Water dominates the city's image
The Danish capital is exactly what you would expect of a big Scandinavian city: clean, efficient, stylish and expensive. The town centre itself is fairly small but it is crammed with lots of things to do, shopping and eating well, being two of the favourites. For design aficionados, the design element of the city will be a definite highlight; with a confirmed legacy of notorious Danish designers who have changed the course of history through their perception of the design and function of everyday objects. Exploring the Design Museum, the Alexandra Hotel or the historic Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in the main city square are a must. It is here and in the various design showrooms that you will find pieces by big name designers or 'architects' as the Danes call them, like Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl and Verner Panton, whose ideas are now intrinsic to present-day society's perception of taste where interior design is concerned.
Once you have seen all the monuments on your hit-list like the cobbled streets lined by multicoloured terraced houses in Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid, the Amaliensborg Castle and Tivoli Gardens, take the time to sit at one of Copenhagen's 600 restaurants. Make sure you start saving up early though as food doesn't come cheap. And when you've had your fill of haute-cuisine, then head to the hippy community of Christiania in the Christianshavn district. As cliché as it may be, with psychedelic graffiti adorning the walls and markets brimming with colourful silks and hemp clothing, the area is actually one of the most pleasant in the city - especially in the summer. One of the highlights of Copenhagen is to be able to picnic along the banks of the lake in Christiania. That's right, this little bubble that used to be an army compound (and where you will find all sorts of recreational drugs on sale along Pusher Street), is a haven of countryside right at the heart of this urban thriving metropolis. Other areas to explore include the peaceful Islands Bryggae - a harbour-come-lido in the summer on the other side of the canal as you walk past Central Station. Residential but extremely trendy, this area often hosts free open-air concerts during the city's main annual event: the Copenhagen Jazz Festival (first ten days of July). Our favourite area, where you will find a handful of some of the world's coolest bars is the old meat-packing district in Vesterbro just behind central Station and before the canal. Another area not to miss is Norrebro, where there are a number of unusual and quirky shops and bars to watch the world go by; not forgetting the floating bar just after the bridge in the summer!
Otherwise, locals are a friendly bunch who are on the whole always willing to help a non-Danish speaker in need. However, we recommend you keep a low profile when it rains - a bit like cats, the Danes don't like getting wet and aren't scared to lash out if annoyed! On a more serious note, the city itself is extremely pleasant to wander around, especially due to its large parks and canals that encase the city centre. The city has a very lively Scandinavian and international jazz scene, with big names like Charles Lloyd and Brad Mehldau gracing the city's myriad quirky jazz clubs and larger venues like the opera house, or 'black stone', as it is known locally.
Have a drink at the stylish and relaxed Nimb bar or pop in for dinner at Nimb's Michelin starred restaurant, Herman's, that has a terrace inside Tivoli Gardens; customers can get a ticket for Tivoli here but it does not give access to rides. For a stroll to the heart of the city, venture along the old centre's small winding streets also known as the 'Marais' (Paris) of Copenhagen. Have a picnic on the banks of the stunning lake in Christiania. Do seek out some stylish design objects to add a little Scandinavian slick to your home! Jazz is big business in Copenhagen, so make sure you set some time aside to go to one of the city's most famous jazz clubs like La Fontaine, the Copenhagen Jazz House or Jazzhouse Montmartre. In the summer, have a main course of some of the most delicious fresh salmon you will ever taste in Paté Paté restaurant and bar in the old meat-packing district, Vesterbro. One of the trendiest places to be seen by fellow cool folk, this is where you'll find the main bohemian hub. If you want to kill two birds with one stone and Sweden's always been on your hot-list but you've never got round to getting yourself over, then you're in luck because Copenhagen and Sweden's Malmo are linked via a bridge taking about 30 minutes to cross by car.
Copenhagen has lots to see, but the key 'must-dos' are the Design Museum, the Carlsberg District where you will find a couple of high-profile contemporary art galleries and the Carlsberg Museum complete with beer tasting. Also on the list should be the old meat-packing district for its trendy and creatively-decorated bars in Vesterbro, the Laudromat café in Norrebro, which has the most stylish washing machines we've ever seen in the back so customers can have a homemade smoothie and a slice of delicious carrot cake whilst waiting for their washing! Although it sounds a bit cheesy to some, make sure you drop into Tivoli Gardens to have a look. Designed in 1843, the amusement park retains a historical charm that is intrinsic to its character - in no way does it resemble Disneyworld in its atmosphere and style. Although the Nyhavn area is always crowded with tourists, it is worth visiting once to see its quaint cobbled streets and colourful terraced houses. However, whatever itinerary you choose, make sure you do it on a bike in the summer - easy and cheap to get around, the city is perfectly adapted for cyclers.
Copenhagen is a lot more pleasant in the summer; especially during the jazz festival in July. It can get very warm, which is a good chance to get an eyeful of the locals whose favourite pass-time seems to be casually hanging around the canal or at the old meat-packing district, sunbathing. Copenhagen comes alive in the summer. The winter months tend to be quite glum with few people on the streets. If you're thinking about going to the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, make sure you think ahead and book all your tickets at least two months ahead as tickets tend to go very fast. Also consider booking your travel plans early if you are going to be travelling in the first couple of weeks of July as flights and hotels get booked up fast and get more expensive too.
Avoid being anywhere near Stroget, the longest shopping street in Europe, at the weekends and during the sales as it gets extremely busy. Watch out for the cycle lanes - stick to the pavement designated to pedestrians or you run the risk of getting injured by passing cyclers who can get snappy at careless pedestrians. Avoid hailing a taxi too often as they don't come cheap - expect a cab to already have a meter charge when it arrives. When it comes to areas and restaurants, avoid the main Townhall Square, Radhuspladsen. There isn't much happening here and the restaurants lining the square tend to be overpriced.
Fresh herring and brown bread at the Admiral Hotel's Salt beach bar along the canal in Nyhavn - without doubt the best herring in town in one of the nicest spots along the water (despite being a little busy at peak time). Something else to try is the Smorrebrod, or 'open sandwich', which is typically Danish. You can opt for any filling from delicious tuna mayo with delicately sliced apples to chorizo and cheese. On a different note to food, try dancing outside the Copenhagen Jazz House street parties prior to concerts during the annual jazz festival in July. Another must on the list to feel truly local is to throw yourself in the canal at Islands Bryggae in summer - a word of warning though: it's still a bit chilly so be prepared!
If however you have a bit of cash to flash, get a table at world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurant, Noma - do book a couple of months ahead if you don't want to be disappointed.
Bring back some of that slick Danish design with you - home ware shops aren't difficult to find as the Danes are huge fans of decorating their homes, but if in doubt, go to the Illium department store on Stroget or the Design Zoo on Vesterbrogade towards the Friedriksberg area. For any last-minute gifts, there is an impressive array of quality stores at the airport; however it is slightly more expensive than in town.
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