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Copenhagen is one of our absolute favorite destinations. The food is amazing, the city is beautiful, there’s tons to see and do. Rent bikes, book your meals in advance, invest in a nice hotel.

Restaurants/Bars

Copenhagen has some of the best food in the world – Danish food is good in general, but the city also has access to great ingredients and a diverse appreciation for ethnic food done well.

  • **Baest: Puglisi’s version of an Italian trattoria, with pizzas and a variety of home-cooking specials (at far above-home cooking quality). Very good, in-Italy quality.
  • **Barabba: carefully prepared Italian-inspired food with exotic ingredients. Pre-fixe with natural wine pairings. A good special-occasion meal.
  • ***Barr: former Noma chef, in the former Noma building. Huge wine list with emphasis on natural and small-production wines (60+ wines available by the glass). Food is incredible, Galen ranks it one of our top 10 meals of all time.
  • **Bror: modern nordic. Fairly casual setting, pleasant staff, cute neighborhood. They specialize in “snout to tail” and serve a lot of interesting stuff. Our meal included bull testicles, chicken hearts, and bone marrow. (Now closed)
  • *D’Angleterre bar/restaurant: we stopped in for a snack and drink. Absurdly expensive, but worth it if you like very traditional British-imperialism style hotels. I’d stay somewhere else.
  • ***Host. A reliable, excellent choice (we’ve been three times in total). Industrial Modern/plant filled space, fairly affordable, modern Danish food. Pre-fixe menu was very creative and delicious.
  • *Kong Hans Kaelder: classic food (meat heavy), elegant setting in a historic “dining palace” – the oldest building in Denmark. Excellent, very heavy food. Don’t let them pick the wine for you, no regard for cost, and we walked out very unhappy. 
  • La Banchina appears on all the lists – a waterside cafe where you can sip sparkling rosé on a wooden pier with views across the harbor. It’s called “endearingly ramshackle;” I’d call it more decidedly gritty and not the cleanest place to swim. Proceed with caution. The all-day cafe offers coffee, baked goods, Nordic-Mediterranean meals, natural Italian wines, and a private wood-fired sauna.
  • **La Esquina: Neighborhood tapas, fairly casual setting, excellent food. 
  • **Nebbiolo: cute wine bar in Nvhavn. They sell bottles for take away, wide selection, affordable prices.
  • ***Restaurant Geist: modern nordic. Lovely, restoration-hardware-style setting. Food is “art,” but quite edible. I liked a lot. (Now closed)
  • **Reffen: the latest location for Copenhagen Street Food is even bigger, requires a bit more commitment to reach on bikes, and has excellent food. Fun on a sunny day.
  • **Ricemarket: First, and more casual, restaurant of a Michelin-starred chef. Good Thai.
  • **Selma: Very of the moment, elegant smørrebrød. Quite popular, make reservations well in advance. On the downside, our server was lackluster and there wasn’t a Danish diner to be found – it’s very much catering to foreigners.
  • **The Union Kitchen: Very popular breakfast/brunch spot. Yummy american-ish menu (bloody marys, eggs benedict) and slightly industrial setting.

Recommended Activities

In Copenhagen, ride along the waterfront – and everywhere. It’s a perfect biking city, and so lovely near Nyhavn, but also great everywhere else. Ride the ***Bike Snake! Ride along the shady pathway in shady Freetown Christiania!

