Copenhagen is without doubt one of the most on trend places to visit right now. Constantly ranked as the happiest country on earth, it possesses such a pervasive sense of effortless style that you might be forgiven for imagining that the people are every bit as intimidatingly cool too…except they’re not. Nope. They’re just really, really nice which makes it even more of a splendid place in which to dwell for a few days.
With a sometimes justified but also often over exaggerated reputation as an eye-wateringly expensive place to enjoy, I’m happy to report that it’s nowhere near as bad as you may have been led to believe. This might be because I already live in London, a city rarely blessed with the nickname of ‘bargain’, but if you do a little investigating and spend some time planning what you’re going to do and where you’re going to do it, you’ll find there’s just as much that you can afford as you can’t.
First tip? Airbnb. Hotels are generally costly things to spend your money on anywhere in the world and Airbnb gives you great flexibility in where you stay, what you pay for and how much you have to shell out. It’s easy to find a good choice of (mainly) apartments in (almost) every neighbourhood of the city for under £100 a night which, if there’s 2 of you, equates to a not unreasonable £50 each – consider that a decidedly average budget chain can still set you back £100+ a night and all of a sudden, it doesn’t seem too scary. J & I had never done Airbnb before and frankly, we’d heard mixed reviews but on this occasion it worked out beautifully for us.
Gorgeously Scandinavian place with excellent public transport links from which we could get to just about any part of the city in thirty minutes or less? Check. FYI, after trawling through approximately forty three thousand listings, I can tell you that the layout of a typical Danish flat appears to be a huge lounge & bedroom, an average sized but well stocked kitchen and a teeny tiny, perfect-for-Hobbits-but-bad-for-elves sized bathroom. Now you may prefer to be super central if you don’t want to commit any time to travel but Copenhagen’s bus & train systems are superb value for money (a 72 hour pass which you can buy online & download to your phone in seconds and which covered zones 1 & 2 so practically everything you’d want to see in a few days was less than £30) as well as being clean, frequent, safe & in possession of free Wi-Fi.
Added to this you can of course bike everywhere or simply get out and walk which is what we did, averaging 10 miles a day as we trotted round the hip parts, the family parts, the traditional parts and the aspirational parts of potentially the prettiest city I’ve ever spent time in. Honestly, every corner you turn around, you’ll be presented with another stunning rooftop, cornice or piece of stonework and most of the shops & restaurants have been sympathetically coerced into old buildings meaning it’s both charming and practical. Are you listening London?
Ok so let’s dive into some cracking places to eat while you’re there. For a country with such a distinctive cuisine, I was surprised at how diverse their dining scene is. Yes, there’s plenty of opportunity for fresh fish & open sandwiches but we also ate some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had here and saw more than a few Indian, Middle Eastern, Thai & Chinese influences. Breakfasting on a city break is important obviously – apart from the fact it’s the best meal of the day because just about any food and drink can be shoehorned into it, if you’re going to spend all day pedalling or strolling round the city, you need fuel to get you going. Luckily, it’s very pretty, very delicious fuel…
Wulff & Konstalli, Lergravsvej 57, 2300 København S, Denmark
Wulff & Konstalli was featured on a UK weekend TV cooking show not long before J and I were due to fly – Danes love ‘hygge’ which translates as a feeling of intimate, happy cosiness and this particular breakfast spot was lauded as being a great place in which to err, get hygge with it.
Located in Island Brygge and easily accessible by bus from the mainland of Copenhagen, this delightful little coffee shop has the obligatory windows full of baked goods, lovely blonde waitresses and quirky interior touches. One of the nice things about a lot of Danish places is that they take advantage of the mild climate to eat al fresco and even in late September when we went, it was absolutely warm enough to do just this.
Formal brunch stops being served here at 11am but they have a selection of products available all day for you to enjoy…
…including beautiful in-house granola heavy with chewy dates, sweet figs & homemade vanilla syrup…
…and light, flaky, softly layered pastries strewn with poppyseeds and fragrant with lemon…
…or sprinkled with raspberries and drizzled with icing.
Despite my lack of long legs and blonde hair, you can see how easily & happily I ‘became Danish’…!
Granola, Vaernedamsvej 5, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen 1819, Denmark
The second brunching destination is Granola. Some places are designed to be breakfast only whereas with others, you can easily imagine yourself picking up a coffee at 8am and a cocktail at 8pm; this is one such place.
Blessed on the inside with a gorgeous little bar and on the outside with pavement café seating, this sweet spot in the lovely neighbourhood of Frederiksberg was one of the more expensive places we ate at, although some of the larger menu items appeared to offer better value for money than the lighter ones so my advice would be to head here when you’ve got ravenous tummy rumblings to sooth.
