Dan and I spent a long weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark last Labor Day, which fell on the first weekend of September. We flew direct from New York and spent four days in the city. This ended up being a bit far travel for such a short time, but we still had fun. This post highlights what we did over those four days in Copenhagen!
DAY ONE: A LONG DELAY AT JFK, A DECENT LOUNGE, & SMØRREBRØD.
Our Labor Day long weekend began with a looong delay at JFK. Major bummer. All started well, and we were lounge hopping between the American Express Centurion Lounge and the Virgin Atlantic Lounge, but then our flight was delayed by hours. We finally departed several hours late and arrived in Copenhagen around 2:00 PM, rather than the planned 11:00 AM…. It was after 4:00 PM by the time we arrived at our hotel, the Marriott Copenhagen. In any case, we were able to immediately check in, take a short nap, and still make happy hour at the Marriott Executive Lounge before heading out to dinner in Nørreport. The delay certainly could have been worse, but it was a stressful start to our weekend getaway. In any case, the happy hour was pretty decent, especially for pricey Copenhagen – soft drinks, beer, wine, cheese and other cold appetizers and a few warm appetizers each evening.
Our dinner reservation on night 1 was at Selma, a restaurant in Nørreport owned by the Mikkeller Brewery, and a 30 minute walk from our hotel. The weather was just getting brisk in Copenhagen in early September, so this evening walk was more than doable with a jacket. Selma specializes in smørrebrøds, or open-faced sandwiches super popular in Denmark, and Acquavit, a/k/a “Danish schnapps.” Dinner was great and Dan enjoyed the Acquavit very much (it was too strong for me!). I’m going to do a more detailed post on Selma, but I would recommend it to other travelers.
Despite passing many adorable bars en route to Selma, we called it an evening after dinner to catch up on sleep and attempt to beat jet lag. We had a big day of touring coming up!
DAY TWO: THE LITTLE MERMAID, A REAL LIVE EUROPEAN SOCCER PUB, A BOAT CRUISE AROUND COPENHAGEN, AND A TASTING MENU AT AMASS.
As planned, we did indeed catch up on sleep and woke up at a normal hour the next morning, ready for our big day of sightseeing in Copenhagen! We planned to hit many of Copenhagen’s major sights and reserved a tasting menu for dinner. Our big day began with complimentary breakfast in the Marriott Executive Lounge. Breakfast was a pretty decent buffet of hot and cold breakfast foods, with both local dishes and international fare. It was also crowded on this Saturday morning – lots of American cruisers…
After breakfast, we walked 25 minute to Nyhavn along the Nyhavn River. Nyhavn is probably Copenhagen’s most well known site – the rows of brightly colored houses with boats lining the canal. In reality, Nyhavn is a small area on a canal just off the Nyhavn River. Its’ very touristy, yet also very picturesque. I see why it’s famous. As our visit was on a Saturday morning, Nyhavn was crowded with tourists, as well as locals selling things to tourists. We walked around for about 15 minutes and snapped a few pictures before moving on. The crowds were just too much. Go early or late to avoid this.
Our next stop was 20 minutes further from our hotel and another one of Demark’s most famous sites, a bronze statue of The Little Mermaid. Yes, of Disney (and Hans Christian Andersen) fame! Hans Christian Andersen, the author of The Little Mermaid, was Danish and this sculpture was commissioned in his memory in the early 1900s. I was very excited to see this, but The Little Mermaid statue was a bit of a surprise; its tiny and the backdrop is ugly factories. We spent about five minutes here, managed to get a few pictures without the tourist hoards, and then walked back toward the center of Copenhagen, passing the Changing of the Guard at Amalienborg Palace and, more interestingly, a Danish wedding. Like Nyhavn, go early to miss the crowds.
Nyhavn and The Little Mermaid took less time than expected, and we had time to spare before our afternoon activity, so we walked to an Irish pub in Nørreport that we had passed the previous night – The Globe Bar. Because if you know me, you know I LOVE an Irish pub, especially in Europe! We got lucky and walked in on a decent soccer game that we watched with locals. The Guinness was great.
Two or three beers later, we left The Globe Pub to walk to our afternoon activity: a Hey Captain boat tour of Denmark’s canals. Like Venice and Amsterdam, Copenhagen has lots of canals throughout the city, and a boat tour is a great way to explore them. Hey Captain offers tours of Denmark’s canals in small vessels captained by locals. There is a small, for-pay, bar on board and the guide gives a bit of a tour and answers questions posed by tour participants. The tour encourages participants to befriend the boat mates, and we had a lovely time chatting during our 1 hour tour of Denmark’s canals. We also got really lucky with the weather, as the sun came out for our entire tour! After our boat tour, we grabbed a street “French Hot Dog” (it seemed to be a thing), and went back to our hotel for a nap and to get ready for dinner.
