Copenhagen: Where to eat like a local and drink like a Dane
Fancy a weekend away in Saga Noren's hometown? Don't miss the Tivoli Gardens' retro rides, crazy liquorice and that bridge...
With its sparkling waterways, serene cyclists and lively streets, Copenhagen is often voted the world’s most “liveable” city – but you don’t need to settle there to see the appeal.
The Danish capital is the ideal city break for lovers of food, history, culture and design – and fans of the hit Scandi-noir drama The Bridge, which is set in the Danish capital and the Swedish city of Malmo, linked by the stunning Oresund Bridge.
Here’s our quick tour of Copenhagen’s many highlights to whet your appetite…
High culture — and wild rides
The Christiansborg Palace is home to the Danish Supreme Court, parliament and the administrative offices of the royal family, and it’s where politician Birgitte Nyborg spent her days in the political drama Borgen. Take the lift up to the top of the palace, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Sweden.
Back at ground level, a guided canal tour is a relaxing way to spot the Opera House, the old canal district of Christianshavn and the Little Mermaid statue.
And on dry land, whether you like rollercoasters or not, amusement park Tivoli Gardens is enchanting, full of exotic plants, shimmering pavilions and open-air music, right in the centre of Copenhagen.
A 25-minute train ride outside the city is the impressive Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, with over 3,000 works of art, a sculpture park and beautiful sea views.
Eat like a local…
Try classic Danish rye bread sandwiches, or smorrebrod, topped with herrings and salt beef at café Din Nye Ven (Your New Friend) in central Copenhagen. Gemyse, at the Nimb Hotel in Tivoli Gardens, serves delicious organic food that is grown in the restaurant gardens and in a sustainable farm in North Sealand, the area north of the city.
Visit the buzzing Latin quarter and enjoy modern Danish food and good wine at the beautifully designed Vakst, or a cosy meal at the unfussy but tasty Madklubben Vesterbro. Denmark’s first street food market, Paper Island, closed last year but has reopened under the name Reffen in a new, larger area by the waterfront, with 50 food stalls selling local and international food.
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…and drink like a Dane
The laid-back Brus is great for local beers and cocktails, or try the swish Balthazar Champagne Bar for something more luxurious. Musen Og Elefanten is a cosy old pub with a cigar lounge upstairs, and beer enthusiasts will enjoy Mikkeller, a relaxed bar in minimalist Danish style, serving high-quality craft beer.
Don’t lose sleep
The Andersen Hotel, First Hotel Mayfair, Nimb Hotel and the Nyhavn Hotel are all stylish and comfortable. Steel House is also a good option; it’s a beautifully designed new hostel near Central Station, with shared and private rooms in the former headquarters of the Danish Metalworkers’ Union.
Ceramics — and liquorice
Almost every household in Denmark has Royal Copenhagen’s delicate blue-and-white porcelain mugs – its flagship store is in the centre of the city. You can buy modern Danish kitchen items, rugs, ceramics and furniture all over Copenhagen, in stylish shops including Stilleben, Hay, Normann and department store Illums Bolighus.
The Danes are infatuated with liquorice (lakrids), which you can buy in all supermarkets. It’s often salty rather than sweet and distinctly different from British liquorice.
Cross the bridge — and see Sweden, too
It’s easy to see some of Sweden by travelling across the Oresund Bridge, which connects Copenhagen to Malmo – not only are the views beautiful, it’s the real bridge at the heart of The Bridge, so surely crossing it is a rite of passage for fans of the show.
A train leaves every ten minutes from the central train station and takes 35 minutes to reach Malmo, at a cost of the equivalent of around £11. If you choose to drive, the toll fee for a car is 50 euros each way.
WHY GO NOW?
From 7 May to 23 September, see the Welcome Home exhibition – about Danish homes and the way Danes live – at the Danish Architecture Centre, which has just moved to the new urban BLOX building on the harbour front.
The Copenhagen Cooking and Food Festival runs from 24 August to 2 September, with events across the city celebrating its world-class reputation for food. It’s also worth visiting the gleaming new restaurants and hotels that have opened just inside Tivoli Gardens, in celebration of its 175th anniversary this year.
The Bridge is on Fridays, BBC2, 9pm