Strollers with babies outside on the street while parents drink a cup of coffee or a beer inside the cafe. Bikes are locked with what is a dream for Amsterdam bike thieves. Blankets on chairs for when the weather is fresh once again, food halls sprouting like mushrooms from the ground. Culture, design, architecture, cyclists, clean air, an amusement park in the middle of town, friendly people and the best restaurant in the world. Velkommen til København!
Copenhagen is slightly larger than Amsterdam and just as walkable. With new pedestrian and cycle bridges, you cross waters easily from east to west, north to south. Along the way your vision is captured by Danish design and your nose seduced by the aromas of the new Danish cuisine. Just go with the flow and be surprised by all the good stuff Copenhagen has to offer.
The area around the central station of Copenhagen slowly begins to shine again after many years of being in the dark of neglecting. Even so, there are some surprising people with bad wiring who give some extra color to a city regularly cast under gray skies. The contrast between these vagabonds and the Radisson hotel at the stones throw from the station could hardly be greater. The design of master Arne Jacobsen is timeless. Book a room as high up as possible and see the city wink at you from below including many places you’ll visit in the days to come.
Depending on what time you arrive, you can pay the neighbors of Tivoli your respect. This historic city amusement park is definitely worth a. Because of the romantic, historic architecture, because of the attractions for 1-99 year olds – including a thrilling free-fall you can hear and see outside the gates – and because of the food at a couple of very good restaurants. The park is open all year and has almost always a seasonal theme going on with lights, fireworks and music.
A fifteen minute walk from the Radisson you find the Clyptotek. This museum is housed in a beautiful classical building that is filled with equally classic statues and such from the Mediterranean. More interesting, for most people, however is the collection of French masters such as Gauguin and Cezanne. Also, Vincent van Gogh and Rodin have taken residence in the beautiful building.
The Clyptotek is located in the upper corner of the Vesterbro district. This district was – until recently – the domain of hookers and dealers. Slowly but surely they give way to artists, designers and hipsters. A street that shows both the past and the future of Vesterbro is Istengade. When you walk the street all the way down you see the full spectrum of residents coloring the streets of the neighborhood. Along the way you can enjoy the growing number of designer shops and find the ultimate Danish Design store around the corner at the end of the street: Designer Zoo with several floors full of young Danish design talent.
Opposite the Zoo you can enjoy an affordable Danish lunch eat at Gjæstgiveriet Musik Conditoriet. This bakery-cafe-patisserie serves her own products as ingredients for a tasty lunch in a beautiful nostalgic interior. On the way back towards the city center you come across a little piece of Paris. This is the Vaernedamsvej, a street where hip eateries and boutiques invite you to stay a little longer.
For those who – after a day of walking – are in the mood for good food in a casual setting, there are two choices:
1. Stay in Vesterbro and – since April 2015 – visit the latest food market of Copenhagen in the old Meatpacking District. For the ambiance alone this is a must-do.
2. Rather eat at the first instead of the last food market in town? Close to the Radisson and the Central Station the aromas of great food lure you into the Torvehallerne.
Still have time and feel like some culture in a baroque setting? Check out the Royal Danish Theatre calendar for a (ballet) show. If you’re in the city around Christmas, book your tickets months in advance or try on the day if there some uncollected tickets left at the box-office.
Who those who want a change of scenery or spend less money for a bed tonight or want to eat at Noma and roll home, you can move your luggage over to the boat of Boye Meyer. This vessel has space for four people, two tiny little bathrooms, and a comfortable steering hut with kitchen including dishwasher and a very spacious sundeck. The boat float at Strandgade 100 in the old navy neighborhood. A number of pedestrian / bicycle bridges will later in 2015 (or in 2016 since the completion of the major bridge was delayed due to some construction errors) take you in 5 minutes to Nyhavn or free state Christiania.
Half an hour from your ship by foot, you find the Black Diamond: the national library and architectural icon. You can also take the ferry that has a stop at the Opera House close by. Another icon is the design department store Illum Bolighus. This place is stuffed with Danish design furniture, gadgets, lamps, fashion, accessories and gifts for home.
Back at the water and around the corner from the very touristy Nyhavn the Royal Danish Playhouse stands with her feet in the water. Diagonally opposite the theater you see the impressive Opera House which is only a few minutes away by ferry.
The lucky ones amongst us can have lunch or dinner at Noma today. In addition to substantial savings (including wine, water, coffee and tip you as soon as 950 euros for two people) the trick to get one of the 12 tables is to visit the booking site just before it opens for a new time slot (see website Noma.dk when that is) with at least 5 computers / iPads / smartphones simultaneously. That way you have a fair chance of standing at the front of the digital line. When It is your turn quickly choose whatever is available or else someone else will. Despite the price tag a visit to Noma is more than worth it (check out this review). The food, service, ambiance and the tour of the (outdoor) kitchens you’ll never forget.
No interest to make a huge dent in your budget or no success trying to book? Between the Opera and your boat you can – between April and September – enlight your culinary soul at the 70 rolling kitchens you find in the Street Food Market. To conclude the day with a nightcap before being rocked to sleep on your ship: Cafe Wilder is a relaxed place where Season beer, water and wine always flow freely.
Late flight? In case you are staying near the Opera House, take the ferry to the other side and pay a visit to the amazingly tiny Little Mermaid.
Nearby and next to the Royal Palace you find the Design Museum which, when you have time, is for sure worth a visit.