Visiting the happiest people on Earth: Copenhagen

Copenhagen-(1)copenhagenDanes are the happiest people on earth. That’s a fact! At least according to countless studies conducted on the subject. Take a stroll through the beautiful Danish capital on a summer’s day, and you understand why. Beautiful architecture, lots of water and friendly, good looking people on bikes everywhere. To be fair, in winter it is a bit tougher to fall in love with Denmark and Copenhagen at first sight. But of course, the inventive Danes found a way to tackle that problem, too. They actually even invented a word for that: “Hygge”! Ranked third place in a survey conducted about the world’s most loveable words that cannot be translated, it roughly translated to something like “the complete lack and absence of anything annoying” and means cozy apartments, candlelight, and good people and food around. You see, Denmark ranks up there in about every study there is. Time to find out why. Let’s spend some time in Copenhagen!

There’s a map at the end of the post with all the places we cover, marked; to give you the bearings.

Hotel Sp34

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Arriving at the Copenhagen Airport, the hotel is about 8 KM (20 min) away. Get there, soak in the beauty and get ready to start your day. Hotel SP34 opened not too long ago (previously this place was called Hotel Fox) and this place gets so many things right. The design inside is distinctively Scandinavian, the rooms are airy and bright, and its location close to the city center is unbeatable. Add a daily ‘wine hour’ in the afternoon, free and fast wi-fi and organic breakfast to the mix, and you understand why this is our pick. Rest a while and reach Superkilen Park, from there we’ll walk back to the hotel exploring the city.

Superkilen

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Built by Superflex and the famous BIG architects, Superkilen is an urban park divided in three areas, red, green, and black. We’ll have a look at the most impressive one of them all, the Red Square. This is a playground for adults, with giant souvenirs from all over the world. Everything here is covered in red paint. It looks crazy from a Google Maps Sattelite view. Take a look around at some of the weird artifacts. People from more than 50 different countries are living in Nørrebro, and some of them got the chance to pick out items for the park. You’ll see a Donut sign from Tennessee, the famous Osborne bull from the south of Spain, and benches from Brasil. Superkilen also gives you a good idea why architecture from Denmark is so famous.

Grød

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We are starting our day in Nørrebro, an area that remains high up on the cities’ hipster index for years. It’s here you’ll find vegan snack bars, tiny vintage shops, and on the weekends, most of the cool kids.

Copenhageners like it healthy, lots of restaurants and grocery shops offer a large variety of organic options. Obviously, these healthy treats often come with a rather hefty price tag attached to them. Our breakfast destination is a wonderful exception from that rule. ‘Grød’ means ‘porridge’, and that is exactly what Martin Daniali and Lasse Skjønning Andersen serve in their shop and café. Breakfast bowls start at only 35 DKK, and with options like spelt porridge with chestnut purée, apple and toasted almonds, you’ll have plenty of energy for the long day ahead of you.

Timings: Grød – Jægersborgggade 50 – Mon-Fri 7.30am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-9pm website

Assistens Kirkegården

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On your way back, take a stroll through the famous Assistens cemetery. No matter how busy the city around you might get, between the tall trees it’s always peaceful and quiet. Several famous people are buried here, among them Danish national hero Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kirkegaard and several American jazz musicians who lived in Copenhagen during the Fifties and Sixties, such as Ben Webster and Kenny Drew. It’s easy to spend a whole afternoon here, but don’t get lost! Our day has just begun.

Adelié


Adelie-(2)Adelie

Walk north-east towards Guldbergsgade, back to the wordly pleasures of fashionable small shops of the area. Among them is Adelié. Tikkie Oestrich alias Adelié is one of Denmark’s most beloved fashion bloggers. For a while now, she brings her impeccable style to her online shop, where she sells items from her most beloved (and mostly Danish) designers, such as Stine Goya, Peter Jensen, and Libertine-Libertine. If you prefer real-life shopping to a virtual shopping bag, you are lucky. In 2012, Tikkie opened a tiny store on Guldbergsgade in Nørrebro. Here, she sells all the great finds that are featured in her online store.

After paying her a visit, continue down the street. You’ll pass more small shops, nice cafés, and probably run into some good looking Danes dressed all in black. At the end of the street, you’ll reach Sankt Hans Torv, a popular hangout and meeting point.

