Progressive, artsy, oh-so-livable Copenhagen is the kind of city that will make you want to stay indefinitely. It’s packed with plenty to explore and discover, from the extensive fine arts scene to quirky parks, epic brunches to street food feasts. To help you make the most of your time in the city, here’s our top must-do tips for any visitor.
Assistens Kirkegård is the third oldest cemetery in Copenhagen, with graves that date back to the 1700s. Today, most of the cemetery functions as a park where you can relax, go for a walk, watch red squirrels running around, seek out the cat sculpture (there’s a concrete cat sculpture that people can move, hiding it under trees and behind bushes), or play ‘title bingo’ with your friends — until the mid-1900s, it was popular to have your working title written on your tombstone. Seek out strange and interesting occupations, like numismatiker (coin collecter) or, yes, timetraveller. This is also the place to visit Hans Christian Andersen’s and Søren Kierkegaard’s graves. If the weather’s nice, stay and enjoy a picnic (pizza from Stefanos is a good option).
This street food market has it all. It is divided into two halls, with one focusing on fresh foods and the other offering more food stalls. You will get a true taste of Copenhagen at Torvehallerne, where you can sample crystalised cheese, organic tea (hot or cold) and the Danish flødeboller (a soft marshmallow of egg whites and sugar on a cracker or marzipan bottom covered in chocolate, often translated as ‘creampuffs’).
For lunch, enjoy the famous ryebread smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) from Hallernes Smørrebrød or grød (porridge) at GRØD — the world’s first porridge restaurant chain. Be warned that Torvehallerne does not have a lot of seating options, so if the weather allows it, bring your meal with you to either Israels Plads Square or to Ørstedsparken, both of which are right next to the market.
The Copenhagen brunch is typically tapas style, which means instead of having to commit to one plate of boring bacon and eggs, you can sample all kinds of different treats! At restaurants like Far’s Dreng, Wulff & Konstali and Mad & Kaffe you can pick and choose, and the menus often change with the season, since everything is locally produced (and much of it organic, too). There are more options than you can imagine, but some of our favourites are avocado, grapefruit with sugar, rødgrød med fløde (red berry pudding made on strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb topped with whipped cream), øllebrød (porridge made on ryebread and beer), waffles, Danish bacon and smoked salmon.
Copenhagen is an extremely livable city, and is always working at becoming even more so. There are lots of green areas, such as along Sønder, where a 1.3-kilometre park is located in the middle of the street like a green belt. This park has endless possibilities for activities, with basketball courts, ping-pong tables and lots of greenery and benches for just watching the world go by. If you want to do like the Copenhageners do, then buy a beer at the cellar in Kihoskh and a pizza at Itzi Pitzi Pizza, and enjoy it in the park. You can also visit Café Dyrehaven, a previous værtshus (dive bar) that has reinvented itself as a hip and modern cafe serving traditional Danish food and bottled beer.
Copenhagen is a city that breathes culture. You won’t find many cities that can compete with the sheer number of events throughout the year — from large festivals to small shows, there is always something going on! In fact, a study showed that Copenhageners are more easily bored than those living in the Danish countryside, since they have become so accustomed to there always being something to see or do!
So of course, while you’re in Copenhagen, you should go cultural with fine arts like world-class ballet, opera or theatre in the heart of the city. You may be fortunate enough to be in the city when one of its many cultural events is taking place. Be sure to ask your local guide, host or concierge about what events are taking place while you’re visiting Copenhagen — or check Kultunaut for an overview.
There are both modern and classic fine art establishments, like the expensive Opera House (it cost DKK 2.3 billion!), the Royal Playhouse in the middle of the harbour, the old Royal Theatre and the charming Det Ny Teater from 1904 that connects Vesterbro and Frederiksberg. With so many places to see performances, there is always a show on for any tastes — and at affordable prices, too, as Copenhageners consider the fine arts important and the government even subsidises the arts to make them available to everyone.