Slow travel is still my favourite way to travel. I love not having to rush around trying to see all the sights. It was exhausting. A long weekend in Copenhagen has been on my travel bucket list for a while now. Denmark constantly ranks as the happiest country in the world and I kept this notion on my shoulder the entire time I was there. Ever the people watcher, I wanted to draw my own conclusions based on what I saw first hand. Unlike my recent slow travel trip to Paris, I had an itinerary this time. I’d planned a loose 3 night itinerary that allowed us to take things slow and really explore the parts of the city that interested me, instead of rushing around trying to cram everything in – I even managed a few naps in the afternoon. It doesn’t get much more slow travel than that!
What nobody seems to tell you about Copenhagen is that it has a grungy hipster side to it. I went with expectations of streets lined with unique scandi boutiques, design studios and exquisite coffee shops. They do exist, but you have to look for them. It’s not a city I would want to set off wandering in without any sort of plan, because you could easily miss the best bits it has to offer. I’m glad I did my research.
Here’s my roundup in case you decide to pay a visit….
Where we stayed
Ibsens Hotel I loved this hotel. It’s an immaculate 3 star hotel, perfectly placed in a quiet area of the city. It’s my idea of a cosy refuge when the city has tired you out. The breakfast was delicious, I could make my own tea from their herbal selection and they have a cosy reading corner, which we made full use of in the afternoons – what’s not to like.
Jaegersborg – Away from the main tourist areas, which is where you always find the best spots, this is a quiet street lined with coffee shops restaurants and boutiques. A lot of the stores are vintage or second hand so if that’s your thing, you’ll be in heaven here. The Coffee Collective at the end of the street is a great place to people watch (with one of the smoothest coffees I’ve ever tasted).
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art – 30 minutes out of the city by train, you’ll find the most incredible setting for a museum I’ve ever seen. A deceiving old house as you walk in, turns out to be a seaside spectacle of art exhibitions. Some of the art is quite controversial so be prepared to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Their cafe has the most beautiful ocean views and you can wander right down to the shore if you wanted. I loved this place.
Hay House – This place is a must for Scandi interior lovers. It’s the flagship store of the Danish design company Hay. A truly inspirational space, even if you’re not looking to purchase anything. I felt like I’d stepped into Pinterest after hitting search for minimal scandi interor. It’s situated in one of the main shopping areas and although it wasn’t busy inside, be prepared for crowds outside.
Botanical Gardens – Visiting quiet havens in the middle of any city is a must for me. I love to find the quiet spots where I can block out the city noise for a while. These gardens allow you to do just that. The old glasshouse is home to the most beautiful tropical plant collection, which you can walk around at both ground and ceiling level if you brave the steep spiral staircase. Be prepared for the humidity – I came out feeling like Monica when she went to the Bahamas. There’s a cafe serving great coffee outside, with a view over the gardens and water feature (perfect for those of us that play The Sound of Music any chance we get).
Bicycles – Whenever anyone mentions Copenhagen, I’ll instantly think of bikes. They’re everywhere. It’s the easiest way to get around the city. We hired bikes direct from the hotel when we arrived to get our bearings and start exploring. Everywhere is flat so it’s very easy to get around and the cycle lanes make you feel safe.
Round Tower – An old building junkie’s dream that spirals all the way up to the top. It was built this way so that the king could ride up to the observatory on his horse. I loved that. Walking round and round what feels like a never ending spiral was so much fun. I could’ve walked up and down a few more times.
Meatpacking district – Perhaps it’s something to do with being a vegetarian, but eating my dinner outside an old slaughterhouse isn’t my scene.
Citernes – This is the old reservoir under the city that has been turned into an exhibition venue. I was so looking forward to an underground art gallery, but the exhibition that was on at the time just wasn’t for me. I’d go again because the underground setting was stunning, but only if the exhibit was one I wanted to see.
Food and Drink
I’ve come to realise that I’m not into fancy restaurants when I’m away. I like good food, but rather well priced comfort food that the locals eat as opposed to Michelin star. As a vegetarian I have very low expectations when I travel, but Copenhagen did well on the vegetarian friendly scale.
Nino’s Pizzeria – Recommended by our hotel this place was really good value for money. Locals actually eat here, which is always a good sign. I was too busy eating my pizza to take a photo of it, which is also an excellent sign! Remember to take your own wine as they don’t serve any – not a problem for us as neither of us drink.
Original Coffee – Great coffee! We visited two of these but my favourite was the Norrebro shop, which is by the lake. I can’t resist a coffee with a view. The atmosphere was really relaxed and the interior was a feast for the eyes.
Coffee Collective – This was my favourite out of all the coffee shops we visited (there were quite a few coffee stops in the name of slow travel) We visited the rooftop ILLUM department store, which is right opposite Hay House, but the Jaegersborg street shop was my favourite because of the outside space.
Kalaset – Luckily this place was opposite our hotel. When we arrived it was really busy. Paying attention to where the locals eat is a method that never fails me and this was no exception. It was great value for money and the vegetarian / vegan options here were second to none. Think colourful veggie / vegan brunches and burgers with plenty of potatoes.
Atelier September – This is one of those ‘Instagrammable’ places that is raved about. These Instagram hotspots can sometimes be a let down in real life but the coffee and interior didn’t disappoint. We didn’t eat here but the menu looked great with lots of healthy options and I saw plenty of empty plates. The window seats are the perfect spot for people watching.
So what makes the Danish so happy? Well, they don’t seem to care too much. There was no rush in the city, most people ride old bicycles instead of drive fancy cars. Nobody seemed too busy, nobody seemed to be rushing around and the people weren’t as polished as you’d expect in a cosmopolitan city. The clothes are casual and the working day is short. Bars and restaurants aside, nobody works past 6pm. There’s even an office where the desks lift up to the ceiling when the clock strikes 6. I think there’s a lot to be said for this relaxed approach to life. They know what matters and their priorities are in order. Work life balance, spending time with loved ones and taking things slow seem to be at the top of their list.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or tips that I missed for anyone else potentially travelling to this part of the world. Do you love slow travel too? I love to talk travel! You can also see what I packed from the capsule wardrobe here.
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