Considering that I am a big fan of the ‘old’, Copenhagen would not have seemed the obvious travel destination for me. My newly found interest in clean lines and minimalist design has led to a fascination with Scandinavian countries. I thought to start my discovery of all things Scandinavian at the very bottom of the map with Denmark, I hope to work my way up through Sweden and Norway very soon.
The first thing I noticed about Copenhagen is the attention to detail. Design appears to be of importance to the Danish, everything seems to have its place. Design is efficient as well as aesthetically pleasing.
This is the first picture I took in Copenhagen. It might not look like much but these are typical street lights in the city. I absolutely love the simplicity of the design.
Copenhagen is perfectly balanced between the new and the old. The Latin Quarter at the centre of town is densely populated with tourists. Historical red brick architecture is finely preserved. Making my way out of the centre to the surrounding districts such as Norreport and Norrebro, I found a very natural transition to 19th and 20th century buildings, very much influenced by those being built in Europe at the same time, such as in Paris and Rome.
Streets are perfectly marked with pedestrian walkways, cycle paths and a mostly one way driving system. I was amazed at the dedication of the Danes to cycling around town. Everyone cycles, whether young, old, woman or man, adult or child. It was heartwarming to see parents pushing their children along in carts attached to the front of their bicycles. Everywhere I turned there were bikes parked along the sidewalk, surprisingly most bikes weren’t locked. I felt safe in this city.
It is extremely easy to walk around Copenhagen. I wouldn’t suggest doing it all in a day though two to three days is more than enough time to enjoy the city. Official, free tourist maps can be picked up anywhere in the city, from train and metro stations to hotels and shops. The map definitely helped me navigate my way around the city.
My favorite part of Copenhagen would have to be Norrebro. Norrebro is to the north of the historical centre, a 10 to 15 minute walk from Norreport metro station. This part of the city is much quieter and residential. Here you can spend some time in the beautiful Assistens Cemetery (Assistens Kirkegaard). It might sound like a bit of a crazy thing to do whilst traveling but this is one of Copenhagen’s largest green spaces and is a popular place for locals to relax and spend time with family and friends. I spotted early birds going for their morning run, fathers pushing their babies along in prams and hip art students sitting on the grass enjoying a glass of wine and a laugh. Famous individuals to have been buried at Assistens Cemetery include Hans Christian Andersen (for all you Little Mermaid fans) and Soren Kierkegaard.
Walking back down to the centre from the cemetery I spotted plenty of fashion boutiques, all of which were very expensive though I vowed that one day I would return in order to pursue my taste for Scandinavian fashion.
One thing that bugged me slightly was the lack of cafes and coffee shops, or just quiet places to enjoy a warm drink in the centre (the Danes seem to have a thing for Joe and the Juice (a terrible chain of cafes that appears to be their equivalent of a ‘hip’ Starbucks if ever there were such a thing…). Norrebro however boasts fine cafes and good coffee.
The best spots to browse through fashion boutiques, vintage shops and to take a coffee pit stop are on super stylish Jaegersborggade (at the very tip of the cemetery), Elmegade (as you walk down from the cemetery on the right) and Blagardsgede (two blocks down from Elmegade on the right).
My favorite cafe would have to be the Laundromat Cafe on Elmegade in Norrebro. The coffee is good as was my simple breakfast of scrambled eggs and grilled tomatoes. The staff are super friendly and they have outdoor seating with blankets included, Copenhagen is following on in the style of European outdoor seating.
I have found my little hub of pleasure to the north of the busy tourist spots. I shall definitely come back to Copenhagen to dig deeper into the more native spots where locals roam such as Norrebro and Osterbro.