Saturday, 6 June 2015

Explore: Copenhagen | The Small Desk

Christianshavn

Walking to Vesterbro

Walking to Vesterbro

Christianshavn

I first visited Copenhagen in 2013. I loved it so much that I went back in May of this year. The easiest way to travel from the airport to the city is to go by train. It only takes about 15 minutes. When you leave the train and enter the central station the first thing that hits you is the smell of cinnamon; the Danes are obsessed with their cinnamon buns. The next thing that hits you is that this city is a little grittier than the holiday brochures depict. The most common photo you see of Copenhagen is of Nyhavn: those yellow, orange and red town houses standing proudly against the canal. Nyhavn is one of the busiest streets for standard pubs and average restaurants. Don't get me wrong, it is really pretty, but it is only one street, and you can only walk down it for about five minutes until you get to the end. There is a lot more of Copenhagen to see.

Copenhagen is known for being one of the most stylish cities on Earth, and trust me, it really is. When you walk down the street in your tourist get-up, you realise that perhaps you should have remembered that this is one of the most stylish, if not the most stylish city in the world. The majority of people walking down the street, going about their everyday business, look as though they have just left a photo shoot by Cereal magazine! No-one wears much colour, black and white is everything, and God help you if you think wearing a cycle helmet is socially acceptable. I might add there that their roads are much safer for cycling on than in London, they actually have raised and distinctly separate cycle lanes!

This post details what I think are the best areas to eat in Copenhagen, where to shop away from the tourists, where to stay that isn't a Radisson, where to get some air and what to avoid! Hopefully this post should give you a slightly different flavour of Copenhagen compared to the standard guide book version.


1. EAT
Whenever I travel to a Scandinavian country I worry about the food. I worry because I am a pescatarian, and a fussy pescatarian at that. I'll pass on the pickled herring thanks! These countries like their meat, and it's not just your standard meat either, it's reindeer and moose! I have to say though, they do understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian, which is something that can't be said for a lot of restaurants, even in the UK.

My favourite place to eat, which we actually went to twice in the space of two weeks, was PS Bar and Grill. It had this soy and ginger-glazed salmon that was heavenly! We also wandered around the Vesterbro area where there are A LOT of really nice places to eat, including Simple Raw, which is dairy and gluten-free. I have written a whole post on Copenhagen Eats, so please check that out for a longer list of places to eat.

2. SHOP
My favourite thing to shop for is homeware. I love going to shops that sell cushions, beautiful prints, and ceramics. Therefore the street that I am going to advise is best for shopping, is actually best for homeware shopping, and that is Læderstræde. Here they have a shop called Grønlykkethat sells beautifully made retro print cushion covers, if you look at my Instagram you will see the ones I bought... think Liberty and Sanderson prints.

3. STAY
The 'hotel' we stayed in in May of this year, was Wakeup Copenhagen. This is not the hotel I am going to recommend, as it was noisey, the beds were uncomfortable and the toilet was only separated from the rest of the room by a thin frosted piece of glass! It is cheap and it is central, but not that near the train station. Andersen hotel, however, is the hotel we stayed in in 2013 and it was 100x better. It is only moments away from the train station, round the corner from Vesterbro and it has a wall separating the toilet from the rest of the room! It is beautifully decorated, very clean and the hotel staff are amazing. 

4. OUTDOOR
My favourite area to walk around in Copenhagen is the green space around Kastellet. According to Wikipedia, it is 'one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe'. Once you've walked around the green area you can explore the buildings there and subsequently walk towards the sea. You can then walk along the sea, see The Little Mermaid statue (good place for public loos), and carry on wandering all the way to Nyhavn. Rosenborg Castle Gardens is also a beautiful spot to visit and spend time outdoors with a picnic or glass of wine in the evening.

5. BEYOND
If you're looking to spend more than a couple of nights in Copenhagen I strongly recommend getting the train from Copenhagen to Malmö. The train goes underneath the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. On a sunny day you get the most spectacular views of the sea on both sides and on a stormy day it is incredibly atmospheric. The train is pretty fast so it's hard to get a good photo!

6. WEIRD
If you're looking to do something a bit wacky, then I would advise Tivoli Gardens. It is essentially a theme park, but it's not anything like your traditional theme park, it's got a historical, 'oldy-woldy' vibe to it. When I went there in 2013 it was Halloween. They had some amazing displays as well as a little hut dedicated to One Direction! It's a bit of hodge-podge of little shops, rides and cafes, and in the centre of it is the most expensive hotel in Copenhagen. You have to pay an entry fee, but it is almost worth going in just for the experience. I wouldn't say it is amazing, but it is memorable...

AVOID
We went over to Christianshavn to see the famous 'Church of Our Saviour' spire, which is beautiful and something I would definitely recommend going to see, but once you've seen it, turn around and go back to the centre. We didn't and ended up wandering further into Christianshavns Vold. We saw a sign for a park and thought it would be nice to have a mooch around, but as soon as we walked in everyone turned around and looked at us as though we were intruders. I have never had that experience in a park before! It was full of pretty rough looking people and there was a strong smell of weed. We exited pretty quickly!

I later looked up this area and it is part of Christiania. Christiania is one of those places, where at first when you read about it you think: this sounds amazing! It is a tax-free settlement run by its own laws and is known for its crazy architecture (they have no architects). It was established in 1971 when a group of squatters took over an abandoned military area. There are about 1,000 people who live there permanently. If you go there you are advised not to take a mobile phone or camera with you as there have been attacks on tourists, and police say they do not have easy and free access to this area. I'd love to know if anyone has been here!

Please leave me any questions you have about Copenhagen in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them. Also, please leave additional recommendations!



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