On our first full day in Copenhagen, we made a bee-line for coffee, hot chocolate, juice, and pastries at Lagkagehuset. It was a hectic scene. We took a number and when ours was called asked the woman behind the counter to pick out her four favorite pastries / the best pastries we needed to try. She gave a huge, genuine smile and thoughtfully started to select our pastries, pausing briefly between each one then handing us the bag. We responded with, “Tak!” which then elicited an even larger smile. Learning a couple words really does serve you well with the locals. The pastries she picked out were (essentially) kanelsnegle (cinnamon roll) done four different ways. One was more like a danish (maybe my least favorite, though still top-knotch) while others were more like traditional cinnamon rolls. They were all really good. I’m not sure if this place is a chain (I bet we saw at least 4-5 around the city), but it was quality with a great selection. In addition to pastries, they also had pizzas and sandwiches for purchase (we didn’t get those). One other interesting thing, I picked up an Appelsin/Gulerodsjuice. Now, without doing any Danish translations, I figured this was Apple and Carrot juice; however, that would be wrong (we ordered another juice thinking Appelsin was Apple and were confused when it was orange then we saw it translated and it ALL came together).
Following lunch, we wandered through the shopping district in the center of town, including the Lego store (with some pretty impressive lego displays) as well as a few impressive buildings and monuments/statues.
Our ultimate goal was to make it to Nyhavn or New Harbor. It’s essentially the most picturesque canal in Copenhagen with gorgeous, saffron/white/orange 17th and 18th century townhouses, bars, and cafes. It was a bit of an overcast and chilly day, but we opted to take a boat tour. Copenhagen is one of the most spread out Scandinavian capital cities, as such, we recommend taking one of these tours when you first arrive, then determining what to see (and how to get there) after that.
The tour lasted about an hour and reminded us a little bit of the architecture tours in Chicago. Our tour guide looked like what we referred to as a Viking Dane (complete with red hair, red beard, pale skin – disclosure – maybe the most attractive redhead I’ve ever seen). He provided a good deal of information in a short amount of time in Danish, English, and German, highlighting major architecture and sights (Hans Christian Anderson’s house, The Stock Exchange or Børsen [the animals on the spires are supposed to be aligators, but the sculptors/artists didn’t know what an aligator looked like, so they sorta look like dragons with human ears!), Christianshavn, Church of Our Saviour [the external staircase can be climbed, providing panoramic views of the city], The Standard (famous restaurants & jazz bars), Danish Opera House (all 14 floors), Amalienborg Slotsplads or Royal Mansions, Fredrick’s Church, Little Mermaid statue (REALLY far out, wouldn’t recommend walking, glad we saw it on the boat – interesting as this mermaid has two sort of feet/fins), etc to name a few.
Following our tour, we went to further explore Amalienborg Slotsplads or the Royal Mansions and Fredrick’s Church on foot. I don’t watch the Bravo TV show Ladies of London, but I do listen to a (now defunct) podcast called The Right Reasons where David Jacoby and Juliet Litman discuss pop-culture and a lot of guilty watches which cover a lot of reality television. Anyway, one of the “characters” on Ladies of London is Caroline Fleming, or a princess of Denmark (yes, same Fleming when you think of 007). In one episode, she takes folks on a tour of Copenhagen and Denmark. As we were at Amalienborg, I wondered if they filmed the show there (the Queen lives in the building with 4 or 5 chimneys). Without great access to American TV, I am unable to confirm. However, I did find these great recommendations from Caroline Fleming here. I wish I had seen this before we went, as it looks packed with some insider tips. Feel free to review, as well, should you find yourself visiting. Anyway, we didn’t go in the buildings (not even sure if you can aside from a gift shop), but it has an amazing view of the water and the space has a beautiful view of Fredrick’s Church (top three photos below).
Next we made our way to the Design Museum of Denmark. What was interesting to us was the large Japanese exhibition, “Learning from Japan.” I’d never realized Japanese art played such a large role as an inspiration for Danish art. After touring the exhibit, I’m not really sure how I never saw the connection before visiting. There are so many similarities from textiles to pottery to furniture. Really informative and great. There was also a large exhibit on Danish Fashion and Fabric (which I rather enjoyed). I could’ve (easily) worn many of the fashions of yore today. There was also a design and crafts of the 20th century as well as Danish porcelain collections. One of my favorite pieces was the art on the walls with the pianos (it was everywhere). Definitely worth a trip.
We had dinner plans at Host, but had a few hours to kill beforehand. We made our way up to Rosenborg Have or the Rosenborg Castle and Gardens. This is – hands down – one of the prettiest parks I’ve seen in a long time. Perfectly manicured, lovely benches, trees, and what I hoped were hedge mazes (they were not). We saw what appeared to be a bridal shower picnic, friends lounging, bikes being ridden. I could only imagine Jim and I would spend a lot of time there if we lived in Copenhagen. We didn’t take a tour of the castle (though you can). Copenhagen (easily) has THE prettiest parks/gardens in all of Scandinavia that we visited.
After some lounging, we made our way to our first Danish market – Torvehallerne. On the way we stopped in at what might be the world’s largest poster store – Posterland. Not only was it packed, but they had posters and prints of everything. We decided we liked a couple patent posters, but figured we could buy some online, once home. Back to Torvehallerne, this is a huge and incredibly fancy market. I thought San Francisco’s Ferry Building took the cake for snotty markets, but this place makes it look like a greasy spoon in comparison. Here you can buy food from just about any country, fancy wine, beer, prepared food, meat, fish (so much fish). It also has large picnic tables around the perimeter, which makes seems to allow patrons to enjoy their purchases outside. Lovely.
We ended up going to a basement bar across the street from the market called Bootleggers for a taste of Denmark’s beers. We saw they had a sampler option (below) and had him select six Danish beers, 2 European for us to try. I won’t lie, we couldn’t finish them all (those are some heavy & strong sampler glasses), but I liked the wheat & sour beers the best and Jim the porters/stouts (no surprise there). The bar was virtually empty (around 6 or 7pm), which boggled us, as the beer was fantastic. They also had a cocktail bar upstairs. If we hadn’t had dinner reservations, we probably would’ve tried a cocktail upstairs. We’re not sure when the Danes celebrate Happy Hour, but we apparently missed the memo & time. Regardless, this place was great.
We made our way to dinner at Host, the second best meal of the trip. This was another plated tasting type menu, but you could order various types of tasting menus for a flat rate (you also might’ve been able to order a la cart). Here, Jim and I both opted for the signature evening at Host with wine pairings. This meal was outstanding, interesting, and tasty. Similar to Olo, this restaurant showcased traditional Danish food and flavors in an interesting way. One of our favorite plates was the pickled beets on top of filet. There were also interesting tidbits/plates added in between for fun/interest. If you’re in Copenhagen, this spot is a cost-effective and tasty option (just be sure to make a reservation, as it gets crowded).
Tasty food, booze, and a near full moon… not a bad way to end a day in Copenhagen.