of diverse leisure functions.
The island is positioned on a new axis of urban experiences, gastronomy and culture, connecting inner Copenhagen’s classic character with new activities on Holmen and Refshaleøen. With the best location in the harbour, THE PAPER ISLAND will become Copenhagen’s new melting pot for culture, food and recreation. Surrounded by water and in the heart of the city.
The Copenhagen Gastronomy
For different experiences, the Denmark culinary scene is here to bring a change to the world. Sustainability, fermentation, they are pioneer. Let’s explore some of the famous places.
René Redzepi, the man and the legend, is responsible for putting New Nordic cuisine on the map. His first incarnation of Noma graced the top of The World’s 50 Best list no fewer than four times. At Noma 2.0, he goes further still in his quest for showcasing seasonality and distilling Nordic produce onto the plate – leaping straight to No.2 in 2019’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants in the process. An unassuming, rustic-luxe dining room gives way to experiential tasting menus split across the year into three seasons: Fish, Vegetable, and Game and Forest. Expect convivial service, exciting presentation and a nuanced cooking style featuring many ingredients from the on-site biodynamic farm. During the pandemic, they even started a burger joint to stay open. Now, a 3-Michelin stars
Geranium bring you to the eighth floor of Copenhagen’s brutalist football stadium to discover one of the city’s hottest tables. The Rasmus Kofoed restaurant is Denmark’s first and one of the two three-star Michelin restaurant. It is also high in the ranks of the World’s 50 Best list. Here, open fires, blonde wood and floor-to-ceiling windows provide a hygge-like backdrop to creative modern Scandinavian cuisine. Dynamic yet accessible tasting menus of 15-20 plates put terroir at the fore, with local seafood playing a key role. Marbled hake and a playful razor clam dish featuring an edible dough shell, prove that Kofoed’s at the top of his game. One of our guest, Joris Larigaldie, start his career at Geranium.
DØP – The organic hot dog stand
Located by The Round Tower on Købmagergade pedestrian street and by The Church of The Holy Ghost on Strøget pedestrian street. As the Danes make everything apart, the sausages are made of organic meat. The bread is whole grain, from slowly raised dough and topped with linseeds.
Besides from the traditional Danish open sandwiches “smørrebrød”, there is nothing as Danish as a hot dog stand. DØP is the luxury version of the traditional one. Everything is organic from the remoulade sauce to the fried onions, and if you are thirsty, there is also a range of organic soft drinks to choose from.
As an alternative to the more traditional kinds of hot dogs, you can also get a spicy beef sausage served with a mash of potatoes and turnips, made without fat or dairy products. If you are a vegetarian, no problem. DØP has a delicious veggie hot dog.
In this way you can even get some of the important vegetables that are otherwise hard to find in a traditional hot dog stand.
You’re looking for Danish delicacies, local vegetables, fresh fish, or maybe some Italian specialities? You mus visit Copenhagen’s popular market place Torvehallerne. Located right by Nørreport Station, and offers more than 80 shops. Several Copenhagen shops are also present at Torvehallerne, and among others you will find the tea shop Tante T, Cofoco Supermarché and the famous chocolate Summerbird. The Torvehallerne were designed by architect Hans Hagens and opened in September 2011.
You must have Have dinner among heads of cabbage and lettuce at Gro Spiseri at Denmark’s first rooftop farm. You can’t possibly know what to expect when climbing the spiral staircase outside what looks like a normal building in Østerbro. On top of this former car auction house, you’ll find Denmark’s first rooftop farm, ØsterGRO.
ØsterGRO was started by three fiery souls back in 2014. Today, two of the founders, Livia and Kristian, have teamed up with a handful of people to run the farm and its eatery, Gro Spiseri. Though it’s hidden well above ground, the place is well-visited by people that want to experience the farm’s special atmosphere and enjoy a good, organic dinner.
GRO spiseri is not like many other restaurants, and you can immediately feel the passion from the people working there, who have backgrounds in everything from landscape architecture to the Michelin-starred restaurants noma and 108 (Which Josée visited and is now closed). In the kitchen, four guys work closely together to shape the menu and select natural wines to accompany the food. Here, there’s no head chef and no hierarchy.
In the small establishment, they need to be creative with the few square meters they have. The dinners take place in the cozy greenhouse, which is heated up by a multifunctional oven in the kitchen. One long table makes up for 24 seats, and all the guests often end up chatting with each other.
The Copenhagen Nightlife
Once sated, it’s time to go out! Copenhagen is a very festive city. The terraces stay open even in winter, with warm wool or fur blankets and candles. We kiss the Nordicté full-mouth! Do not miss the classic beer lovers: Mikkeller and Friends. More than 40 beers on the menu, in casks or bottles. The place itself is beautiful and in the purest Scandinavian tradition: a clean decor, wooden slats and good taste. The space is divided into several rooms to offer different types of atmosphere, for a felted rendezvous or a party to the many guests. Note also the presence of bodegas, the Danish version of taverns! For an authentic experience, visit Wessels Kro, Hviids Vinstue or Café Dyrehaven.
TATA is the cocktail place to visit
Since 1932 the historic Royal Danish Theatre has had a performer whose name and importance is known only to the performers; the red velvet curtain Tata. Every night she sets the stage for the shows at the theatre, and in an homage to that the Hotel Sanders have named their cocktail bar after her.
TATA will provide a backdrop to its guests, just like the luxurious velvet curtain does for the performers at the theatre. And just like at the theatre, TATA will create a space with vintage charm that feels intimate and seductive, comfortable and playful. The menu features classic cocktails that have stood the test of time, served by bartenders who know their trade. In fact, they know it so well that they will surprise you with unexpected twists on the classics. A small selection of handpicked wines, bar snacks, non-alcoholic drinks and our own beers will also be available.
If you wish to continue and dance until the wee hours, you can enjoy many nightclubs. Bakken Kbh and Sigurdsgade are not to be missed for a typical Danish experience.
Leisure is a way of life in Copenhagen
In Copenhagen you are never far from a beach and during summer you can also go for a swim in the many centrally located harbour baths. While Amager Beach Park offers 4.6 kilometers of white sand beach, Islands Brygge Harbour Bath has five basins.
One of the most visited is located at Islands Brygge, right across the bridge from the city centre. This spot has become iconic, and here you get open air swimming right in the centre of the city. Meet local families with children, beach boys and regular swimmers alike.
More details on the Visit Copenhagen website
24 hours in Copenhagen is not enough
Impossible to understand or to tame a small jewelery such as Copenhagen in 24h. It is a beautiful city that deserves to be lingered longer and we like to discover by getting lost at the bend of a canal. You will not regret spending time there!
To learn more, VisitCopenhagen and Visit Denmark are the ideal websites.
Original Words by Josée Laterreur and updated by Normand Boulanger