Our dinner tonight was at Amass. Amass was a well-regarded restaurant that was featured on the American TV show Somebody Feed Phil. Run by the former head chef of Noma, Amass was a tasting menu restaurant set in an old warehouse in a somewhat dodgy area of Copenhagen. The menu was super local, veggie forward and featured many ingredients made or grown at Amass or in its back garden. We opted for the main tasting menu at Amass, but skipped the drink pairing in favor of hand-picked cocktails and a bottle of wine. Dinner at Amass was fantastic, and I’m sad that it closed shortly after our visit. I plan to write a separate post on all of the interesting courses we tried at Amass.
Amass called us a taxi after dinner and en route, passed fireworks at Tivoli amusement park. This was fun, as we sadly missed a visit to Tivoli on our trip. We went to bed post dinner, as we had yet another day of exploring ahead of us!
DAY THREE: CROSSING THE SWEDISH BORDER & A FANTASTIC ITALIAN DINNER
Our third day in Denmark began, again, with complimentary breakfast at our hotel. Always a good perk in an expensive city such as Copenhagen!
After breakfast, we walked to Copenhagen Central Station to take the train across the Øresund Bridge to Malmö, Sweden. Unfortunately, however, we had to return to our hotel because I forgot our passports – whoopsie!! Luckily we caught our mistake and made it back to Copenhagen Central Station in time for the next train. Don’t make the same mistake as me – border control did check our passports (although I understand this is not always the case, and the gentleman next to us used his credit card as ID (he was a local who spoke the language)). Also note, passports are not required to board the train, so you really won’t know if you need a passport until its too late!
In any case, passports in hand, we boarded only slightly later than expected. The trip to Sweden took around 40 minutes and passing over the Øresund Bridge was super cool! And, for those unfamiliar with the Øresund Bridge, it is Europe’s longest combined rail and motor bridge that runs 5 miles across the Øresund Straight between Denmark and Sweden and finishes with a 2.5 mile tunnel! It only opened in 2002, and I was very excited to cross it. Dan, not so much… In any case, we arrived in Malmö, Sweden a few minutes after crossing the Øresund Bridge. We departed here to explore Mamlö.
Once in Malmö, we had lunch at a local food hall near the train station, walked around the charming little city and ended with another Guinness at the most adorable pub – The Pickwick Pub. A visit to Malmö only takes a few hours and honestly, is missable if you are short on time. We would probably not do a day trip to Malmö again on such a short schedule.
We returned to Copenhagen via train after exploring for a few hours. We had just enough time to rest, grab a beer at happy hour in the Executive Lounge and walk to dinner a few streets back from Nyhavn. En route, we saw a few boats in the Nyhavn that are popular with locals to take out for the day and eat and drink. These looked so fun and I would love to go back and rent one.
We eventually we arrived at our dinner spot – Barabba. Barabba is an Italian restaurant very close to the tourist heart of Copenhage that is just amazing. Barabba was probably our favorite meal in Copenhagen! A separate post coming on Barabba for sure but if you are going to Copenhagen, book this ASAP.
DAY FOUR: AN EXCELLENT FOOD TOUR, FREETOWN CHRISTIANA & MORE GUINNESS.
Our fourth, and final full day in Copenhagen, began with a very small breakfast at the Marriott Executive Lounge, and a walk to Nørreport for a food tour! I wrote about our food tour here. In short, it was great and we tried some delicious foods, including a very, very tasty hotdog from DOP! I will not rehash my post, but here are select photos:
After our food tour, we returned to Torvehallerne Market to buy a couple souvenirs and an afternoon coffee at Coffee Collective. We had already had a big day, and still had a number of things to check off our list, so coffee was absolutely necessary.
We next walked a good bit to make our way to our next destination, the infamous Freetown Christiania. En route, we saw a Danish military parade (apparently it was a holiday) and lots of red and white flags. This was pretty cool. I wish I knew what was going on. We also walked by Our Savior’s Church. I really wanted to climb to the top, but we were tight on time and those steps seemed very steep. Another time!
