For our first european getaway from London, we decided to head to Copenhagen! I was originally leaning towards Rome or Barcelona but as we were looking at leaving Friday and getting back Sunday, we wanted to visit someplace a little closer. I’ve always been intrigued by what I’ve heard about Copenhagen; Danish design, bike riding and all the buzz on how it’s the happiest city in the world. Both Mike and I had never been so we were psyched to check it out.
We got in super duper late into Copenhagen airport and took the train (DKK 36pp) into the center of the city. Everything was really organized and efficient and after a speedy train ride, we made it to the central train station in only 10 minutes time. We planned to stay in Vesterbro, the “edgier” side of town, thinking that it’d be best for late night bar hopping. And it definitely was. Walking from the train station to the hotel we strolled past some prostitutes and shady dealings. Definitely an up and coming neighborhood! We stayed at the Axel Guldsmeden. It did the trick but wasn’t quite as luxe as the website made it out to be.
The next morning we popped down to rent bikes (DKK 125pp, for day rental) and explore the city. First stop was Granola, a cute and cozy coffee shop/brunch spot where we snagged the last table. It was a cool neighborhood hangout with lots of trendy locals eating the breakfast platters with ham, cheese, museli, and more cheese. Mike and I went with the croque madame which wasn’t at all Danish but nonetheless, totally delicious.
After an awesome breakfast, we biked over to the Carlsberg Brewery to sample the goods. It was an impressive site with massive elephant statues and some very cool old buildings from it’s start in the 1840’s. We signed up for a self guided tour (DKK 80pp) that was really laid back and fairly basic. The highlight for me was wandering around the bottle collection where they housed over 23,000 different bottled beers commemorating historic occasions. It was interesting to see that the swastika was used in the original Carlsberg label, but was phased out after the Nazi’s association with it in World War II.
Oh – and I also really enjoyed petting the furry horses in the stables!
After a couple of beers in the sun, it was back on the bikes to explore more of the city. It was so fun biking along their bike lanes all over the city and seeing what we could find. EVERYONE bikes around, the city is set up so well for cycling with well marked cycle lanes everywhere you go, then even had bicycle traffic lights! I think, because of this, we saw little to no fat people the entire weekend.
This is where the real surprise highlight of the weekend took place, a dream combo of a surprise trampoline jump and english bulldog puppy cuddling (not at once). The Danish man with the bulldog knew he had an absolute prize of a puppy, but I’m not sure he’s used to people just picking it up like I did. Lucy, as she was called, was very hard to give back!
From there it was over to the Nyvahn, the canals where all the postcard worthy pics are taken of the multicolored houses. It was very picturesque but very touristy (and expensive!) so after splitting a sandwich and some beers at McJoy’s, we headed back for a power nap.
That night we headed to Salon 39, a recommendation from a friend for a great cocktail bar/dinner spot in the Frederiksberg area. It did not disappoint with some strong manhattan’s and tasty homemade pasta (as you can see, we were really not into embracing the Danish food). After dinner we explored the neighborhood, popping in and out of cocktail bars (Lidkoeb and Madklubben). The crowd was very fancy and very Danish, it didn’t seem like there were many, or any, people out that night that weren’t from Denmark. I think everyone seemed pleasant, but you can tell it’s not the warmest or most welcoming culture, definitely very different than what you would find in Italy or Greece, or New York for that matter. But, it was very slick and “cool” and modern, I think any of the bars we visited would have been super popular in Manhattan or London.
After a night cap at Mikkler, a non-Carlsberg beer bar, I was sufficiently boozed and it was off to bed.
On Sunday, we got back on the bikes to head towards the canal tour (DKK 75pp). It’s definitely worth doing as it checks off tons of boxes quite quickly and you get a really good view of the city from the water. The architecture was really interesting and for the most part, very modern. My favorite places were the Opera House and the Play House which was nicknamed “The Black Diamond” for the way it reflected the water off it’s shiny surface. We also saw the famous “Little Mermaid” sculpture, but it was tiny, she had her back to us and a total tourist trap. The tour was interesting though and I was fascinated by how the girl giving the tour could switch back and forth between Danish, English, Spanish and Italian with a perfect accent for each with no problems, whatsoever. Amazing.
After an intensive search for a Copenhagen “football” (…soccer) shirt for Mikey, (successful! after 17 shops) we headed to the Rundetårn (DKK 25pp) in the center of town for a spectacular view of the city. We climbed up the spiraling walkway that was originally built large enough for horses to use. It was unexpectedly beautiful in a way, the clean design and colors felt really timeless especially considering it was built in the 17th century.
After a look around the top, we filled up on massive cheeseburgers at Cock’s & Cows to reward ourselves for all the biking. Soon afterwards, it was time to return our bikes and head back to Londontown. Copenhagen was a fantastic city to explore for a weekend away. I can definitely see why the Danes have been voted the happiest in the world, the city feels very safe, clean and well designed with the perfect mix of historic and modern architecture. I feel like there are many more things to see there and I’d love to return in the summer to take full advantage of those long summer nights. But it was a great taste of what is hopefully more fun weekends to come!