Copenhagen seems to be a popular choice of city break for my friends recently, and I’ve had two close friends who have gone there in the last month.
Luckily, Ben and I had also booked a weekend away there – which happened to coincide with our anniversary! (N’awwww)
The flight to Copenhagen takes less than two hours, so we woke up early on Friday morning to travel there.
I had packed thermals and extra layers in preparation for the cold in Copenhagen, and when we arrived, it really was bitter!
We dropped our bags off at the hotel, and headed straight out towards the town centre. Our first culinary experience of Copenhagen wasn’t the most sophisticated – we ended up in some sort of fast food burger joint. It was quick and we were starving.
The tour led us around the south side of the town, and down to Christiania.
Christiania is a hippy commune on an island which is known for its history of criminal gangs and hard drugs, arty cafes, the invention of a tricycle bike with a cargo box on the front of it, and its ‘green light’ street where weed is legal.
The main street is called Pusher Street, and this is where all the weed action happens. There are three rules for this area: have fun, don’t run (because this causes panic that there is a police raid) and no photographs (obviously).
There are some quirky cafes in the area and some really groovy street art to see, so it’s a funky place to visit.
We were hungry again after all this city snooping, so we zipped across to a big street food market inside a warehouse. Edgy edgy. It reminded me of a bigger and more pricey version of Dinerama in Shoreditch.
Next we crossed back over the river to Nyhavn. We found an Irish pub (it wasn’t a hard job – they are everywhere!) and had a couple of drinks, and then both ordered lamb shanks and a dark larger in a restaurant nearby.
We went back into the centre of town to another Irish pub in one of the main squares. We had been told that today was J-Day, which is a celebration of the start of Christmas in Denmark. I later learnt that this is when Carlsberg employees drive around to bars and cafes singing a traditional Christmas brew song and handing out free beer.
But we didn’t really know this at the time so we were in for a surprise!
All was revealed at about 9pm, when a truck pulled up outside the pub and a crowd formed around it.
The doors at the back slowly opened to reveal people dressed in blue Santa outfits blowing whistles and banging instruments.
They danced through the crowd, handing out beers and spreading Christmas cheer to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’.
Inside the bar, they formed a conga line and danced about to Christmas songs, handing out even more beer and blue flashing Christmas hats! After a few different Christmas songs, they made their way back out to the truck, climbed in, and it slowly pulled away.
Ben and I were left dumbstruck about what had just happened, watching with a beer in each hand and flashing hats that had been placed on our heads! Then the bar continued playing Christmas hits for a bit… including the Christmas anthem: Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.
It was bizarre, but memorable – and really fun!
We woke up on Saturday with a bit of a hangover, but this was soon cured with a trip to Lagkagehuset Bakery.
The chocolate and cinnamon twist from this bakery was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was food from the gods.
We then covered the day’s cultural sightseeing by walking back over to Nyhavn. It was much more impressive during the daytime when we could see the colours on each of the buildings.
The Little Mermaid sculpture was commissioned by the brewer Carl Jacobsen as a gift to Copenhagen after he fell in love with the Little Mermaid character when watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale.
Making a pilgrimage to the bronze sculpture is one of the top things to do in Copenhagen – but I wouldn’t get your hopes up about it if you are visiting Denmark. It’s a nice sculpture, but you only need about 10 minutes to look at it to make the visit complete!
We had already done 10,000 steps by this time and it wasn’t even midday. So we decided to get extra culture points and join in with another walking tour.
This one focused on the centre of Copenhagen, its history, and what is noticeable about it today.
It ended in Torvehallerne, which another big market in Copenhagen. Where I compared Paper Island to Dinerama in Shoreditch, I thought that Torvehallerne had more in common with Borough Market.
It was covered (thankfully, because it was raining) and sold not only ready to eat food, but also had shops such as a butchers, a fishmongers, and a grocery.
We sat at stools on the side of a pizza place and shared a freshly prepared pizza with a thin and crispy base. Yum!
After this, we mooched back towards the main square and the shops, and had a look inside some of them. We went to HAY House, which is a shop showcasing a designer and manufacturer of contemporary furniture, accessories and rugs.
It was nice to have a look around, and the Danish minimalist approach to interior design and furniture gave us a few ideas to take home with us.
After all this walking it was time to find a cosy bar and order some Gløgg – the Danish version of mulled wine!
Saturday actually marked mine and Ben’s second anniversary. So in the evening we took each other out for a steak and a few drinks.
The Tivoli amusement park and pleasure garden is where Walt Disney found inspiration for Disney World – and it’s not difficult to see why.
It’s best to visit Tivoli at night time because everything is lit up. There are lights everywhere, so it’s quite a spectacle. The rides there don’t have the same wow factor as their Thorpe Park and Alton Towers counterparts, but the beautiful setting brings them to life.
Huset KBH is a hostel, music venue and board games bar that sells much cheaper drinks than anywhere else we went to. We went straight to Bastard Cafe, which is the board games bar.
There were stacks and stacks of board games to choose from and take one back to a table to play. Most of the games were unfamiliar (but all in English luckily!) We tried one out, which had far too many rules to learn whilst drinking at the same time, so we went back to the games wall and settled on Jenga.
It was really good fun – they need to start one up in London!
Sunday was our last day in Copenhagen. Boooooooo.
We started off by getting the bus from outside the hotel to the Jaegersborggade street area. Jaegersborggade is one of the hippest and most buzzing streets in Copenhagen. It is home to art galleries, organic produce shops, vintage clothing, wine bars, coffee shops and bakeries.
We made a beeline for Meyers Bakery, which is one of the best in Copenhagen. It is a small and cosy shop where there is just enough space to queue up to purchase a freshly baked pastries. There is also a porridge restaurant on the street called Grod, but it was too bonkers (or trendy) to lure Ben inside!
Next, we crossed the street to the Coffee Collective. In all honesty, if this hadn’t been recommended to us or marketed as having excellent coffee, it just looked like any other coffee shop. Coffee here is also quite expensive (around £6 a cup) and so after stepping inside for a nose around, we backtracked and went back to our favourite bakery: Lagkagehuset.
A stones throw from Jaegersborggade lies a beautiful cemetery. We learnt that the Danish enjoy multi-functioning spaces, and Assistens Cemetery is a good example of this. There are graves, but the area is also used as a park.
There were lots of dog walkers there when we visited, and in the summer people are known to chill out on the grass, sunbathe and picnic amongst the headstones!
Our final destination of the weekend was back to Paper Island for some street food. Ben and I both settled on pulled duck burgers in brioche buns and had a pint each. And then it was time to go!
Copenhagen is a delightful city to spend a weekend exploring, and the cold and rain didn’t stop us from doing anything. There is a good mix of history, culture, and quirky modern things to do such as getting street food or finding a niche bar. It is an expensive city, but it didn’t leave us feeling poor, as we left having eaten great food, trying new experiences and taking wonderful memories with us. And the randomness of J-Day was a bonus!