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the alternative guide to copenhagen

October 22, 2017

C O P E N H A G E N. A city I am now wildly in love with. One of the reasons being that it's where Conrad and I started our adventure around the world. When we arrived, it was early September with the chill of a New England November and absolutely pouring rain. We were each carrying two suitcases, a backpack, and such high spirits that we were still so happy to just. finally. be. there. On the way to our Airbnb, we became lost and the reality of our heavy luggage, wet clothes, and empty stomaches quickly set in. That's when I experienced my first taste of Danish culture. Not one, not two, but three people stopped to ask us if we were okay and how they could help - genuinely. All I could think was I am definitely not in Boston anymore and soon enough we were being welcomed by our beautiful host, Helle.

 

When we book Airbnb's, we opt for a "private room" within someone's home instead of an "entire home/apartment" in the more expensive cities. Copenhagen is definitely one of these cities. Luckily, I enjoyed our stay with Helle to say the least - mostly because she didn't give a damn about the impending Airbnb rating. She dried her laundry in the living room, smoked cigarettes in the kitchen, played music, laughed loudly, and answered my questions about her culture honestly. Our stay felt authentic so I'll include a link to her listing below. 

 

Our Airbnb was adorned with plants and more often than not lit with candles, emitting the feeling of Hygge (pronounced hue-gah). You may have heard of this term by now, but with no direct English translation, it is basically the feeling of comfort and coziness one experiences when partaking in certain rituals - such as a warm coffee and pastry with a close friend or flickering candles on a rainy afternoon. Conrad and I quickly adopted this term into our language and daily life (possibly using it as an excuse for an extra pastry here or there). The thing is, after speaking to a local about this, Hygge is necessary for getting through the long, dark winter months. 

 

One of the most magical parts about Copenhagen was how the residential areas lit up at night. If you ever visit, be sure to look up when walking home. Always look up. You'll quickly notice that most apartment windows are illuminated with warm candles and filled with happy, healthy plants. It's an indescribable calm to witness accompanied by that familiar feeling...

 

A couple of other things to note:

 

+ I found Copenhagen to be extremely walkable and didn't take the Metro once. We stayed in the Nørrebro neighborhood (see below) and the most we ever walked was 45 minutes to a destination 

 

+ I 100% recommend renting a bike! It can be intimidating at first (read: a pack of 20 bikers flying toward you at a crosswalk), but after studying the lane rules for a couple of days I finally felt confident to try it and it ended up being the highlight of the trip 

 

+ When it comes to coffee consumption per capita, Denmark is fourth in line. In other words, drink all the coffee. It's really good

 

+ Tipping isn't tradition so it's only recommended to leave one if your service was exceptional 

 

+ It's okay to talk to strangers. Some of the best conversations come from them 

 

+ This city is crazy expensive, but can be done on a budget. There are many free attractions, unique markets to walk around, and the architecture alone makes you feel like you're on set of The Danish Girl 

 

+ One of the trip highlights happened when Conrad and I were sipping coffee at Atelier September (see "Coffee"). We were sitting in the window and saw René Redzepi quickly zip by on his bike. As he looked back to check on his kids he must have noticed us gawking because he quickly smiled back. This city is so much smaller than it seems in the best way possible

 

F A V O R I T E  N E I G H B O R H O O D S

 

Nørrebro: Although the main road, Nørrebrogade, is lined with several great shops and some surprisingly affordable eats, my real draw to this neighborhood is the hidden gems throughout. Every street holds something special, whether it be a beautiful building or locally owned shop. It's also home to my absolute favorite street in all of Copenhagen: Jægersborggade - packed with my favorite shops, eats, and coffee from this trip. Overall, an up and coming/multicultural area that I can't recommend visiting more

 

Vesterbro: Located just outside the city center, this is another hip neighborhood home to good coffee and fun areas such as Kødbyen, also known as the Meatpacking District. A lot of the restaurants in this district are unique in that they still have the same tile and layout from when they used to be butcher shops. This is both a great place for enjoying lively bars at night and delicious eats during the day

 

City Center: Although quite touristy, the picturesque Nyhavn canal is located here and really is a beautiful sight. In-between the crowds on busy shopping street, Strøget, many gems can be found including ceramic shops, great coffee, and design studios. Near by is one of the most beautiful cafe's we visited, Atelier September, on Gothersgade street (see below)

