Where to Stay
Bertrams Hotel Guldsmeden
Located in the cool neighborhood of Vesterbro, this place is for grown-ups only and offers an organic breakfast. It’s amidst the thick of it in terms of great places to drink great coffee followed by local craft beer, and is also right by the stunning palace, City Hall Square and the famous Little Mermaid bronze statue. (Trivia: Her head is modeled on a famous ballerina who refused to pose nude for the body casting, so the artist’s wife obliged.)
Vesterbrogade 107, 1620, Copenhagen
CPH isn’t the cheapest of cities to flounce about for a couple of days, and there’s so much to do we recommend saving your pennies for activities outside your hotel. Basic living quarters are way above the usual mark, though, as you might expect from the Scandinavian hotspot. This hostel is part of a Philippe Starck–designed complex and offers premium suites for under €100/$112 (or 745 Danish krone). On top of this, there's an exquisitely quaint courtyard and even a nifty little pétanque court for playing the French game of boules right in the heart of the city. All this at a price that won’t stop you from going to the ballet. Oh, and there’s a happy hour for cocktails.
Adelgade 5, 1304, Copenhagen
Where to Play
The shopping scene in CPH is diverse and packed full of stores that showcase the city’s international embrace as well as its affinity for fair global trade. Amid the many independent boutiques and plentiful street markets, you’ll find affordable gems at this flea market best known for its locally sourced antiques. Ravnsborggade is located near the lakes in the northern part of the city and positively glimmers on a sunny morning.
Ravnsborggade, 2200, Copenhagen
Stocking major haute couture labels from Chanel to Hermès as well as all Scandinavian luxury brands, this famous fashion emporium was opened in 1869. We can imagine it was the place where Lili Elbe — the painter and first recipient of gender realignment surgery in 1930, portrayed by Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl — went to shop for her finest new garb. Christensen’s even has its own fur label.
Østergade 38, Indre By, 1100, Copenhagen
Copenhagen Opera House
The best place for opera in a breathtaking setting. As spring awakens, so do the docks. CPH is situated on two islands and is a hop, skip and a jump away from Malmö, Sweden, via the Øresund Bridge. Technically part of the KGL complex (below), one of the world’s most astonishingly lavish contemporary opera houses rises from the water on the central island of Holmen. The walls of the main auditorium are adorned with 24-carat gold leaf, and the foyer houses light installations from acclaimed Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.
Ekvipagemestervej 10, 1438, Copenhagen
The Danish Ministry of Culture remains traditional in its objective of balancing classic and contemporary arts in the city. The Kongelige Teater, or The Royal Danish Theatre, dates back to 1874 and is home to drama, ballet, opera and more all year round. Its tricky-on-the-tongue name owes to its location on the Kongens Nytorv (King’s Square) — as most cities and indeed most Hans Christian Andersen tales will tell you, a city’s landmarks were almost undoubtedly built for the enjoyment of the monarch. Keep an eye on Nordisk Fyer: Touted as "the story of a fairy tale corporation gone wrong," this highly awaited play charts the ups and downs of Denmark’s biggest business scandal in the 1990s. Look out also for the secret "black box" experimental theater space, the Takkeloftet, whose limestone walls can be struck to make beautiful sounds with your bare hands. April highlights also include a ballet workshop of Don Quixote and Richard Strauss's Salome.
Kongens Nytorv 9, 1017, Copenhagen
Believe it or not, there’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Copenhagen. While we would normally tell you to avoid these kinds of attractions at all costs, we're making an exception for something nestled into this tourist magnet: Fairytale House celebrates and educates you on all things Hans Christian Andersen. If all else fails, there are also location tours for fans of crime show The Killing.
Rådhuspladsen 57, 1550, Copenhagen
Overgaden & Charlottenborg Palace
The art scene is thriving with galleries, concept stores and underground music venues offering many new ideas and movements for everyone. The punk scene in particular is deeply established, and independent record labels/stores like Posh Isolation give way to some of freshest sounds this side of the North Sea. The most lauded of Copenhagen’s young artists and musicians have long been affiliated with galleries like Overgaden, which exhibits 10 shows annually — a lot of site specific, performance, participatory and cross-disciplinary work and solo shows that celebrate the "by artists, for artists" feel of the place. The Kunsthal Charlottenborg is a great alternative if you’re into the best of contemporary art and want a more grandiose surrounding, specifically that of a palace built in the 17th century for the illegitimate son of a Norwegian governor.
Overgaden, Neden Vandet 17, 1414, Copenhagen
Charlottenborg Palace, Nyhavn 2, 1051, Copenhagen
Where to Eat and Drink
Move over, Noma, and make room for this beauty. Amass is an in-demand restaurant replete with its own bio garden and magnificent views of the water (you can also take the boat to reach your table). What lands at the end of your fork is the result of biodynamics, local hunting, foraging and seasonal availability. Sometimes lamb is shipped from Iceland, or dried mushrooms from Japan, but everything is presented with a feverish perfection and precision that wants you want to snap it all for Instagram and destroy Instagram simultaneously. This is the kind of experience that reminds you to be in the moment and put that damned camera away. Ask the staff about the organic wines and aquaponics program for a real education.
Refshalevej 153, 1432, Copenhagen
It’s impossible to dip into Copenhagen life and avoid the delightful smørrebrød, so the sooner you accept this, the better your open-faced rye. And there’s nowhere hotter than Fru Nimb, the historic eatery in the defunct amusement park at Tivoli Gardens. There are a casual 50 smørrebrøds to choose from, most of them recipes lifted directly from the Gardens' original sandwich chef more than 100 years ago. Enter through the Nimb Hotel and brace yourself to go face-down in platters of rye topped with saltkod (salted beef) or stjerneskud, aka shooting star: a base of buttered toast with two types of white fish. Note: The Gardens are open April to September, and again for Christmas markets.
Bernstorffsgade 5, 1577, Copenhagen