Watching Nyhavn at sunset, sitting in one of the city’s cozy coffee shops, I realized I could easily live in Copenhagen, Denmark. Clean air, little traffic, nice cafés, beautiful museums and picturesque houses. Above all, many green spaces where to go for a walk in the lazy Sunday afternoons. For some funny reason, I have always seen the city at its best, that is, under a shining sun in different seasons. So I have no idea how it might look in a rainy, misty day, but I’ve been told is not as poetic as I imagine. Anyways, Copenhagen is a lovely place to me. I enjoy wandering in the nice streets of the city center (Strøget, Silkegade, Løvestraede…), peering into antiquarians and design shops and stopping at one the many coffe shops for a cup of tea and a Danish pastry. Every city has its own smell, and Copenhagen smells of butter and sugar.
Nyhavn and its colours
The colours are warm, vivid – orange, yellow, cerulean – or delicate, less intense – light blue, pale salmon, light green. My wanderings bring me to the Library, a wonderful place hidden behind the walls of Christianborg Palace, a peaceful oasis where the only sound is that of the chirping birds. Not elegant, but imposing; covered in vines and with a dignified, ancient atmosphere.
Not far from Christianborg Palace grounds there’s Nyhavn, perhaps the most photographed place in Copenhagen. The 17th-century waterfront is lined by brightly coloured townhouses and restaurants. The sunset is the perfect moment to be here. The light, reflected in the water, makes everything magical.
Castles and Fairy Tales
From Nyhavn, heading North-east, you can cross Amalienborg, the winter royal castle. Then we get to Den Lille Havfrue, or the Little Mermaid. And don’t be fooled by those who say it’s far from the city center. It’s a matter of perspective. If you come from a big city, Copenhagen will appear to be a small, lovely town where every spot can be easily reached on foot.
I’ve always had a weakness for Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, so I wasn’t disappointed when I saw the little statue on the rock for the first time. The girl has such a melancholy expression, she really seems to be waiting for someone who will never come back. From there, it’s worth walking through the Kastellet, a star-shaped military fortress with its red houses, bridges and paths.
You can’t skip a stop at Kafferiet (Esplanaden 44), a cozy little place with a view of the park. It can be very crowded as it has only a few seats, but it’s the best place for a coffee & cake in the area.
In the streets between the Kastellet and the royal palace of Rosenborg, you will walk among coloured houses, elegant buildings, churches, bakeries and hidden gardens. Once inside the park, you’ll enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the gardens which surround Rosenborg, one of my favourite places in town. The castle was built by one of the most famous Scandinavian kings, Christian IV, in the early 17th century, and it features a collection of splendid art treasures in the royal halls. Portraits, statues, china, jewels and Venetian glasses can be admired inside, in a fascinating journey through time.
Design and Coffee Shops
Around Copenhagen University, west of Rosenborg, the streets are lively and full of youth. In the evening, you’ll find pubs and restaurants; during the day, you can grab a coffee or visit the nice shops on your way to the Castle, to Tivoli Park or the central station (all at walking distance).
Shops are also great in Copenhagen. I mean design shops, a paradise for those like me, who love Scandinavian style. Cups, mugs, towels, chairs, pots, clothes, hats, shoes… so different from those we find in the big cities all around Europe. I even found a Victorian style shop in one of the small streets of the city center, full of boxes, teapot cozies, notebooks, and all types of objects you can think of which have something to do with tea. My personal world of wonders.
COPENHAGEN IN 5 CUPS
Here are my top five coffee shops in Denmark’s capital city. You will notice that I don’t mention any place at Nyhavn. Although charming, it’s a very touristic spot. This doesn’t mean you can’t go there at sunset for a drink, there are lovely cafes by the water.
COFFEE INDUSTRY (Fiolstræde 20)
I said that Copenhagen smells of sugar and butter; it smells also of roasted coffee. There are a lot of places where to have a good cup of coffee. I like Coffee Industry, where you can also find a selection of good cakes.
CAFÈ FLOTTENHEIMER (Skindergade)
In the heart of the University suburb, we bumped into this small café for dinner. Few dishes, all well prepared and tasty (meat, salmon & vegetarian), in a relaxing and pleasant room.
PERCH’S TEAROOM (Kronprinsensgade 5)
Looking for a good cup of tea on Saturday morning, I found this old style tea room which looks a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Teas are delicious (I had Roiboos Vanille) and served with ginger cookies. You can order a full high tea and buy tea caddies, sweets, teapot cozies, honey dippers.
ANDERSEN BAKERY (Bernstorffsgade 5)
Pastries, coffee and gluten free products in this bakery between Tivoli and the Central Station. Perfect for breakfast.
DET LILLE APOTEK (Lille Kannikestraede)
This is the oldest restaurant in Copenhagen, and it’s worth a dinner. Reservation is needed during weekends.
All around town, for a quick sandwich or breakfast there’s Emmerys, a grocery store with bakery and coffee shop known for its organic bread and cakes. There are so many pretty places I’d love to try, but two days are not enough. And besides, I like to leave something unexplored in every city. it’s a good excuse to come back.