Day 1: Rosenborg, Nyhavn and the Design Museum
The itinerary starts from Nørrebro (where my Airbnb was located), one of the hippest and trendiest neighborhoods in the city.
Having to walk at least 10 km, it is good to start the day with a nice hyper-caloric breakfast at Laundromat Café. This pub / laundromat / literary café is located in the beating heart of Nørrebro and is a real institution; it is open from morning to late at night and it is possible to eat the classic smørrebrød with avocado and eggs, the croque madame, the hamburger and much more.
From there, proceed along the main street (Nørrebrogate) towards the historic center until you reach the beautiful Botanical Garden. This large park (with free admission) is an oasis of peace and it is worth getting lost in the nineteenth-century greenhouses, among the meadows and ponds where the inhabitants of Copenhagen go for a walk during their lunch break. Continuing forward you can already see the spiers of the royal castle, the Resenborg Castle. This castle is one of the most important buildings in the city and the moat and towers contribute to its princely charm. The castle can be visited (the ticket costs about 15 euros) and inside you can see the luxurious rooms of the kings, the crown jewels as well as many other objects belonging to the royal family.
Going further along the same street you will arrive in the large Kongens Nytorv square from which the canal starts Nyhavn, the most famous and most instagrammed place in Copenhagen. All the houses in the old port have returned to their former glory in their bright colors and now house open-air bars and restaurants perfect for a break and good old people watching. Tours of the port and canals also depart from here.
The visit then continues along Amaliegade up to Amalienborg Castle (the current residence of the Danish royal family) but above all to the beautiful Design Museum. This museum is located in a former hospital of the '700 and exhibits all the iconic pieces (chairs, tables, lamps, etc.) of the greatest designers of the' 900. But the section I loved the most is definitely the one called “Fashion & Fabric” which houses a beautiful collection of fabrics and fashion from the last 4 centuries. Also inside, do not miss the museum shop (it has 1000 interesting gadgets of all price ranges) and the Café in the inner courtyard.
If you then want to see the famous Mermaid you have to continue north, towards the sea; I would not want to take away the poem, but the little mermaid is located in a fairly isolated part of the city and is much smaller than you can imagine (read between the lines: you can easily avoid going there to avoid a burning disappointment).
Going back towards Kongens Nytorv square you can refresh yourself (for lunch or snack) at theSeptember studio, a nice cafe with vintage décor that serves great coffee and the best smørrebrød with avocado in town.
From here, head to the pedestrian area of the Latin neighborhood, with a must-see in the area called Pissing (the maze of streets that includes Vestergade, Studiestraede, Teglgardsstraede): a former red light district now full of bars, vintage shops and bohemian clubs.
If you have covered this entire itinerary on foot, you will not have too much energy left except to enjoy a nice glass of wine in one of the bars along the Ravnsborggade or sit at the table in a nice restaurant to savor the famous Nordic cuisine (see section on restaurants).
Day 2: Vesterbro, Meatpacking District and Christiania
Always starting from Nørrebro and taking Nørrebrogate the first stop is dedicated to the beautiful food market of Torvehallerne. Here you will find fresh food of all kinds, fruit, meat, pastry, bread, aromatic herbs… and the environment is really very nice. This market is very popular with Danes who enjoy fresh produce just bought on the tables in the square from the early hours of the morning. It is a perfect place for breakfast but also for lunch and an aperitif (closes at 19pm). After crossing the market square you enter the Ørsteds Parken, a very well-kept garden complete with a pond, bridges and terraces on the water. Go through it all and keep walking along Vester Farimagsgade until you see the Planetarium. From there turn right onto Gammel Kongevei to enter the heart of the Vesterbro, the neighborhood I loved the most in Copenhagen. Vesterbro was the red light district and, as has happened in many other European cities, it has become the trendy district, the trendy and multi-ethnic one. There are still several sex shops and peep shows, but they are interspersed with art galleries, clubs, vintage boutiques, ethnic restaurants and design hotels. Get lost in the streets and alleys between Vaernedamsvej and Owhlenschlaegersgade, which are the liveliest in the neighborhood; for a quick stop stop at granola, a historic venue in the neighborhood that is open from early morning to evening. For the actual lunch I suggest you head to Meatpacking District (yes, just like in New York, and the mood is very similar), a converted former industrial area. In the different Meatpacking "blocks" you will find a dozen restaurants (not all are also open for lunch), a famous art gallery (V1 Gallery) and several clubs (including the famous Masters & Apprentices).