 

C O F F E E 

 

The Coffee Collective: Multiple locations 

 

These people know coffee. Each location's design is unique and the pastries are delicious too. A must-try in Copenhagen 

 

Original Coffee: Multiple locations 

 

With four locations, it's easy to enjoy this locally roasted coffee while cozied outside with one of the wool blankets they provide

 

Mirabelle: Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Located in my favorite Nørrebro, Mirabelle is the cafe-esque sister restaurant to Relæ, Manfreds, and Bæst - honestly all of my favorite eateries in this city. These were handsdown the best pastries I had and the coffee is amazing too. And the bread. Ohh the bread is worth the visit alone. Most likely a place you'll return to over and over

 

Prolog Coffee Bar: Høkerboderne 16, 1712 København V, Denmark

 

Located in the Meatpacking District, this bright space was packed with locals and had the most beautiful croissants I have ever seen staring me in the face while sitting out on the counter. They were sold out before I could order so I'm making it a point to try one next time I return

 

Rist Kaffebar: Værnedamsvej 4B, 1619 København V, Denmark

 

Not too far from Prolog (see above), this cozy little space has great coffee and kind baristas

 

Atelier September: Gothersgade 30, 1123 København K, Denmark

 

Located on a great street for shopping and eats, the interior of this cafe is stunning. The food is also light, traditional, and made with whole ingredients. There was a beautiful pop-up shop in the back when I was here as well

 

Buzz Kaffebar: Sankt Peders Stræde 31, 1453 København K, Denmark

 

If you're looking for an escape from busy shopping street, Strøget, head off the beaten path to this cozy space

 

Arrebro: Midgårdsgade 1, pa hjørnet, København K, Denmark

 

I found this cafe when biking through Nørrebro and it doesn't come up with a google search. It's directly next to Superkilen Park (see below) and such a beautiful space. I enjoyed an Americano with a caramelized "Kyoto style" grapefruit. We left very happy 

 

The Coffee Collective

The Coffee Collective

The Coffee Collective

Original Coffee

Mirabelle

Mirabelle

Mirabelle

Mirabelle

Atelier September

Atelier September

Atelier September

Atelier September

Buzz Kaffebar

Buzz Kaffebar

Arrebro

Arrebro

Arrebro 

Arrebro

S H O P  L O C A L

 

Stilleben: Niels Hemmingsens Gade 3, 1153 København K, Denmark

 

Danish for "Still Life", this was one of my favorite shops in the city due to its beautiful collection of prints, tiles, ceramics, and plants. Directly across from the fun, indoor market Torvehallerne (see "attractions")

 

Boii Studios: Nørrebrogade 14, 2200 København K, Denmark

 

A colorful little shop at the edge of Nørrebro with beautiful kimonos and ceramics

 

Urban Room No. 11: Guldbergsgade 11, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Not far from Boii Studios (see above), this curated space is filled with home accessories, sustainable clothing, and cool prints

 

Tortus Copenhagen: Kompagnistræde 23, 1208 København K, Denmark

 

Handmade ceramics in the heart of the city 

 

Høj Copenhagen: Jægersborggade 53, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Located on my favorite street, this tiny shop was filled with unique home decor and accessories such as candlesticks and cutting boards

 

Studio Arhoj: Kigkurren 8M, 2300 København S, Denmark

 

Although I wasn't able to make it to their studio, these ceramics can be found throughout most of the concept stores in Copenhagen and beyond. Their designs are so unique and I ended up packing two little cups away into my suitcase

 

Create Your Own Identity: Møllegade 18 KL, 2200 København S, Denmark

 

An easy to miss shop that we happened upon while wandering through Nørrebro. With a vintage-feel, this space is filled with unique clothes, vintage lights / singer sewing machines, and handcrafted accessories. No photos allowed and worth searching for 

 

Keramiker Inge Vincents: Jægersborggade 27, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

These ceramics are unique in that they are so paper-thin that even the shopkeepers aren't sure how the maker creates them. A lovely gift as tea-lights shine brightly through them. I recommend having it shipped

 

Res Res: Guldbergsgade 29C, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Short for "respect for resources", that's exactly what this shop does. Conrad and I had a 45 minute conversation with the passionate owner about his views on Denmark's sustainability practices, the reasons he opened his shop, and their government system. Intense and eye-opening. His space is conveniently located next to Bæst and Mirabelle (see "Eat Local"). I definitely recommend stopping by for a chat on your way to a delicious bite

