From hen parties to romantic getaways, Copenhagen is one of Europe’s most popular destinations for spending a weekend break right now. It’s not hard to see why: the Danish capital is compact and tidy, functioning and open, yet with enough rough edges to entertain and surprise those looking for a place to unwind and party.
When to go
Copenhagen is definitely at its brightest during the summer months from May to August, while those visiting in December will find the city cosy and a little sentimental in its attachment to Christmas traditions.
Where to stay
Cool, independent boutique hotels like eco-friendly Axel Hotel Guldsmeden, inspired by Balinese design and with its own spa and steam bath, and Hotel Avenue, on the edge of the Frederiksberg and Nørrebro, stand out for their attention to details and individual service. For those travelling in groups or craving a little more space, apartment hotel STAY in waterfront Islands Brygge district is stylish and minimalistic. A former artists’ community, the ‘sixties apartment block has been stunningly transformed by Nordic design group HAY.
The HAY group boasts two stores in Copenhagen’s downtown area showcasing great ideas in Scandinavian interiors, with plenty of souvenir-friendly gadgets on display as well as larger items.
Don’t exclude your shopping experiences to walking street Strøget: the smaller streets adjacent to Copenhagen’s tourist thoroughfare, including Kompagnistræde and Studiestræde, are dotted with cute basement boutiques stacked with unusual gifts, Nordic womenswear and accessories. The city’s most upmarket stores are congregated around Pilestræde, including exclusive footwear boutique A Pair and must-have party frocks at Holly Golightly. Alternatively, classic department stores Illum and Magasin du Nord gather Denmark’s best designers under one roof.
What to do
A boat tour of the canals may seem clichéd but is a good way to get a different perspective of Copenhagen, particularly if you’re only in the city a short time. Similarly, don’t dismiss tourist spots like Nyhavn and Tivoli (during season), but don’t make that all you see while you’re in Copenhagen. Less accessible areas include lively, multicultural Nørrebro – for alternative shops and cafes – and the architectural splendour of the old Carlsberg Brewery, at the far end of Vesterbro.
Copenhagen’s museums are refreshingly lively places where English language speakers are well catered for. The city’s largest, the Nationalmuseet and national gallery Statens Museum for Kunst, have free entry, while the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket is arguably the city’s most beautiful museum, thanks at least in part to its elegant winter garden, home to the museum cafe whose cakes and pastries are famed throughout the city. Entry to the Glyptotek is free on Sundays, when it’s also at its most crowded.
Where to eat
Copenhagen’s restaurant scene is world-class. Vesterbro’s meatpacking district Kødbyen has a number of options, including sustainable Nose2Tail, organic BioMio and sourdough pizzeria Mother; while lovers of the Asian kitchen can choose a number of places nearby, including Singapore kitchen nam nam on Vesterbrogade. Those looking for somewhere more exclusive and romantic might try the canal side spots of Christianshavn; Italian L’Altro or old-timer Restaurant Kanalen fuse class with great food and wine.
Where to relax and party
Copenhagen’s cocktail bars are blossoming, and new bars like art deco-inspired Strøm on Niels Hemmingsens Gade are giving old timers like Ruby, located in one of the city’s oldest buildings, a run for their money. Some of the city’s coolest parties are held in Kødbyen, where you could start the night at wine and tapas bar Pate Pate.