If you know me or follow me, you’ll know that I’m queen of long weekends away – a short flight or drive to a cute hotel somewhere I’ve not been is all I need to refresh and reset entirely! My most recent escapade was to the city of Copenhagen in Denmark. My boyfriend was working out there the week previously, so I jetted off after work on Friday to join him. Copenhagen lends itself perfectly to long weekends away, because it is small, nearby and doesn’t contain 6 million tourist traps you feel obliged to see. It’s cute, friendly and oh so Instagram!
If you’re lazy and ‘just want the bloody recommendations’, scroll down to TL;DR 🙂
On Saturday we decided to walk half way across Copenhagen to Østerbro, located to the north of the city centre. It as a 45 minute walk (very doable if you’re looking to build an appetite!), and from the city centre could take you via a bunch of city parks and Torvehallerne, a cute market between the parks. We travelled via the botanic garden, which was a lovely tropical respite from the cold. It’s free to get in and if you like plants (who doesn’t?), it’s beautiful. In Østerbro we headed to Souls, a restaurant that was recommended to me by multiple people. It’s relatively new but is clearly doing well – apparently it’s absolutely packed all day everyday. After trying the food I could see why – it was absolutely incredible! The restaurant is plant based but doesn’t sell itself like that. It’s just really good food in a really lovely restaurant (aesthetic goals!). 10/10 would recommend. On our way back to the city centre we managed to miss the little mermaid statue (basically the main reason tourists visit Østerbro), which was slightly disappointing, but then again, apparently so is the statue. Instead, we headed to the Art museum for a little look around, and saw Rosenborg castle. I can imagine the gardens surrounding them would be lovely for picnics in summer, but as it was, it was a little too cold for a sit on the grass! After much walking we were super hungry for dinner, so after a visit to the hotel spa, we headed to a Thai restaurant called Baan Thai Isarn just around the corner from the hotel. I am SO happy we found it – I have to say it was the best thai food I’ve eaten since being in Thailand, and really generous portion sizes too!
We walked to Christianshavn via Nyhavn docks – pretty, quite touristy but well worth a visit. Christianshavn is located on lots of different islands, giving it quite a nautical feel. It was pretty much empty when we went there but there were some nice looking cafes – it looks like it might once have been pretty run down, but was kinda bohemian and gentrified in a lot of the areas. We found the Church of Our Saviour, which has a cool spiral spire. We went down to Christiania (recommended by some, told to avoid by others) and had a little wonder around. Christiania is the hippy ‘freetown’, where the inhabitants live free of the constraints of Danish government. Drugs are unofficially ‘allowed’ here, and it’s got a bit of a reputation as an unsafe place, but during the daytime it seemed fine! Lots of cool homemade houses, bicycles and greenery – would recommend a little visit if you’re passing by. After Christiania we went back city centre way (pilestræde), heading for lunch at 42 Raw. This restaurant has three stores around the city, but has a trendy independent vibe to it. It’s not cheap (but where is in Copenhagen?), and has some truly delicious vegan food, without being too hippy raw style. It doesn’t seem faddy, just has lots of great food and is filled with a ridiculous number of young, good-looking people! Again, would recommend if you’re looking for good healthy food, but don’t forget to book – this also gets incredibly busy (testament to how good it is). There are lots of places to eat around this area/Strøget (the main pedestrian shopping street) if you have a look around.
Vækst hosted us for dinner, and treated us each to a full set menu (we forwent our veganism for one night to try their vegetarian and fish menus), paired with a wine per course. I have to say, Michelin stars seem to mean nothing once you’ve been here – it was absolutely on par with the best restaurants I’ve been to, and the service was incredible too. Really friendly staff makes the difference between a stuck up restaurant and an excellent one. This was definitely the latter!
After a pretty large breakfast, Fiann and I headed to the north to fælledparken in Nørrebro, the largest park in Copenhagen. Apparently in the summer it’s super popular, but we only saw a few walkers in the cold! It’s very pretty regardless. We headed via the lakes back down to Grød (groed), a famous porridge bar in the Torvenhallern market we passed on the first day. It’s kind of like a more upmarket Spitalfield’s market (and much warmer as it’s in a glass building and heated). The porridge options were so good, and perfect after a cold walk! I was recommended Grød by just about everyone who has been here, so it was nice that it lived up to expectations.
Monday was a relaxed day – with the icy weather and large amount of porridge in our bellies, we didn’t fancy staying out for too long, so instead headed to the hotel for a spa afternoon, followed by a quick visit to the prohibition bar Ruby and then dinner in the room. Very conveniently there is the Tivoli food hall just around the corner from the restaurant. The food hall itself contains lots of different restaurants, but most of them didn’t serve vegan foods. One that did, however, was Gló, a new restaurant to Copenhagen that was founded in Iceland. We got takeaway ‘salads’ (huge bowls of deliciousness with added vegan ‘meat’ from oumph – if you haven’t tried this yet you really need to!).