 

Paper Collective: Kompagnistræde 29, 1208 København K, Denmark

 

Unique poster store with prints of all sizes in the heart of the city

 

Project 4: Larsbjørnsstræde 19, 1454 København K, Denmark

 

Not too far from Paper Collective (see above), this shop carried a host of limited quantity clothing and accessories 

 

Hay House: Østergade 61, 1100 København K, Denmark

 

Gorgeous furniture and homegoods store with a great view of Amager Square

 

VAERKstedet: Jægersborggade 49, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

A millennial pink art and ceramics gallery, need I say more?

 

Stilleben

Stilleben

 

Stilleben

Boii Studios

Boii Studios

Urban Room No. 11

Urban Room No. 11

Tortus Copenhagen

Tortus Copenhagen

Keramiker Inge Vincents

Keramiker Inge Vincents

Keramiker Inge Vincents

Keramiker Inge Vincents

Keramiker Inge Vincents

Paper Collective

Paper Collective

Paper Collective

Project 4

Project 4

VAERKstedet

VAERKstedet 

E A T  L O C A L

 

Relæ: Jægersborggade 41, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Manfreds: Jægersborggade 40, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Mirabelle: Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Bæst: Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N, Denmark (directly next to Mirabelle)

 

BRUS: Guldbergsgade 29, 2200 København N, Denmark (directly across from Mirabelle)

 

Grød: Jægersborggade 50, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Mother: Høkerboderne 9, 1712 København V, Denmark

 

Höst: Nørre Farimagsgade 41, 1364 København K, Denmark

 

Osteria 16: Haderslevgade 16, 1671 København V, Denmark

 

Relæ

Relæ

Relæ

Mother

Mother

H A N G  L O C A L

 

Superkilen: Nørrebrogade 210, 2200 København N, Denmark

 

Created to celebrate diversity, this uniquely painted park is an experience to bike through

 

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden: Øster Farimagsgade 2C, 1353 København K, Denmark

 

This free indoor/outdoor garden is one of my favorite places in the city

 

Møns Klint: 4791 Borre, Denmark

 

Unfortunately Conrad and I weren't able to make it outside of the city for this, but a quick Google image search will show you why we had these chalk cliffs on our list. A must for us next time we visit!

 

Torvehallerne: Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K, Denmark

 

Located at Nørreport Station, this indoor/outdoor market was convenient for picking up local produce, meat, and cheese for dinner in our Airbnb. There are also several food stalls to enjoy a drink or meal and a conveniently located Coffee Collective as well 

 

Postbox Market: Bernstorffsgade 34, 1577 Kbh V København K, Denmark

 

Located outside of the Tivoli Gardens, we passed some signs pointing toward this market and decided to follow. Recently opened, it's made up of shipping containers containing pop-up shops, food, and creative workshops

 

Magstræde

 

A beautiful street worth stopping to stare at

 

Nyhavn

 

Originally a commercial port, Nyhavn is most likely the image that comes to mind when you think of Copenhagen. I don't recommend eating or shopping here, but it's worth dealing with the crowds to take in that view

 

Freetown Christiania

 

This area of the city is definitely not for everyone, but was extremely eye-opening to witness. Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district made up of art galleries, underground music venues, and vegan eateries. I unexpectedly felt quite safe and accepted here and enjoyed seeing so many people from different walks of life in one space. No cameras are allowed, believe me - I witnessed someone being reprimanded for it

 

Danish Museum of Art & Design: Bredgade 68, 1260 København, Denmark

 

This museum walks you through the history of the Dane's eye for design. It is free to enter and the cafe located inside is great for lunch

 

Kodbyens Mad & Marked: Flæsketorvet 1, 1711 København V, Denmark

 

A lovely little food market that takes place April to October in the Meatpacking District

 

Superkilen

Superkilen

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden

Magstræde

S T A Y  L O C A L

 

You can find the link to our lovely and affordable Airbnb here. If you've never booked one before, be sure to use my code for $40 towards your first trip!

 

Our Airbnb 

Our Airbnb 

Our Airbnb

 

This city is magic. Enjoy!

 

Xx, 

Liz

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