Scrambled eggs were loaded with coriander & chilli and tucked under the edges of darkly delicious rye bread while oatmeal loaded with apple, banana, coconut and hazelnuts was sprinkled with cinnamon sugar; both were warming & comforting on one of the chillier mornings we were there. The large breakfast plates come in at nearly £20 but are gigantic platters heaving with eggs, meat, cheese, bread, yoghurts, fruit, muesli and coffee meaning they’ll see you through till dinner with ease. Your biggest issue might be finding a table big enough to hold them…
I loved the style of Granola; waiters wore black ties and white shirts while the décor was decidedly vintage but with a sharp modern finish. Sat outside sipping an obscenely good hot chocolate and watching the world go by made for a lovely start to the day.
BAKERIES & FOOD SHOPS
Andersen Bakery, Gammel Kongevej 148, 1850 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
Ok now that we’ve breakfasted in style, we need to think about what’s going to keep us going through the morning and the answer my friends is baked goods. Baked goods from delicious bakeries will keep us going. They’ll give us energy and they’ll sustain us through long bouts of exploration (are you sensing my over justification of eating everything baked I could lay my hands on?) and you should know that some of the best bread products in the city can be found at Andersen Bakery. The flagship store sits near tourist mecca Tivoli Gardens (which personally I’d avoid unless you have small children) but on Gammel Kongevej in Frederiksberg, sits a second location that’s well worth scouting out for a more peaceful pit stop. FYI, San Francisco is also home to a branch of this bakery and honestly, if it’s good enough for the beautiful people of the Bay area who know a thing or two about baking, it’s more than good enough for me.
Cinnamon buns here are light, fragrant and fluffy and, unlike the overly sweet, grimacingly sticky versions found in the UK, they don’t melt your teeth with thick rivers of molten icing the moment you bite into them. I’m pretty sure if I lived here, I could be found unashamedly speckled with the crumb debris of cinnamon buns, twists & rolls pretty much 24/7. Shocking I know.
What’s extra lovely about Andersen’s though is that their savoury products are every bit as addictive as their sweet. Giant knotty Kringles are a Nordic take on the pretzel with my favourite arriving under a heavy blanket of toasted flaked almonds while the Danablu Horn lands with ease & style on my list of favourite things eaten…ever.
Marrying sweet and savoury flavours, the innards of this horn shaped bread are stuffed with earthy walnuts and tangy blue cheese while the underside is sticky with sweet honey. J and I dtook care of this bad boy in 34 seconds flat which walking down the street. Ok, maybe it was more like three or four minutes but you get the idea. This is not something you buy now to take home and eat later. You buy it now. You eat it now. You ignore the fact you’re basically devouring it on the street like a starving coyote.
Laura’s Bakery, Linnésgade, 1361 København K, Denmark
Second on our bakery list is Laura’s, a small chain of gourmet bakeries located around the city; the one we visited was in Torvehallerne, the fantastic and centrally located food market. Laura’s was found after several hours spent researching the food of the city and, in particular for my little caffeine lover J, the best spots for good coffee.
Offering the traditional bread & cakes of the past with a clean, minimal Scandinavian aesthetic, there’s a fantastic selection of sweet treats here that make for the prettiest of windows. Staff are efficient rather than effusive but they get through the queues of obvious regulars and even more obvious tourists with pace.
You absolutely cannot come here without trying the Brownie Pie; a slab of dark fudgy brownie topped with an inch of thick, fluffy, buttery chocolate
goodness frosting, it’s worth every sinful though that crosses your mind as you fork it into your mouth. Sit in & eat before walking it off or buy it to take home and eat behind closed curtains where you can lick the box in secrecy, either way I guarantee it’ll put, well possibly not a spring in your step, but a smile on your face for sure.
Los Market, Saxogade 77, 1662 København V, Denmark
So we’ve had breakfast and we’ve had snacks but how about somewhere to buy lovely ingredients for using at home later on? Step forward Los Market which sits near the revamped meatpacking district of Kodbyen and is a brilliant example of how ethical and forward thinking the Danes are when it comes to sourcing and selling products. Bring your own containers from home or buy here and fill them with any number of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, grains, cereals, spices, oils and wines before re-using.
Los prides itself on a truly vast selection of bulk dried goods – you buy only what you want so have less waste, you pay reasonable prices as it’s all bought in bulk, you bring your own storage vessels minimising packaging costs, you know you’re getting organic produce from local suppliers so are supporting the small, brave businesses that comprise your economy. It’s a fantastic concept delivering exceptional quality food in a clean, understated fashion and I hope the rainbow of colourful glass jars becomes the norm rather than a novelty. In a world of overflowing supermarket shelves where seasonality is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and the culture seems to be all about disposability, this really stands out as the future of food retail.