As Tuesday was our last day we loaded up on the delicious breakfast buffet before heading out for a long walk to explore any unknown corners of Copenhagen. It turns out it’s really not that big – to get anywhere you want to go as a tourist it’s really only going to be 1h maximum to walk, although I can see why people cycle too. There are bike paths everywhere and unlike the other great cycling city, Bristol, it’s totally flat.
We ended up meeting my cousin for lunch at falafel factory, a small chain selling delicious falafel sandwiches and platters. My cousin, having previously lived in Edinburgh, was able to give us plenty of insight into what it was like to move to Copenhagen for an English person. She’s only been there for 6 months, but to be honest, all it took was 4 days for me to consider living there!
Souls – One of the most aesthetic restaurants, with a huge focus on sustainability and conscious eating. It has an Australian vibe (perhaps no surprising when you realise the owner is in fact Australian), mixed in with the classic Danish ‘hygge’. Not cheap, but full of flavour. It’s not just another ‘trendy vegan place’, it actually serves fantastic food.
Baan Thai Isarn – I knew nothing about this restaurant before heading out on the hunt for dinner, but I’m so glad I found it! It’s almost certainly not fully vegan, but we were able to find plenty of delicious vegetarian dishes. If you’re in the area, grab one of their red curries (basically a green curry but red). The portion sizes are big enough to have more for lunch the next day too!
42 Raw – This café has three stores around Copenhagen and seems to always be packed. It sells completely plant based foods, as well as catering to other intolerances too (dairy, coeliac). I loved the veggie burger, but also think their sandwiches are probably underrated – Fiann’s was incredible! Get the sweet potato fries with aioli.
Väkst – Whilst not completely vegetarian, Väkst bases all its dishes on local Nordic vegetables, meaning I was drawn to it straight away. Their evening menu is done in a way that I’ve only ever seen at Michelin starred restaurants. The flavours blend together amazingly, and the wine pairings are perfect! If you’re looking for somewhere a little special this is the place. Also note the incredible greenhouse and plants (read: v instagrammable).
Grød – Think porridge is boring? Think again. Grød is a porridge bar that provides delicious flavour combinations and ‘make your own’ porridge bowls. It also serves other breakfast dishes, such as chia pudding, as well as savoury risottos etc. If you need a good warming up, this is where it’s at.
Gló – The ethos of Gló is to allow busy people to find healthy, delicious meals on the go. It’s not totally vegetarian or vegan, but provides plenty of options for both, with the main emphasis on the vegetables of a meal. Try their Buddha bowls if you’re looking for something filling but light, or their wraps for on the go goodness.
Naturbageriet – This small and unassuming bakery is so adorable I wanted to take everything home. They sell traditional Danish and Nordic pastries but without dairy and/or gluten. It’s just really cute and the lady who runs it is so sweet. Remember to go before lunch so it’s not all sold out!
We stayed at Axel Guldsmeden, one of a chain of eco hotels dotted around the world. The main ethos is that they’re sustainable, providing bamboo toothbrushes, non-bleached bathrobes and even recycled loo paper. None of this detracts from the beauty of the place though, with it managing to feel like a fantastic boutique hotel, instead of a chain. The customer service is second to none (although I’m not sure if this is a Danish thing or specific to the hotel!), and we even got upgraded because our bathroom door handle fell off (the one issue we had during our stay). The rooms are like mini apartments, containing four-poster beds as well as a little sitting room and beautiful bathrooms that are unbelievably aesthetic. If you’re not interested in soulless hotels and want something a little different (but still upmarket), this is the place for you! Also check out their Manon les Suites hotel – it’s basically instagram in a hotel.
Little mermaid statue – diminutive and not even got a tail, but it is the most famous statue in Copenhagen (fun story: we walked all the way there, then forgot why we were there and ate brunch instead. Never actually saw the statue so we just googled it instead).
Nyhavn – canal docks with pretty cobbled streets, big wooden boats and colourful houses.
Strøget – A good shopping street, mostly pedestrianised
Parks – Kongenshave, Botaniskhave (botanical gardens), Øster anlæg and Fælledparken are all pretty and worth a visit!
Tivoli – one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Not that pretty but quite cool to imagine how terrified you’d be on all the rides.
Carlsberg brewery – not something I have much interest in visiting, but Denmark is the home of Carlsberg, so perhaps worth a visit!
Christiania – the ‘freetown’ where lots of the Danish laws don’t exist. Fun fact: you can’t buy a house there, you have to apply and then you might get accepted and given one. It’s strange but actually pretty cool. Go in daylight.
Torvehalle – a great market filled with stalls selling food and drinks.
Round tower, Rosenborg castle, Church of Our Saviour, Amalienborg (the queen’s winter residence).
Bye bye Copenhagen, we’ll be back!