Timings: Adelié, Guldbergsgade 20 – Tue-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-4pm website

Kaffebar

Kaffebaren Kaffebar

Pass the square, and turn right into Elmegade. Right at the beginning of the street is the Acne Archive. The Swedish brand has a stylish flagship store in the city center that we’ll visit later, but the new Archive is definitely worth a visit, as well. A one-minute walk down the street from the shop you’ll see the very popular Kaffebar. If you feel for a little caffeinated pick-me-up, do it here. The coffee is great, and the baristas know what they’re doing. They’re also handsome. All of them.

Once you’re done, turn left on Nørrebrogade and walk straight. The street leads you over Dronning Louises Bro, a bridge over the Sortedams lake. Once the sun comes out, this is where everybody sits in the sun. It’s a beautiful walk, so take your time. Take in the scenery, and continue down until you spot two big halls on your right.

WoodWood Museum

WoodWood-museum

Keep heading down the street and cross the “Dronning Louises Bro” bridge to reach the Wood Wood Museum but before you enter these, cross the street to your left for a last bit of bargain hunting. Somehow, Scandinavians know how to run an outlet store so much better than the rest of us. No messy piles of clothes, no ugly leftovers and not only items in XXS or XXL. WoodWood Museum is a great example for that.

The outlet of the popular Danish brand (we’ll take a look in their regular store a bit later) carries their own designs plus a big selection of brands that they sell in their shop for women and men. If you look around a bit, you can find tons of Kenzo, Gitman and Opening Ceremony pieces at up to 70% off.

Inside, the shop is nice and the staff friendly – yet another thing that makes the Museum stand out from regular outlet stores. Now, head over again to enter Torvehallerne.

Timings: WoodWood Museum, Frederiksborggade 54 – Mo-Fri 12pm-6pm, sat 10.30am-3pm website

Torvehallerne

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Food heaven! Torvehallerne is a covered market, similar to those you might find in Spain, Italy, or even London. But since this is Scandinavia, everything here seems a bit more organized – and well designed. More than 80 vendors sell their goods inside, so the selection is breathtaking. There is fresh fish from the Baltic Sea, tiny cupcakes from famous bakery Agnes, and tons of specialty items from different Danish regions, such as ox-meat sausages or rhubarb juice from Bornholm. A lot of the booths sell snacks and warm meals, too. But hold your appetite, we’re having dinner in the city!

Timings: Torvehallerne, Frederiksborggade 21 – Mon-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm website

Höst

Host Host2

After a hot shower and some rest we’re ready to jumpstart our night in Copenhagen with a great dinner. Höst is a restaurant from the owners of super popular food destination Cofoco and eight other restaurants in the city. The interior looks as if it was taken straight out of an catalog for Scandinavian minimalist furniture, the walls are washed white, and the tableware rustic. All this is supposed to make you feel as if you were at a Scandinavian farmyard that somehow has been transported into the city environment. And it works! The food goes with this theme, focussing again on local ingredients and simple preparations. Go for the affordable three-course menu, which costs 275 DKK (36 €/47 USD) and showcases what’s fresh on the market that day. Höst is the hottest dinner ticket in town right now, so to be sure to get a table, reserve one online on their website. Watch out: They close early on Sundays! If you file like ending the day here, head back to the hotel, otherwise head to the Meatpacking district for some night time parties.

Timings: Höst, Nørre Farimagsgade 41- Mon-Wed 10am-9.15pm, Thu-Fri 10am-9.30pm, Sat 11am-9.30pm, Sun 3.30pm-8.30pm website

Meatpacking District

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Take a bus or taxi to Vesterbro and head into the Meatpacking District. This is the former red light district of Copenhagen, that has slowly been claimed by the hipsters as their nightlife Mekka. You might still see the occasional prostitute pass by, but behind the run-down facades, there are lofts and office spaces of media companies and fashion labels. This mix makes the Meatpacking district the most coveted nightlife area of Copenhagen, with tons of cool bars right next to each other in the old market buildings.

Pick one of the many bars or clubs. We suggest Jolene, Bakken or Kødbodderne 18, all very close to each other. Spotting which party looks like the most fun tonight should be easy, people tend to hang out outside. If you want to prepare, check the club’s websites before you leave the hotel.

Head back to the hotel and recharge for the next day.