  • **AIRE Ancient Baths: downstairs from Hotel Ottilia but under separate ownership, this is an expensively done pool complex with spa treatment services. It’s quite nice, 7 pools and a large Hamman, and we had the impression they restrict the numbers of people at any given time to a select few. Runs about $100/person. 
  • **Assistens Cemetery: one of many in the city, but notable for having Hans Christian Andersen’s grave. 
  • The **Botanical Garden is worth a quick stop if you’re in the neighborhood, with a big collection of palms and succulents in a Victorian-era greenhouse. The surrounding park is good for a stroll.
  • [didn’t do:] Carlsberg Brewery Tours. Did do – and loved – the Elephant Gate
  • **Christiania: apparently historically a fairly shady part of town, but it’s quite fancy now. Collegiate feel, home of the opera house and quite a few notable restaurants. I’d try to live here if I moved to Copenhagen. Fun to bike around, and also great for sunset pics of the city.
  • **Design Museum Denmark: worth an hour visit. Collection is a bit scattershot, but there are groupings that are quite interesting – industrial design (chairs) and the Japanese collection in particular.
  • **Frederik’s Church is a huge round dome structure, ornate and covered in marble. Worth a quick stop.
  • **Krigsmuseet (the Danish War Museum): has the usual collection of cannons and vehicles of war on the ground floor, and a really remarkable ‘treasury’ upstairs, including uniforms, armor, a long history of fighting with Sweden (among others), model ships, weapons, maps, and much more. Very worth a visit, give it 1-2 hours or several more if you are a big naval history fan.
    • When you’re done with the Krigsmuseet, turn right out of the entrance and continue a few more steps to the entrance to the Royal Library Gardens. It’s one of the prettier hidden squares in Copenhagen.
  • **Little Mermaid Statue: it looks just like you’d expect. Worth walking along the waterfront to get there – really lovely.
  • ***Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (closed Mondays): My favorite of the museums we went to. The painting collection is sparse, but the sculptures! The building! Oh my.
  • Hang out in a cafe in ***Nyhavn. Or better yet, just stay in Nyhavn.
  • **Rosenborg Castle: Royal Castle, including crown jewels, in a lovely park. Definitely go – it’s both opulent and slightly ridiculous, fun to see. 
  • **The Round Tower: Easy walk to the top, and great views of the city.
  • [didn’t make it inside] The Royal Library / Black Diamond: quite impressive modern structure.
  • We walked a bit through Sondermarken (didn’t get into the Cisterns; closed at the time) as well as Frederiksberg. Big formal gardens, very pretty.
  • Walk along Stroget (pronounced “Stroll”) – the main pedestrian shopping street. This is pretty touristy – try instead the walking streets that surround the Round Tower, which have local boutiques. One of my favorites is **& Other Stories for women’s dresses. 
  • **Tivoli Gardens: historic theme park, fun with the kids. A bit overwhelming, but magical on a sunny day.
  • [didn’t do, but peeked over the wall]: The zoo. Looks quite nice as zoos go.
  • The **Zoological Museum has a classic Victorian era stuffed animal and dinosaur bone collection, arranged in a fairly modern setting. It’s packed with small children.

Hotels

  • **71 Nyhavn: We stayed here, loved it! Location couldn’t be better. A bit noisy. Really wonderful breakfast. Room 214 was great, on the corner. 
  • [haven’t stayed] Admiral Hotel: former warehouse, smartly renovated
  • [haven’t stayed] Babette: https://guldsmedenhotels.com/babette/, cute and in a good area.
  • *D’Angleterre: 250 years old, fancy, elegant, elegant, in a very crowded area. Stay somewhere else.
  • *Hotel Ottilia: a hip and newer option in the old Carlsberg brewery. There’s a lot right (and the spa below is very good, see activities) – elegant breakfast in a fancy rooftop room, cocktail hour, friendly staff. The rooms are concrete bunkers with slivers of windows, and the neighborhood isn’t particularly near anything. The district is still a work in process, with a lot of construction sites (as of July ‘22). If you do stay call well ahead to reserve bikes.
  • **Hotel Skt. Annæ: Very convenient, has a nice parking garage very near by if needed. Small but elegant rooms and good breakfast.

Farther Afield

South of Town

  • **National Aquarium of Denmark: largest in Northern Europe. Not on the scale of San Francisco and Monterey Aquariums, but still rather nice and a good activity for kids. Easy access via M2 line.

West of Town

  • **The Viking Ship Museum: easy 20-minute train ride from Copenhagen in Roskilde. A minor, but interesting attraction, with 5 original boats (from the bottom of the sea) and authentic remakes of each.
  • Also in Roskilde – the UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral, now housing 39 tombs of the Danish monarchs, was completed in 1275, becoming a focus of religious influence until the Reformation. (only saw the exterior, closed on Sunday to tourists).

North of Town

***Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: Galen’s favorite museum of all time. Really wonderful, one of the highlights of the area. Closed Mondays. Bring your bike on the train, then ride along the waterfront from Louisiana to Helsingor, which has the Kronberg Castle. Beautiful paved path on the water, very fancy homes. We ate at **Restaurant Trekosten, near the Louisiana, good food.
  • *Kronburg Slot: surprisingly not really worth it. Impressive castle on the outside, not particularly coherent on the inside. However, right outside the moat there’s a great museum:
  • **M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark: built underground in an old dry dock. It would be more accurate to call this a pop culture museum that’s boat/shipping themed. Really entertaining and with a great sense of humor.
    • We ate at Radmand Davids Has on the edge of the town itself. Ancient building, good traditional food, very local crowd.

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