A weekend in Copenhagen: where to stay, eat and explore
When you tell people you're doing a weekend in Copenhagen – you can fly with Ryanair, from (at the moment) €19.99 each way including taxes – the number one thing you'll get told is, "Copenhagen is very expensive." You'll be told this so often that it will, in fact, prove difficult to illicit any other, helpful information. Asking, "Have you been to Copenhagen – what's it like?" will result in one response: "Very expensive."
And guess what? They're right. A weekend in Copenhagen is, indeed, very expensive; a cup of coffee in a hipster coffee joint will set you back between €4 and €5 and, if two of you go for dinner and have drinks, you're unlikely to get change from €100. Don't be fooled, either; it's not just expensive on a European scale. I had originally thought that maybe it would be expensive in the way that Ireland is considered expensive. No: it's expensive in its own, special, exceptionally expensive way.
Look at it this way: weekends away are always going to be expensive. For me, they're slightly less expensive because I don't really drink (when I took this trip, I was kind of in between drinking and not drinking, so I had a few glasses of wine and a cocktail on one night) – so I like to feel smug when taking the money I could spend on alcohol, and spending it instead on, er, nick-nacks I don't need.
Let's move on, shall we?
Where to stay
Surprise, surprise; accommodation, especially at the weekend in Copenhagen is very expensive. We spent a few weeks researching options, before almost settling on the Generator Hostel (yep, the very same one we have in Smithfield). But a double room with an en suite was going to cost us handsomely, and when we finally made our minds up that we'd just bite the bullet and go for it... Well, the room was gone.
On to the next, so; we looked to AirBnB and found a deadly one-bedroom apartment on Jægersborggade in the Nørrebro district for a whole lot less than we'd have spent on a hotel. Unless I'm going on a sun holiday, I'll pretty much always go for AirBnB over a hotel; you'll get a super-cool centrally located apartment for way less than you'll pay for a stay in the Travelodge, and you don't have to suffer through bizarre Scandi breakfast. (Sorry, but it is bizarre.)
The apartment was perfect – really close to a whole load of bus routes, walking distance to the city centre and right next to the best bakery in the world ever (more on which later). I'll also be totally honest and admit that I love the voyeuristic side of AirBnB; I spent way too much time examining our host's living areas, trying to figure her out. Did she live alone? Was that her boyfriend on the fridge (or was it Paul Weller)? Did she really like 1980s fashion that much, or was she just a Danish hipster? I'll never know.
Where to eat
I'm sorry to say that we hadn't done a whole lot of research before heading to Copenhagen. We knew that Noma was the place to go – just like we knew that we'd never go there because (a) we hadn't booked two years ahead of time and (b) we were on a budget (at least, as far as one can be on a budget in Copenhagen).
So we did some Googling (another advantage of AirBnB: usually there's wi-fi), and settled on a few options that proved to be really good 'uns.
Right down the street from our apartment was Manfreds, a gorgeous restaurant that did a kind of a tasting menu, with wine pairings, for about €67 per person. You get seven different dishes, along with three glasses of wine. We sat in view of the chefs (see above), and as it was my friend's birthday, they brought over a little Danish flag and everyone wished her happy birthday, which was a cute touch.
Another Jægersborggade establishment is Meyers Bageri, a bakery that does those Danish specialities – the cinnamon bun. These are enormous, warm, soft, squidgy and sugary concoctions that are seriously worth a trip to Meyers; sometimes I think about them and almost start crying because I realise I won't get to eat another one for a long, long time.
We washed 'em down with coffee from The Coffee Collective, again on Jægersborggade. If you wander over that way, drop into The Donut Shop, too – on the same side as Meyers Bageri, they do some seriously good doughnuts. (I have yet to try Aungier Danger so can't compare... But I will know that joy soon, soon.)
Cocktails were imbibed in Neighbourhood, an organic pizza and cocktail joint on Istedgade. Clearly, we ate pizza too; I had pumpkin and chorizo, and my friend (a vegetarian) had the oranged fennel. They were incredible – so incredible that we forgot to photograph them (isn't that always the way?). The cocktails were also exceptionally good, and we even made some friends – though it seemed to be an authentic Danish joint, there was a fair mix of locals and tourists (it does come highly recommended).
Last, but by no means least, we brunched in the Laundromat Cafe on århusgade (I think; there are three locations in Copenhagen). Here's where I feel like a bit of a Luddite; I've eaten in the Laundromat Cafe before, when I visited Iceland. But I loved it and wanted to go back, which is why we ended up there on our Danish trip. We had the clean breakfast – granola, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, potatoes, pancakes, fruit, cheese.... It was amazing.
Where to explore
I'm a big advocate of taking a guided tour when in a foreign country; it's such a great way to get used to the area, figure out what's where, and get a taste of the local history. We took a free walking tour from the steps of the City Hall, and saw so much of the city that we would never have found for ourselves.
Things I would definitely recommend include:
- Freetown Christiania, a former hippie commune with shops, bars and houses that functions as a society within a society. Don't take pictures – when you get there, you'll see why.
- Renting a bike. There are loads of bike rental shops, and it's such a great way to get around the city. You'll cover way more ground, and get a great idea of how the city is laid out. Plus, y'know, when in Denmark...
- The Botanical Gardens, a huge park and garden complex in the city. It's gorgeous to just wander around in; you can buy coffee and snacks, sit on the grass, explore the Japanese gardens and various beautiful glasshouses.
- Popping into Moss Copenhagen, a kind of Selected Femme-style shop that does great separates and lovely jewellery.
- Leave room in your luggage for some interiors purchases! I'd only brought carry-on and I really regretted it; they don't call it Scandi style for nothing, and there were definitely a host of homewares bits that I wish I could've brought home!
A few more pics below – if you have any questions, ask away and, if you've been to Copenhagen and seen or done something I've missed out on please, do let me know!