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The best of Copenhagen
Cuddly Copenhagen is well known for its outstanding quality of life – so much so that some have even dubbed it the world’s happiest city. And are they on to something? Well, it won’t take you long to figure out some of the secrets of the Danish capital’s success. One thing this city certainly gets right is that it’s remarkably easy to get around, especially if you join locals in the bike lane. Alternatively, jump on the city’s all-hours metro, which got a brand-new line in late 2019, making many of the top attractions and things to do in Copenhagen more accessible than ever. History buffs will love its royal castles and palaces, while foodies will be spoilt for choice in the city whose restaurants pretty much invented New Nordic cuisine (and now boast 22 Michelin stars between them). Shopping in the Danish capital is also delightful, thanks to its wealth of independent shops and string of pedestrianised streets. On rainy days, explore some of the city’s world-class museums, and when the sun’s out, head to one of its many picturesque parks. Better yet, take a refreshing dip in the harbour — it’s certainly clean enough for swimming. See what we mean about quality of life? Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.
Copenhagen may be the birthplace of New Nordic cuisine – the culinary movement that champions hyperlocal, seasonal ingredients – but its foodie credentials go well beyond fermenting, foraging and farm-to-table cooking. Here you’ll encounter one of the world’s most exciting and diverse food scenes, and so our pick of the very best restaurants in Copenhagen offers something for pretty much every taste. Thanks to a new metro line, it’s never been easier to explore the Danish capital. The tricky part is choosing what to eat. If you’re after some traditional grub, look out for endless varieties of smørrebrød, Denmark’s traditional open-faced sandwich. For a cheap and cheerful lunch, catch the harbour ferry to Reffen, an eclectic street food market in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Refshaleøen. (A trip there is one of our absolute favourite things to do in Copenhagen.) Or head to Nørrebro, the city’s most multicultural district, where you’ll find an abundance of budget-friendly cafés and kebab joints. Upmarket food market Torvehallerne, in the city centre, is well worth exploring, too. And not even to mention this city’s abundance of blowout Michelin-starred restaurants. As the Danes say: Velbekomme! Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList. You can find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews restaurants here.
As in any major port city, Copenhagen has never been short of watering holes. But thanks to a relatively large student population, the influence of its thriving food scene and a longstanding obsession with all things hygge, the Danish capital’s drinking dens have rarely seemed so diverse. Pick your poison, quite frankly. Hometown brewers such as Mikkeller and To Øl have driven the craft beer craze, while the city’s New Nordic-inspired restaurants have helped make natural wine the go-to drink for local foodies. Add in a generous sprinkling of upmarket cocktail bars and a smattering of traditional brown bars (aka ‘bodegas’) – not to mention an wide array of clubbing options, from mega-venue to backstreet dive – and you’ve got the recipe for an excellent night out. Feeling inspired? Here’s where to find the coolest, most cutting-edge nightlife in Copenhagen right now. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Copenhagen
Culture vultures will find plenty to sink their claws into in Copenhagen. As well as its renowned opera and ballet companies, the Danish capital boasts many outstanding museums and galleries, and offers rich pickings for art lovers and design devotees alike. With its spectacular coastal location and world-beating collection of painting and sculpture, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art remains the hottest ticket in town – and quite possibly the best thing to do here full stop. Yet on a drizzly day, nothing beats mooching around the galleries of the Statens Museum for Kunst or exploring the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek’s astonishing collection of antiquities (and the top floor dedicated to Degas bronzes). Look beyond the heavyweights, though, and you’ll find plenty of equally remarkable cultural institutions. In fact, whether you want to find out what the Vikings were really like, discover the impact of Danish design or explore the work of Denmark’s greatest artist, Copenhagen has a museum for you. Feeling peckish after all that art, history and art history? We say hotfoot it straight to one of the best restaurants in Copenhagen according to us. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Copenhagen
What’s the deal with Vesterbro? There’s little evidence today of the seedy nightlife that once gave Vesterbro such a sordid reputation. As the drug dealers and prostitutes moved out, students, artists and other creatives moved in, turning this formerly industrial district into Copenhagen’s new epicentre of cool. These days, dive bars and tattoo parlours sit happily next to offbeat boutiques and charming courtyard restaurants, while abandoned warehouse spaces have been converted into huge studio and startup complexes. The vibe is laid back yet sophisticated; above all, diversity reigns supreme – you’re as likely to encounter heavily pierced rock’n’rollers as you are young families or MacBook-toting yopros. The sheer range of cultures contained within Vesterbro gives the neighbourhood its allure, bustle and vibrant array of shops, bars, galleries, cafés and restaurants. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find someone doing it – and doing it well – in this part of town. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world If you only do one thing... Photograph: Martin Heiberg It may be a Copenhagen cliché, but deservedly so. Don’t miss the rickety wooden rollercoaster at Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second oldest theme park. You’ll also find a whole host of other thrilling rides and traditional games, plus live theatre and a beautiful Japanese garden. The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum next door is also worth going to for its rooftop views and room dedicated to Degas’s bronze ballerinas. Get cultured The Fotografisk Centre, a former bottling plant in the Meatpacking District, focuses on contemporary Nordic photography, while V1 has an ever-changing programme of thought-provoking international exhibitions. Head to Vess for boundary-pushing multimedia art. Hide from the rain Shop-hopping is an excellent way to escape the unpredictable Danish weather. Danish design fans are well served by a wander along Istedgade, the main shopping street, and if you do pick up some new threads, wear them to a show at Vega, the coolest gig venue in town. Soak up the sun When the sun does shine, the Danes love to be outdoors; both the long, leafy Sønder Boulevard and calm, impossible-to-spell Skyedebanehaven make for ideal picnic spots. Eat here Cofoco. Photograph: Chris Tonneson The old industrial warehouses of the Meatpacking District have been transformed into a haven for foodies, with all manner of inventive bars and restaurants now pulling in gourmet travellers. Hip brewpub Warpigs, the seafood at Kødbyens Fiskebar, and KUL’s quirky, ultra-modern fusion food are three good reasons why. Lighter grub is available at both ØL & BRØD, who specialise in smørrebrød – the traditional Scandinavian open sandwich – and Bodil, a bright, down-to-earth restaurant that’s light on the wallet, too. Cofoco’s simple, elegant sharing plates showcasing the finest local produce offer a classier dinner option, as does the good-value family menu at its French sister restaurant Les Trois Cochons. But for the true Vesterbro vibe, head to Ramen To Bíiru for tip-top ramen and local craft beer. Drink here The Danes love their beer, but while Carlsberg ruled for decades – their old brewery, at Vesterbro’s eastern edge, is being turned into a museum and cultural hub – craft beer and microbrewing now reign. Mikkeller, the brand started by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, was born here, and a trip to their bar on Viktoriagade, with 20 beers on tap, is an absolute must. Prefer wine? The relaxed Ancestrale has a great selection – don’t miss their after-work tasting menu, served from 4pm every day. Mouth-watering cocktails and late night revelry surrounded by beautiful people can be found at Lidkoeb, a converted 18th-century apothecary, while Märkbar offers a very different experience. ‘Rough and ready’ is the best description of this dive bar where the rock music’s loud, the pints strong, and almost everyone smokes. How to get to Vesterbro Copenhagen’s central station is on the western border of Vesterbro, so getting here is easy from almost anywhere. Enghave Plads, on metro line M3, sits at the heart of the area, and many buses meander westwards from the centre. What else is nearby? Upscale Frederiksberg, with its sprawling park and zoo, lies just to the north of Vesterbro, while harbourside bathing spots can be found to the south, in Sydhavnen.