A local guide to Copenhagen
Before moving to Australia, I called Copenhagen home for almost 9 years. I used to live in the charming neighbourhood of Christianshavn just next to the canals, but since I started coming back as a visitor I have been staying with my lovely friend Mette, in her stylish and hyggelige* (a special Danish type of cozyness) apartment in Vesterbro. This means I’ve been fortunate enough to see my hometown from a new perspective, and I have to say, exploring the city as a (local) visitor isn’t too bad at all.
I’ve been back once a year since I moved to Australia, and it’s interesting to see how much the city changes each time. I love Copenhagen and would recommend everyone who hasn’t been there yet, to hurry up and book that ticket! Nominated as the happiest country in the world several times and with more bikes than cars on the streets, this culturally rich and super livable city of only 1.2 million residents is something special.
Here are my top 25 places to eat, drink and explore in the Danish Capital. There is a lot to do and so many amazing places to eat in Copenhagen. Keeping this list to "only" 25 tips wasn't easy, but I hope it gives you an idea of all the good things the city has to offer.
Please also feel free to download my printable Copenhagen city guide below.
COFFEE & BREAKFAST
1. Sweet Treat
For a good cup of coffee go to Sweet Treat at Christianshavn. Take a seat on the bench outside, enjoy the sun and watch people passing by. They also serve smoothies, breakfast and smørrebrød* (rye bread with different toppings) for lunch.
The best bakery in Copenhagen! Everytime I go back, I get off at Christianshavn Metro Station first thing after arriving at the airport, to get a traditional Danish cinnamon roll at Lagkagehuset (warning: they are quite addictive!). If it’s a nice day, I bring it down to the canals and sit on the benches by the water.
At the the bustling Torvehallerne, a big food court next to Nørreport Station, you can buy fresh produce and order delicious take away from one of the many diverse food stalls. The Mexican food truck is really good, and you’ll find some of the best coffee in town at Coffee Collective busy coffee bar.
Enjoy a lovely breakfast at the 1930’s inspired and beautiful decorated cafe Granola located in the neighbourhood of Frederiksberg. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out some of the great shops such as Aesop, Play Type and Dora on the same street, Værnedamsvej.
5. Café Det Vide Hus
I used to work in a shared office space (Kopenhagen Collective) just next to Café Det Vide Hus, and would come here almost everyday for a cup of coffee. Located just across the street from Rosenborg Castle and King’s Gardens, it’s an ideal pit stop before you go exploring. The owner Claus makes the best homemade icecreams, so if you’re around during summertime, don’t miss out. By the way, did I mention this is also René Redzepi of Noma’s local coffee bar?!
6. Enghave Kaffe
After staying in Vesterbro the last two years I’ve been back to Copenhagen, Enghave Kaffe at Enghave Plads has become my new favourite. Enghave Kaffe is a super “hyggelig” specialty coffee bar. The room is full of firewood (for those cold Scandinavian winters..) and the walls are painted in a warm blue colour that makes you feel like you’re sitting inside a cabin. If you haven’t had your breakfast, I recommend you try a piece of rye bread with cheese and a boiled egg on the side, Danish style.
7. Copenhagen Street Food
Copenhagen Street Food is a huge food court located at The Paper Island. It's full of different kind of street food from all over the world. Try an organic gourmet hot dogs from Pølse Kompagniet. Go here on a weekday as it gets very busy on the weekends.
8. Atelier September
This café is a very popular breakfast and lunch spot for the hip copenhageners. Atelier September is located right in the city centre on top of a gallery. The interior is minimalistic and the atmosphere is relaxed. Try their famous and tasty “avokadomad” (avocado on rye bread).
9. Café Dyrhaven
One of my favourite places to go for a traditional Danish lunch is Café Dyrhaven at Vesterbro. I love sitting outside, and watching the street style of local people biking by. They serve really delicious “Smørrebrød” and have a great selection of local craft beers. Try one of the unique varieties from the local favourite Mikkeller brewery.
10. Osteria 16
At Osteria 16 you can get some simple and tasty Italian antipasto. The menu consists of 8 antipasto plates at a price of 250 DKR. The restaurant is tiny, and makes you feel like you are in southern Europe. There’s always a great atmosphere so it’s a perfect place for a night out with good friends.
