Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark and before the world went Corona-mad we took a child-free mini break there for my birthday back in February. In my head, Copenhagen (which I can’t say without some ridiculous, faux Danish accent by the way) was going to be a cool, slightly edgy place, with lots of cool, slightly edgy people, characterised by it’s canals, cycling culture and cold weather. Sounded good to me.
Flying there from Manchester was both ridiculously easy (about 1 hour flight time?) and ridiculously expensive. We took off in the cold, grey, wet weather of Manchester and landed in the almost identical cold, grey, wet weather of Copenhagen early on a Saturday morning.
What struck me initially, was how familiar everything around me seemed. In and around the airport the people, the buildings, the scenery all very much reminded me of landing in Manchester. As you get into the city that does change and I’d liken it more to Helsinki in terms of architecture. It’s not a city full of the picturesque colourful buildings that you see in my images, they are mostly confined to the Nyhaven waterfront area but it is quite lovely in its own right.
Anyway, we headed straight to the hotel, the Axel Guldsmeden based in the vibrant Vesterbro region of the city. And by “vibrant” I mean red light. Don’t worry though, this once seedy neighbourhood is now a bohemian district packed full of designer shops, cafes and bouji viking-esque locals. Aside from Christiania, which I will talk about later, it was my favourite area of the city. I imagine in the better weather there would be a brilliant street cafe culture and a buzz about the place but this was February and it was cold.
The hotel itself, placed conveniently close to both the Central Station and the best brunch spots is one of my favourites. And I mean ever. I’m lucky enough that I have stayed in a lot of brilliant hotels but I don’t come away with high praise very often (what I’m saying is that I am extremely fussy). This was a little gem.
Putting a Nordic spin on its Bali-inspired interiors, this was an eclectic but luxury hotel with four poster beds, eco-friendly toiletries, plastic-free everything and an almost entirely organic selection of food and drink in their dark and moody bistro. There is also a spa tucked into the basement with sauna, steam room, cold tub and hot tub and the weirdest little gym I have ever seen. It was eclectic, totally bonkers and we absolutely loved it.
Can we talk about brunch now? Because honestly, I am a bit obsessed with the concept. After taking our bags, the hotel staff pointed us in the direction of Mad & Kaffe, a scandi-style bijou cafe where there “might be a 5-10 minute wait for a table as it is quite popular”. Hmm. Brunch in Copenhagen is a thing but it turns out that it is a variant of the same thing whichever cafe you stumble upon so an hours wait in the cold felt a little excessive. The staff do bring you coffee and blankets but still, it was pretty cold. Don’t get me wrong, Mad & Kaffe was 100% Instagrammable in the best kind of a way and the food was delish and the coffee even better but it was really, really cold that day. Also, vegan brunching definitely is NOT a thing, or not that we found anyway. Note to self – do more research ahead of time.
When I travel to a new city, my favourite activity is just to simply walk the streets, drink the coffee and watch the people. Cities are best absorbed in observation mode and it leads to so many happy hours wondering from cafe to cafe, hand in hand. Any parent who escapes for the weekend will tell you that just walking without having to stop for shoelaces, toilet stops, unreasonable demands and whining is the ultimate treat. Not to mention that you find the best parts of the city this way.
Some of my Copenhagen highlights included the time we found a stunning Leonard Cohen exhibition in a tiny, backstreet gallery, which I absolutely adored.
We wrote our nickname (yep, we are one of those couples) on a padlock and locked it onto a bridge in Nyhaven.
We spent happy hours browsing bookshops, where I found a beautiful limited edition of Anna Karenina that will remind me of our trip forever.
And we found Freetown Christiania, which probably deserves a post all of its own.
If you don’t know (because I didn’t), Christiania is an intentional community and commune of about 1000 residents on the edge of the city centre. It’s 7.7 hectares of the most eclectic, ramshackle, bohemian homes with a “village centre” that has its own shops and community. There is one particular street called ‘Pusher Street’ for rather obvious reasons as it is full of stalls that openly sell weed (and no, we didn’t before you ask). Just walking round and watching and taking it all in is such a unique experience and unlike anything I have seen before. If you are open minded, then you are welcome to wander and wonder at your leisure, which is exactly what we did.
Although we didn’t take children with us, I had a lot of people message me on Instagram saying they were planning a trip this summer with their children and so I did spend some time thinking about how child-friendly it might be as a destination.
Copenhagen is flat, easy to get around, you can hire bikes and scooters easily and there is a really good train service if you fancy a jaunt across to Sweden for the day (35 minutes direct to Malmo). There were lots of families and the waterfront, Nyhaven with its colourful houses and Tivoli Gardens would likely be really great with children of most ages. I don’t think that in the winter months I would recommend taking children but in the summer when it is hopefully warmer and drier and you can access the outdoors, it would be a nice place to take them.
If you have been to Copenhagen, I’d love to know what your favourite parts of the city were and whether you would recommend it to others. Leave me a comment below and keep your fingers crossed that one day soon we can all travel again 🙂