Do you ever visit a new place for the first time and immediately get the feeling that you'd be willing to uproot your entire life to move there? That's how I felt when I visited Copenhagen. There is a perennial relaxed vibe in the air that you can't help but give in to, even as a New Yorker. The streets are lined with a unique mix of Baroque, Rococo & Renaissance architecture alongside striking contemporary buildings, with picturesque waterways & cobblestone streets abound. A place rich in design, fashion and Michelin starred restaurants, it's no surprise Danes are consistently ranked among the happiest people in the world.
I am a big fan of Airbnb when I travel, especially if it is for more than a couple of nights. My friends and I spent a week in this gorgeous flat in Frederiksberg. Easily accessible to the city center (about 20 minutes by foot, or 2 minutes by metro), Frederiksberg is far enough away from the tourist center that you have a quiet neighborhood feel with tree lined streets and cozy café's galore.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Louisiana is hands down my favorite museum I've ever visited. Take a scenic 25-mile train ride up the coast, and you'll find yourself at one of the leading international museums of modern art. Boasting a distinguished art collection with over 3,500 works and a truly enchanting sculpture park, set aside a full afternoon to take it all in. With panoramic views of Sweden across the Sound, grab a glass of wine, sit beneath a Calder sculpture, and wonder yet again why you don't just up and move here.
Opulent is the best word to describe Rosenborg Castle. A 400-year-old renaissance castle in the heart of the city, Rosenborg was built by Christian IV as a summer house. It is now home to the Danish Crown Jewels, royal portraits, and the most stunning collection of Venetian glass I've ever seen.
You don't have to go on any rides to enjoy Tivoli, the world's second oldest amusement park. A source of inspiration for Walt Disney when creating Disneyland, Tivoli is filled with gardens, live music, boat rides, and restaurants. We visited in the summertime, when the flowers were in full bloom and there were thousands of sparkling lamps illuminating the park at night. Grab dinner in the park at Gemyse, a plant-filled oasis serving vegetable-centric dishes. If they have the fire pits lit in the garden, be sure to ask about roasting some of their homemade marshmallows outside after dinner!
Despite being a cemetery, Assistens is a unique oasis in the city. Doubling as a public park, you will find locals jogging, relaxing, and reading among the cemetery's lush green lawns. While many notable Danes are buried here, be on the lookout for the tombstone of a "time traveler" from the future, dated 2064. Stroll around the Nørrebro neighborhood afterwards, walking down Jægersborggade and stopping in The Coffee Collective, Grød for the best porridge (I know it sounds mundane, but seriously - just do it), and the dozens of cute shops along the way.
Nyhavn & Waterfront
You can do a canal tour by boat, but we had the most fun sitting on the piers relaxing and soaking up the sun. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, join the dozens of locals swimming in the harbor. Nyhavn's colorful 17th and 18th century townhouses are a must see, but we suggest taking the Inderhavnsbroen bridge over the harbor and grabbing a seat (and spritz!) outside at Nærvær. It's a safe distance from the commotion of Nyhavn, but has an amazing view of it from across the harbor.
EAT & DRINK
Located in the Nørrebro neighborhood, Brus is a stylish brewpub with a distinctively Scandinavian design that we found ourselves returning to during our trip. Located in an old iron factory, the space is bright and airy, filled with minimalist oak furniture and exposed brick walls. This is the ideal place to have a relaxed afternoon with friends and try some of the 30+ craft beers & cocktails on tap. It's also worth noting that they have a restaurant, shop, and tours of the brewery on site (as well as killer outdoor space for those long summer days!).
Hija de Sanchez
Often regarded as the best tacos outside of Mexico (and ranked as the best street food in Europe), ex-Noma pastry chef Rosio Sanchez opened this stall in the Torvehallerne market motivated by her desire to bring high-quality Mexican food to CPH. Everything is made from scratch here, including the tortillas (made from corn imported from Mexico), and they're serving up classic as well as inventive options, such as grilled cabbage, sautéed sweet peppers, matcha salsa and peanuts (pictured).
Set in the former Noma space on the waterfront, Barr is serving up what they're calling 'Northern Sea Cuisine' in a rustic, wood-clad space. Casual yet elegant, this is a splurge-worthy meal to experience the high end of local cuisine.
Situated on the waterfront in Refshaleøen, Reffen is more than your average street food market. Committed to sustainability and fostering small business development, Reffen is a melting pot with a variety of cuisines you won't find elsewhere in Copenhagen. Built up from old shipping containers and recycled materials, Reffen is an urban playground for cultural experiences, creative workshops, and live music.
If you only have time for one cocktail bar in Copenhagen, make it Ruby. Situated canal-side in an 18th century townhouse that is enviably decorated, the knowledgable and passionate staff at Ruby is mixing up the best cocktails in the city.
Conditori La Glace
You have to love a place whose motto is "Cakes and art and love each day make all troubles fade away." The oldest confectionary in Denmark dating back to 1870, La Glace is a bit hectic and touristy, but for good reason. Order a few different slices of cake to share.
While the original Apartment space was closed during our trip, the pop up space was surely just as swoon worthy. A showroom and design gallery unlike any other set in a stunning 18th century apartment, owner Tina Seidenfaden Busck effortlessly curates a shoppable space filled with a colorful mix of vintage decor and contemporary design. The Apartment is set up as a proper living space in the same building as Busck's family home, and is actually available to book if you really want to make yourself feel at home.
Chances are you've seen Studio Arhoj's colorful & quirky signature 'Ghosts' somewhere before. Their studio/shop in Islands Brygge is a must visit, especially if you are looking for unique gifts made right in Copenhagen. Watch Arhoj's ceramists and potters at work while you browse their range of ceramics, original artworks by Anders Arhoj, prints, home accessories, and special one-off pieces only available here.
Stocking the coolest up-and-coming designers and their own eponymous label, Wood Wood is one of the most influential brands on the European streetwear scene. Expertly combining high fashion, sports and streetwear with youth culture, art and music, be sure to check out whichever special collaboration they have going on at that time (past collaborators include Nike, LEGO, Adidas, Timberland, and more).
You will realize at some point during your visit to Copenhagen that you will want to get rid of everything in your apartment at home and replace it all with Danish furniture. When you realize that one Hans Wegner chair you've been swooning over costs the same as one month's rent, head on over to Hay House. This bright and airy design store, laid out like an apartment over two floors, is the epitome of unpretentious Danish cool and boasts more affordable pieces as well as great gifts.