LUNCH AND DINNER
Emmerys Organic Bakery & Café, Suhmsgade 2, 1119 København K, Denmark
And now my lovelies, we arrive at lunch and after a long morning of wandering round flea markets, churches and darling side streets, we stumbled across Emmerys Bakery and fell into it, with a not insignificant amount of hunger and gratitude!
Super friendly staff make you feel welcome and menus in English offer a stress-free ordering experience. A vast selection of baked goods including whole loaves and sweet pastries were tempting but it was the sandwiches that caught our eye. Emmerys pride themselves on using 100% organic ingredients in their home baked bread and cakes with their traditional sandwiches one of their key selling points.
‘Smorrebrod’ translates as open sandwich and it’s these that you’ll find all over Copenhagen, each display of them seemingly prettier and more rustic looking than the last. Rye bread, dense & full of flavour, usually provides the base on top of which fillings that often include fish, egg & meat are piled.
Using traditional rye bread as the base, these were deliciously satisfying but without leaving us bloated as many ‘normal’ white bread sandwiches do. The pork rillettes were lusciously soft but the spicy tuna with capers & chipotle mayo was superb with an amazing tangy, spicy flavour.
Service here is quick, the atmosphere is casual, the prices are reasonable and sat in the window watching people cycle past in the late afternoon sunshine, we were glad to have discovered it – sometimes it’s the the places you were never looking for that give you exactly what you need.
Torvehallerne, Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K, Denmark
London is a city seemingly obsessed with food markets which means I’m always on the look-out for local equivalents when travelling abroad. Torvehallerne is an incredible market that you must make time to visit if you have any love at all for food. Inside the airy open layout, you’ll find over 60 different vendors selling everything from chocolates to spices, Greek food to pizza, bread to fish, wine to tapas and beyond.
There’s a great selection of food to eat there and then but this is also the place to hit up if you’re looking for key ingredients to take home & get creative with yourself or perfect dishes for decanting & passing off as your own.
Fantastic fresh fish and grain bowls really stand out if you’re looking for something healthy and filling – the quinoa & feta, traditional potato and shrimp & orange caviar salads were especially good – but for J & I and now for you too, there’s only one reason to head here and that’s for Hija de Sanchez.
Mexican food might not seem like the most obvious cuisine to opt for in Denmark but if you’re anywhere near the taco junkie that I am, you’ll want to check this place out. Chef, owner & Chicago native Rosio Sanchez is the former pastry chef at Noma and has taken it as a personal crusade to engage the good folk of Copenhagen on what Mexican food and good tacos in particular are. Corn & chiles are imported from Mexico whilst cheese is made locally with Danish milk and everything is created to order at this fun taqueria.
The menu boasts up to 11 different tacos with 3 different flavour profiles sold each day on a rotating basis, and vegetarian & Gluten Free options also available.
Pork Carnitas (pork belly, pasilla pepper salsa, onion & coriander), Lengua (beef tongue, guacachile, onion & coriander) and Queso Fresco (fresh cheese, guacachile, pickled red onions & coriander) were up on our visit with 3 available to mix & match for 110DKK which is approximately £12. If you live outside of London, this might sound like a lot for tacos but don’t be fooled or put off by the price; I’d have paid double they were that good.
Fresh, creamy cheese and soft, rich meat in authentic corn tortillas…I’m not joking when I say these were practically inhaled by J & I and sat outside in the late afternoon sunshine, washing them down with icy cold beers, it’s one of my happiest memories from the trip.
Copenhagen Street Food, Trangravsvej 14, 7/8, 1436 København K, Denmark
Sat on the Paper Island waterfront in downtown Copenhagen, is a street food venue that I absolutely loved…get yourself a super cheap ticket and it’s almost worth flying over for a belly-busting lunch.
Actually that’s a ridiculous thing to say…it’s definitely worth flying over for. The vibe is incredibly inclusive, the food is fantastic and everywhere you turn, you see something new you want to eat whether it’s on one of the 30+ vendors’ stands or in the hands of a passer by!
Opened in May 2014 and due to remain in its current home until 2018, this is Copenhagen’s first real street food venue and it’s clear how much it’s loved in terms of the food on offer and the vast quantities of people enjoying it.
Gorgeous views of the harbour, the Opera House and Playhouse make this the ideal spot for al fresco dining sat at one of the many picnic tables or in one of the sun-soaked deckchairs that are unsurprisingly coveted & rammed to capacity on the weekends.
You can reserve a table inside the Greenhouse which might be appreciated in the winter but believe me, when the sun’s out, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it and it seemed as though we timed our mid September visit perfectly…note the short sleeves people!
