8 reasons Copenhagen is perfect if you don't really 'do' city breaks

Let's face it, these days most of us live in urban areas and live out our fast-paced lives rushing from one daily task to the next. Why on earth would you want to spend your holidays in yet another city? Well, thankfully, not all cities are the same: hello Copenhagen.

The Nyhavn waterfront in Old Copenhagen © Diana Jarvis
The Nyhavn waterfront in Old Copenhagen © Diana Jarvis

Chock-full of cultural delights and tasty food and drink options yet, surrounded by water, friendly locals this city has a much more liveable pace of life. Here are eight ways you can slip into the quieter side of city life and convene with those that make it a joyful place to be.

Getting to Copenhagen: the Danish capital is very easy to reach and, thanks to the likes of British Airways* and easyJet holidays*, there are plenty of city break deals to be had.

1. It's (possibly) the world's most cycle-friendly city

Even if you don't consider yourself a cyclist and haven't been on a bike since childhood, you can easily traverse this city on two wheels.

The paths are wide and even the most leisurely of riders will feel comfortable. Everyone's a cyclist in Copenhagen, even the car drivers, so stopping at junctions for cyclists to pass is ingrained and you'll feel completely safe.

Cycling is a great way to get around Copenhagen © Diana Jarvis
Cycling is a great way to get around Copenhagen © Diana Jarvis

Bike rental is easy to find - there's practically a rental shop on every street corner - but Baisikeli is one to seek out, located just behind Kødbyen, the old meat packing area.

It's run as a charity, whose profits and used bikes go to an organisation in East Africa that promotes bicycle culture and trains locals to become bike mechanics.

2. You can tour the city by kayak

Whether by foot or by bike, when exploring the city by road, it's easy to miss the geographical fact that Copenhagen is spread across two islands.

Take to the water in a kayak, however, you can experience a swan's-eye-view of everything from the reed-strewn islets of Nyholm to the neo-Baroque architecture of Christiansborg.

Kayak Republic offers a variety of trips along the waterways of the city for all abilities. You can even take a foodie tour and nibble on mussels and smørrebrød while paddling.

Planning a trip? Then you'll want to know more about the weather - find out what to expect in Copenhagen and see when we think is the very best time to go.

3. Its contemporary regeneration

Danes have an uncanny knack of making the most of what they have. Take the old meat packing district of Kødbyn, for example; cool cafés, cutting-edge restaurants, cocktail bars, and art galleries sit alongside the last residues of the meat industry in an elegantly functional white-washed art deco complex. The vibe is unpretentious and unassuming.

This same approach is being used at the former shipyard area of Reffshaleøen on the eastern side of the city.

The shipyard area of Reffshaleøen © Diana Jarvis
Contemporary regeneration, Reffshaleøen style © Diana Jarvis

The entry gate might look like some kind of Cold War-era checkpoint on a first glance but a closer inspection you'll see it has been transformed into a bar/restaurant set around a lake and with a hot tub and sauna on the side.

There's a pop-up food market selling everything from blue tacos to barbecued fish, cold-pressed organic biodynamic juice to pulled duck.

4. The unexpected urban beaches

One more thing all that coastline means, of course, there are beaches! By constructing an artificial sand island just off the coast of Amager, those ever-resourceful Danes have created a lagoon.

The beach at Vedbæk Havn © Diana Jarvis
The beach at Vedbæk Havn © Diana Jarvis

Not only does this makes for a 2 km stretch of pristine beach to play on but it also means the water in the lagoon is more calm, temperate and ideal for swimming in summer. It's not just for the bathers (sun or otherwise); you can also sail, surf, windsurf, play volleyball, cycle or rollerblade.

Charlottenlund, north of the city, is on a much smaller scale but and equally relaxing beachside sojourn. You can also check out the nearby Charlottenlund Fort as well as explore the nature-rich Charlottenlund forest.

5. Stay in a stylish eco-conscious hotel

Hotel Absalon* is no more than a hop and a skip from Copenhagen central station, which makes it ideally located for both escapes from the city and stop-offs during a busy day of sightseeing.

It's an oasis of calm housed in a classical white-washed 19th-century building where sensitivity to the environment is evident: you can win rewards in exchange for declining housekeeping and organic Karmameju shampoo and soap comes in dispensers rather than throwaway bottles.

Room in the Hotel Absalon © Diana Jarvis
The humbug stripes of Hotel Absalon © Diana Jarvis

The rooms have been designed using wallpaper, fabrics, and furniture from the Designer's Guild. They're like something from Alice in Wonderland. The lampshades look like raspberry humbugs, curtain ties like a chain of Liquorice Allsorts with the lime and fuchsia curtains framing the rooftops of the city beyond.

6. Shop for some seriously cool upcycled jewellery

Upcycling - giving items marked for the scrapheap a new lease of life - is a concept gradually growing in popularity here.

Sonnejewels on Jaegersborggade is both workshop and shop front for the bold and idiosyncratic creations of former graphic designer Kirsten Sonne. She sources her raw materials from junkyards, second-hand sales and flea markets.

Meanwhile, MY'ne in Vesterbrø creates a range of earrings made from old electrical components, hardware scavenged from junkyards and even old roof tiles from Kronborg Castle - the model for Hamlet's Elsinore Castle.

7. There's plenty of locally sourced soul food on offer

Think of porridge and you might be inclined to conjure up thoughts of thin, sloppy gruel on cold, wet winter mornings but Grød on Jaegersborggade, the city's first organic porridge bar, will make you think again.

It sources all of its ingredients seasonally and experiments with porridge recipes from all over the world. For lunch, try an Asian chicken congee featuring ginger, peanuts, spring onions, coriander, soya and sesame oil.

Plante Pølsen on Jaegersborggade is a new venture that makes vegan hot dogs from a variety of plants including a chilli dog made from red and white cabbage, cauliflower and miso, soy and a wheat protein 'chorizo' dog.

Plante Pølsen began life as a street food cart before crowdfunding for a permanent base on Jaegersborggade, which opened in July 2018.

8. There's a world-class contemporary art gallery

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art hosts exhibitions of internationally renowned artists as well as being home to a vast collection of superb Danish modern art.

The original building is a 19th-century country house but it has been cleverly expanded into a series of labyrinthine wings that use the natural light, sculpture gardens and coastal location to spectacular effect. It's an hour's train ride north of the city in the town of Humlebaek, and well worth the trip.

In the gardens of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art © Diana Jarvis
In the gardens of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art © Diana Jarvis

What's more, you can even peddle there along National Cycling Route 9 all the way from the city. It's mostly flat and on dedicated cycle paths for some of the way. The route hugs the coast so there's plenty of opportunities to stop off for a swim en route at Charlottenlund, Vedbaek or Mikkelborg.

Is Copenhagen's cool side calling? Check out the latest deals from British Airways and offers from easyJet holidays today to book your very own city break in this chic Scandi capital.

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Diana Jarvis

Diana Jarvis
Posted on Wednesday 30th January 2019 in: City Culture Excursions

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