Copenhagen: perfect in the Scandinavian sun

Posted on May 23, 2011

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If you visit Copenhagen when the sun shines and there is a warm breeze, it’s hard to understand why only 5.5million people live in Denmark. If I was guaranteed weather like that I would move tomorrow. But I guess it’s not so for now, a weekend visit in this glorious spring and summer will suffice.

In 48 hours you can see pretty much the whole city with a good pair of walking shoes on. Arriving late afternoon one Saturday we decided to explore Tivoli Gardens which are less gardens and more old fashioned amusement park. It’s 75DKK to get in (around 10euros) and then more for rides. I went with my mother, from whom I inherit my lack of interest in paying for being thrown around by a machine so we opted to stay a safe distance and watch people screaming on various forms rollercoasters. I think we may have seen several actually turn green 😉

Around the edge of Tivoli is a wealth of restaurants (including but far from limited to the international chain Wagamamas, which I have to admit was a touch surprised to see. We opted for a 3 course meal including salmon, veal and panna cotta with amaretto for 300K each (around 40euros).

Denmark is expensive, and that’s from someone who lives in Paris so if you are on a budget, make sure you read up on chaep eats before you get here. Hot Dogs on the street seem the most popular form of cheap eats and there is a stand on every other corner offering an array of at least 10 options. My one venture into this re-affirmed that there are better forms of street food available elsewhere in the world.

On Sunday we spent walking around the city. Starting at the central station we walked south to Christianshavn which is a laid back island with converted warehouses and plenty of good cafes. Ideal for a Sunday and plenty of local Danes were making the most of the sun sitting by the canals with coffee in hand.

On the island is the Church of our Saviour with 4oo (sometimes wobbly) steps up to the spire and a fantastic view of the city. It costs 25DKK (about 3.50 euros).

The other popular place for locals lapping up the sun is Nyhavn. I expected it to be full of tourists but felt like it was local. A perfect lunch spot to while away an hour or two. We ate at Nyhavn 17, sharing the herring open sandwiches and a smorgasboard of Danish delights. If you feel inclined, Nyhavn is the starting point for the canal boats (which I hear are good but didn’t tempt me on this trip).

My favourite story when I was growing up was the Little Mermaid, from a huge Hans Christian Andersen book so a pilgrimage to the small statue wasn’t a question. Some, I hear, are disappointed that she’s small but it brings back to memory fond childhood memories to have any negative connotations.

Completing the circular walk around the fort and then through various gardens, including the botanical gardens is worth the slight detour to get back into town.

I stayed on in Copenhagen for a few days on business and the restaurants below stood out as worth trying:

  • Nimb has several restaurants of which I ate at two. Both of which were fantastic. The brasserie is a cheaper version of the full restaurant, although still at least 60 euros per head, but the food is worth it and there is a lovely view onto Tivoli. Kitchens are open, food experimental and delicious.
  • Madklubben I saw recommend in a few places including the New York Times who referenced 30 something media professionals (seemed fitting so I thought I’d give it a go)
  • Fuego is a wonderful Argentinian restaurant not far from Nyhavn where, a little fished out, I had an incredible mixed grill

And if the weather is bad? Well, the national museum with a good collection of impressionist art is meant to be good

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Posted in: Scandinavia