Culture in Copenhagen


The country’s most famous exports are Lego and Carlsberg. Only 600 thousand people live in the capital which is home to the star design houses Jacobsen, Illums Bolighus and Bang & Olufsen. Lars von Trier’s Dogme film movement was created there. It’s now one of the coolest, freshest cities in Europe. Trendy isn’t a word I would use lightly – but the Danish capital is just that.


24 hours in Copenhagen...


Saturday 4pm.
71 Nyhavn

Arrive at hotel after the 12 minute metro journey from the airport (that must be the quickest city transfer in the world). 71 Nyhavn is a warehouse conversion on the waterfront, at the end of a historic canal of the same name. It has low-beamed ceilings, cosy furnishings and candles everywhere. It even has chaise lounges in the lobby which I made the most of while my travelling partner was writing postcards. The canal, Nyhaven dates back to the 17th century. The houses that line the waterfront here are painted in yellows, blues, peaches, salmons....when you see the 'romantic' pictures of Copenhagen's canals, it is probably Nyhaven you’re looking at. Useful fact for you - Hans Christian Anderson lived there for 18 years.


Kunsthal Charlottenborg

Stumbled across the cultural event of the weekend just 2 minutes from the hotel. (Must be the culture magnetism) It’s an art space of cotemporary work and on it was holding a ‘Palace party’ to launch its spring season. Danish and international artists and musicians were involved in the all day event. The day kicked off with a parade of twelve tractors, followed by a tractor concert played in the palace’s courtyard. (Yes tractors) Other events included an ongoing performance by ten troubadours, young dancers from the Ballet School performing on the staircase, and a mobile music office parading throughout the night.


Don’t worry you might have missed the opening but the Spring Exhibition 2011 is on until 25th April. it's one of the most important open submission exhibitions in Northern Europe. It’s been held annually at Charlottenborg since 1857. Submissions can be made by artists of any nationality and of any genre. This is a lovely art space giving a real snap shot of the world of contemporary art – paintings, sculptures and performance art.

People watching

This is a key part to any cultural trip. We took our positions at Café Europa which is halfway along Stroget, the main pedestrian shopping street. Perfect spot to check out the trendy locals.



Food has become one of the major draws of the city, which boasts many avant-garde restaurants, including Noma which won the title “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2010. For something a tad cheaper though head to Store Kongensgade, where you'll find cosy Madklubben, which serves delicious Scandinavian dishes at an affordable price. As can be expected for a chilly northern country, the Danish diet revolves around meat and potatoes. Fish features strongly in the Danish diet, too, notably in smorrebrod (pronounced "smer-bror"). This is a dark rye-bread open sandwich with herring.

The Union

As is often the case with good finds, this was recommended to us by a funky looking, Danish local. It’s not in the guides (I almost feel like a traitor writing about it here so I won’t give you the address) and you won’t stumble upon it by accident as it’s just a black door with no sign that looks nothing like a bar. It’s like a secret, dark hide-away in New York in the beginning of the last century. It has the feel of prohibition days and you have to buzz the door to be let in. Looking at the bartenders is like going back in time. It was some of the best service I’ve had in ages.



Coffee and a Danish pastry watching the Copenhagen fastelavn or Carnival. It’s celebrated seven weeks before Easter Sunday and is the highlight of the kids’ year. It’s basically the Danish equivalent of Halloween with the children wearing fancy dress.


Stroget (pronounced "stroll").

Window gazing on Stroget, Europe’s longest pedestrianised shopping street. Luckily for my bankruptcy situation most of the shops are closed on Sundays. The department store Illum was open though – a good place to eat brunch to live jazz music and stroll around the food and design departments.



If it’s sunny, head for the Tivoli Gardens, a pleasure-seeker’s paradise built in 1843, under Christian VIII, to distract his subjects from political unrest. It’s closed in winter.


The Church of Our Saviour - Vor Frelsers Kirke

After a glance at Tivoli, we strolled down the canal and across the water to Christianshavn. Among the pretty architecture is this church. It has one of the many towers rising above Copenhagen’s skyline and is famous among tourists and visitors for its fabulous view over the city. The tower and spiral-shaped gold spire construction is 90 meter high with 400 steps to the top. It’s closed in winter except for Christmas.



To experience Copenhagen’s free-spirited ethos at its purest, we headed to Christiania—an 85-acre former military base turned hippie colony on Christianshavn. The community's 1,000 residents live unencumbered by rent or taxes in a car-free quarter dotted with green spaces and lakes.


Café Oven Vande

Just a minute from Christiania this little cafe on the canal side is another good people watching spot with a typical danish menu. Perfect for a healthy, light lunch.


The Little Mermaid - Den Lille Havfrue

It might only need a minute of your attention but you can’t really go to Copenhagen without seeing her. The Little Mermaid statue was a present from brewer Carl Jacobsen (The Carlsberg Breweries) to the city of Copenhagen, made by a then little known sculptor called Edvard Erichsen in 1913.


Airport and home.

-Check the exchange rate BEFORE you go – they’re not in the Euro. It’s useful to know how much things are.

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