Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

Post and photographs by Carolyn Eddie. Additional Photographs by the always fabulous Kate Stoupas

Copenhagen, what did I know?

Before moving to Copenhagen my only knowledge of Denmark’s capital city was based on two films. The first was the fabulous, but probably studio lot filmed, 1953 movie “Hans Christian Anderson’. It featured the, always wonderful, Danny Kaye as the eponymous storyteller, who is still probably Denmark’s most loved citizen.

My second film was the more recent, and visually stunning, film ‘The Danish Girl’. It starred the, oh so talented, Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.

In both films, Copenhagen is portrayed as a small city, still very much based on a busy fishing industry. One version is full of artists and the other is full of world class ballerinas and lots of really cute children.

Copenhagen in the 21st Century

The last ‘fish wife’ may have left Gammel Strand, the street where the fish market was held, but the city retains its close links with the sea and continues in its rich cultural life. It now ranks as one of the top cities to visit for a weekend getaway. This is due to its manageable size, cobbled, bike friendly streets, story tale like architecture, world class museums, innovative dining and incredible nightlife.

Many of Copenhagen’s main attractions are free and easily accessible. Pack a pair of sensible, but stylish, shoes and layers. As they say in Denmark there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes.  It is very easy to spend a couple of days exploring, shopping, eating and drinking your way through the capital city of the happiest people in the world.

Little Mermaid

No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to the Little Mermaid, one of the many gifts from the Carlsberg Foundation. The ‘Lille Havfrau’ has been sitting on her rock at Langelinie for over a hundred years. Although small, the clue is in the name, she is synonymous with the ‘salty old queen of the sea’.

PH Artichoke

PH Artichoke
PH Artichoke

Whilst you are there, turn around and look at the modern building behind it, the Langelinie Pavilion. Or, more correctly, try to peek inside.  The originals of the iconic PH Artichoke light fittings, designed especially for the pavilion by Poul Henningsen, can be seen hanging there.

Kastellet

Kastellet, Copenhagen
Kastellet, Copenhagen

If you have time take a walk through the Kastellet or citadel, one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe, and admire the beautiful orange washed houses of Nyboler, all built by Christian 4th.

Make a wish in the Gefion Fountain , another gift from the Carlsberg Foundation, depicting Gefion, the Norse goddess,  and her four sons ploughing Zealand out of Sweden.

Gefion Fountain
Gefion Fountain

Wander back along the harbor front  passing by the Royal Cast museum with its large bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David until you come to the entrance of the Amelia Gardens. And stop to admire the fantastic view.  The Amelie Gardens to one side were a gift from the A.P.Møller Foundation as was the new Opera House which can be seen across the water. Together with the Marble Church and Amelienborg, the royal residence, they form an axis which is truly spectacular.

Frederick 5th Statue by Saly
Frederick 5th Statue by Saly Photo by Kate Stoupas

Totally in keeping with the Danish character of openness and trust it is possible to walk right into the central square of Amelienborg. Admire all four royal palaces and make sure to take a look at the incredibly expensive statue of Frederick 5th which lies in the center.  Changing of the guards takes place every day at noon and it is not unusual to catch a glimpse of Queen Margarethe 2nd or one of the royal family as they pop in and out.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn
Nyhavn by Kate Stoupas

By now you have earned a well deserved rest and the colorful cafes and bars of Nyhavn are a perfect place to hygge and and watch the world go by. From here you can continue on to visit Christianborg with its royal stables and kitchens.  It was the royal residence until a fire destroyed it in 1794. At that time the royal family moved to Amelienborg. Christianborg was rebuilt, not once, but twice but that is another story. By this time, however,  the King decided he preferred the new location and now Christianborg is only used for state receptions.  It also houses the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Denmark.

Strøget

Strøget by Kate Stoupas

The other option is a little bit of shopping.  Nyhavn leads up to Kongons Nytorv,or the Kings New Square. Here you will find  the department store Magazin in the Hotel du Nord building. There is also the upmarket Hotel D’Angleterre, where anyone is who anyone stays whilst visiting Copenhagen. It is also the start of one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe, Strøget, with Danish designers, flag ship stores and budget friends shops snuggling together.  Be sure to pop into Royal Copenhagen if only to gasp at the prices of the world’s most expensive dinner service Flora Danica. Wander around George Jenson’s silver shop. Then breath in the rarified air while admiring all the designer furniture and lights in my own favorite store, Illums Bolighus.

 Glyptotek,

The list really is endless but two of my other favorite places need a mention. First the Glyptotek, in my mind a mini Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. The architecture of the building, especially the new addition designed by architects Henning Larsen, is as stunning as the collections. It also has a great little cafe housed in a light filled Palm Court.

 

Cafe at Glyptotek
Cafe at Glyptotek

When the weather is warmer, you can go up onto roof. The view, and a roof top bar totally justifies my annal membership.

View from the roof of the Glypotek
View from the roof of the Glypotek

Tivoli

Copenhagen also boasts one of the biggest attractions in Europe, Tivoli Gardens, an amusement part right in the center of town. Built in 1843 Tivoli has been a favorite with visitors ever since and provided the inspiration for Disney. Tivoli is so much more than rollercoasters and rides for all the family. There are many lovely restaurants including the fairytale like NIMB, with its peacocks wandering around outside. Tivoli hosts rock concerts every Friday in summer, swing dance sessions every Saturday and many other musical events throughout the year. Last year we saw Niles Rogers of Chic and the legendary Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson in Concert at Tivoli
Brian Wilson in Concert at Tivoli

here are  fun Halloween and Christmas markets. The grounds are full of flowers and the themes change with the seasons. It is fun just to wander through the gardens and that is exactly what many Danes do on a regular basis. It is their happy place!

Copenhagen’s Food Scene

Food at Barr, Copenhagen
Food at Barr, Copenhagen

After Noma rocked the world with its new Nordic Cuisine emphasizing locally sourced and foraged food, Copenhagen has changed from a city serving only Mormor or grandmother food to a gourmet paradise. For breakfast visit Mad og Kaffe with its instagram worthy food or my own favorite Nordens are popular.  Street food from trendy Paper Island ( now sadly closed since I wrote this post) or traditional smørbrød from Torvallerne  make a great lunch.  Dinner possibilities are endless but be sure to book ahead.  I love Höst and Noma’s new sister restaurant 108, which has received a Michelin star since Kate and I went there. Our new favorite might be Barr, another one of the Noma family now located in Noma’s old premises.

There are so many restaurants and cocktail bars I still want to try such as Bæst or Amass. I want to try some of the smaller restaurants not on the top ten list.  It is just a matter of planning ahead. On my list of places to visit is Jægersborggade.  It is a hip shopping street that used to be a little dodgy. Now, it is so trendy it even has its own Facebook page, as well as a Michelin stared restaurant. Kate I need you back!

 

 

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