Given that Copenhagen is one of the great design capitals of the world and that it’s only a 90 minute flight from London (or at least from London Luton) I’m frankly amazed that it’s taken me this long to make my first visit. Although to be honest it felt more like a pilgrimage. Everywhere we went I squealed in excitement at the sheer number of iconic pieces in the public domain… they have Poul Henningsen Artichoke lights in the duty free shop at the airport for heavens sake.
In a single day I ate breakfast sitting on a Hans Wegner Wishbone chair in our hotel, had coffee perched on a vintage Tolix, ate lunch sat on a Arne Jacobsen ant chair (peering under plates and inspecting flatware to confirm that our smörgåsbord was served on Ittalia plates) and ate a very fine Indian meal at Guru under Jo Hammerborg Orient PH1 lights, before finally going to sleep under Hay bedding.
Our visit mainly centred on the Indre By neighbourhood, the historic and political heart of the city. We stayed at the Ibsen hotel, a chic little place close to Nørreport station so the airport transfer was easy by train. Happily there was also a cosy cafe right opposite, Kalaset, open from breakfast until late for hearty home made meals. It was so so good we ate there three times. We occasionally took a bus but the city is so walkable it seemed a shame to miss out on the opportunity to stumble across the shops, churches and statues on our way. Cycling is another great way to get around, the plethora of hire shops and cycle paths making it an easy and cheap mode of transport.
For shopping, don’t miss Bredgade, a street with numerous antique shops as well as a large Carl Hansen & Søn store. My favourite was Danish Classics, a little basement shop full of affordable vintage Danish treasures. Towards the top end of the street sits the Danish Design Museum where we took in a Japanese design exhibition and the permanent display of the history of Danish design. Lunch in the museum café was the aforementioned smörgåsbord and after a wander along the waterfront, we returned to the street to stop in at Original Coffee for coffee and cakes. In the evening we dined in Nyhaven on the harbour overlooking the boats and quaint houses, the hardy Danish eat outside even in late October, under heat lamps and with blankets over their knees.
Danish Design Museum café; Tivoli Gardens; a coffee stop near Sortedams Sø
No visit to the city would be complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens, possibly the most tasteful amusement park in the world. There was no tat in sight, in fact, one of the first gift shops inside the gate is Georg Jensen! We enjoyed a tasty cup of gløgg with almonds to steel ourselves for a ride on the world’s oldest wooden rollercoaster. Visiting at dusk is perfect, especially when the gardens are decorated for Halloween, the lights being an attraction in themselves. Even if the rides aren’t your thing, go for the atmosphere, the shops and the excellent restaurants.
Sunday called for a bit more walking after all the eating we’d been doing. The Botanical Gardens have free entry and were stunning even in late October, with the spectacular foliage taking centre stage. Right next door is Rosenborg Castle, with grounds so beautiful you don’t necessarily have to set foot in the castle itself. The adjacent park is also worth a visit, here you can see a statue of Hans Christian Andersen and an incredible espaliered apple tree walk.
Bolia store and the Botanical Gardens
Right opposite one of the park gates sits Bolia, a store so simple and chic it makes you want to splurge all the money you’ve saved on having a free day out in the parks. I restrained myself and bought a metal tray and two candle holders (along with good design, candles are a basic Danish human right). We also strolled along the Sortedams Sø (lake) which is what all the locals do on a Sunday. Another pit stop for coffee and cake in the most beautiful café also landed us right opposite another tiny antiques shop where I emerged, triumphant, from their packed basement holding aloft a white Royal Copenhagen vase like a trophy. I also left with a 1930s bottle vase, the pair cost under 300kr (£30)
Forget anything you’ve heard about Copenhagen being prohibitively expensive. No, it’s not the cheapest city in the world, but we found prices comparable to London and the quality of the food was outstanding. If you’re travelling with EasyJet’s one bag restriction, pack light to make room for your treasures, I promise you’ll find it impossible to leave empty handed.
Return flights on EasyJet from London Luton, from £50 or from Gatwick with Norwegian from £51
Two night stay at the smart, friendly Ibsens hotel based on two people sharing, around £200, Booking.com have good deals
Anni writes the brilliant interiors blog for renters Nothin But The Rent
Follow her at @nbtr_