The ambition here is to create a safe environment in which globally inspired food can be experienced by everyone. There’s no limitation on what the food or the food trucks themselves look like and each vendor is required to sell at least one meal for 50-75DKK (£6-£9) so as not to exclude those with smaller budgets.
There are also arts & music installations there throughout the year. A Yoko Ono created ‘wish garden’ was there on our visit at which you could write a wish on a paper tag and hang it on a small forest of trees…watching hundreds of peoples’ dream & hopes flutter in the breeze was pretty damn cool.
First place to head in the cavernous venue is Meat Art in the back right hand corner. Specialising in cheesesteaks, we plumped for one with a cherry & Cabernet sauce and Gorgonzola cream served in a homemade carrot bun. It was outstanding – velvety and succulent and full of ripe flavours, it was a refreshing & innovative change to the more familiar steak burger and the carrot bun was lighter than brioche but way more exciting than a sub roll.
Copper & Wheat is the second of my top tips; crunchy fried chicken served with homemade spicy ketchup and coriander mayonnaise is every bit as gorgeous as it looks, plus they make the greatest Belgian frites it’s ever been my pleasure to eat. Skin on and double fried in duck fat, they’re an absolute dream in potato so head for the left hand side when you get inside and bag your spot in line.
Washed down with reasonably priced beer (40DKK/£4.50 for a pint), the food here came in around the £20 mark which was good value for the portion sizes and in line with what I’d expect to pay elsewhere in the world meaning it should be heads & shoulders above other places on your Danish dining list.
Host, Nørre Farimagsgade 41, 1364 København K, Denmark
The last place on this guide is one that might not appeal to everyone because in all honesty, it will probably push the boundaries of what you’re familiar with however, if you want to experience something totally different, this is the perfect place in which to do it.
The landscape of Scandinavian food is adventurous & exciting however places like Noma have given the impression that it’s also out of reach for the average traveller. Thankfully places like Host will allow you to enjoy the very best that Copenhagen has to offer without spending the whole meal fearing the moment that the bill arrives.
Gorgeously decorated in neutral shades of stone & wood, the space itself is the epitome of Scandi-chic as are the staff who were all friendly and clearly appreciative of what they served. We were made to feel very welcome & valued and careful explanations were given for each of the courses which were all immaculately presented.
The bi-monthly changing set menu may only list 3 courses on their website but heads up, we were given another 4 dishes between courses meaning the whole experience became something very special and perfect for an intimate date night or a culinary adventure with like-minded friends.
We began with a starter comprising of pastry cups with potato cream, chives & bacon, miniature egg flans with eel mayonnaise, chamomile smoked steak strips and crab & celeriac pancakes…I promise you I could have eaten the potato cream off every persons’ plate there without shame or regret.
Homemade sourdough bread served on pearl barley with celery butter and roasted onion ash was tangy and soft and followed by bone marrow filled with silky beef tartare & sharp creme fraiche, and smoked mushroom bread puffs.
Perfectly seared flounder with spinach & parsley oyster sauce and kohl rabi was light and fresh…
…while cabbage soup with egg yolk, chicken stock & yeast was one of my favourite courses as it was overtly rich & luscious from the egg and full of earthy, warm flavours from the stock and yeast.
Pork belly rounds were stacked with with beef tomatoes, choron sauce (tomato tinted hollandaise), crackling & local cheese; if you have any concerns that you’ll only get fiddly little morsels of this and that, let them be washed away now. This was hearty and crispy and sweet and filling.
A pre-dessert dessert arrived next with ripe curd yoghurt in which sat stout ice-cream hiding under dried raspberry & rye bread crumb and popping candy sugar. This was then followed by a sharp sheeps milk yoghurt, smooth & sweet corn ice-cream, local raspberries, caramelised popcorn pieces and chanterelle dust; both dishes were an expert but loving blend of very clever flavours.
It’s beyond obvious that every plate here had been carefully imagined and brought to life with passion for the craft of cooking and respect for the ingrdients. Flawless attention to detail on the presentation was more than matched by the intriguing, sweet, salty, earthy and savoury flavours that ran the gamut from being familiar to completely new to me.
If you want to really experience a high end Danish meal out in the city that’s becoming a mecca for food lovers, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by this stylish yet sincerely genuine place. No, it’s not the cheapest place you could dine out in (around £100 for 2 people) but as an experience I simply couldn’t have anywhere else, it’s more than worth the splurge.
I hope this has inspired you a little ahead of your trip to Copenhagen; whether it’s recognisable pastries you’re searching for or something different that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, I have no doubt you will find both in this stylish, beautiful city.