I came to Copenhagen to explore a new city / country prior to going to Tomorrowland (click here for my tips on surviving Tomorrowland). As the first Nordic country I’ve ever been to, overall I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Everything was simple, minimal, walkable / bikeable, clean, organized, and civilized.
I came here without any expectations except for the fact that food was supposed to be expensive in these Nordic places. But to my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. Plus, I only knew about Noma, the holy grail of three star Michelin restaurants. But little did I know that there were a lot of fine dining restaurants and aspiring Michelin restaurants in this city. My friend even commented that a lot of the techniques used in Michelin restaurants around the world were first adopted here in Copenhagen. The reason for that was because of its relaxed culture, allowing chefs to take on risks and experiment; compared with many other places in the world, chefs would be scolded for making mistakes.
Adding on to that, from stories I hear from other people, Denmark does have a culture of leniency and relaxation and a stronger emphasis on work life balance. For example, if you’re in United States or Asia, you’re expected to go to school and go directly to university then start working. In Denmark, it’s expected of you to take a gap year before, during or after college so you can take time off and do what you want. I even had a friend’s family in law where one of their daughters in Denmark took a total of three gap years, so by the time she was in the workforce she was 25 years old or something like that. What I’m trying to say is that Denmark has a very relaxed culture, which encourages people to find what they like, discover about themselves, and allows them to experiment and take risks more.
For this blog, unlike what I’ve been doing in the past where I list all the restaurants, things to do and lump everything into one category, I’ll actually list what I did on a day to day basis instead (except for accommodation). Also, to avoid bombardment of the flow of this post, extra photos will be placed at the bottom of the blog post. Lastly, if you want to see videos I took in Copenhagen, you can check out the Youtube shorts by going to my Youtube channel @travelwithabutterfly. Read Days Three and Four by going to the second part of this Copenhagen blog.
Coco Hotel (website)
A boutique hotel centrally located in Copenhagen, the entrance first confuses you as it gives off a feel of a cafe when you first enter. The lobby is a cafe, and therefore I initially thought the front desk was the reception desk for the cafe, but it turned out to be the check in desk as well. But it’s not a big confusion, as within a minute I figured it out.
The hotel colours were earthy and warm, and the vibe of this place was that it was a good spot for young and trendy travellers. The hotel was very clean, and you can even rent bikes there for the whole day for €15 (trust me it’s very cheap considering other bike options). For about €175 per night, it’s really affordable in our opinion.
Beds were comfortable, mattresses weren’t too soft or hard. Room was a bit smaller than expected, barely enough room to lay down two big suitcases. Not enough outlets as well in my opinion. Clean and tidy. If size isn’t important for you, then again I would recommend this hotel.
Landed at Copenhagen Airport. At the arrivals section, the airport seems small. It’s only later on when I went to departures and passing the security check did I realise how big the airport was. Very clean and organised, passed through the security check very efficiently at the airport.
I know a friend’s wife’s family who owns the fruit juice shop, Joe & The Juice, and it’s everywhere in Copenhagen. In fact, I went to a store in New York, which you can read about here.
I was incredibly confused from the airport. There was no staff available to direct me or ask me as to where to get to my destination. I just bought a ticket to Osteoport (according to Google maps), saw a train that was leaving there, and just took it
After we checked into the Coco Hotel, we were a bit hungry. It was already 3:30pm, and our dinner was around 6:30pm – 7pm, so we wanted to have a quick bite nearby. This is what we found…
Smagsloget sandwich shop (website)
Think this was the The smash hit! Roastbeef, Spanish manchego cheese and homemade salsa. Sandwich cream and chili pesto spread. Soooo freaking good. I am blown away by the bread in Copenhagen in general fyi.
The recommendation! Danish ham, brie cheese, bacon and homemade salsa. Sandwich cream spread. The absolute best sandwich ever! Everything matched with each other beautifully to create this mixture of heaven and tastefulness in your mouth. Nothing sticks out too much, they all complement each other to get the perfect taste and texture. Honestly, one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life.
After our incredible meal, we went back to our hotel room, took a short nap, and then headed out again for dinner, where we will pass by Stroget and Nyhavn.
We passed by the entrance of the Tivoli Gardens (website). It’s very famous as it is the second oldest amusement park in the world.
Stroget, the main shopping street and one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets with loads of shops from budget-friendly to luxury. In my opinion, a very touristy area, with lots of international brands that you can see pretty much everywhere else, especially in Western cities. It’s famous, but super touristy.
Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district with simple but brightly coloured 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants lined up in a perfect row. Again also a touristy place, but the vibes here feel a bit less so that locals come here too. It reminds me of Stanley in Hong Kong
We wanted to check out Soho House Copenhagen (website) and realized it was right nearby Nyhavn, so we did a quick tour around the place. We were a bit unimpressed as it was the smallest Soho House we’ve seen and it was empty (albeit it was a Monday though, but still).
Poulette was one of the chicken sandwich places we wanted to try which we never got to try because there were so many other places / meals we had to eat. If you do try it, please let me know how it is!
This sign was confusing. It pointed to a direction which was the backdoor of the restaurant and we actually had to walk all around the building to get to the front. The pathway to the entrance was quite obscure.
Restaurant Barr (website)
We got the 4 course meal. Grilled Mackerel – Zucchini, gooseberry, and blackcurrant leave
Brown crab -Romaine salad, green strawberries and whey sauce. My friend said these foam and sauces that is used everywhere globally in Michelin restaurants was first invented in Denmark, because the culture allowed chefs to be innovative and they came up with this.