From here you return towards the center along Tietgensgade, skirting each other Tivoli (one of the oldest amusement parks in the world!) and the The National Museum (which is worth a visit if you have time available) to get to theisola di Slotsholmen. You will immediately find yourself in front of the imposing (but not too fascinating) Christiansborg Castle, the seat of the national parliament, but if you go further you will find the island's highlight, the The Royal Library with its beautiful garden: it is the largest library in northern Europe and has a wonderful art deco facade. If it's open, come and see the magnificent reading room with its vintage desks and lamps. Leave the island from the Torvegade bridge (from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the canal) to enter one of the most characteristic neighborhoods of Copenhagen: Christianshavn. The maze of cobbled streets around Sank Annae and Strandgade is somewhat reminiscent of the historic center of Prague or Paris with historic bars (such as the Wilder Coffee) and small restaurants with a retro air. The community of Christiania which is located a little further on. This world-famous community (especially in the 80s) was founded in 1971 by a group of hippies and anarchists who occupied the area to build a kind of commune. Now it is more of a tourist area, where you go to stroll on Pusher Street (the drug dealers are still there, and it is good not to photograph too much) between the craft stalls and the food corners that sell street food.
But Christianshavn in recent years has also become famous for hosting the best restaurants in the city including the NO BUT and its bistro (108), the Kadeau or the Kanalen. If you don't want to spend those amounts without giving up on tasting the famous Nordic food, you can reach the islet of Papirøen where is the Copenaghen Street Food. A series of post-industrial buildings that house vans and food stalls where you can find everything and relax at sunset in front of the canal.
Day 3 (Louisiana Museum e Helsinør)
If the weather is good, the third day is perfect for a nice trip out of town Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art and Kromborg castle in Helsinør, the one where Shakespeare set Hamlet. To reach Lousiana, which is located 30 km north of Copenhagen, you have to take the S-tog from Nørreport to Humlebaek (it takes about 40 '). From the station the museum is 1,5 km away and can be reached on foot (it is well indicated). The Louisiana is one of the most beautiful contemporary art museums I have ever seen, not so much for the quality of the works on display (which is still high) but for the architecture and location. The museum is located inside a large park dotted with sculptures, there are several hills overlooking the sea (and Sweden which is right there in front) and everything is in perfect harmony with the surrounding environment. The museum consists of 4 modernist-style buildings, low and with lots of windows that let natural light into the works. Upon entering the museum no map is provided, everyone is free to explore the spaces and the garden at their leisure following the inspiration of the moment. It is a place that brings peace where art and nature are the masters. In addition to the permanent one, there are always at least two impromptu exhibitions. Before leaving, stop for lunch on the museum's magnificent terrace overlooking the sea, it's a fabulous place!
To get to Helsinør you then have to get back on the train and get off at the stop of the same name (it takes just over 10 '). The town of Helsinør is a classic northern European seaside town with red brick buildings, a pedestrianized historic center teeming with restaurants and tourist shops, and a small port from which ferries to Sweden are taken. You have to cross the whole country before seeing the famous one Kromborg castle overlooking the sea. This Renaissance castle has been one of the most important castles in Northern Europe for centuries, and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. In reality it is a real fortress protected by a large moat and imposing walls. During the visit it is possible to visit the royal apartments, the ballroom, the casemates that served as positions for the soldiers, the court chapel and the terrace of one of the towers from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the castle and the whole area.
PS for the train ticket the cheapest thing to do is to buy an “All Zones” day ticket at a cost of 18 euros. If you buy single tickets you will end up paying a lot more!
With hindsight I would have liked to have had at least a couple of more days available to dedicate to visiting the many museums and exploring some more peripheral neighborhoods.