The lively and fashionable Restaurant Geist focuses on Nordic cuisine and the dishes are made to be shared. The best seats are at the bar where you can watch the busy chefs prepare the meals. Be sure to call and make a reservation in advance.
12. The Standard
The Standard is located in a newly restored Art Deco building right next to the harbour. The two restaurants, Studio and Almanak, serves classic Danish dishes and new Nordic food. At night the jazz bar comes to life with live performances which always gets a few people dancing.
If you haven’t tried the traditional Danish Smørrebrød (open sandwiches) yet, Restaurant Aamanns is the place to go. It’s top quality and a little more expensive, but definitely worth every kroner.
14. Kødbyens Fiskebar
Kødbyens Fiskebar serves a combination of fresh fish and colourful cocktails that go exceptionally well together. The bar is located in the Meatpacking District, which turns into a great place go for a night out after dark.
15. Restaurant Taller
This progressive fine dining restaurant Taller is run by two good friends and former Noma chef’s, Karlos and Lois. They experiment with plates inspired by the chef’s home country, Venezuella. You can choose between several sizes of set menus. We went with a delicious 7 course dinner which (surprisingly) included ants for dessert.
16. Bistro Pastis
Probably the best French bistro in town if you ask me. Everytime I eat at Pastis, I always order Moules Frites. Try to get a seat outside if it’s a warm night.
17. Ved Stranden 10
After a day of shopping, sightseeing or working, you deserve a glass of wine! One of my favourite wine and tapas bars, Ved Stranden 10, is located right next to the canal and across from the Parliament Building. There’s no wine menu, but ask one of the expert waiters, they’ll know exactly what you’re after.
18. Mikkeller Bar
Have you ever tried a chocolate and chilli beer? The Mikkeller team is always experimenting with varieties and have a selection of over 40 different beers from their own microbrewery. The internationally acclaimed, Copenhagen based beer company is very popular with locals and they have now opened several bars around the city. I prefer the atmosphere and interior of Mikkeller & Friends located at Stefansgade (street) in Nørrebro.
19. Copenhagen by bike
Copenhagen is a bike city, so the first thing you should do when you arrive, is to rent or borrow a bike while you’re in town. It’s the easiest way to get around and the best way to explore one of the world’s only cities made for bikes.
Take a cultural day trip to Louisiana Museum north of Copenhagen. It takes about an hour to get there on a train from Central Station. The museum itself boasts stunning architecture and hosts high profile modern and classic exhibitions with an international focus, all year round. Have your lunch at the café with a beautiful panoramic ocean view.
21. The King’s Garden
A beautiful expansive lawn garden just next to Rosenborg Castle and the Botanical Gardens. Perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. Park your bike on the grass and enjoy a cold Mikkeller beer and some strawberries from the local sellers at the gates.
Go for a walk through the old hippie freetown of Christiania and spot the creative houses around the lake. Try to avoid walking on Pusher Street, as it attracts a few shady types (as the name implies). Instead head down to the water and check out some of the amazing creative houses along the walking path.
23. Canal Tours
Take a guided tour on the Canals with Nettobådene. The best way to see the major tourist attractions such as the “The Little Mermaid”, The Opera House and Amalienborg Castle.
24. Amalienborg Castle
Whether you're a royalist or not, Amalienborg Castle where Crown Prince Frederik & Australian born Princess Mary live, is a must see. The castle and its surrounding location is a beautiful example of old Copenhagen at its finest.
25. Designmuseum Danmark
Get a closer look into all the internationally renowned design Denmark has produced over the years at Designmuseum Denmark. You will get to know the story behind some of the most famous Scandinavian furniture designers, Industrial artists, and architects among others. Don’t forget to check out the great selection of danish design at the museum shop and take a moment to rest in the beautiful courtyard, ‘Grønnegården’, where you can sit and enjoy an afternoon tea afterwards.
We flew with Thai Airways from Sydney to Copenhagen with one stopover in Bangkok. The trip took about 21 hours and the return tickets was AU$1400 (7.000 DKR) on sale via STA Travel. We booked the tickets in May, 3 months before our trip.