Our impression of this place was that the beers were great, but the food was decent but nothing spectacular. If you’re reading this, unless you love craft beer, I think it’s other restaurants that can potentially taste better.
Night time in Nyhavn. We were so tired and didn’t want to walk the 30-40 mins back to our hotel, and it was pretty dark after sunset, so we caught a bus that brought us within walking distance to our hotel. By the way, buses there are pretty expensive. Forgot how much, but I just remember wow it’s actually quite pricey even for a short trip.
We started off our second day by making our way to Norrebro, the trendy district known for its diverse food scene, boutique shops, and vibrant street life. In reality, I find some areas of Norrebro to be more like street market / market place clothings, similar to Mong Kok in Hong Kong like cheaper wanna be brands, but there is an area in Norrebro that has a lot of nice high end boutique Danish shops as well.
Andersen & Maillard (website) They start their day at 3am to ensure the best croissants and bakery goods. Also a coffee cafe
This chocolate filled pastry was incredibly delicious, highly recommend for chocolate lovers! In fact, with any filling or portion sizes or wine pouring, Danish restaurants have been very generous rather than stingy.
It’s like some pudding pastry that’s popular in Denmark. I’m seriously impressed by all the bread everywhere, whether it’s just table bread or bakery goods. Their bread quality there is just phenomenal.
So I actually bought a lot of stuff here, like 3 t-shirts and 2 long pants. The shopkeeper told us that you see a lot of guys in Copenhagen wear jewellery and accessories because the guys in Copenhagen tend to have a very minimal, simple, plain style for their top and pants, so in order to make it more personalized, they use jewellery and accessories to stand out. Which is true – a lot of guys here wear necklaces.
Packyard (website) also bought a t-shirt here. All things considered, with the tax refund and the summer sales that was going on, the prices for these clothings were very reasonable and great value!
Acne Archive (Visit Copenhagen), the outlet shop for Acne Studios
Hand picked classics, showpieces, accessories, shoes, and from previous collections up to 75% off. Yes, I bought something from here as well! But I had to purposely come back on the last day to buy it cause I was indecisive on whether I should get it or not.
We made our way to our lunch place after our unexpected shopping spree.
Coffee Collective, a famous coffee cafe chain in Copenhagen (website)
Our lunch place at this place called Pompette (website)
This is the selfie toilet, where everyone is encouraged to take a selfie with the sink mirror. I actually thought this was a fantastic idea and a very creative way to make the bathroom more interesting
I think like mentioned just now, the food was decent again, but you can see it’s like a wine bar with small bites, so the food was not its emphasis. If you’re coming for small bites and some nice light wine, this is a good place for you.
We then started making our way to the Rosenborg Castle.
We also unexpectedly passed by this TorvehallerneKBH, Fresh Food Market place. Very cool place, should be a place to go for more tourists. Here’s your bonus for reading my blog! Don’t think it’s listed in many tourist books or blogs
I’m so used to the wet markets in Hong Kong that this place just feels sooo clean and organized and clean. Everywhere in Copenhagen is just sooo clean and like… they hold a standard to themselves to ensure everything is proper and clean if you know what I mean. Oh did I mention how clean it was again?
So, we actually didn’t end up entering Rosenborg Castle because by the time we got there (around 4pm to 4:30pm), the tickets for the day were already sold out. We thought we could walk in. If you’re interested in seeing inside of the Rosenborg Castle, you have to read part two of my Copenhagen blog as I did go to the castle on the next day (third day).
As we could not get tickets to Rosenborg Castle, we did something nearby instead, which was also on our itinerary, which was to visit the National Gallery of Denmark (website) / Statens Museum for Kunst.
It’s a fabulous art gallery featuring the works of many Danish artists from the past to the present, and also an art gallery featuring many other European artists from the past to the present as well. It’s a huge gallery that can take at least two hours, leisurely at least three to four hours, and the quality of the art pieces were superb, so I definitely recommend putting this into your itinerary especially if you’re an art lover.
I’ll be putting about 20 photos here, but I took so many photos so scroll to the bottom to the Extra Photos section to see way more photos I took of the gallery.
After resting at Rosenborg Palace a little bit since it was too early to go to dinner, we then proceeded to head towards Marv and Ben for our dinner.
Marv and Ben (website), a Michelin recommended restaurant. Make sure you make reservations.
Here’s what the Michelin recommended guide had to say about this restaurant “Organic produce features in seasonal cooking which displays purity and depth of flavour.” and Google, “Venue with an open kitchen & spartan decor for creative locally sourced food & an organic wine list.” And from their own website, “Nordic gastronomy made from the seasons ingredients from local small producers.”
Third dish was Potato – smoked cheese – lovage (no photo).
For the price of 650 Danish Krone for six course meal, honestly not bad at all! With wine pairing it’d be double the price at 1300. I’d have to say Marv and Ben has the making of one star Michelin restaurant taste and flavor, the flavors of all dishes were much more flavorful and better than the night we had yesterday at Restaurant Barr. Definitely recommend going to Marv and Ben! The ingredients used were just much better.
So I’m going to wrap up with Days one and two right here since it’s already a 3,000 word blog post and I feel that it’s already wayyy too long. To read part two for days three and four, click here to continue.
Love the bread in Copenhagen and the fine dining here. Love the walkable-ness and the weather when it is not super cold or raining. I also love the shopping here – love the summer sales, the plain simple fashion styles that also have the fit I’m looking for. Yeah, the bread is spectacular here!
To avoid putting too many photos between the texts, I’ve included this section for those who want to see more pictures after the post.
Musikhuset Kobenhavn (website) music venue near our hotel