If a city could feel both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time to me, it would be Copenhagen. I know the city so well from so much time spent there yet I’ve despite all the connections, I’ve never lived there. And while I run a site called, Hygge House, and am half-Danish, truthfully, there’s a lot to Danish life and life in Copenhagen that still feels completely foreign to me. What makes sense? The cycling everywhere and in every day clothes (including dresses), coffee, candles, hygge, white walls, city parks, babies in prams, being able to walk everywhere, cosy weather. What doesn’t? Teak furniture, the food (although it’s getting better), the weather in winter, the cost of living, sometimes the attitudes (feels stuck). I know I both romanticize and am harsh on the city (and country) all at once.
This past trip was the most different one I’ve taken. Usually in the city with family and usually in a hotel, I instead rented an Airbnb in the Vesterboro neighbourhood. It’s an area I wasn’t very familiar with, and instead of a few days I had a week. I also went with someone who had never been to Copenhagen but was also working in the city, so it was really interesting to see their point of view and see Copenhagen in fresher ways. I also met up with friends who were starting new businesses (that make literally hygge candles!) or were in school so again, different points of view were heard and seen. I also spent a lot of time by myself just walking the streets and having coffee like a verb. So while I don’t think I could move to Copenhagen, I think I fell for it more than I ever have and even felt like I was even just a little bit at home.
Below was my sweet Airbnb rental in the charming Vesterboro neighbourhood. It was a charming place if you don’t mind stairs or a cramped bathroom but it gives you a really good understanding of what it’d be like to live in a little flat in Copenhagen. It’s up a lot of stairs without a lift so if that’s an issue or is having a small washroom with no tub, then this might not be the best fit. But for what I needed during this week, it was perfect and oh so charming. White floors are my new thing!
I feel almost embarrassed to admit this but I had never been to the Botanical Gardens before. And walking over to Rosenborg Castle I took a detour and just found them. Absolutely worth a stroll and even a picnic if you have the time. Trails, museums, and just a beautiful park in the middle of the city to get some quiet if you need it.
I’d also never been in Rosenborg Castle before but because it was a rainy and cold morning, I decided it was a good place to spend a few hours. For a summer residence, it was very dark and slightly depressing but the details of all the pieces had me. My favourite? The birdcage clock followed closely by a chair from the 1700’s. The stories they could tell.
The Rundetårn (Round Tower) was something I’d passed by a million times but had never been in. Built in 17th-century by King Christian IV, it was built as an astronomical observatory and still remains that although there’s also a museum and the observatory at the top is more to look over the city than at the stars. It’s a great walk up for your legs but the reward is a beautiful view of the city.
Another thing I hadn’t done? A canal trip. I’d always thought they were for tourists but the sun was shining and the water looked so inviting and a boat was leaving in 10minutes…. Seeing Copenhagen from the water is a must – tourist or local.
Seeing Danish design change is really interesting. Some of the homes below are of course, newer. What I do love about Danish design is they don’t waste space or light. And they live in their spaces – especially outdoor ones even in winter.
Frankly, Danish food has never been my thing. It’s most likely why I was a skinny, sickly child. I stressed my poor mother by refusing to eat almost every meal. (I feel bad for this now because I refused beets forever and now they’re a staple. Sorry, mum!). Eating in Denmark on past trips has been challenging, second only to France, because I have Celiac and can’t eat gluten. When a country loves its rye bread and pub food, it can be hard to find something to eat. After a lot of research, I realized that eating at higher end places was unfortunately the best bet outside of breakfast. I discovered BioMio and loved their organic, local food so much I ate there 3 times. Despite the fact they said they understood gluten-free food, I had a mix up twice (one burger came with a bun and one salad came with croutons) but they happily fixed this. Loved the vibe, the drinks and the location. If you’re in Copenhagen, it’s worth a visit. (Another place I ate at 3 times but didn’t take a photo was Granola. Had breakfast and lunch here and absolutely loved both the food, the street it’s on and the vibe).
Noma, Noma, Noma. It’s one of Copenhagens top restaurants and I’ve been there once before. Truthfully, it was just OK. So don’t feel bad if you can’t get in (the waitlist is about 3 months). Instead, go to Host.
In all the restaurants I’ve ever been, this might be one of my all-time favourites. At least in the top 5. Host is the definition of hygge – cosy, charming, simple, beautiful, warm. And the food? Incredible. I lingered here for about 3hrs and never felt rushed. Oh, how I love that about European eating.
This trip, I discovered a lot more tucked away cafes. The pub on the right has an entrance off Vestobrogade that looks like a drive way. If friends hadn’t told me about it, I wouldn’t have discovered it. Walking down you come through a gate and see a courtyard lit up with a busy outdoor and indoor space. Pubs are even hygge here.
Evenings in Copenhagen is really when the hygge comes out; candles are everywhere from tabletops to windows to even just on the street. Cafe’s take on a certain charm, there’s a relaxed but energized vibe, and some places look totally different than they did when the sun was out.
I’ve pinned my favourites places both new and old on my Travel Denmark Pinterest Board if you’re looking for either more Copenhagen recommendations or Denmark in general. And if you discover something, I’d love to hear in a comment below.