Having been lucky enough to find three days of sun and almost summer temperatures, I preferred to walk in the open air, but there were so many things to see!
Next time I return I will definitely go to see the Nationalmuseet, the Statens Museum for Kunst, the Arken Skovvej Museum and the Juhl's House (which are located outside the city).
Where to eat in Copenhagen
- Laudromat Cafè (Nørrebro): a neighborhood institution. A literary café-laundromat open from morning to late evening to eat the classic smørrebrød with avocado and eggs, the croque madame, the hamburger and much more.
- Aamaanns Takeaway (Nørreport): here you can eat the smørrembrot (open sandwiches with various fresh ingredients such as beef tartare, salmon, avocado, etc.) best in Copenhagen! Try the classic one with beef tartare and you won't be disappointed.
- Sankt Annae Bistrot (Christianshavn): a small, vintage-looking bistro in one of Copenhagen's prettiest streets. We eat the soup of the day and very good sandwiches made with focaccia. Perfect for lunch and for an aperitif (they have several wines).
- Spice Huset (Meatpacking District): a small restaurant secluded from the others, which I found by slipping into the alleys of the district. Candles and background music make the environment truly warm and intimate. During the week there is a 2-course set menu for 150 crowns (20 euros, super convenient for being in Copenhagen!), While on the weekend the courses become 5 and the price rises to 400 crowns (58 euros).
- Granola (Vesterbro): in the liveliest and prettiest street in Vesterbro, the Granola offers excellent breakfasts and brunch on weekends. It has tables outside perfect for people watching. For brunch it is best to book.
- Torvehallerne Market (Nørrebro): open from 9 am to 19 pm, you will find everything for all meals; you eat on the tables outside the market (but some stands also have tables and chairs inside).
- Papirøen (paper island- Christianshavn): open from 12 to 22, on the island there are a series of post-industrial buildings that house vans and food stalls where you can find everything and relax at sunset in front of the canal. There are also some clubs with very trendy bartenders.
- The Nørrebro Bridge: during the summer the Danes love to take a beer on the bridge or on the banks of the canal waiting for the sunset, a tradition similar to the Spanish bottellion.
BERET in the evening you can go to Ravnsborggade (one of the main streets of Nørrebro) and you will be spoiled for choice. Other lively areas during the evening are the Meatpacking District, Istedgade (also in Vesterbro), and the maze of streets north of Støget, such as Pilestraede.
Where to sleep in Copenhagen
- CitizenM Copenhagen Radhuspladsen : nice and modern hotel in the center of Copenhagen. The M4 metro is practically 50 meters away and the area is beautiful, full of movement and clubs.
- Hostel Generator: one of the hostels of the famous Generator chain, a super-design hostel in the center (located a stone's throw from Rosenborg Slot and Nyhavn) where they organize city tours, events, evenings, and much more.
- Urban House: this hostel (which is actually halfway between a hotel and a hostel) is located in the hippie district of Vesterbro, and is also a design hostel with a nice bar also open to the outside of the hotel. Here too they organize many events .. impossible to feel alone!
How to get around Copenhagen
In Copenhagen, more than 60% of the population travels by bicycle. Virtually all roads have a cycle path and bicycles can be transported for free on the metro and S-tog (except in some central stations during rush hour).
If you want to get around the city by bike, you can rent one in the many cycle-rentals scattered around the city (there are many in every neighborhood), or use the futuristic bike-sharing offered by Bycyclen. These bicycles are available 24 hours a day in the many rentals around the city and can be paid by credit card directly via the bike's touchscreen display (also equipped with GPS). For more information, visit the website.
METRO and S-TOG
Copenhagen has an extensive public transport network, including metro, train, bus and ferry. The metro, the S-tog (the city railway line) and the buses run 24 hours a day (this is a civilized city!) And tickets can be bought in zones.
If you want to go to Louisiana and Helsinør, the cheapest thing to do is to buy an “All Zones” day ticket at a cost of 18 euros. If you buy single tickets you will end up paying a lot more!
PS There are no turnstiles, but there are controllers .. better not to be smart!