Right around the corner from the Church of Our Savior is the entrance to Christiania Freetown. Christiana Free town is this interesting community right in the center of Copenhagen. In short, from what I learned, Christiania started in 1971 as squatters on a Danish military base. It has since evolved to a type of commune right in the center of Copenhagen. Drugs are apparently tolerated and, at least according to our local friends, people living in Christiana operate by their own rules and do not pay taxes. Christiana even has its own flag. In any case, I found all of this incredibly interesting.
Unfortunately, pictures are “not allowed” inside Christiana, although this did not seem to hold true. We say many people taking pictures, but we abided by the rules. In any case, my view of Christiania was a commune vine with a bunch of hippies living their lives. There are a few stores, bars and food spots, all of which sell to the general public (I purchased a magnet). There is, of course, drugs, including the famous Pusher Street, and the whole area smelled like marijuana. Interestingly, other locals pass through Christiana on bikes quite regularly, including families with children. I’d definitely recommend visiting for an hour or two, even if you are not into this type of scene.
After getting a bit lost, we exited Christiania and walked alllll the way back to our hotel for a quick steam room and sauna and happy hour in the Executive Lounge. This was a loooong walk, especially after all the walking we had done earlier.
We went out after happy hour without dinner plans, rare for me! I did want to get some more pictures of Nyhavn, so we walked by there first. The night views are different but just as good as the day pics. I was not yet hungry from our food tour, so Dan tried a falafel sandwich from a very cute take out spot we placed. I had a couple bites, and it was great. However, the real winner was the tip jar in the take away restaurant…
Our goal of the evening was to visit a Danish “bodega,” or basically a dive bar catering to locals. Bo-Bi bar pictured below is a famous one, but its tiny and too crowded for our taste. It also smelled like cigarette smoke. Thus, we changed direction and went back to The Globe Bar! We had a few pints of Guinness with some new friends that we made at the bar – great fun!
We ended our final night in Copenhagen (well, this trip anyway!) with a stop at 7-11. Yes, the convenience store. Well, similar to its fame in Japan, 7-11 is really popular in Copenhagen and, according to our food tour guide, has decent food for cheap. In any case, I skipped dinner and we had been drinking, so we grabbed a few hot things from the 7-11. I didn’t find the as good as our food tour guide made it out to be, but definitely edible, and much better than I would have expected in the US.
DAY FIVE: DEPARTURE & THE CARLSBERG AVIATOR LOUNGE.
Our last morning consisted of more breakfast at the Executive Lounge and a quick ride to the airport. Check-in was pretty quick and we had a lot of time to visit the Carlsberg Aviator Lounge, a fantastic lounge in Copenhagen that is on Priority Pass. Truly, this lounge was beautiful, the food was good and local, and the lounge even had a self-pour Carlsberg stand! Our flight home was thankfully on time and we arrived home later in the evening.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Marriott Copenhagen: Kalvebod Brygge 5, Copenhagen. Decent location a bit out of the tourist center. Taxis easy to reach. 10 minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station and Tivioli. 25 minute walk to Nyhavn.
Selma: Rømersgade 20, 1362 København, Denmark. Open Thursday – Saturday 11:30 – 12:00, Sunday – Monday and Wednesday 11:30 – 5:00. Closed Tuesday. Reservations recommended.
The Globe Pub: Nørregade 43-45, 1165 København, Denmark. Open daily midway – late (11ish on Sunday and Monday).
Hey Captain Boat Tours: Kvæsthusbroen 1, 1252 København, Denmark. Closed during winter.
Malmao Salhaul: Gibraltargatan 6, 211 18 Malmö, Sweden. This is the food hall’s website. We ate at Pom’s, but there are many great outlets to try. Generally open 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM, only open until 5:00 PM on the weekends. Various stalls inside the food hall keep varying hours.
Mr. Pickwick Pub: Stadt Hamburgsgatan 2, 211 38 Malmö, Sweden. Open daily midway to 11:00. No website.
Barabba: Store Kongensgade 34, 1264 København, Denmark. Closed Monday – Tuesday. Open Wednesday – Sunday 5:00 – 12:00. Open Saturday and Sunday for lunch 12:00 – 2:30. Reservations highly recommended.
The Copenhange Culinary Experience: This is the food tour that we did, although we booked it through Viator. It’s DKK 950 per adult, with all of the above included. The tour is stated to be four hours long but ours went over slight. Recommended if you have the time in Copenhagen.
Coffee Collective: Many locations in Copenhagen. We visited the one in Torvehallerne. Open daily 8:00 – 7:00.
Carlsberg Aviator Lounge: Open daily 5:00 – 8:00. Complimentary access for Priority Pass members.