Timings: Jolene, Flæsketorvet 81 – Sun-Thu 5pm-2am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am website
Bakken, Flæsketorvet 19 – Thu 9pm-3am, Fri-Sat 11pm-5am website
Kødbodderne 18, Kødbodderne 18 – see website for opening hours website

Sightseeing

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We’re doing the same thing again, reach the Marmorkirken by the horbor via taxi, bus or train, then we’ll walk back to the hotel shopping our way through. You’ll notice that we’re a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping streets. This is the representative part of Copenhagen, the area with the Royal Palaces, churches, and the old harbor. Although we generally tend to stay far away from the tourist-y parts of town, today we’ll make an exception.

From B56, we can already see the beautiful Marmorkirken, the church also known as Frederiks Kirke. Turning right, we are approaching the Royal palace Amalienborg. From here, we can access the waterfront and take a long stroll, soaking in some Scandinavian sun and sights, including the spectacular new opera house, the National theater and finally Nyhavn. This old part of the harbour is a magnet for tourist, but it’s also mighty pretty. Take a look at the Lego-like colored buildings, but don’t be tempted to enter any of the restaurants around here. Instead, walk back to Atelier September for lunch and to rest those tired legs a bit and get ready for the shopping.

Atelier September

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In the past years, Copenhagen has developed quite a reputation as a foodie destination. Restaurants like Relæ, Kadeau and Noma are on the forefront of a new Nordic eating trend, promoting locally sourced, traditionally Danish produce. For many critics, Noma is actually the best restaurant in the world right now. Although we would love to either confirm or deny this today, chances are you a) haven’t made a reservation there months ago, or b) Michelin star food and the hefty price tag that entails aren’t exactly in your travel budget.

No worries, there is another way! At Atelier September, you’ll get served light lunch fare in a great location. This used to be an antiques shop, and you can still see vintage details everwhere in the small room. Big windows let in a lot of light, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. Atelier September has developed into a hang out for hip locals and members of the fashion crowd, a fact that maybe explains why their signature dish, toasted rye bread with sliced avocado, chives and chili, comes with a rather hefty price tag attached to it. This small splurge is definitely worth it, though, so dive right in.

Timings: Atelier September, Gothersgade 30 – Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 10am-4pm website

City Center

We hit the streets of the city center for some serious shopping. Instead of giving you a route, we’ll just tell you the must-sees, and you conquer them in whatever order you feel best with. These stores are all in walking distance to each other, and each of them is worth a visit.

woodwood

WoodWood has become somewhat of symbol for fashion made in Denmark. The label started out as strictly street wear, and has gotten more sophisticated over the years. You’ll still find plenty of hoodies, caps and backpacks in their shiny new flagship store, but you’ll also be able to buy items from more exclusive brands like Band of Outsiders or Barbour. Recently, they added their own line of women’s footwear to their portfolio.

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Storm is going down that concept store road, too, with a stronger focus on high-end designer brands and big labels. Their book collection is great

Acne

Swedish mega-brand Acne has not one but three stores in Copenhagen. And judging by the amount of Pistol Boots and Rita leather jackets that you encounter on any regular day in the streets of Copenhagen, that is warranted. In their biggest store, they sell both their women’s and men’s collections.

Norse-Projects

Then there’s Norse Projects. This one is strictly for the boys as well. The little brand has seen some crazy hype around their baseball caps and shirts lately, and is sold in hip boutiques from Paris to New York. Their Copenhagen flagship store features all of their collection, plus some hard to find designer collaborations.

HAN+CPH han-copenhagen

The label Han Copenhagen became famous for their spectacle frames, and have since extended their range to beautiful menswear pieces. They offer classic cuts and shapes, and just the interior of the store is worth the visit.

Henrik Vibskov

Vibskov

Danish fashion is world renowned for its simplicity, impeccable taste, and general style. One of the biggest names in that business is no doubt Henrik Vibskov. The Danish artist and designer is known for keeping his Avant Garde-vibe alive, while still pleasing the masses. His colorful knits and outlandish cuts are on display in his flagship store, as are affordable accessories such as his famous laptop sleeves or colorful socks. Also sold here: dreamy shoes from Minimarket and some items from Vibskov’s ex-partner, Danish fashion super star Stine Goya.  Skål!

Timings: Henrik Vibskov Boutique Copenhagen, Krystalgade 6 – Mon-Thu 11am-6pm, Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-5pm website

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